In Praise of the Unpainted Pet
Natasha has been saving her Neopoints for years - every day she does her "dailies",
free daily activities to earn Neopoints. She restocks and prices her shop religiously
and never forgets to "Collect Daily Interest". She is only allowed to spend half
an hour a day playing games on Neopets, so she has become an expert at earning
Neopoints quickly. Natasha also feeds and plays with her pets every day. She has
a red Lupe, her first Neopet ever; a blue Bruce she chose at the pound; a yellow
Grundo rescued from Dr. Sloth; and a green Kougra - by far her favorite pet. That
is why she has set herself the goal of - no, not increasing her pet's intelligence,
or making it stronger or healthier, but changing a fundamental characteristic:
painting her Royal. The reaction of her three other pets when they found that
Natasha planned to spend all her Neopoints on the Kougra was subtle but immediate.
They became less affectionate with Natasha and began to resent their owner's favorite
pet. Soon there grew a divide between Natasha, her Kougra, and her three other
pets. The solution was obvious, but Natasha was reluctant to accept it - paint
all or none of her pets. And Natasha could simply not afford four rare paint brushes.
This article, then, is in praise of the unpainted pet: both those whose owners
cannot afford to paint them, and the pets whose owners simply like the colors
green, yellow, red, and blue.
The permanence of color change is irrevocable. Pets painted Christmas wear
their winter coats throughout the Month of Swimming. Those pets that are Halloween
must forever scare younger Neopets. And pets painted with a baby paint brush
can never grow up. Is this a service we are doing to our beloved pets, this
subjection to a particular theme that only comes once a year? Imagine never
being able to take off a costume, or perpetually bearing the load of a bulky
winter jacket. Perhaps color changing is not the bed of roses Neopians have
been brainwashed to believe it is. In fact, just how many Neopians sit down
with their pets before painting them and discuss the pitfalls of what their
new color will be? A pet should have a say in such a total and permanent change.
In fact, the only way to undo a color change is to have another one. If an
owner does not wish to subject his Christmas pet to heatstroke in the Month
of Swimming, the only way is to re-paint the pet. And given the price of rare
paint brushes these days, the repainting of pets with the seasons can cost upward
of six million Neopoints a year. And all these Neopoints (except for those that
were used on the most recent painting) are now wasted - nothing remains of what
were once essential characteristics: a pet's icy glow; its chocolate sprinkles;
its Halloween mask. Pets learn from their owners. The lesson they learn here?
That frugality is worthless; Neopoints should be squandered mindlessly on the
whims of their owner. This excessive display of wealth, this usage of a pet
as a status symbol, is both inadvisable and vain.
But even more than the dilemma of what lesson pets learn from painting is the
quandary of ensuring they are loved unconditionally. Those Neopians who have
collected all nine pieces to the Secret Laboratory Map, more commonly known
as the "Lab Ray", zap their pets, in most cases hoping for a color change. Then,
once the pet has "changed colour to Maraquan", the Neopian moves on to zap another
pet. Then comes the day when all four pets are painted. This puts the owner
in a quandary: keep all four pets and waste the 500,000 Neopoints spent on the
lab ray, or pound one of the pets? Some people, thinking they can escape this
predicament, create "storage accounts", and re-adopt a painted pet on this new
account. Sadly, though, these pets receive but a fraction of the attention that
they used to - people simply do not use side accounts as much. That being said,
then, virtually all owners choose to "look for a better home" for one of their
pets. And they often do find one: demand is high for painted pets. But what
of the Neopians who adopt these pets? Often their unpainted pets are kicked
out to make room for adopting someone else's painted pet. These unpainted pets
were loved for only so long as there were no "better" pets to be adopted. Love
for Neopets should be unconditional and undying.
Now let us return to the Help Boards, where adoptions are often advertised
with cries of "Pounding Painted Pet!" Responses vary little: "cute pet", "me
please", "I'd love to adopt". But when someone is "Pounding Blue Tuskaninny",
the board dies within moments of its creation. People simply do not want to
adopt a basic-color pet that, for whatever reason, needs a new home and a caring
owner. But if that Tuskaninny were painted Christmas, the board would soon be
overflowing with Neopians begging to adopt. Painted pets have inherent personality
traits - Maraquan pets love to swim, faerie pets love flying, et cetera. The
challenge, then, is here for the owners of unpainted pets: take the time to
get to know your pet. This is a more difficult task, since it is not immediately
evident what unpainted pets enjoy doing. In this age of instant gratification,
Neopians are anxious to immediately know all about their pets. But real friendship
takes time; it is a process to be savored, not simply a list of facts about
one's pet. And a more important challenge: love your pet. Even newbies love
painted pets and wish they could one day have one. So, again, true Neopians
have the more difficult task of loving and caring for a pet that at first glance
seems common. Soon Neopians will find themselves discovering the inner unique
qualities of the pet. True beauty is inner beauty; discover your pet's inner
beauty. Praise the unpainted pet, for it is not only unique but also a testament
to the greatness that can exist even without being covered in speckles.
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