People who trade or abandon Neopets are often depicted as the lowest of the low, as uncaring Neopians who view Neopets as trophies or valuable items to be bought and sold. I admit I once thought the same, until I met with a small band of Neopets on a ferry going to Krawk Island. I was on my way to interview a famous pirate who had recently found a long lost treasure. Since I am always on the lookout for interesting and exciting stories, seeing three owner-less Neopets on board the ferry instantly piqued my interest. I left my research on the history of long lost treasures to chat with them instead. A Faerie Uni, an Island Xweetok and a Darigan Aisha, they were all quite friendly and willing to speak with me. Their names shall remain undisclosed at their request to remain anonymous. As a journalist, I have to respect their interests.
As it turned out, they were all being traded to owners living on Krawk Island. I was at first quite shocked to hear this. I was even more surprised to see that none of them seemed particularly sad or upset. Instead, they all looked happy, healthy and cheerful. My Baby Aisha, Lanshar, clung to me uncertainly and asked how they could possibly be happy after their owners had cruelly abandoned them and were trading them away for other pets.
I quickly attempted to hush her up and apologized; babies will be babies after all. But the Darigan Aisha (a rather shy, quiet fellow) assured me there was no harm at all in asking, for many Neopians were under the misconception that all traded Neopets were miserable and unhappy.
“Things are not so simple,” he said.
When I asked what he meant by that, he merely told me that it was a long story. Having plenty of time on my hands, and not wishing to return to that long and boring history of long lost treasures, I took out my trusty notebook and asked if he would take the time to explain. I told them I might write an article on the subject. He and the others obligingly agreed to tell me their individual histories to clarify. The Faerie Uni (the oldest of the three) started first. She used to belong to a young Neopian who was irresponsible and often let her go hungry. When she tired of the Uni, she abandoned her in the Pound.
“I was devastated,” said the Faerie Uni thoughtfully. “True, she had never been the best owner, but she was the only owner I'd ever known and she did buy me that Faerie Paint Brush, after all. Anyway, I was scared and thought that she had abandoned me because I had not been a good enough pet.” She paused for a moment before continuing.
“After a while I was adopted by the strangest Neopian I have ever encountered. She was very kind, but we didn't get along very well. She loved clothes, fashion and shopping—three things I detest! She liked going to parties while I preferred to stay at home and read books. It just wasn't working out. At last, she came to me and asked if I would prefer to be traded away, or to stay with her. By that time I knew that being with an owner you don't love is worse than even being in the Pound. So I told her the truth, that I would rather try my luck with a new owner.”
At this I almost dropped my notepad and stared openly. A Neopet that would willingly leave his or her owner? It was unheard of!
“People always say,” observed the Darigan Aisha, “that Neopets have feelings too, and that we should be treated accordingly. Yet they assume we all want the same thing. Not all Neopets get along with their owners. Not all of us are happy simply with being well fed and cared for.” He looked out to the sea and the Island Xweetok touched his shoulder sadly. I wondered at his story, but asked the Faerie Uni to continue.
After the Faerie Uni had admitted to wanting a new owner, her owner began a search. She posted advertisements in the Neopian Times and sent out fliers, hung up posters. A week later she received a grubby, seawater stained letter from Krawk Island. A fashion-hating, book-loving Neopian was looking for a pet just like the Faerie Uni. She had a baby Gelert on her hands who was unhappy living on Krawk Island. He was always being bullied by the the tough Pirate pets. Even though his owner loved him, he could not leave Krawk Island. But he wanted his Gelert to have a chance at a better life.
“They sent a few letters back and forth and it was decided that they would trade us,” said the Faerie Uni happily. “I even wrote him a few messages myself. We have the same hobbies and the Baby Gelert loves parties as much as my owner. We are both going to be so happy with our new owners!”
The Island Xweetok smiled, happy for her friend. “Many Neopets are sad when they are abandoned because they think it is their fault their owners didn't love them enough. I tried, a long time ago to be someone that I wasn't to make my owner happy. In the end, he was pleased but I was miserable,” she said.
The Faerie Uni nodded. “I realize now that my first owner was too young and inexperienced to really care for me properly. My previous owners just weren't suitable for me, or me for them! If I had never been abandoned, I would still be stuck with my first owner, underfed and confused. But instead I was given the chance to find a new owner, the perfect owner for me.”
I thanked her for her interesting and informative story. There was much food for thought in her tale, but I was given no time to mull it over.
“Of course, not all traded Neopets are happy,” said the Darigan Aisha slowly, interrupting my mulling. “Some of them are traded despite their wishes, and carted around Neopia as though they were valuable plushies. I should know, because I have had more owners than Jhudora and Illusen have had fights and not all of my owners have been kind and caring.”
And so he began his own story. His original owner, who had always wanted a Krawk, met up with a Pet Trader who had one and they came to an agreement. And so he was sent off with a stranger. “He had never been a good owner anyway, and I was glad to be rid of him. And it had always been my dream to travel,” he said. “I left Darigan Citadel for the first time with my new owner.”
The Pet Trader brought him to Neopia Central and took good care of him, but never gave him any love. “Didn't even look me in the eye, that one, just mumbled something about Darigan pets being popular and brought me to the Neolodge. I stayed there for a few days, not sure of what to do, then I decided to begin exploring. I went all over Neopia Central and had the time of my life. But it wasn't long before my new owner returned and told me I was being shipped to Terror Mountain, where a new owner was waiting.” I watched his expression carefully but there was not even a hint of sadness to be seen. “I enjoy solitude and have never required the constant presence of an owner to stay happy. But I stray from my story...”
