‘I just don’t like animals!’ my daughter will say whenever cows, sheep and horses are mentioned to her. She doesn’t like zoos and she’s frightened of dogs. She’s frightened of birds, she’s even frightened of cats.
We’re not a family of animal lovers and the only pets my kids have ever known are a rabbit which died a year before my daughter was even born, a caterpillar called Colin and three fish which lived a grand total of 16 days – several of which we were actually on holiday.
Pets are a hassle.
But recently I’ve been thinking. I’ve been feeling a bit guilty. Because maybe life isn’t too short for pets, maybe life is too short not to have pets. My eldest would love a dog, my younger son would love a cat. Could we have a pet?
I’ve always loved rabbits. We got a rabbit when I was 9, who lived about four years. He was followed by another rabbit, who lived another four years, then another who lived about eight. I loved those rabbits. At the age of 21, and still at university, my husband (then boyfriend) and I got our own rabbit – Happy. Happy travelled in the car with us when we went home for the weekend. But he had to be put down by the vet after only two years. I was devastated. He was followed by Mischief, who ended up living with my mum and dad when I moved to London, along with Fudge – the rabbit that lived eight years.
When Mischief died, we were rabbit-free for a few years. But my husband bought me Bertie for Valentine’s Day when I first got pregnant with my younger son. Bertie was a handful – he ran fast and he was hard to catch. When my younger son was six weeks old, he escaped. I trailed around the streets with my baby in the Baby Bjorn looking for my rabbit and eventually tracked him down to a local animal shelter after he’d been picked up in an office car park down the road.
Bertie only lived two years. I realised rabbits needed more care than I, with two very small children, could give them. They needed cleaning more often. Rabbits get ill easily and when they get ill, they don’t fight. They just give up and die. I couldn’t put myself or my babies through that.
I’d never considered guinea pigs before, but suddenly they’re all I can think of. I’m fixated on them. I think they’re the perfect pet – similar to my beloved rabbits, but more resilient. Not as much work as a cat or a dog, more interesting than a hamster.
Without consulting my husband, without even really thinking it through, I told the kids I thought we should get a guinea pig (or maybe two). They love the idea, and so do I. My husband hasn’t actually said no. My animal-hating daughter wants the guinea pigs more than anyone.
So I think this family of people who don’t love animals may just be getting our own animal soon.
I’d hoped to share a picture of one of my beloved rabbits, but those albums are buried in a deep, dark cupboard somewhere. Then I saw these guinea pig ornaments at a garden centre the other day and I decided it was fate.
Linking up with The Gallery at Sticky Fingers. Pop over to see how others have interpreted the theme ‘animals’.