How To Fail At Applying For A Pet (Every Time)
In this age of pet trading and materialism, where the primary means of obtaining a pet is to use one of your own as a bargaining token, the skill of applying for a foster pet has become something of a forgotten art. Conversely, the slight decrease in the quantity of applications being sent out means that Neopians of talent have more space to shine. So many lucky users are still taking home the pets of their dreams after a simple application process -- their chances have never been better.
But you don’t want to follow their example; after all, successfully bringing home a pet is just too easy for you. Any dedicated, loving and enthusiastic fool can successfully apply for a pet. No, you want to make a different kind of impression. You want to go from the in-tray to the out-tray faster than a speeding Chet Flash. You want to be the applicant the foster parent will always remember, mostly at 3am after too much cheese on toast the previous night. In short, you want to write an application that’s guaranteed to fail, no matter what.
Sadly, such a course is not as easy as many have been led to believe. Although popular wisdom would have it that all foster parents are twisted, evil egomaniacs who will cheerfully reject you within thirty seconds for no reason before sitting down to a nice plate of Blumaroo Steak washed down with baby Neopets’ tears, in real life these temporary pet carers are almost diabolically generous. Despite your heartfelt longing for a speedy rejection, they will remorselessly see the best in your application. There have been documented cases of foster parents refusing to make their applicants jump through even a single hoop. Against such favourable odds, how are you possibly to mess up?
Well, fear not, would-be prodigy of infamous failure! This article is here to help you hit all the wrong buttons, from start to finish. Just follow this guide and I promise, you’ll never be chosen as a finalist again!
Step One: The Pet
No gorgeous rowze without a tiny seed, no high score trophy without a click of the game start button, and no failed application without a pet to apply for. If you’re strapped for time and want to skip yourself the trouble of reading the rest of this guide, you can even destroy the whole application at this stage! Simply study the foster parent’s accounts and send in an application for a pet who is not up for adoption, and your rejection letter is in the bag!
If you’d rather embrace a longer challenge, though -- and unsporting is the Neopian who wouldn't -- you’ll need to pick a UFA (Up for Adoption) pet by browsing adoption agency petpages or the Pound boards. Take good note of his or her species and colour, since those are the most important things. No need to bother with the name; if the foster parent can’t remember what her own Neopet is called, that’s her problem! The gender is also pretty immaterial — if the worst comes to the worst and you forget, you can always guess. Or call the pet “it”, which is gender-neutral and therefore, um, acceptable in all cases.
Since you’re not actually seeking a dream pet here, it doesn’t matter too much what type of Neopet you select. However, if you choose a badly named pet or one of an unpopular species, be sure to put the foster parent in her place by reminding her what an enormous favour you’re doing her in taking this undesirable pet off her hands.
Step Two: Getting Started
So you’ve chosen your pet and you’re ready to apply. Most foster pets will have links on their lookup to a page explaining what kind of owner and application the foster parent is looking for. Under no circumstances read this! Doing so will severely increase your chances of getting the pet. Instead, open up a new Neomail or petpage and get straight to work.
The important thing to remember here is that foster parents love detective work. They all fancy themselves as the next celebrity private eye. So be sure to provide them with some challenges. Don’t mention the names of your side accounts anywhere in the app — tracking them down will be hours of fun for a foster parent. For bonus points, mail her from a side account and see how long it takes her to find your main. And if the person you’re applying to has more than one foster UFA, be sure to start your application with the words “I would like to apply for your pet”. See how many Neomails you can exchange before actually giving any information that will let her know which pet.
Never forget that humility is a virtue. You might have qualities buried beneath your modest exterior that would make you the perfect owner for the foster pet, and your Neofamily might be the sweetest and best-developed on the planet. But all that comes second to this wonderful opportunity to display your modesty. Phrases like “I don’t really expect you to pick me” and “I am just a normal, average owner” will leave the foster parent utterly underwhelmed with you and well on her way to forgetting the application as soon as she finishes reading it.
Always be open to alternative methods of transaction! The only reason a pet would ever be UFA is because the owner hasn’t managed to trade it, so feel free to be generous and offer one of your own pets in exchange. If you don’t have any pets or are out of transfers, why not offer her an item or some Neopoints instead? Insulting foster parents’ hard work is very ironic and Year Twelve, not to mention the fact that breaking the rules will probably get you booted straight away unless the reader hasn’t had her morning coffee yet.
