I love animals. I don’t understand people who don’t. If you were mauled as a kid, I’m sorry. I still like animals more than I like most humans. If you feel an irrational fear of them, please know it IS irrational and they fear you a million times more!
My fascination with animals can be squarely laid at my parents’ feet. Ever since I can remember we had animals. Dogs mostly, but also chickens, hamsters, fish, birds, a tortoise and a few more. The only thing I don’t remember having was a cat. Mostly because my mom and brother are insanely allergic to cat dander, otherwise I’m sure our house would be overrun with cats too.
My first inkling as to why we had so many animals was when I was about 13. My mom had been watering the garden one early Saturday morning, we heard a piteous yelping and rushed outside. The next thing I knew my mom had rushed down our driveway, out the gate, across the road and was angrily berating the neighbour.
He had been in the process of beating a puppy into submission. Why I still don’t know. My mom threatening him with the SPCA and the police put an end to that immediately. My mom scooped the shivering pile of skin and bones up in her arms and marched back across the street, through the gates, up the driveway and to the bathroom. There she washed and dried the puppy ( we excitedly named him Bimbo) and called the local vet to make an appointment. 2 hours later Bimbo had been vaccinated, deflead, and registered. My mother was my hero! She’d stood up to our corpulent neighbour in all of her slippered glory and emerged victorious.
Bimbo stayed with us for 14 years. That’s a long time in doggy years. I wish I had a picture of him. He was a mid -size dog with a sleek black coat and a curl in his tail. He never barked but made a weird howling sound instead. Years later, I found out that he was most likely a Basenji and had probably put mr. Benjamin back a good few rands. That surely explains the sour looks we endured all the years!
Lassie ( a mongrel of indeterminate lineage), Snowy ( a Maltese poodle), Tyson ( a Staffie my brother had rescued from a dog fighting ring), Tiger ( a Rhodesian Ridgeback), Heidi ( a Jack Russell Terrier), Ben ( a Boerbul), Snooki ( a Dachshund) and a slew of others all passed through our lives. All were loved, all were playtime companions ( with the exception of Tiger and Ben- they were guard dogs and not to be trifled with!) and all lived long and healthy lives. Euthanasia at the SPCA was blessed relief at the end of a long, happy doggy life.
We grew up with the SPCA van coming to our neighbourhood once a month. As children my dad took us to the shelter regularly to deposit monetary donations in the dog-shaped money-box. My parents gave freely of their time and money and, more often than not, adopted a dog that no-one else wanted.
Our lives were full. Animals made it complete. We learned of life and love and loyalty through our animals.
I want that for my child. Unfortunately we don’t have the luxury of a massive backyard that I had as a child. Neither is the weather in the UAE made for long walks outside,except in the winter months. That means animals are stuck indoors most of the year. Hardly fair.
We learned that lesson the hard way with Lester Pester. He was an American Bulldog we adopted from an Englishman who couldn’t take him with him to the UK. The price for taking an animal the size of a small horse was prohibitive.
Hubby was hesitant, but one look into those brown puppy dog eyes and I was smitten. Lester stayed with us in our duplex apartment until he was diagnosed with bone cancer. The humane thing to do was euthanasia. It wasn’t easy, but I can’t stand seeing an animal suffer. We let him go.
A long time after Lester we got Ginger Lucipurr. He came into our lives a hot mess. Abused, run over, and terrified of humans. We fed him, watered him, and let him be. In time he came to appreciate the hands off approach and became rather attached to us. He is my spirit animal. I am sorry we don’t have room for more than one, at the moment but hopefully soon he’ll have a little kitten to coach in the art of Le Chat.
When we return to SA, Ginger Lucipurr has a ticket bought and paid for. There are some complications getting him there as he’s a pure bred Arabian Mau , but we know he’s not staying behind,no way,no how.
We will have dogs, at least two or three, but our property was selected because of the huge backyard. G will have as close to an ideal childhood as it’s within my power to create.
My life experience, my ability to feel empathy, the need to help others less able than I, to speak for those who cannot – ALL of this comes from my childhood exposure to animals. My parents had gifted me the ability to feel for others. And all because I was surrounded by animals.
We take G to the shelters. We expose her to the horrors of animal abuse and instil in her the need to respect all life. But words are not enough. The fact that she is able to grow up with animals leaves me secure in the knowledge that I’m doing one thing right.
How do you feel about animals in your life? If like me, you want and need them in your life and in your child’s life, please do me a favour and Adopt, Don’t Shop?
There are so many furbabies with loving hearts looking for their forever home. If even one person reads this and goes to their local shelter and adopts a furbaby, my work here is done. Not really, but still. You will join my mom in the hall of heroes.
Until next I blog,