Thursday, 15 November 2012

Clawed Encounters of the Furred Kind...

As regular readers to this blog will know I have many pet hates. Little things that get to me and turn me into a miserable old man (bearing in mind I am only 31 years old, shocking but true!). The term pet hate must come from something to do with pets. And I’ve had a fair few of them over the years.

I don’t know why I have had so many pets, as to call me an animal lover is a bit far fetched. I don’t mind animals and wouldn’t want any cruelty towards them, but I’ve had it with animals to look after and have had my fix of them since I was a kid.

We, as a family, had a dog as we grew up. He was a Labrador cross. I am not sure what he was crossed with, but he was a lovely dog. His name was Rover. Now this doesn’t sound too original, but I can’t name anyone else that has ever had a dog called Rover? He was mainly my Dad’s dog. It was my Dad who would walk him etc. In fact once he went for a walk with Rover and only Rover returned home! I don’t mean anything happened to my Dad or he’d run off, he merely had a lay down in a field and fell asleep. Hours later he awoke and found his way home – my Dad, not the dog, Rover was home a long time before my Dad.

Rover had no hair on his nose where he had sniffed out a bee hive when a pup and got stung and he had a large lump, a build up of fat, on his side where he’d got knocked over by a JCB when my Dad used to take him to work with him. He wouldn’t win any beauty prizes put it that way.

Towards the back end of his life I had neglected him a little and even when he went to the vets to be finally laid to rest I didn’t bat an eyelid as I played on Sonic the Hedgehog. Although it did hit me a few days later and I got a little upset by it.

He was the first family pet I remember; although apparently we had a rabbit also that was imaginatively named ‘Bunny’. Kids do pick random names for pets. My eldest son has named one of his fish ‘Steve’ for instance.

Growing up we lived near a pet store and so after school we would go up to the store and pick a pet – this would continue every time a pet died.

My bro and I once got Russian Dwarf hamsters (it was a dwarf after all, and I love dwarves but that’s another story). They were vicious little buggers, so much so that we didn’t dare pick them up. I remember having to take them to the vet and the vet asking one of us to pick them out. Me, my bro and my Mum all looked at each other, wanting someone else to make the first move and anybody to put their hand in and risk having their hand being gnawed to the bone – I don’t exaggerate! Eventually the vet had to put on a rubber glove and pick the blighters out!!

I had plenty of hamsters and gerbils, some friendly, some not. Some quiet and others noisy. One hamster was so noisy on a night that I had to put it in the spare room and I forgot about it, it promptly died. Another hamster, a vicious one again, fell off the cupboards the first day I got it and 6 days later died in my hands – I thought I had tamed it as it lay in the palm of my hand, but it was yet another animal I had to bury.

I did used to love mice though. I bought a white and ginger mouse and named him Metro seeing as we had a dog called Rover (it’s a car thing!).

The mouse smelt and so meant a lot of cleaning out, but overall I loved that mouse. It was my fave small pet of all time. However one day, after living quite a fulfilled life he developed dust mites and as a result he lost a lot of fur and became quite scabby, but the most bizarre symptom of all was the fact he would expand every other day!

I could wake up one day and Metro would be normal and then the next day he was like a bald tennis ball with a tail. One day he would run on his wheel, the next he would be rolling round his cage trying to walk! Eventually he died due to this affliction and so was buried in the garden with the rest of the rodents, which had now become more of a pet cemetery than an actual garden!

After the hamsters and the mouse my brother and I tried gerbils. Again my bro and I got one each and my bro named his ‘Berbil the Gerbil’ – you see what he did there?

By now my bro had built an empire. A sprawling metropolis known as Rotastak! For those not in the know, Rotastak was a series of tubes and compartments in every direction so that the pet could have a games room, a larder, a bedroom, an en-suite, a gym, storage facilities, a guest room and a walk in wardrobe…

The problem with Rotastak though is that it’s a bugger to clean with all the various bits and bobs and attachments and was difficult for small hands to put back together and so often created gaps in the tubes or bits would fall off due to the padding of little paws scampering around.

This meant hours of fun trying to find Berbil the gerbil in and around the house once he’d made his daring escape!! We found him everywhere! This included my sock draw, where he had chewed through my school socks to make bedding!!

