While I tend toward the soft and cuddly, I, too, fell hard for our Caspar. I loved changing his tank, making it all fresh and clean for him. I loved watching Jackson compare him to the pictures of tadpoles in the books we'd borrowed from the library. I loved being part of the nurturing process by which he would one day turn into a frog. I felt lucky. And he, well, he was the luckiest mail-order tadpole in all the land.
When I found him at the bottom of his aquarium, he was flashing me his long bright belly. Instead of popping to life as he usually did the minute I moved the tank, he made a half dozen rolls across the plastic bottom. I started to cry-for my son, my Caspar, my own history of animal loss.
First was our family's afghan hound, Easy, when I was four. She collapsed in the kitchen, went to the animal hospital, and never came home. My Scottish Terrier, Agatha, died when I was seventeen, one month before I went to college. I had to take a few days off from my summer job because I couldn't stop crying. (I had a forgiving boss: my dad.) My cat, Pearl, the summer after. Another cat, Joon, when I was twenty-eight. Each time I swore I'd never love another.