So, let’s talk about Pets.
I've always been interested in animals, animal welfare and all, I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before in a previous post. I've always known what it is to have a pet, what company they can be and what funny moments they can provide. My family always had pets whether they be cats, dogs, birds… Crikey, we even had tropical fish at one time. Growing up with pets though, I have to say I wasn't always the most responsible. I struggled with the routine of having a pet and somewhat with the patience required. I would grumble and groan about
having to get up and feed them early in the morning or even take the dogs for a walk at times. My family had cats
and dogs mostly and as any responsible pet-owner would know they establish routines and can be a restriction on travel or impulsive actions.
Our pets got fed at or around certain times every day, same for walking them and we usually locked them away in the laundry
or the kennel at nights etcetera... Routine was the name of the game and I didn’t always want to play. Of course, taking care of animals can be expensive, there is flea treatments, worm treatments, vaccinations, grooming, de-sexing
and registration. Never mind all the food and other supplies. Truth is, it can be a lot of work to maintain and grow healthy and happy domestic pets.
We mostly got our pets from the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) or given to us by others, usually because my mum always wanted animals around. Over many years growing up we had a wide variety of breeds, types and colours.
My earliest memory is of a german shepherd – and
Alsatian dog and some Siamese cats. That german shepherd was a beautiful dog but he was never quite the same after colliding with a motorcycle, it’s personality changed and became quite aggressive. At the time, I was only little and my folks told me that they sent it to a farm. Much later on, I learnt the truth – they had had to have it euthanased as it was attacking others. However, there were many since including a boxer dog, a fox-terrier cross and a poodle, not all at the same time of course. As for cats, aside from Siamese we had Persians as well. There were white
cats, a black cat and even a ginger tom wandered through our yard on and off at various times and we fed it. The
family home was in the suburbs and pets were very common, there was always local veterinary services available. Though
veterinary services usually came at a premium.
When I talk about birds I mean mostly
budgerigars but we did at one stage have quails and finches in an aviary. One of the first birds I remember having
came to us in a rather odd way. I was in my teens I believe and was hanging out at the door to the garage. I was just standing there one afternoon contemplating what to do next when I heard a fluttering of wings and a little bird
landed on my shoulder. It was a small white budgerigar and I remember it must have been a weekend because my dad
was home pottering around the yard. When he saw the bird on my shoulder and the ease to which I was petting it,
he quickly grabbed an old cage that was hanging up in the shed and we temporarily put the bird in that. We kept
that bird for quite a while, we called it ‘Snowy’ or ‘Snowflake’ in fact mum and I use to let it fly around inside the house and it would usually come back to us.
We soon got a bigger cage and even a mate for it from the local pet shop. My memory is a bit fuzzy on what eventually killed it, I think it was some sort of disease as it seemed to be losing feathers especially around it’s face.
I don’t like seeing animals in cages but we did try to make it as comfortable as possible. We thought it was domesticated and must have escaped its previous residence as it came to me straight away. I didn’t trap it and we had no way of knowing where it came from.
Most of the time my dad was reluctant to acquire new pets but he would end up being the main one to feed and house them, more often than not he became quite attached.
Mum was not well for many years and most of that time she was not able to perform the daily rituals as we were.
She would often tell us what to do and when to do it. After mum passed the last of our family’s animals was given away to a new home. Dad was in the
process of moving to a different city and travelling became a regular part of his activities so he arranged for it to leave. It was a poodle, a type of dog that mum always wanted, you could say it was a bit high-strung and could be a handful. I was not in any way ready to take it at that time so he found another family to take care of it.
It has been a fair while since I have had pets, my partner and I have moved around a bit since mums passing and just have not been settled enough. Recently, we have adopted a couple of cats, well one is a kitten and one is about a year old. They are what I would call ‘Tabby’
cats, although apparently that is their colour not their breed. Now, all the memories of animals past, the routines
and the responsibilities have returned. It’s funny, I still grumble and groan a little but nowhere near
as much as I use to. I guess, getting older makes you look at things differently. We adopted the kitten first, we named it ‘Octavia’ and it came to us about 6-8 weeks old from a neighbour whose cat had not long had a litter and we were slowly making
a home for it inside our house. It’s pretty spoilt in my opinion and quite cute.
Not long after we started looking after it, an almost full-grown tabby cat was caught by the local council officer and it was offered to my partner and I as
a last resort for nobody else would or could take it. This cat, we’ve named ‘Abby’ after another
character in the same television series we had recently been watching, had been abandoned by its previous owner who had just left town. The cat had been virtually on its own for a couple of weeks with the occasional feed from a kindly neighbour. First of all, it didn’t take too kindly to our kitten and so, eventually, we have made a home for it as an ‘outside cat’. We kept it in a cage for a bit letting it out around the house and then gradually letting it outside on a leash. It ran once but later returned with collar and leash still attached. It has
since settled in, we feed it, it hangs around the house generally and we now lock it in the garage at night. I have had to block up some exits such as gaps under doors so it stays inside.
Abby was friendly with me from day one and we have since had this female cat desexed
and vaccinated. The first night we had Abby though she had a miscarriage. I could see that she was dripping blood
and my first thought was that she was sick or injured. We were asking others in the town who have cats what to do. Shortly after what I thought was the first signs of blood, I was sitting on the floor with her checking on her and trying to figure out what
to do next when the little sac emerged with more blood and I realised what was happening. I have been told since
that they will self-abort when in stress or when they think something is wrong, that’s it - it was done. We
couldn’t rush to the vets as we have no veterinary service in our little town. The nearest vet is 400kms
or about 4 hours drive away which did not make this an easy process.
More recently, like in the last week or two, we have been asked to take another cat, this time a bigger ginger tom supposedly from the same litter that Abby came from. The person who owned it was leaving
town and there didn’t seem to be anyone else who would do it. My first thought was that we only just got
the two cats settled in and now we’re adding a third cat to the mix?!! We took him in, the big fella looked
great. However, after a couple of days in the cage and wandering around inside the house, I decided to try him
on a leash and walk him around the yard. Big mistake, he ran off and when we drove around looking for him we saw
him hiding in a place he couldn’t be got out of and he wasn’t answering the call. I have alerted
the local council officer and the previous owner as to the situation but as of yet no luck getting him back. He
has had his first vaccination and has been chipped so if/when he is caught then he should be returned to us. That
was a few days ago now….
Given my previous history with and exposure to animals along with my new pets, I have decided to study animal care through distance
learning. This is in the hope that I can not only be more confident and knowledgeable with my own pets but perhaps
eventually provide some sort of professional service to the region. There is a culture out here that does not
necessarily take care of animals in the best way possible and part of this is to do with having no vet in the area. Don’t
get me wrong, people love their animals out here, they certainly love their horses, working dogs, sheep and cattle. I
find the attitude from some here can be a little coarse towards other pets, cats especially. Maybe, I am
a little sensitive to this stuff. To this end I am doing the course online, there is a workplace participation
component to this course and I am now trying to hook up with a workplace willing to assist in my training. Wish me luck....