Lessons From Cyber-Pet Ownership

If you read Monday’s post, you know that when William and Vivian asked for a pet, I lied. It my brand of parenting: say something I’m bound to regret.

Renée A. Schuls-Jacobson, however, handled this question (and all other questions, I suspect) much better. She even managed to get some cyber-gore. 

I am incredibly honoured that Renée is guest posting here today. When random number generator declared her the winner of the guest blog I gave away for my 200th post, I did my happy dance. She is a fantastic writer, teacher, and friend. She blogs at Lessons from Teachers and Twits. And she is a dynamo. Enjoy this post, and then go subscribe to Renée’s blog HERE.


When Monkey turned 8-years old, he started asking for a pet. To read about our epic fail on this front, click here. Seriously, I can’t explain it again, except to say, we don’t have a dog or a cat. Or a fish or a gerbil or a guinea pig.

That said, we’re all okay.

Things have been going along just fine in our hair-free, dander-free, fin and feather-free house. So fine, in fact, that Hubby and I recently gave Monkey permission to purchase his first computer game, Minecraft. Our gift was the gift of permission, but Monkey still had to pay for the game with his own stash.

So now Monkey wakes up every morning to play his new game.

Currently he’s aimlessly running around a cyber-landscape trying to avoid creepers, arrow-wielding skeletons, zombies and spiders while simultaneously building amazing structures and cultivating cacti.

Don’t ask.

Although, if you have an 11-year-old son, chances are you know exactly what I am talking about.

And I am so very sorry.

Anyway, the other morning I came downstairs, and Monkey was positively exuberant.

“Mom!” he shouted from his place in front of the computer in a voice way too loud for 7:30 AM. “I have a wolf!”

As it turns out, Monkey was all geeked up about a cyber-wolf that had wandered into his territory. When Monkey offered it a bone, a red collar magically appeared around Wolf’s neck, indicating that Wolf had been tamed and that Monkey was his master. Apparently, a puff of hearts simultaneously shot out of Wolf’s body and hovered in the sky for a few moments. Monkey led Wolf back to the cyber-structure he had built, and they were happy.

But we all know, happiness is short-lived — especially in computer games.

About 30 minutes later, after he had used up his daily-recommended allowance of computer time — (thank you, Steve Jobs for making Parental Controls even this twit can manage) — Monkey wandered into the kitchen looking a little sullen.

“Wolf’s gone.”

“What happened?” I asked, trying to appear concerned while munching on toast.

Monkey shrugged. “I must’ve left the door open. I guess he got out.”

“Sorry buddy,” I said, then asked brightly, “Wanna practice your piano?”

That was insensitive; after all, Monkey was grieving.

The next morning I came downstairs and Monkey was at it again.

“Mom!” my child screeched in a decibel that cyber-wolves quite possibly could hear if they had real ears instead of virtual-ones. “Wolf came back!”

“Awesome!” I said, feigning interest because seriously who gives a crap about a cyber-wolf? “So he’s yours again?”

“No,” said Monkey. “It was awful.”

Whaaat? I was confused. Too much coming and going too early in the morning.

“Wolf came back, and I thought he was tame because he had that red collar on, so I went over to him. He tried to maul me!” Monkey gesticulated wildly and then lunged. “I had to slice his head off.”

So much carnage and all before 7:30 AM.

Monkey shrugged. “I guess I’m really not meant to have a pet. In real life or on the Internet,” Monkey said with a little smile.

And you know what? I’m cool with that. Monkeys probably shouldn’t have pets.

What pet did you always wish for but never got?


  1. says

    First of all, congrats on Monkey learning responsible pet ownership on his own without actually having to own a pet or clean up random piles of liquid spewed from animal openings. If nothing else, he will be more aware if he ever does get a real pet–unless it’s a wolf. Then I would be worried.

    My mom is like Dr. Doolittle so we always had animals growing up–rabbits, birds, dogs, cats, horses–but now we’re down to a dog (well, my mom’s dog.) I’ll never have kids, so animals are my thing 😉

    I would love a pygmy goat. We’ve never actually had one of our own due to zoning issues, but I love them! Be glad Monkey doesn’t want a goat…

    • says

      Did you know the name for the province of Manitoba comes from either the Ojibwa word “manito-bah” or the Cree “manito-wapow,” meaning “strait of the spirit”? At least, that is what my research says.

      So far I have avoided the moose on the loose. 😉

  2. says

    Oh, I get it. You’re not actually in Canada. Just virtually. Took me a few minutes. Very clever.

    When I was a small child I wanted a dog because the kids on television always wanted dogs. In retrospect I’m glad my parents refused. I’m definitely more of a cat person. Congrats on winning the guest post, Renee. Monkey has proven that video games can teach us things about ourselves. I don’t think I had that much introspection at that age. Probably because my parents wouldn’t let me get video games. I should tell them this.

  3. says

    “I had to slice his head off.”

    Bbaaaaahhhaaaa!! Oh, I love it, love it!

