The Weird and Wonderful Pets of Carroll


Pets. Everyone either has one or knows somebody who does, and they range from cats, dogs, and fish to rabbits, reptiles, and birds. These animals are such an important asset in the lives of the students who have them, and their impact and personalities are as unique as the pet owners themselves. 

For example, Carroll graduate Jasmine Anderson has two pets that could have been in a SpongeBob episode. 

“I have a pufferfish named Kool-aid and a hermit crab named Hard Hat.” 

Surprisingly, taking care of a pufferfish isn’t as hard as one would think it would be, apart from the fact that it’s a saltwater tank. 

“It isn’t too hard to take care of the pufferfish itself, it’s kinda like a dog how it knows when food is coming and wants to get some attention,” said Jasmine. “The hardest thing about it is the tank maintenance since it’s saltwater it’s like a whole science to keep the nitrate, salinity, algae, and all kinds of other stuff balanced.”

When it comes to the pufferfish itself, one big question is a pufferfish’s signature inflation- where it puffs up unto a big spiky beach ball. How often does it do that?

“I’ve only seen him puff up one time and that was when my sister was feeding it and it latched onto her finger so she threw it out the tank, said Jasmine. “She thought it would poison her if she touched the spikes (it’s not and they’re not even sharp) so I had to pick it up off the ground and put him back in the water.

Her hermit crab also has quite the story about how he was brought home.

“Over spring break my family and I flew to Texas and when we went to one of those beach stores they had like $2 hermit crabs so I was talking to my dad about getting one and he said if TSA stops us it’s not his problem anymore since I’m 18. So I bought it and kept it in the hotel bathtub for a few days, but I was thinking like how am I going to get it to not crawl around while I’m going through security?” 

Surprisingly, Jasmine came up with an interesting solution. 

“So whenever it was sleeping I’d pick it up and put it in my hoodie pocket so it’d know that’s a place to rest. So when we got to the airport I took it out of its container and put it in my pocket and just walked through security and it worked out.”

Water animals are always interesting, but what about something more close to home- like animals who could live all over Indiana and beyond.  

“I live in the woods and my family cares for dozens of deer, raccoons, possum, squirrels, birds, we got fox and coyote, and dozens of turkeys,” said senior Grant Holman. “I have 3 dogs, Oscar, Kirby, and Zoe, and I have 5 cats, Lucky, Oreo, Cheeto, Gizmo, and Orange.”

Grant has a lot of stories about how he got his animals as well. 

“We adopted the three dogs because we had three other dogs before our latest ones. And all of our cats we’ve rescued. Lucky was a feral cat at first, she was starving to death in the cold, and coyotes were popping up more often so my mom took her into our house and she’s been there ever since. Oreo we got one labor day weekend, the vet clinic was going to be out for the whole weekend and Oreo would be locked up for 3-4 days and they didn’t want that, so they asked us to watch her for a few days and we said sure, wasn’t even 10 minutes of Oreo being home and we made her a part of the family.”

Holman’s cat Orange also has quite the history. 

“Orange got into a fight with a raccoon, his head swelled up and everything and was going to die unless we did something, not to mention that it was in the negatives outside and he’d be dead before midnight,” said Grant. “So we got him and took him to the vet, he’s ok, but he couldn’t go back outside for three days, and he hated those three days but once we let him leave to go outside again he was cool with the indoors. He was one of the meanest cats out there and now he’s a big pushover.”

His cat Gizmo also had been through quite a lot in its history of being in their family. 

“Gizmo had it the worst. My mom was helping my grandma clean out her house till she heard screaming outside, so she ran outside and a little kitten ran straight up her leg to her shoulder and fell asleep at the feeling of warmth. Then the neighbor came out screaming at her to put him down, my mom asked why, and he was yelling at her saying put it down, I got its momma and its siblings. He was going to kill gizmo, but my mom stepped up and told him no and she took Gizmo home,” said Grant. “He was starving and covered in dirt and fleas, he was smaller than a Pepsi can and when he drank from the kitten bottle, he chewed the tip-off because he was that hungry. His lungs were full of dirt, fleas covered him head to toe. But he’s been our cat ever since and has favored me the most.” 

Grant’s family has quite the stories when it comes to how his pets came into his life, a lot of them being rescued and adopted from wherever they found them. Interestingly, when pets are brought into a family’s environment, sometimes it’s not just the animals who are being rescued. Senior Abigail Diffendarfer has a moving story about how her pets have changed her life. 

“I have four rats, a mouse, and a snake. The rats are Sherlock, Watson, Mr. Darcy, and Dewey. The mouse is Goober, and the snake is Wilbur.” 