Step Three: The Main Application
Now you’ve introduced yourself to the foster parent (after a fashion) you’re ready to work on the main part of your application. The important thing here is to avoid, as far as possible, anything that is specific to the pet you’re applying for. Personality, nickname, backstory, future plans, why you chose this pet — all unnecessary. You want the foster parent to fully experience that one-size-fits-all feeling, as if she’d just taken your application off the rack at the NC Mall. Under the heading devoted to your plans for the pet, for instance, be sure to tell the foster parent that you will feed it and play with a toy. It’s not as if every other owner in Neopia does that, after all.
If you’re working on a petpage, feel free to go wild with aesthetic tweaks, even if you have no experience with coding and don’t even know how to make a text box. Nobody will mind having to read your entire application inside the description area of a premade shop blog, especially if you chose it because you’re applying for a pet of the same species as the one on the logo. Also, stockpile as much art as you can — the source doesn’t matter. Foster parents just love looking at huge collections of random pictures; it makes them feel like connoisseurs of fine art. Don’t worry about the pictures having been drawn for someone else, or that they don’t look much like the pet. If you’re applying for a Uni, for instance, there are plenty of pictures of horses on the Internet!
It is absolutely mandatory to include at least one picture, one poem, and a cute little animation effect in any petpage application, whether or not you actually possess any talent in these fields. It doesn’t matter at all whether these things are actually related in any way to the pet you’re applying for: they’re just an arbitrary requirement, like CAPTCHA. Bonus points if you have to mis-stress the pet’s species name to get anything to rhyme with it.
Neomail applicants, don’t be fooled into thinking you’re doomed to mediocre success! There are still plenty of chances for you to fail spectacularly here, even without the aid of graphics. The simplest tactic is to appear utterly unenthusiastic about the pet and any future prospects. This is a particularly good move for older users, who are more convincing when it comes to that jaded vibe. You should give the foster parent the impression that you’ve seen it all, don’t have any particular interest in Neo, and might well end up quitting in the next few months. If you do this properly, by about the mid-point of the application both you and the foster parent should be asking yourselves why you’re applying in the first place.
Paranoia is good for foster parents and stops them getting complacent. Find another UFA pet of the same colour and species belonging to a different foster parent, and switch the two names occasionally. Watch the foster parent get the jitters as she wonders if she's your fallback option.
Above all, don’t forget to make the application as hard for the foster parent to read as you can manage. While it would be a shameless foster parent who dismissed an application due to poor spelling or chatspeak, there’s no harm in giving her a headache while you’re here. Turn down all offers of a beta reader and make sure to use at least three abbreviations or acronyms that you invented yourself. And remember: there’s nothing more avant garde than yellow text on a white background!
Section Four: Your Accounts
So you’ve sent off the application. Great job, and you’re well on the way to failure. But you’re not quite finished yet. It’s possible that, in spite of all your efforts, the foster parent may still be on the fence and willing to give you a chance. In that case, the next thing she’ll do is come and look at your accounts, not wanting to take the chance that the faults in your application may be due to dyslexia, inexperience or some new sarcastic Internet meme. You need to be one step ahead of her and ready before she arrives.
Firstly, if you’ve given in to the temptation of actually listing your side accounts in the application, under no circumstances log into any of them, particularly if you intend to put the pet on one of them. The sad, hungry and obviously neglected little faces of the pets on your inactive sides will stir pity in the foster parent’s heart. If you’ve already got twenty pets and you’ve given no indication in the application of realising this is a problem, be sure to give one of them to a friend without warning and don’t tell anyone where it’s gone. If you can’t find a willing accomplice, just drop the pet in the Pound and triumphantly tell the foster parent that you now have space for her pet.
All your petpages, pet lookups, and so forth should be in their unspoiled, default state, even if you claimed in your application that you would use your creative skills to personalise the pet. It’s neater that way.
If you’ve followed all this advice, congratulations! It shouldn’t be too long before an envelope with a polite but impersonal letter from the foster parent lands on your doorstep. Cherish those heavenly words, “I’m sorry, but you aren’t quite what I’m looking for”. You’ve earned them. In the depths of your heart, silently thank the foster parent for recognising the true failure of your application.
Of course, outwardly you may wish to call her a heartless ego-tripper and threaten to blacklist her to all your friends. It is, after all, traditional.