Sunday, August 5, 2007

Pets I have known

Thanks for all your kind words on the party front – I’m still basking in the warm parental glow that accompanied it!

Meantime, I examined some recent posts, and noticed on Knights Don’t Knit a link to the most astonishing and gobsmackingly enormous stash – Look at this! I swear – I will never suggest that my stash is getting overwhelming ever again!!

She also suggested the low maintenance goldfish as a pet – a good suggestion, but it brings me to the subject of today’s post – pets.

During my time I have owned or lived with the worlds most neurotic and downright crazy pets. So let’s start with Eloise, the suicidal goldfish.

I actually found Eloise in a pond in an abandoned gravel pit – I have no idea how she arrived there, but there she was swimming with others in the pool. To children of sixish, this was a godsend. I took Eloise home (probably in a billy or ice cream container -standard practice for tadpoles etc) and only when she was ensconced in a clear bowl on top of the fridge (we had 3 or 4 cats) did her tendencies become apparent. She would leap from the fridge top nearly 2 metres to the floor on a regular basis. We usually returned her to the bowl in time, but one day we were too late – and one of the cats seemed too full to eat dinner.

Then there was Baabaa – the orphaned lamb we bottle reared. He buddied up with the Labrador we had and thought he was a dog. He tried to herd cows. He walked behind horses. The first time my father hand sheared him, it was so bad that the ducks laughed at him. He retreated to the hen-house and refused to come out for 3 days – mind you it was possibly the absolute worst sheep haircut I have ever seen – tufts held together with Rawleighs Man and Beast ointment on the nicks!

Baabaa lived to a ripe old age (for a sheep), became enormously fat, and was driven into a heart attack by the pig we acquired from the local vet. We only owned half the pig – the vet owning the other half, but Snorty was a playful and active pig. He lived in our quarter acre chook yard – along with the ducks, occasional geese (who hated me and used to bail me up in the corner by the brambles and peck my legs), and Baabaa the sheep.

Snorty had been given to the vet as part payment for a debt and was raised by us on a diet of windfall apples, soy bean meal swept up from the wharf when the bags broke (this included the odd bottle cap and cigarette butt) and dad’s home brewed beer that used to explode in the middle of the night under the house. He thrived on this diet and when he was castrated (by the vet) my father had the gall to draw the cookbook cuts on his white skin in indelible pencil – he looked just like the diagram. This also reminded us that living on a farm meant we couldn’t hide from the origin of our food and Snorty’s eventual fate.

Snorty met his fate and my mother and I refused to eat pork for more than a year. I still feel bad about Snorty. I didn’t get so attached to the 10 ginger Tamworth pigs we got after Snorty – we called them Mao, Chauvin, Stalin, Trotsky, Marx, Pol Pot, Lenin, Kruschev, Chaplin and McCarthy – they were red pigs and Mum figured that naming McCarthy as a Communist was the least she could do. Besides, it was my job to clean out the pig house. When they left us, I still ate pork.

Probably my favourite weird pet wasn’t actually mine, but belonged to a flatmate. Genghis the paraplegic budgie had been in a serious car accident with his owner. She sustained major leg injuries and his cage slipped off the back seat and lodged under the driver’s seat. He was left unable to move his legs from the elbowy bit down. He used to balance precariously on his perch, stall in midair to land on your shoulders (he preferred wool to cotton because it gave him the chance to tangle his toes in it and bring him to a halt – polished cotton shoulders often meant a slide on landing and an uncontrolled plummet to the floor.

He used the stalling technique of landing all the time – he’d fly around and just stop flapping his wings when he reached stalling speed – then nosedive into the carpet. Genghis had a tendency to sit on your shoulder, nibble at your ears and then try to stuff your earrings into your ear – a painful and potentially injurious process.

Unfortunately, my cat of the time, Floozy, developed a fascination with Genghis. She’d sit on his mantle-piece staring at him for hours. Sometimes we’d find him on the bottom of his cage with his legs in the air, but he always recovered. When he finally went to the great birdcage in the sky, the entire household and all our friends went into mourning. He was one of the few budgies I ever really liked and admired.

I love pets – but seem to be a magnet to those with strange personality quirks – I can’t understand it. After all I’m a sane, responsible… grown – up….OK – Now I understand. No wonder they feel at home!


Rose Red said...

I LOVE that you had a "communist" pig called McCarthy. I love your mother!!!

2paw said...

I have two words for you" Lorelai Gilmore!! Truly, one day you will find your Paul Anka pet!!

Georgie said...

What a hoot - I grew up on a farm too and it brought back lots of memories! Pets in all forms certainly make our lives richer, espcially for kids ;-) Great post.

Rain said...

I love your pet stories. Although they all met a tragic fate, their tales brought a smile. Genghis sounds like a superstar.

Kate_knits_a_bit said...

hilarious!! Our canine serial monogamous family sounds very staid now!