Normally outside in nature, rats and mice would be prey for snakes, and they would not get along. Abigail’s pets seem to follow those same rules of nature, just backward. 

“Surprisingly enough, rats would pose a large threat to a lot of the common snakes found in the wild. Of course, snakes prey on small animals, but rats can be ferocious fighters. I’d be afraid for most snakes,” said Diffendarfer. “Mine is a constrictor, so I’d have a feeling he would probably win, but he wouldn’t walk away unharmed by any stretch of the imagination. They have never interacted and I plan to keep it that way, they could seriously hurt each other.”

However, the most interesting part of Abigail’s pet story is not the species of her animals, but their impact on her mental and physical health.   

“My rats have saved my life. I got my rats about a week before I was scheduled for major surgery, and I was horrendously depressed. I had to give up my sport, probably permanently. I wasn’t even all that interested at the time in these new animals that we were bringing into our home. I didn’t even have the time to get to know them before I had surgery. After I did, I felt in pain, alone, and all-around miserable,” said Abigail. “But something changed. My sister began bringing down my rats, one in particular. I was surprised to see how strongly they resembled dogs.” 

It seemed that her rats knew exactly what she was going through, so they did everything in their power to make her get better. 

“He loved to just crawl up in my arms, be pet and fall asleep. He would also try to groom me (as much as a small animal could that is), and was all-around an extremely affectionate creature, which I had never taken rats to be,” said Diffendarfer. “I finally saw that light at the end of the tunnel. I had these little fluffballs to take care of now. I had something to get better for. Even almost two years after surgery, my passion for rats has only grown.”

Abigail’s story is a very important one when it comes to how pets can change lives- especially when it comes to students who may be struggling. Sometimes, it seems that people underestimate how powerful of an impact animals have on their owners when in reality, they can have some of the strongest pulls on a person’s life. These animals give their owners some great memories, as well as many stories to tell about them. 

Junior Lillian Bouchard has many stories, not necessarily because of how she got her animals, but because one animal, in particular, is rather out of the ordinary. 

“I have a black lab mix named Luna, a husky mix named Ghost, 2 skinny pigs (guinea pigs but with almost no hair) named Rufus and Neo, and a chameleon named Tonks,” said Lillian.

Most of those pets sound somewhat familiar, except for one- a chameleon? 

“We do have a chameleon! We got her over spring break, so she’s pretty new. We did find out that chameleons have a hard time drinking water so they die of dehydration a lot, so that was scary to find out, but she’s been doing great so far. We haven’t seen her change color yet, but I did watch her eat a bug, which was cool!”

All of Lillian’s pets have interesting habits and characteristics, making them all quite the personalities to have as pets. These pictures don’t do them justice, as their characters are greater than an image could ever demonstrate. However, that applies to any of these people and pets, not just Lillian’s. 

“I have less interesting stories about them and more interesting and funny things that they do in general. We have a little mist bottle full of water by Tonks’ habitat, and we found out that she absolutely hates it,” said Lillian. “But when Tonks gets mad, her little chameleon beard inflates like a balloon and it’s honestly kind of funny. Rufus and Neo do this thing called ‘popcorning’ which means when they’re happy or excited, they jump in the air and pop like little popcorn kernels.”

Her dogs, besides being rather cute, also have some interesting daily quirks that make for some interesting tales. 

“Luna needs permission when getting on furniture. I’ll be sitting on the couch or something and she will sit down right in front of me with her little sad puppy eyes, and she will put her head on my leg and just be adorable until I relent and tap on the couch to let her up. Ghost has a pouting couch,” said Lillian. “He always knows when he’s in trouble, so he goes over to his little pouting couch and curls up in a cinnamon roll looking like his life is full of woe and sadness. Also, Ghost hates baths and water, and I think that adds up to the fact that when we first got him. We took him to my grandmother’s house, where she has a pool. And he fell in the pool. And he spent the rest of the visit wrapped in a towel in my grandma’s arms.”

These animals can tell a valuable story about the Carroll students who own them. It shows that they have strong work ethics and are responsible enough to care for them. Secondly and more importantly, these stories, are a good example of the impacts that pets can have on a family.

Abigail learned how powerful pets are in healing, and how great they can be in times of need or suffering. Grant noticed firsthand how badly animals can be treated without the proper owners, and his family began taking steps to help them when it comes to these circumstances. Lillian demonstrated how often pet’s actions result in laughter, and how interesting they can really be. Jasmine used her pets as a way to think outside the box [or tank], and they gave her some awesome vacation memories as a result.

These are only a portion of stories that tell people how important pets can really be, and some of those stories may be sitting at our feet, being walked on a leash, or sitting in a cage at our bedside.

In other words, what story has your pet not told yet?