Apparently in these modern times, the period of mourning for an Australian Bearded Dragon is 37 hours. And you don't have to wear black at all. After that time, it is perfectly acceptable to go to the nearest pet store and find a suitable replacement.
Don't think, however, that choosing to do so is a sign that you do not feel grieved at the loss of your pet. You have gone through the stages of grief, however abbreviated, as outlined below.
- Stage One: Shock and Denial--This is what your mother expressed when you came into her bedroom at 6:43 on Saturday morning to announce that Fyreborne had indeed died in the night. It could be that she reacted thus due to lack of sleep, but for our purposes, we will consider stage one duly met.
- Stage Two: Pain and Guilt--This period of intense questioning happened after your mother woke up enough to digest what you had announced. This is when you discussed whether it was your fault that the lizard had somehow found a toy rubber lizard and eaten it, later extruding it from his nether-regions. Your tears watered your mother's pillow as you struggled with culpability, but soon dried as you shifted all blame for the ingestion to your sly younger brother who had always had a fixation with Fyreborne.
- Stage Three: Anger and Bargaining--Well, there was not so much anger as bargaining in this stage. This is when you tearfully asked your mother whether she had been sincere when she told you BEFORE the purchase of Fyreborne that if this pet died an untimely death, there would be no more pets in your household. You had already prepared an arsenal of reasons that this death was not your fault, but she shushed you with a hug and you let the sense of reprieve flood your thin grief-wracked body.
- Stage Four: Depression and Loneliness--After your mom finally stumbled out of bed and began to make her way through her first bleary cup of coffee, she noticed you sitting pensively in her favorite chair. She held you and rubbed your back as you blinked back tears. These tears simmered most of the morning, always threatening to overflow, as your loss began to sink in. Every time you walked past Fyreborne's tank, you felt a pang. Finally, after the fourteenth time she had asked you how you were doing, you told your mom that you didn't want to talk about him any more.
- Stage Five: The Upward Turn--Your mom told you that Fyreborne needed to be buried, and you shrouded his frail body carefully with a long skein of toilet paper before digging a shallow grave in his favorite basking spot in mom's flower bed, murmuring goodbyes as you shoveled the dirt over his body. Strangely, after doing this, you began to feel better.
- Stage Six: Reconstruction and Working Through--When you came back into the house, you cleaned out Fyreborne's tank and put his favorite climbing logs into the garbage can. You decided you needed to take a break before getting another lizard. Then your mom told you about daddy's surprise plan. (Sometimes she has a hard time keeping a secret when it's really good.)
- Stage Seven: Acceptance and Hope--All night you deliberated between the leopard gecko and the three-legged bearded dragon (and half price! Your dad is nothing if not frugal) you had seen at the pet store a few nights before when purchasing what had been Fyreborne's last meal (not the rubber lizard; an appetizing treat of tender young crickets). It took a trip to the store to make your decision, and you came home an hour later with your new friend, the three legged dragon, currently un-named, who, despite his tender youth, has already shown himself to be a fighter: he survived an attack at the pet store by a ferocious older beardie who bit his foot off before the keepers could pry them apart. This young beardie, only two months old, has great potential for longevity in this (possibly) doomed household.
Indeed, all hints of possible adultery aside, we have high hopes for this tiny new inhabitant in House Genthner. We pray he lives a long and fruitful life, and we all solemnly pledge to keep lizards of rubber far from the reach of his agile pink tongue.