I’ll start by saying how much I love, and have always loved animals in general and pets in particular. Right from the earliest memories of my parents’ dogs (2 little miniature dachshunds whom I adored, but was always slightly embarrassed at having to walk in public ….’Dad, why can’t we get a PROPER dog?’ etc, etc), and years later my self-destructive, attention -seeking, kamikaze goldfish Walter, who I acquired at the local fair and who lived for many years longer than anyone would anticipate of a fairground fishy, right up until the moment Dad rang me at Uni to impart the sad news that Walter, dramatic to the last, had decided to flip himself out of his bowl and slip down the back of the sideboard. Obviously he was grief-stricken at my absence from the family home and had decided enough was enough. Poor boy. Perhaps naming him after the Waltzer at the fair was just a step too far.
the mini beasts
I was never bothered, as a child, about having any of the ‘smaller’ caged pets such as guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils etc. Though I did once have the misfortune to look after the school gerbil one summer holiday – didn’t rate it much, far too eager with the teeth, and also far too nocturnally noisy for my liking. Also, I couldn’t see the point of something you couldn’t take for a nice long walk. Filed under ‘pointless pets’ and moved on.
All of this disdain as a child for small furry beasts is now coming back to haunt me with my youngest daughter, who is pretty much the female version of Gerald Durrell (if anyone saw the TV series ‘The Durrells’ earlier this year, wasn’t it just brilliant? and if you didn’t you definitely need to track it down, it is perfect family viewing- rare these days). Since an early age (approx. 3 years old I think), when she came striding, bold as brass’ hand outstretched, into the kitchen with a lizard on her small palm, exclaiming ‘Mummy! Mummy! What this?’ (I quote), she’s always been fascinated by anything creature related.
Fur, feathers or scales?
She’s not fussy – fur, no fur, scales, legs, no legs, wings, feathers, you name it she loves it. We have been through the numerous collections of ladybirds and snails (thankfully the sort of bugs best kept in an outdoor ‘home’ – for a few days before being surreptitiously set free by mum). Latest head count has us at 5 types of ‘pet’ – Chickens, Dogs, Guinea Pigs (yes, I know what I said about small cage animals, but no one prepared me for how brilliantly funny and lovable the ‘wigs’ are), Stick insects (I refuse to look at these), and latterly the 2 goldfish who, unlike lovely Walter, survived only a matter of days. DAYS? something went horribly wrong there I’m guessing.
Something tells me she might want to be a zookeeper like Gerald, or perhaps a veterinary nurse, or a farmer is the last option I heard mention of.
As far as pets are concerned, pretty much like anything else in life, you either have them and think they’re great, or don’t and can’t see the point. Those in the anti camp tell us pet lovers, ‘Oh but you’re so tied’, what about holidays?’. Well….newsflash…. holidays with 3 kids are few and far between (the EXPENSE!), and when they do happen, there are such establishments as kennels (for inordinate amounts of money, granted). Then there’s the calling in of favours with friends and family who might love the company of some charming stick insects for a few days. It’s not an insurmountable issue. I think what they really mean is dislike of the associated mess. Yes the pets need feeding, cleaning out, walking, brushing and de-fleaing on a regular basis. They make a mess but then so do kids and husbands, but I for one know that when I’m too old and frail to have a dog to walk, I want to be surrounded by acres of squealing Guinea Pigs in my dotage.
After all, you can’t fail to love a cute little fur ball who has so many variants on a squeak in their vocab that there are online dictionaries, YouTube videos and websites dedicated to deciphering Pig Speak. Need a car alarm impression? Forget the parrots, just ask the Guineas. I rest my case.
Originally posted 2016-11-27 20:03:52.