I might get some flak from overzealous animal rights activists over this one…I have a turtle as a pet, named Myrtle.
My mom called me one day and told me she found a turtle in one of the horse stalls. The poor thing had been kicked or stepped on at one point and was missing part of her shell. I and my girls had 2 red-eared sliders which we had to find new homes for, after 7 years of fun (the cleaning of the tank was NEVER fun!), so I knew how to take care of this sweetheart. Her healthy shell started showing signs that she wasn’t as healthy as she should be. I’ve been fighting this for a solid year, mind you. I took her to the vet, gave her oral antibiotics (think dealing with a psychopath is scary? Try getting a miniature snapping turtle-type to open their mouth, willingly! lol! Reminiscent of trying to give our 20 lb cat (pure attitude) not only one pill, but 2!) After a year of battling her shell condition, she was finally starting to show some improvement…though VERY SLOWLY.
The vet we chose for her, suggested introducing some gold fish. I thought that was a cruel thing to do to the poor fish, so I tried other methods, which she wasn’t interested in…cooked chicken…veggies… A friend of mine, who is usually a blessing, smiled at me and said, “we should get her some goldfish” I sighed, and decided to go ahead and try. We went to the pet shop and picked up 2 small feeder goldfish. 13 cents each. We brought them back and put them in her tank. she chased them, cornered them, and then seemingly lost interest.
A week went by. I noticed each fish had different attitudes. One was a leader (more vibrantly colored..orange), and the other followed the first, everywhere it went. That one was pale-colored. Almost a soft pink (like a girl :D).
I watched them in the tank with Myrtle. She seemed disinterested in them to the point that I thought I now had goldfish for pets, too. After a week they were comfortable enough to come out of their hiding place and swim around her, eat, play… The pale one, never far away from the stronger, orange one…never venturing out without the first.
Two weeks went by… Myrtle’s shell started showing WONDERFUL improvement! The only difference was the goldfish, and adding one tank ornament (a shrub). I was happy! Apparently, so was she. She was bored and depressed, I think, before the fish came along, and it showed in her shell’s health. We still had 2 goldfish one morning. One leader, one follower.
The follower was too scared to move around without the shield of the leader. One head behind the other, always following. I wasn’t the only one who noticed the behavior. Myrtle did, too. After all, she’s the predator.
Come to find out, the disinterest she showed in the gold fish was just a ploy to get them to trust that she wasn’t a threat to them. Sound familiar? They were comfortable enough to swim, play, eat and poop without a concern in the world that the predator was actually setting up a patient scheme to eventually catch and eat one of them. The goldfish and Myrtle were, for all intents and purposes, friends…or so it seemed.
That same friend who talked me into getting them in the first place, was at my apartment one morning. I was heading to my second job, and talking to him on the way to work. I’m glad I wasn’t there to see it. He gave me an unwanted play by play of the events… Myrtle, all at once was chasing them, and separated the follower from the leader…the weak personality from the strong, and in 3 gulps, the little follower was gone.
It’s now been a little over a month since we introduced the goldfish. Can you guess where the stronger goldfish is? Still swimming with Myrtle…comfortable…not a care in the world… Myrtle seems disinterested, still.
She’s still leaving the leader alone. I don’t think she’ll eat this one. I now have a goldfish, who is now trying to jump into the canister filter’s stream of fresh water. Smart little thing. It’s learned how to manipulate the current caused by the pouring water, and can launch itself 3 inches above water, and into the canister. It slides back out and repeats the process. Funny to watch. It’s a game to the fish. The strong one…free to live around the predator. Too strong for the predator to consider prey…for now.
Now, the moral as I see it…
Abused people…we who have known mistreatment from those we trusted, maybe since childhood…become the followers. We seek to be shielded by the strong. We feel safe, secure, warm and loved…but there is ALWAYS a predator watching They see the strong self-assured type who is our shield…our support…our friends and family. They see our relationship with them, too. They integrate themselves into our lives, scheming for a way to separate us from them and devour us. The strong personality goes free. Not a good candidate for the predator’s lunch.
Learn to become strong and self-assured in our steps. We will keep from being someone’s prey as a result.
Amazing what we can learn from a couple of goldfish…