    Thank you for posting about this game because I have two boys who would like a dog. Well, one wants a dog, the other wants to be allowed to play video games – this kills two..erm, dogs with one stone.

    Leanne’s Number Generator was wise to have plucked your name out – I love your humour (note the previously Canadian spelling here, just for you) and the way you paint pictures with words. Well done, Mama!

    Welcome to Canada, by the way. Fancy a visit to Ontario some day? xo

    • says

      Hey Bellymonster!

      Are you really in Ontario? Why, that’s a hop, skip and a jump from here! It’s right on the way to IKEA! We shall have to discuss this further!

      All I can say is keep them kiddies away from pets and video games for as long as possible. Seriously. 😉

    • says

      Hi MamaB:

      Three-year olds are powerful because they are so stinkin’ cute. Just know YOU will be the one to do everything. Everything. If you know that (and want to be that person), you will be the best momma in the whole world. I wasn’t built for pets AND dogs. Hubby’s allergies did not help. Neither did his golf game. 😉

  4. says

    Ah Minecraft. My guys just introduced me recently as well. We killed zombies and built sweet houses. I wasn’t around if a wolf came though. Fun post!

  5. says

    My sons, 15 and 10, play Minecraft. It’s weird, but cool. Different creatures wander in, or “spawn,” and suddenly there’s a black sheep baa-ing around the place. My 10 yr old has a sweet set up, with movable bookcases revealing hidden rooms, a pen for his pet wolf, glass floors, the works. It’s part creative, part addictive. Fun post, Renee!

    • says

      Hi K.B.:
      So you have two little addicts, I take it. My son plays with friends on things called “servers,” so they can play together. They shriek like girls.
      “Omigosh, I hear something. Do you hear it?”
      “I don’t hear… Wait, I do. I hear something!”
      “You’re standing on a creeper! He’s right underneath you!”
      “Ohmygosh! Can you get it? Can you, huh huh? Can you get it?”
      It goes on like that for hours.
      But you already know that, right?

  6. isrbrown says

    Excellent guest post Renee! I hope Monkey never has to slice the head off of a real anything. Lopping heads off of Zombies is a personal favorite of mine so, I get where Monkey is at with that. Gotta defend yourself. We’ll be here for you when the real zombie infestation occurs.

    I thought I always wanted a horse. Not so much because there is always somewhere I can go to ride and shovel manure should the need arise. Now my real true animal yearning leans toward Angora Rabbits. Almost doable, and yes it is fiber related. 😀

    • says

      Of course you want a pet that would produce yarn for you. THAT is positively brilliant. I can picture your Angora Rabbit hooked up to some strange contraption so as its hair grew, you could knit scarves and sweaters and socks.

      Me, I was a horse-girl. I loved riding horses, but they didn’t come in our house. They stayed in a barn. And we had to drive to get there. My parents totally knew what they were doing. 😉

  7. says

    I have a 12 and 14 year-old.

    I know Minecraft.


    (i know. so. lucky.)

    Whatever you do, don’t get a long-haired guinea pig.

    This has nothing to do with Minecraft. It’s just good pet advice from an owner who knows better.


  8. says

    I’ve had a plethora of pets: lizards that ate each other, gerbils that escaped and died behind the fridge, a guinea pig that committed suicide( don’t ask), fish that lasted three days, and a big, dumb sheepdog that had the audacity to die at my grandmother’s while I was on vacation! All I ever wanted was a pet that didn’t croak on me before its time! I now have two lovely cats who cause me to dust and vacuum daily, but the trade off seems to be worth it!
    Adorable post, as always, Renee! I hope a new wolf wanders into Monkey’s virtual woods and decides to stay for the long haul! :)

    • says

      Sprinkles! Are you psychic? As a matter of fact a new wolf has entered Monkey’s territory and he learned you have to make them “sit” and “stay” before you go out of the house. So maybe this wolf will be around for a while. If Wolf 2.0 gets aggressive, well, clearly Monkey doesn’t seem to have a problem with the “off with his head!” part of the show.

  9. says

    I’m glad he recovered so well. I’ve never had to slice the head off a pet, but when I was about 7 I had a dog who loved to pull my braids. She thought they were ropes and she wanted to play tug of war. Needless to say, I came home from school one day, and she was gone.

  10. says

    O M G. Too funny – the poor little mauling cyber-wolf!

    When I was a kid, I always wanted a cat. We had NO PETS at our house, except for the occasional incursion of goldfish (which would mysteriously be gone after a period of several months, one day after school… Mom always said they died, but I suspect they got flushed “just because.”). I wanted a cat so badly I decided to become one, meowing at anyone who would pay attention to me.

    Our cat recently joined the big litter box in the sky – and we’re having serious cat-withdrawals, here. Husband says the next cat must be orange, so our options are rather limited at the moment for replacements!

    • says

      Hi Kathy:

      We had a cat, too. I can’t even talk about that. Husband developed an allergy two weeks in — when we had all fallen head over heels. It. Was. Awful.

      Sorry to hear about your cat. When you get a good one, it’s hard to say goodbye.

