Well, folks, I’m sorry to report… it ended badly. Spiny Back is no more. Mark peeled off his rubber gloves; removed his mask and scrubs and sulked into the waiting living room with the bad news:

“He’s gone.”

“Who’s gone?”

{with disbelief that I wasn’t pacing the floor, waiting for the news} “SPINY BACK! You know, the Bearded Dragon I’ve been trying to save for 3 weeks?  Yeah, he’s passed.”

“Are you sure? Remember how he likes to come back from the dead?”

“How can you make jokes at a time like this? I’m really upset.”

“Why are you upset, Daddy?”

“Well, Nate, I have some bad news. Spiny Back has gone to Heaven.”

“Again? Are you sure, Daddy? Maybe he’s playing a joke on you again.”

{sigh} “I’m going to give him a respectful burial outside…Nate, do you want to come with me?”

“Sure. Can we wait until after Phineas and Ferb, Daddy?”

Spiny Back's final resting spot had to be kept a secret from our dog, Dublin and our youngest son, Zeke and his new shovel.

After about 10 minutes, Nate came back into the house by himself. When he saw me he started crying uncontrollably.

“MOMMY! I don’t like funerals!”

“Aaahh, no one does, Nate. I’m so sorry. Funerals are very sad. Are you sad because you’re gonna miss Spiny Back? Is that why you’re crying? Because Spiny Back went to Heaven?”

“NO!” {crying harder}

“Are you sad because we have to tell all your friends and teachers at school that Spiny Back didn’t make it?”

“NO!” {beyond hysterical} “I’m so sad because when we went out to the woods to bury Spiny Back, I tripped and scraped my face on a tree branch!”

A Kindergartener’s mourning period is significantly shorter than that of the adult man that’s been trying in vain to nurse the lizard back to health. I know I have a tendency to exaggerate just a wee bit from time to time, but you be the judge and tell me if you think this was a bit on the excessive/obsessive  side:

$160. for a Bearded Dragon “kit” which included a huge tank, lid, UV light, day heat light, night heat lamp, food, bedding, food and water dishes, thermometer/humidity gauge.  (Please remember that the lizard came to us with a tank already. You should have heard Mark’s sales pitch on why we needed the new one.)

$128. for the FIRST Vet. bill. Yes, you read that right…there was more than one. This included a shot of calcium for his metabolic bone disease; liquid calcium medicine that had to be administered 2x a day with a syringe and we had to hydrate him with fluids. This is the same man who when I was sick on the couch for a week, threw aspirin at me from across the room.

$42. to have silk worms, wax worms and butter worms FED EXED here from California! (I reminded him at this point that a new, healthy Bearded Dragon could be purchased for $3. less. I know…but I was having a bad day.)

$31. for the final Vet. bill and he didn’t even see the Lizard…just his poop! Yup. Mark not only scooped up, bagged and labeled lizard poop but he drove it over 40 minutes each way to present it with pride to be analyzed. This wasn’t just any lizard poop. This poop was joyously received after 3 days of worry, coaxing and massage. Don’t believe me? I have photos:

First, Mark gave Spiny Back a warm bath. He's lovingly holding his head above water so he doesn't drown.

Then Mark gently rubbed his belly with a soft tooth-brush. Hey, wait a minute...I'm the only one that uses a soft tooth-brush in this house. ARRGGGRRR...

"Hey look...he likes it!" "Yeah, well I'm gonna leave you two alone, Mark. This just went way past creepy."

...and we have poop, Ladies and Gentlemen. Mark came out of the bedroom with tears in his eyes, "Honey, great news! It worked! Spiny Back pooped!" That was 5 more words than he said to our families when our sons were born.

And the results of the fecal exam? Lots of parasites. Poor little guy was infested with them. (OK, so I felt a little bad for him. No one should ever have to go through that. Ew.)

So, despite the anti-parasite meds, the high protein food fed to him through a syringe and the gentle words of encouragement from my husband, Spiny Back was laid to rest on Jan. 10, 2010. He is survived by us and the Celebration Montessori Coral room. He will be missed.

Think this is the end of the story? Oh, no my friend. Turns out this was an elaborate plot by my husband:

Spiny Back wasn’t in the ground 3 hours and Mark says, “Hey, did you know Repticon is this weekend?” “No, but I’m guessing you did.” My stomach did a flip as my mind raced back over all the seemingly random events that led up to this moment.

This weekend, I stood in the doorway of my home, saying goodbye to my husband and son who were leaving with an empty aquarium and 2 tickets to Repticon clutched in their fists.

Everyone...this is Spike. Spike...this is everyone.

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