A is for Animals

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

...and that makes it sound like I’m starting my A-Z by reading a kid’s alphabet book and using their ideas instead of coming up with my own. If that were the case, it would probably be A is for Apples, but it’s not. In this case, A is for Animals, and more specifically my pets (or lack there-of).

It seems like the norm for little kids to have a pet. Maybe a dog or a cat, or failing that, even a bird or a fish. I’m pretty sure it’s encouraged in order to give kids some experience with how to treat animals and with the responsibility of looking after something living.

When I was a child, I never had a pet – not even so much as a pet rock. The reason for this is quite simple – I come from a long line of pet killers.
Perhaps pet manslaughterer would be a more appropriate description, because the death of the pets is never intentional. It’s more like my family has incredibly bad luck and by freak coincidence, that bad luck is manifested in the form of any and all pets failing to live for very long.

Clearly, this meant that having a dog or cat was entirely out of the question, so for the early years of my life I found myself without any exposure to animals at all. The result of this? I’m pretty much the only person in the world who doesn’t really like dogs.

That’s a big confession for me to make, because if you tell someone that you don’t like dogs they immediately think that you’re secretly a psychopath. But that’s not the case – I just never had any experience with the companionship and friendliness of a pet like a dog, so now when a friend’s dog is slobbering all over me and trying to lick my knees, I can’t look at it with the gooey eyes of pet love and think how wonderful it is.

Really, my mother’s total lack of affinity for pets has turned me into a freak of sorts.
My very earliest pet memories are of her being asked to look after the neighbour’s budgerigar while they went overseas for a couple of weeks and then, inexplicably, at a later date their fish. By the end of week one, the budgie was no more. The same fate befell the poor fish when it was his turn to be babysat.
Poor pets. It’s not that she was neglectful or careless; it’s just that they didn’t seem to want to continue to live. I like to blame all the subsequent pet deaths on pet suicide – they knew the odds of surviving a week with my Mum and they opted to check out on their own terms.

So since childhood, I have successfully managed to avoid having (and therefore killing) any pets of my own. But last Christmas, my brother and sister-in-law gave us some pet fish. Their reasoning, they told us, was that if we could keep the fish alive we were ready to have kids.

Oh well. I was never really that sold on being a parent anyway.


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