“Anyway, he said something about no one in Neopia Central knowing the true worth of Darigan pets and a Desert Lupe being an unfair trade,” continued the Aisha with a hint of humor in his eyes. “Despite this, shipped off to Terror Mountain I was, to yet another Pet Trader. I stayed there for only a few weeks, but in that time I explored the mountains, stole Neggs from the Snowager and spoke with Taelia the Snow Faerie. It was amazing. When my owner came to tell me that I was wanted in Shenkuu, I could barely contain my excitement.”
And it had continued like that, according to the Darigan Aisha, for the past few months. He would be shipped from one Pet Trader to another, sometimes ending up with an owner who didn't like his solitary ways. “They wanted a sociable, friendly pet, and that was not me. And as the travel bug was still within me, I never tried to dissuade them from sending me away. I've been in the Pound more than once, let me tell you, and it is not fun, but overall I have enjoyed my life.”
A life that had been a series of travels, of different owners, cultures and experiences. Always on the move, never in the same place for more than a few days or weeks at a time.
My Aisha, Lanshar, could hardly contain herself and burst out asking if he would continue like this forever, never staying with an owner for long, never having one true home or pet siblings to play with. He smiled at her kindly, for he seemed to have developed quite a fondness for her honest, inquisitive nature. “One day, when I find the right owner, I will stay with him or her. One day, when this itch to travel departs and I begin to yearn for a constant home I will find it. But for now I will continue my exciting journey, which leads me to Krawk Island today.”
He paused to assure me that it was not all roses and excitement. Bad owners, long stays in the Cockroach Towers, rainy seasons on the Mystery Island and more had hampered his journey. And he had met many sad Neopets, the other pets of his myriad owners. Not all shared his solitary habits and love of travel. Some had been carted around for too long and were still unwanted. Some had been abandoned by owners they had loved and others were desperate to find an owner who loved them for themselves and not their fancy Painted colors.
“It all comes down to the owners knowing their Neopets and doing what they think is best,” he concluded.
“I agree,” said the Island Xweetok and Faerie Uni together. The young Island Xweetok smiled and went on to tell us her story.
“My story is similar to hers,” she said, pointing to the Faerie Uni, “except that I have only ever had one owner. We never really were suited to each other. I always did my best to make him happy and it worked—for a while. Then he began to notice how sad I really was. When we decided it was time to find me a new owner, we found one quickly and the arrangements were all made. Everyone was happy. I am being traded right now for a Royal Peophin.” Her face darkened. “And then, we began receiving hate mail.”
“Oh yes, I'd almost forgot about those,” said the Faerie Uni with sympathy. “My last owner and I received them as well.”
I asked about this hate mail and why they had received any.
“Some people believe they have the right to tell other owners what's best for their Neopets,” remarked the Darigan Aisha. “Some of my Trading owners are quite familiar with such rudeness.”
My curiosity was piqued and I eagerly asked the Island Xweetok for more information.
“Well, you see,” she began, “It was like this...”
People read the notices her owner had put up, announcing his pet was up for trade. And they were angered. They began sending him harsh letters telling him he was a bad owner who was heartless and cruel. They called him names said hurtful things. And when he tried to tell them that it was a decision he had made together with his Neopet, they either called him a liar or began sending the Island Xweetok nasty messages also. They told her she was a bad Neopet for letting her owner give her up so easily.
“It was terrible,” she said sadly. “I began to feel so guilty and afraid. Maybe I was making the wrong choice. But you see, I met him,” and she indicated the Darigan Aisha, who nodded, “and he helped me make up my mind. Being traded was my chance for happiness. So I took that chance.”
I finished her last sentence, scribbling furiously, my wrist aching and my notebook full to bursting with notes. With no pages left to write on, I considered writing any extra information they might have for me on Lanshar's forehead, but luckily was saved the temptation when she handed me a fresh notepad with a grin. I smiled back and returned to my conversation with the three strange Neopets being traded across Neopia, each with their unique story and experience.
I decided to conclude my interview by asking them each what they thought about trading Neopets in general.
“For some, it is a heart breaking moment,” said the Darigan Aisha. “For others it's an opportunity. It should always be a decision that both the owner and Neopet come to together, not something forced upon anyone. If a Neopet is tired of being traded around, their owners should stop trading them and give them instead to an owner who will keep and love them.”
“People should remember,” added the Faerie Uni, “that not all owners get along with their Neopets perfectly well. Sometimes they just don't get along and that doesn't make them bad or uncaring! Assuming all traded Neopets are miserable just isn't fair to the owners or to the pets.”
“You and your Aisha are good friends,” observed the Island Xweetok with warmth. “I tried at being such a good companion to my owner but it wasn't meant to be. Trading made it possible for me to find another owner more suited to me, and Trading can make it possible for other unhappy Neopets. They should not be robbed of such an opportunity because some people think that once you have a Neopet you have to stick with them forever. There are as many different kinds of Neopets as there are people, you know.”
We left them at the docks of Krawk Island and watched them walk off happily to their new owners and lives, all of them looking happy and chatting about their hopes and dreams together. I can find no better words to close this article than their own, so I leave you here, to consider.