My Animals & Other Animals (part 1)

Another recycled blog ported over from my old Moonfruit site. This one was originally posted on November 10th, 2011, and, give or take a couple of days, opens with observations on Tabitha the Special Needs Cat’s dislike of fireworks that are equally relevant this week…

Well, it’s November the 10th and all being well that’s the last of the fireworks for this year, which will be a huge relief to Tabitha the Special Needs Cat. All in all it’s not been a bad run this year; the fireworks started a couple of days before Halloween and fizzled out (if you’ll excuse the damp squib of a pun and the insult added to injury of an extended metaphor) on Tuesday night, just three days after the official dateline. I think that may be a record for my street, where in previous years the bangs and rockets seem to have blighted the lives of the local pet community nonstop from Mid October until well into January; a sort of rolling celebration taking in gunpowder, treason and plot by way of Halloween Eve’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve’s Eve and several attempts at New Year.

Tabitha the Special Needs Cat is much relieved, and by extension so am I, because at last I am able again to sit and watch TV without a cringing, fidgeting, pathetic waste of fur jumping into my lap and dribbling all over the crotch of my thermal ‘loungewear’, which is scared catanything but the lovely experience of human / feline interaction I envisaged when we adopted said SN shorthair domestic from the rescue centre. But one thing the recent firework and Tab-on-the-lap fest did do is bring back happy memories of pets gone by that weren’t such a waste in the fur department. Delightful, delovely cats like Tabby-Links and Poo Cat & Stink Kitten, and a ragtag (and bobtail) collection of hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and so on that have died in service or been sadly used, abused and cast aside like worn out wellies as I progressed from enthusiastic but neglectful pet owning child to soft as shite, indulging pet owning adult. Here are some of their stories…

My first encounter with domesticated animal life is one I have no recollection of at all but which my sister remembers in detail. She had taken me (well, been forced to take me, more accurately) to a neighbour’s house to play, and left me happily sitting on the grass rocking while she and her friend fed slices of unbuttered Mother’s Pride and tepid water in plastic cups to a motley collection of dollies and teddies that made Hamble, the psychopathic looking doll from Playschool (And today we’re looking through the…. arched window…), look positively adorable. Unfortunately, the friend’s mother decided that their goldfish (‘Goldie’, I imagine) would enjoy a gentle bask in the sunshine too, so placed her (or him I have no idea how to sex a goldfish now and certainly didn’t then) in her (or his) bowl on the blanket beside me. By the time she’d gone back into the house to fetch her cup of tea Goldie was no more, and I, at around 18 months, had discovered – well ahead of the gourmets and gourmands who would embrace it as a cultural landmark in fusion cooking many decades later – the Japanese culinary phenomenon that is Sushi.

I tend to imagine that sequence in terms of a Looney Tunes cartoon, with me inserting the fish into my mouth head first while holding the tail, puckering my lips and withdrawing a Tom catperfect fish skeleton with the head intact, but I guess the reality would have been something far uglier – i.e. a chubby baby with a mouthful of mashed fish and fin and a tongue coated with glistening scales screaming in horror as damp internals ruptured like redcurrants between his teeth. Not a pretty thought, is it? Having said that, I’d be willing to put money on Goldie being one of those poor, diseased fish acquired by throwing a ping-pong ball into a jam-jar at Rocky Tom’s Easter funfair, so chances are my mashing molars were a blessed relief compared to the slow, lingering death-by-fin-rot-and-white spot she (or he) would have suffered over the coming weeks anyway…

My second pet encounter is one I think I have vague recollections of, but it may well be I’m confusing myself with memories of Andrex Adverts Past. It was a beautiful Labrador puppy – definitely named Goldie – who was gifted upon my family by an idiot neighbour who either hadn’t noticed how ‘enthusiastic’ I was as a child, or was so desperate to home an unexpected litter of puppies that he had failed to consider the full implications. It breaks my heart to say it, dear reader, but I tormented poor Goldie into an early retirement.

Now in fairness to the younger me I can vouch that there would have been no malice whatsoever in this – I would no more knowingly have hurt an animal as a child than I would as an adult. But intent and consequence can often be mismatched, and while I was 100% convinced that Goldie absolutely LOVED being swung round and round on her lead in the same way that I LOVED being given ‘chair-a-plane rides’ it was obvious to the rest of my family that she didn’t. They tried, bless ‘em, to convince me of the fact with many a moral lecture, shouting down and, ultimately, beating, but try as I might (and I think a.aaa-Dog-on-a-swingI would have) I just couldn’t contain myself, and when Goldie looked up at me with those big, brown eyes PLEADING to be swung round and round in increasingly erratic circles (enthusiasm is no cure for dizziness) I just didn’t have the heart to tell her ‘No’. So I came home from school one day (actually, this was probably pre-school, so it’s more likely I was just taken for a walk to the park where my sister Rosalind used to whip my legs with stinging nettles to impress the big boys) and Goldie was gone. To a lovely big farm, I was assured, where she could run and play all day… etc etc…

I seem to remember another neighbour acquiring a very similar dog that was also called Goldie at around that time. They used to let me pet her, but for some reason always refused my offers to take her for a walk. She was a lovely dog, though, and always seemed really pleased to see me.

I’ve just realised I’m about a thousand words in and have only told you about Goldie and Goldie. I really have got to do some proper work, and I guess if you’ve read this far you’ll probably be about ready for a break anyway, so I’ll leave Poo Cat, Stink Kitten and the rest for another time…

Editor’s note: The editor would like to assure readers that no animals were harmed as a consequence of events featured in this blogumentary. Well, apart from a fish and a Labrador pup. And a small boy who was beaten / whipped with stinging nettles. But apart from that, no animals were harmed, and it all turned out nicely in the end. Mostly. Assuming I was right about the fin rot.

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