About a year ago, we started keeping snails as pets. Nicole found an incredibly beautiful snail named Dazzle, and we brought in a friend to keep her company. Her companion was named McKenzie. We'd never kept snails before, so it was a learning process for us. One thing we learned was that snails are a good deal more resilient than we'd thought.
Last summer, there was an accident that resulted in McKenzie losing a good portion of her snail. Several times, we though we'd lost her entirely. We looked up how to patch a snail's shell (the answer is: very carefully), but the predominant advice was to let the snail try to heal itself. McKenzie didn't do much over the next month, but she rebuilt her shell stronger than before (we feed them a lot of calcium, which helps).
She and Dazzle were as close as we'd hope they'd be. In fact, they were even closer as produced several clutches of eggs. There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning and finding dozens of tiny, almost completely transparent snails climbing the side of your aquarium. We wound up keeping one of the babies, Blink, and there then another who will have their own story one of these days (Lucky).
Bringing in snails from outside, it's hard to know just how old they are. They can live for several years, but you there's no good way to tell the age of a snail, so we don't know how old McKenzie was. What we do know was that, over the last month or so, she hadn't been as active as she normally was. Sometimes that means there's another batch of eggs coming, but it was worrying.
This morning, our little McKenzie wasn't with us anymore. Nicole told me when I was at work and I did everything I could to distract myself until I could get home. When I got home, I tried to wake her up and wound up just sobbing my eyes out. I'm still tearing up a little writing this. Nicole, of course, had done everything I tried, but our friend was gone.
That may seem strange, to be that attached to animal that might not even perceive our presence and certainly can't express any obvious affection. But, we brought them inside and we are completely responsible for giving them as good a life as we can and we do our best because they are truly marvelous creatures. McKenzie was a good little snail whose company we enjoyed greatly. I know snails are considered "pests" but please try to consider how gentle and beautiful they are the next time you see one.