Dogs, Cats and Guinea Pigs
10 of 50
This is the last of the reader selected posts, thanks to Karen for picking N°9.
This post also marks the 20% mark of Fifty From Fifty. I hope you’re enjoying these posts. If you are please consider sharing them on your social media.
There are very few periods in my life when I/we didn’t have pets. When I was at university (but there were pets at home who I saw during holidays and ‘reading weeks’) and when I first owned my own home (but there was plenty of pet sitting done). So outside of that I don’t remember a time when there weren’t pets.
There were cats, dogs, a tortoise, guinea pigs, and tropical fish, some I have clearer memories of than others. For example I know we had a tortoise when I was very little, but I’m not sure how long my parents had already had it for or what ultimately happened to it.
My Dad kept tropical fish for a time and I remember going with him to the fish shop (not the sort that also served chips) and looking at the tanks and tanks of brightly lit fish that lined the walls. The neon tetras and other flashes of colour that were in my limited field of view.
As I got older guinea pigs were introduced. Two small white squeaky blobs - Starsky and Hutch (can you guess what we were watching on tv at the time?)
They seemed to live for years, and my job was to make sure that they had food and water and that their cage was cleaned out regularly. In the warmer months it lived in the garden but when it got too cold, they came in to our little lean-to conservatory.
A constant during this whole period was our cat, Soots. He lived to a ripe old age, but strangely other than the photo at the top I have no pictures of him. He was a proper ‘witches cat’, jet black and like many cats quite aloof, he mellowed with age though. We also ‘inherited’ our next door neighbours cat when she died. She was an old cat who slept for a lot of the day, only really coming out to eat and use her little tray. She could be affectionate but only on her terms.
Now ask me today what sort of a person am I when it comes to animals and I would without hesitation say a dog-person. If the world is split between cat-people and dog-people and all the shades in between then I am definitely of the canine variety.
There have been six dogs in my life. Three that we’ve had from shelters and three as puppies.
The first was a rescue. When I was deemed old enough, and after a lot of pestering as to whether we could get a dog, and when my parents working arrangements were such that there was someone around for a good proportion of the day.
We got Crystal from an RSPCA shelter. She’d been mistreated and rescued by them at less than six months of age, she had many fears when we first got her. She lived many years between me being 8 and 23. We walked many miles together and went many places.
After Crystal came Jessie and Lacey, both rescues from the RSPCA and who came together because they’d been living together previously.
Then came Sparky and a few years later Wilson.
When Sparky passed away we got Ruby.
Ultimately I think I have learnt more about life and emotions from having pets - particularly dogs - than from anything else in my entire life. Ultimately I’m in the privileged position to have had so many pets but they are/were such sources of inspiration and happiness that even now I still mourn the ones that are no longer here.
Wilson is getting on in years now and isn’t well. We have many trips to the vets and he has a lot of medication. Ultimately I suspect he is on borrowed time, but no one really knows how long that might be.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve also thought about when the right time might be to not have another dog. I can’t tell you when that is, other than not yet.
Thanks for reading.