Family Pets

We didn’t have pets when I was a kid, ok so we had a hamster once, does that really count ?

It escaped once to everyone’s relief because its nocturnal running on its squeaky wheel kept the whole family awake, all night long to the point where we used to jam a big stick in its wheel before we went to bed every night to stop it, it gnawed through the stick and three nights later was back on the squeaky wheel again.

It went missing for ages after it had escaped and we presumed it dead, threw the cage in the back of the garage and everything, mixed the hamster food in with our Neds porridge every morning until it was all gone, waste not want not was always my fathers working motto, fortunately I didn’t like porridge.

And then one winters morning our mother found an opened box of porridge oats right at the back of the cupboard, you know what its like, you only eat the stuff from the front of the cupboard and then years later you find other stuff at the back thats been there forever, so she took it out, opened the top and screamed the biggest scream that I’d heard in my life thus far, she’d found the hamster.

It was quite upset at being put back in its metal cage again, you can imagine that if you’re a hamster and you’ve spent all of your life thus far trying to escape from a metal cage, and then you find somewhere else to live that has so much porridge that you’d die before you’d finished eating it all, then to be put back in a metal cage where you depend on two small children to feed you at random intervals – you’d be quite upset too, it took to biting us after that and then mysteriously, it died, and we’ll draw a blanket over that because I don’t think it was from natural causes.

The only other pet that we had when I was a kid was a ginger cat that turned up one day.

We were sitting in the house one summers day watching TV, yes, we were the sort of family who sit indoors watching TV when outside its a glorious sunny day and other families are all out there enjoying it, when through the open door walked a cat, walked right in, climbed up on the settee and fell asleep.

We didn’t so much adopt it as tolerate it and it didn’t so much adopt us as tolerate us – this uneasy truce went on for as long as we were prepared to feed it, which we did for about four weeks and then one day when we forgot to feed it, it gave us a look of scorn, walked out the door and went and found somewhere else to live.

And now, I’ve just remembered, we had a dog too.

Or rather we had the Tasmanian Devil out of the Warner Bros cartoon.

Our dad had been given a puppy by one of his farming customers, it was apparently a sheep dog but what became more apparent as it grew from puppyhood to doghood was that it was also completely barmy, I mean mad, completely dool-alley.

I can’t think of any other good reason other than insanity why a sheepdog would make a reasoned choice as to whether or not to chase a bus down Green Lane but for some weird reason buried deep in that dog’s brain, it thought that the number 33 Cookridge bus was a sheep that had broken free from the pen that the dog was supposed to be keeping it in, a big double decker green sheep that could travel at 30mph down Green Lane – I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’d be walking up Green Lane with my mates, walking and talking, and then a bus would come down the hill at 30mph with the conductor hanging off the back platform trying to kick this mad sheepdog  that was chasing after the bus at 30mph, barking at it to come back – my mates would all stare in total wonder at the sight and then one of them would turn to me and say “Thats your dog isn’t it ?” and every time I would just stare into the far distance and mutter “No, no not at all”.

More musings on our mad dog here …


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