My friend Zoe has a lurcher called Kikko Buddha Hound, he’s lanky and hairy and the most Zen dog I have ever met. Well … unless he sees a fox of course. He saw one recently and felled poor Zoe who was holding on to his lead. She broke a collar bone but forgave him of course as he is a most faithful and fine companion.
Some people go down the ‘fur baby’ route (I know, I know) but I haven’t succumbed, although my friends say I should, but I value my freedom and don’t want it to end. I like to have animals in my life though, what can be better than stroking a horse’s velvety nose or feeling some fluffy ears of any kind.
I had cats when I was growing up, who, to my young mind, were fair game for dressing up. My sister, a fellow not-mum, would squeeze Holly the half Siamese in a baby grow and I would plonk Fudge the sleepy furry ginger cat in my toy pram and wheel him up and down the road. Passers-by would coo over him and say what a lovely baby he was. I thought they were a bit stupid if they couldn’t tell the difference between a furry feline and a small child but let them believe what they wanted, I was a polite child. This practice I was sure would stand me in good stead for becoming a mother but as much as I tucked poor Fudge in with his blanket the more he would wriggle free, a strange metaphor for how my plans for motherhood worked out perhaps.
My hamster Hercules, an escape artist extraordinaire spent many happy days in the piano, not that he was musical, but because he also valued his freedom. The day he wouldn’t come out of his bedding was a stark first encounter with the grim reaper. He’d taken him away to play on the giant hamster wheel in the sky and he wasn’t coming back no matter how hard I wished. My mum dissuaded me from administering cpr and the kiss of life, and there ended my pet owning days in a small tearful ceremony under the Sumac tree in the back garden.
Huckle the healing cat lives next door, he always seems to turn up for a chat just when I need him. Some animals are tuned in to people in need I’ll wager. I think they like to help. He knows he’s not allowed into my house but slopes in nonetheless tiptoeing as if I won’t notice. One day I didn’t notice and accidentally shut him in, I had only been half an hour or so but in that time he’d had a little nose around, shimmied his way upstairs and pooed on the bed. He did send me a lovely bouquet of flowers and a card which read ‘sorry I pooed on your bed, love Huckle’. He is a very thoughtful cat.
I can see that pets are used as replacement children, but I suppose we have to remember that they are not people. They don’t care if you buy them Prada or feed them pate on a solid silver plate. They will love you anyway – maybe not so much when you try to get the burs out of their tails, but then if I were a cat I would be a bit peeved, I remember the ‘No More Tangles’ spray and the wide tooth orange comb, but then we must remember I’m not a cat.
I admire animals in the wild, they’re trying hard to navigate their way around the humans. We’re all animals I suppose, but we are the ones who can either destroy or save the lives of those vulnerable creatures of the world who don’t have a voice and in no way can speak up for themselves. We have a duty of care to look after our furry and feathered friends. David Attenborough says, ‘I think sometimes we need to take a step back and just remember we have no greater right to be here than any other animal’. He has inspired us to see the natural world as precious, and so it is. What a world and what a chap.
Whether you have pets on your life or just love a twitch with the birds, animals can bring so much joy into our lives can’t they? What would we do without them? Have you got a shiny wet dog nose marks on your windows? Or cat claws in your leg? A parrot on your shoulder or blue tits in your hedge? If you do, we’d love to know! Follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and tell us about your fur (or feather) baby (I know, I know).