The strangest and scariest time though was when he went missing for a few days, presumed dead. I was in a deep sleep, but was slowly brought round by a dream that I was being attacked. I slowly opened my eyes to be greeted by this dark shadow on my bare chest, little claws digging in as the thing steadied itself. In the sheer panic and fear of seeing this upon being woken I swung my arm across my chest and greeted the shadow with a whack and watched as Berbil flew across the room and back into the shadows with a thud!

Meanwhile I went through my chewed underwear draw for some more boxers after I had shat myself!

We also had a chinchilla which was adorable and something I had never heard of before so it was quite exotic, but it was a pain to keep. They clean themselves in this fine sand, which you had to change every day – or at least sieve for the little shits it had done in the sand – I mean it is hygienic for him to bathe in this fine sand, yet he craps there?!?! It’s like me having a bath and a dump at the same time – which does happen, well only once, not every time I have a bath!!

The chinchilla had to go though as it chewed through everything – apparently they can be house trained, but this one wasn’t. It would chew the skirting, the couch, any wiring and even chewed my mates big toe as he slept when he accidently lent his toe up against the cage one night. That was an alarm call he’ll never forget that’s for sure!

I have also tried cats and I don’t like cats. I think they are devious, evil and somehow related to the devil. They bring you ‘presents’ that you don’t need, like birds and mice. They drop it in front of you as if to say "Here you are, look what I’ve brought for you, now smile and don’t be ungrateful!"

My cat, Frank, was quite cute as a kitten, but once he got older (about 3 weeks later if truth be told) he lost that charm and started ruling the roost. He would steal food off plates or tuck into my sandwiches in the morning before work, meaning I’d have to chase him round the house for my ham! He would piss and shit wherever he wanted, usually on a pile of clean clothes or the couch and yet the girlfriend at the time loved him, more so than me.

It was man vs. cat at every opportunity. We would often stare at each other, plotting against each other. He would chew my shin guards, so I would lace his food with slug pellets. He would piss on my pillow, so I would tie fireworks to his tail…

So eventually, one of us had to leave as it was getting out of hand… So I packed my bags! Apparently he still rules the roost, but I know my food is safe now and no ‘parcels’ are left lying around for me!

About 5 years ago another pet was introduced to me. This time my Mum and Dad had decided to get a family dog after years of being without Rover. The dog is a weimaraner and her name is Xena. Xena warrior dog apparently!

Now Xena is a lovely dog, don’t get me wrong, but boy she is annoying sometimes. Most times! In fact all times!

She barks at everything, including flies, cars and the rustle of leaves! She doesn’t like it when I beat my kids up and so attacks me, she sits wherever she wants to sit, sniffs whoevers groin she wants to sniff, eats whatever she wants to eat and I suspect even watches whatever she wants to on TV.

Now it isn’t her fault she’s like this, spoilt! No, that blame lies whole heartedly at the feet of my Dad. He feeds her from the table, buys her chicken breast, moves people on the couch to accommodate her and generally takes her everywhere with him. I mean any family holidays now have to be within the country so that Xena can travel with us as she doesn’t like boarding kennels. It’s a dog!

Xena is now central to the family and the moment I knew I’d gone down in the pecking order in this family was when I noticed a framed picture of family members, one of those frames that can hold lots of pictures, a collage almost, at my Mum and Dad’s.

There were pictures of the grandkids, my brothers wedding and then Xena! Several pictures in fact. One of them half covers the only picture of me in this frame! One of the pictures of the dog is her sat on the couch that the picture was above anyway!!! I mean whenever you see these pictures, Xena is stood next to you anyway, so what is the point of having pictures up of the animal that you are stood or sat next to anyway?!?!?

Don’t get me wrong, she is a lovely dog and my kids love her to bits and she is very protective of them. As I said earlier I think it’s just me. I think after years of trying to be an animal loving person I have realised I’m not. I mean I don’t like cleaning cages out, I don’t like walking, I don’t like early mornings and I definitely do not entertain the idea of scooping poop! (Although I imagine it keeps your hands warm in winter!)

I mean I can’t really look after myself all that well so it’s probably best I don’t have pets, plus my garden just isn’t big enough for the burials anyway!

Please note that no animals were harmed during the making of this blog. Apart from the dead ones, but that was natural causes, apart from the one that fell off the desk. I may have wished harm on some of them but I would never intentionally harm an animal… well, unless I was being attacked and had to use self defence. Then I would. But only in that moment. And only to get away!