Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?
(Bonus points for adorable animal photos, and double bonus if they’re taken with your phone!)
So I have animals in my life? Well, yes, I do.
At the moment, 3 dogs, 2 cats and 1 ring neck parrot. My personal welcome home party. Every night at 17:30 when I stop at the gate, the dogs are there to welcome me. The cats are usually by the back door, just waiting for it to open, and the parrot is inside saying “hello!”
What do they mean to me?
They’re a presence in my life. Extra bodies to sit with me. A cuddle on my bed when it’s cold out. Another living thing other than me in the house and the garden.
I’m not quite one of those people that dresses animals. They don’t get majorly special food, or excessive treats. They are fed, and watered, have a dry spot to sleep in should they wish it. My old man used to walk with me, but he’s too old now. The middle dog can’t handle a leash and the small one – I don’t even try! The cats only sleep with me when it’s cold and wet outside – otherwise they’re all over the place, gallivanting and pissing other people off 😉
Would I have been OK had I not had any animals? Probably not so much. Sure, they cost me a pretty penny every month in food. Luckily they don’t get sick. But not having them with me would have made for a much poorer life.
At least now, I have something to moan about – when I eat, it’s with 2 cats and a small dog begging for scraps. And when I take my plate to the kitchen it sounds like a heard of Wildebeest on migration! And then I have to divvy up the little bit that’s left. Or I can mention the fact that the brown bitch is constantly licking something somewhere.
All this being said. When I just moved into my house, 12 years ago, I only had my Old Man and Patrash. Patrash was killed by poison. I found her dead in the little garden feature I had out front. Dug her grave myself, and buried her there. She’s still in my garden, where she belongs.
But the old man made it through that ordeal. And he would sit with me over weekends when my heart was breaking. When all I could do was cry. I was lonely. I was alone. I was thrown away. I was replaced. And he just let me cry. He did not bump me. He was not frisky and all over the place. He would just sit with me. Almost as if he knew that I needed another warm body, something that liked me. Something that did not want to replace me. Something that wanted to spend time with me. And he was that. He still is that. Deaf as a doorpost, wonky hips, milky eyes. But he’s still my old man. He still only sits with me. When I’m in my study, he sleeps under the window. Outside, he sits under my chair.
Cujo, the middle dog, was not a planned acquisition. I went to the pet shop to buy mice for the snake we had at the time, and he, Cujo, was in the cage with a whole litter of puppies. But he just sat at the back. Did not come to the front to lick and yap and bark like the other puppies did. The next day I went back and got him. And he’s still a quiet dog. Does not make a lot of noise, only when he needs to. He sits when I lift up my finger, because then he gets a kiss. He waits until I say yes before he eats his food. And he absolutely listens to me.
And now we come to Frankie, the little brown bitch. She is all that and more. The most terrible dog ever! I’ve had quite a few bruised toes from when she was young. She always got a wall to jump in front of her when I wanted to get physical and do her some bodily harm. Used to jump over the fence and bark an nip at everybody and everything in the street. Until I put a stop to that by any means necessary. She’s much calmer now – must be because she’s getting older. But when she was young – man! Many a time she had me so angry I could kill her with my bare hands! Now, she’s the one that sleeps in my room every night. Of course she sleeps inside – otherwise she barks the whole night through at every moving leaf and blowing wind! But she’s here with me now, and she’s basically with me everywhere I go. Even the loo. And that goes for the cats too…
Chaplin was a rescued cat. Got him when he was 12 weeks old. When you touch him, he starts up, and purrs fit to burst. Some mornings I wake up with my legs all the way on the other side of the bed because he’s taking up as much space as he can at the foot of the bed 😉 He’s the one that would catch birds and devour them in the house – covering the floor with feathers. Not a fun thing to clean up, headless birds and feathers.
Data was my son’s cat. Hence the name. He joined the family at about the same time Chaplin did, but he’s only been living here for the past year and a bit. In that year, the old man bit him. R 4000 later and he was fixed. My hand was a bit cheaper to fix, from where he bit me at the time of the incident, but it took a while longer. And it was not fun. These days, when there’s sleeping to be done, he does not do it next to me or at the foot of the bed, no. He does it on top of me. Must say – he is a welcome weight on my back. At least I’m good for something! And the printer is a favourite spot for both of them.
The thing with cats – they don’t react to names. I never call these two by any name. They’ll be there if they want to be, and if not, they’l be gone.
But they know where to get their food. They know the sounds of the microwave means food for them – eventually.
Now that the old man is less inclined to kill cats than he was 6 years ago, the two gentlemen above has the run of the yard. Sleep where they want for as long as they want. The old man just gives them a look, and leaves them be. For which I’m very grateful. I’ve come home to more dead cats than I care to remember. He hated them. Which is why I’ve left it for a very long time before I got another cat. Was not fair to either animal, so I let the old man have his way, and now both cats and dogs can live relatively peaceful side by side.
This has to be the ugliest cat ever. Not mine, just a chance meeting, and I had to photograph him – to remind me never to get a pure bred Persian. Because they’re not good looking cats. Not by a long shot.
I might not faff over my animals like some people do. I will not let them lick me. They will sit down when there’s any petting to be done. But I’ve been staying home every year on New Years and Guy Fawkes and Divali – just so they could sit with me while the world goes crazy. When I go out for supper, I make a point of asking for extra bones for them. And when I’m at home, they are an integral part of my life. They are my sole responsibility now that my kids are big and looking after themselves. And they are always happy to see me. They don’t want to replace me. They don’t want somebody else as their owner. They know my voice, my smell, my ways.
And I know theirs.