Having recently fostered a small, untrained, yet affectionate puppy, her return to her owner after four months in our care left an aching void in my partner’s life. Like many working expats’ pets, Pink saw out large swathes of her time watching Keeping up with the Kardashians on E! on the 39th floor of a tower block.
Subsequently, we pledged that we wouldn’t own a pooch until either we had access to a sprawling garden or TV improved intellectually. As neither of these look plausible in the foreseeable future, I was left with a dilemma. My partner’s mood deepened to the point of depression as she sat consoling herself with Kardashian reruns, staring longingly at the space on the sofa where the mutt once sat.
Although I had numerous ideas to fill the emotional chasm, I kept finding unforeseen hurdles. The most obvious choice was a disdainful-looking cat, which would require minimum attention but would be grateful and loving in return for food. Unfortunately, I live in a pet-free building. As I don’t wish to relive the days of smuggling said pup through reception inside a Ralph Lauren paper bag, I soon ditched this idea. Instead I cheered up my other half with cheap Mexican food and flattery.
This went well to a point, but what I hadn’t considered was her best friend. An insatiable posh girl, she is loud, confident and – most importantly – extremely loyal. When she saw that her friend’s loss hadn’t been addressed, she intervened and vowed to find a resolution.
The resolution arrived in the form of a plucky little Japanese fighting fish, coloured a funky purple. I was quite taken: hold the bowl to the mirror and he would flap his fin furiously, as if someone had said something rude.
He provided hours of entertainment: I’d creep up behind him with bathroom mirrors, only for him to flash around in unadulterated, flappy fury.
The problem, unbeknown to either myself or the loyal friend, is that my partner isn’t keen on fish – a rejection that coincided with a dramatic decline in the young scrapper’s aggression. Where he was once squaring up to himself, now he merely floated around looking sad. I sensed his days were numbered. She asked me to name him, so I sinfully chose Moribund: defined by the dictionary as ‘in a dying state; near death’. Oblivious to its macabre connotations, it was approved.
When the inevitable happened, I was told off for being heartless, then rejected (like the fish). As I sit watching E!, I now understand how my partner felt about the dog – I miss Moribund.
Peter Feely is our assistant guides and supplements editor. He won’t be naming his next pet.