I was speaking with Anne Green and the conversation turned to dogs and other pets. I then started thinking about the pets that had been in my life.
The only dog I had as a little one had four wheels and a metal handle by its bum. It was pointed out to me that this was the best pet as it couldn't die and upset me, the fact that it didn't need feeding and didn't make any mess were also plus points.
Elaine the girl next door had one from the same litter, I used to bark at her dog and she would bark as mine but we had to go and fetch our own sticks. The real problem came when, a few years later when reading the Beano we discovered that dogs chased postmen thus an embarrassing spectacle was seen as two kids were seen running after the postman pushing their dogs, barking and growling.
My next pet was won at the fair and after seeing Flipper on TV my sister and I had so many plans for the tricks we could teach it. However it was a very slow learner and didn't take kindly to having a matchstick strapped to its back to help it stand up straight and skim across the water on its back fin like Flipper. Anyway it went and hid in its grotto and never came out again, this disproved what the pet shop man had told us that goldfish only have seven second memories, (well ours had a real chip on its shoulder.... Sort of fish and chips.)
Like so many kids my sister bought the class hamster home for the weekend, unfortunately it chose this weekend to quit this mortal coil and my dad went to the pet shop to get another.The owner offered some useful advice as well.
“I suggest that you put the dead hamster in a liquidiser and then sprinkle the contents over your garden and you will have beautiful flowers growing there in the morning."
dad did this and was very surprised to
find that our garden was covered with daffodils, he immediately phoned the pet
shop owner and told him about the
“That’s peculiar, you usually get tulips from hamster jam! !.
When I was about 13 we got a cat, it was a second generation gas-works tom-cat and therefore was a bit of a lad. The stories about "SMUDGIE” are many and true.
As a small kitten he was an affectionate bundle of fluff (oh! How they change as they grow up) who used to sleep on my Mum's head while she'd hoover the floor, no problem at all until the insurance man called. He was totally gobsmacked as a woman opened the door with a cat on her head.
first time in the garden saw him run straight up the tree, he couldn't get down
though! After great efforts to get him
down, he ran straight back up the tree and guess what? He got stuck again. That's it said Dad and put some planks in
the tree to assist his descent.
From that those early days our playful little cat became a 17lb lump who my mates thought was a dog in disguise. He only came in for meals (my Dad always made him a bowl of porridge every morning, he would eat anything) and to give my grand-dad the results of his night hunts, lots of dead things. He gave up washing, his lovely grey and white coat was filthy, had bits missing from his frequent fights and at one time stank so bad that my Mum gave him a bath but for some reason we loved him. On one visit to the vets, the vet lifted his tail and remarked "My God, he's still got them".
He was in the habit of creeping into your bedroom and sleeping on your chest, the first time this happened to me I awoke in the dark of night, tried to move and thought
"oh my God I'm paralysed".
Anyway after he died we found out he was eating in 4 houses.
sister came home one day clutching a birdcage with occupant who became known as
SCREWBALL, my sister had got her from a friend,
"don't worry Dad, I'll look after her": she didn't. My Dad was heard to remark on occasions
"I've just cleaned out screwball, she was pinned to the roof of her cage by a pile of guano."
We often let her out to fly around and she would always try to get into whatever you were doing, ie sitting on your pen while you were trying to do your homework and pecking at your pen nib, she was a yellow budgie with a blue ink feature around her mouth. Her star turn was perching on the carriage of my mum's typewriter and pecking at the keys, on one occasion a budgie was seen staggering around the table with a letter 'D' on its beak.
Other pets have included a terrapin that did 'death-dives', a Siamese fighting fish that was bullied by angel fish (there's probably a moral there). After that we turned to goldfish and a pond in the garden. One day I might tell you about the frog spawn.
Ralph (I hope the R.S.P.C.A don't find me) Edmunds