  11. says

    My son recently won a carnie goldfish. Being almost 2, I didn’t think he’d be able to win the damn thing so I let him play. Of course, I was wrong.

    “Fish Fish” lasted the first couple weeks so I thought he was going to be one of those stubborn ones that die only after they’ve been flushed down the toilet and living in the lake for a few years. Then, we ahd the wedding and we forgot to feed him and oops, he’s dead. And now I’m feeling so guilty I want to make it up to him and buy him a cat or a dog of all things!

    Why am I so stupid!? My 2 year old doesn’t even miss the damn fish. And it was a fish!

  12. says

    Hi Renee,

    I would have thought that Monkey’s resignation to live a pet-deprived existence at the end of your post would have tugged at your heart and caused you to reconsider. You must be made of stone, lady!

    Actually, I wish that I had shown that kind of nerve when my little one first pleaded for a sweat little kitty. Four cats later, we have an irrevocably damaged front door, a backdoor screen that has been replaced more times than I can remember, and a shredded pile of upholstery with four legs where my couch used to be.

    From where I’m seated (on the floor, next to the pile), a decapitated animated wolf would be a welcomed substitute.


    • says

      Oh Ray, it tugged.

      But we can’t do it. Hubby has allergies to cats — which I love. And I’m not going the dog route again. (That’s the fast track to slavery, as far as I’m concerned.) When Monkey is older, he can buy any pet he wants. 😉

  13. says

    My parents also put a complete and utter kibosh on any pet requests I ever made. Apparently, they’d tried at different times to have pets and the word is, there was even a horse at one point. I’m not really sure if I believe this ‘word’ or if it was a made-up story to show how irresponsible children can be. But at any rate, because my four older siblings were reportedly crap at keeping pets, I didn’t even get a chance to be crappy.

    I got over it. Mostly by having animals as an adult. Shared possession of a cat, then four parakeets, two mice, and three cats. Not all at the same time, mind you! :)

    Great post, eh! (what with you being in Canada and all. Eh?)

  14. says

    for some reason [to this day i have no idea why], my parents got me a parakeet when i was 10. i am deathly afraid of birds, they totally freak me out. and for the life of me, i can’t remember if this phobia started before the parakeet or after. but i’m guessing during…

    with our family dog, my dad’s motivation was fear: he told us that the first time he had to take care of the dog because we weren’t, we were getting rid of him [the dog, not my dad]. worked like a charm, i have to say.

  15. EllieAnn says

    I think it’s hilarious that monkey uses up his 30 min of cyber time, the first 30 minutes of the day. =D
    great post!

  16. says

    Fun post, Renee…I live with computer geeks…Jim and Devin would spend all their free time playing games if they could…sigh…

    When I was a kid, I wanted a calf…never happened. Now I don’t want one any more…


    • says

      No more mooooooo? 😉

      It’s good to know others understand the pain of living with techies. They seriously just want to sit in front of a screen all day. Glurg! At least my hobby allows me to take a pad of paper somewhere and write under a tree!

  17. says

    I can certainly see the logic in your assertion that Monkeys probably shouldn’t have pets. My cat Yoda has a pet cat, Kismet. He doesn’t take very good care of him though. Mainly Yoda just stalks Kismet and puts a death bite on his neck until we yell at him to stop, whereupon he begins grooming Kismet. Like, “See, I will love him and care for him…”

    Somehow I’m still stuck scooping the poop.

  18. says

    I can certainly see the logic in your assertion that Monkeys probably shouldn’t have pets. My cat Yoda has a pet cat, Kismet. He doesn’t take very good care of him though. Mainly Yoda just stalks Kismet and puts a death bite on his neck until we scold him to stop, whereupon he begins grooming Kismet. Like, “See, I will love him and care for him…”

    Somehow I’m still stuck scooping the poop.

    • says

      My friend’s father once told her she would never be able to care for everything after she forgot to feed her guinea pig when she was very young. She now has *looks up at sky* three children, two dogs, one three-legged cat, two frogs, several koi in her fishpond, a turtle … and something else I’m forgetting.

      Oh yeah, a husband.

      And everything is thriving.;-)

  19. D'Alta says

    I grew up on small farm–a dozen or so dairy cows, a goat, at least a dog or two, a hen house full of chickens, two donkeys, a horse, a barn full of feral cats, pigs, about sixty acres to roam, a pond and creek for pollywogging. Shortly before ending the worst mistake of my life, I acquired not one but two dogs. I guess I was trying to tell the guy that there was no more room for him. I knew that I had found Mr. Right when he wasn’t scared away at the appearance of the snout of Max, my doberman mix, snarling through my port hole windowed door. Not that I had been looking, my bed was comfortably filled with ninety plus pounds of puppy!

  20. says

    D’Alta! You sound like one of my friends who also grew up in a rural setting with a lot of siblings and a lot of animals. Everyone piles into her king-sized bed at night! And it is my understanding there is a lot of snarling and moving around, but eventually everyone settles down. And that’s the way she likes it. With her husband at her side, the cats on her head, and the dogs at her feet. 😉

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