I live in a neighborhood adjacent to a large retirement village called Bethany Village. The location has advantages, including plenty of areas to walk. Yesterday afternoon, my cute mom and I walked the trail around the newest section of the retirement community, and then stopped to visit the Koi pond so I could check on the fish.
Last summer, Jeff and I started taking our stale or moldy bread over to the small pond and feeding the fish. For those of you know me at all, you won’t be suprised to hear that I got attached to the little critters, and, off and on all winter, I wondered how they were surviving the cold. I looked forward to seeing and feeding them again in nicer weather. (And, I can hardly wait to take Baby Lorow on walks to see the fish this fall!)
Jeff and I “visited” the fish last week and found the pond looking a bit sparse (no vegetation), but the fish looking healthy. They swam right over to us and began begging…it was just like old times.
Yesterday afternoon, however, when my mom and I stopped to see the fish, we observed an orange one with a terrible growth on it, sunken to the bottom in an area all by itself. We watched it for quite awhile, noticing that it always avoided the others and seemed quite lethargic.
Now…I have a compassionate spirit when it comes to animals. I don’t like the circle of life. I don’t want to hear about deplorable conditions at chicken farms; I don’t like mounted animal heads on people’s living room wall; and I don’t support our youth group boys who think it’s “fun” to randomly shoot groundhogs and squirrels. I also don’t throw paint on people who wear fur, and I’m not a vegetarian, so I understand animals’ places in God’s kindgom. But I still don’t like to see them suffer (I don’t think God does either as they are his marvelous creation as well), and I don’t want to know anything about them being harmed. (Remember, empathy is one of my top five strengths. Apparently that’s not just empathy for humans but for animals as well!)
So, mom and I head home, and I tell both Jeff and my dad about this sick fish. Both are completely unconcerned. We eat dinner, and at the end of the meal, there is one piece of sourdough bread left. I decide that it might be a nice treat for the sick fish. It’s almost dark outside, but mom and I put on our shoes and jackets and bustle over to the pond. (My mom is a wonderfully good sport with a good, kind heart!) It takes us awhile to locate our sick fish — it’s so dark that we can barely see more than a foot or two into the pond. But, we do find the little guy — still off by itself — and start to throw bread its way. The poor thing would gobble up a piece and then spit it back out. It just didn’t seem to have the energy to eat. Heartbreaking.
When I left for work this morning, my mom was setting off to check on our fish. I’m not hopeful that she’ll find him in any better condition this morning than he was last night. I suspect he has an advanced case of ich, and I hope the disease won’t affect the entire pond.
I’ve loved a few fish in my time — in particular my college betas Hamlet and Naaman — who both eventually succumbed to ich, a prevelant disease in the fish community. I’m afraid that I will find that this sick Bethany Village fish will suffer a similar fate, though I doubt the maintenance staff will give the fish a proper burial like we did with mine. To this day, a small cross marks the burial of both Hammy and Naaman outside my bedroom window at home.