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Pet Franklin: Easy to love, hard to cuddle

My father has a genuine pedigreed pet rock. It comes from a long line of famous rocks. Its ancestors are found among the rubble of the pyramids and the Great Wall of China.

Dad never named him, but let's assume his name is Franklin.

Franklin has been with my dad for about 40 years now. Franklin has been extremely faithful and obedient throughout the years.

For 40 years Franklin has been at my dad's side. Well, not exactly at his side. More like on a shelf somewhere. I know you're thinking right about now, "Holy! Forty years? That's a long time for a pet to live." Yes, it is quite a very long time.

Franklin sits off on his shelf and keeps to himself. I think he enjoys the privacy. Stored away in his little box and nestled in his cushy bedding, his corner is quite comfy. Franklin has been no hassle at all. After all, he is a rock.

He came with an owner's manual, which I carefully read. It demonstrates how to care for your pet rock, how to tell a sick rock from a healthy rock, (they even have images for that one -- how thoughtful) and how to teach it simple and amusing tricks.

The manual even comes with instructions on how to paper train your rock! (Just leave your rock on the paper. He will know what to do.) Overall, the manual is extremely helpful.

My favorite trick of all is how to teach your rock how to roll over. This is easily done by placing your pet rock on top of a steep hill and letting go, thereby helping your rock learn to roll over. The manual thoughtfully warns us in advance that we will tire from this trick faster than our rocks.

If you were planning on teaching your rock how to stand or shake hands, the manual informs us that rocks don't have hands or feet, silly. Fetching is similarly troublesome; rarely will a pet rock come back at all, much less with something you have thrown.

I know this will come as a shock, but the rock is very obedient. If I were to tell Franklin to 'stay,' he would. Such a good boy! He won't even move an inch unless instructed. It's crazy how fast they learn.

An occasional pat of approval works wonders. I'm no rock expert, but I'm assuming that rocks enjoy the praise.

As you can assume, pet rocks are very different from pets like dogs or cats. They don't shed, make strange noises, bother you, stink or even spew food all over the place. There is no need to let Franklin inside or outside and I don't need to take him on walks. How handy!

Pets like our cat Bernice are not so simple. Unlike Franklin, I (meaning my dad) must feed her, clean her litter box and pick her fur off of everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything.

Just about every surface in my house contains a bit of Bernice fur. I don't see that coming from Franklin, that's for sure.

Franklin doesn't get in my way when I'm trying to do things. I mean, how could he? He's trapped in his little box in a corner. Either way, Franklin doesn't step all over my feet or stand in extremely inconvenient places for me to trip on.

Although Franklin might be the ideal pet, he holds none of the same qualities that a real live furry, fluffy animal can bring to you. Cuddling isn't so pleasant, stuffing Franklin into my overalls to carry around would be pointless and teaching him to read would be near impossible.

I love Franklin, I really do. I plan to love him for as long as I live, but he's no substitute for a real pet, that's for sure.

Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a sophomore at Detroit Lakes High School.