As a child I never had a dog. In fact the only pet we had for years was a sadly neglected rabbit. His neglect was probably the reason we weren’t allowed further animals. Any promises we made about taking a dog for a walk would have been brushed off with the accusatory reminder of the way we treated Snowy.
My brother Nigel managed to keep some mice for a while, but they had to be relegated to the great outdoors because their smell was enticing their country cousins to come indoors and join them.
The boys also had stick insects, the very memory of which gives me nightmares. They kept them in a glass tank which appeared to be fairly airtight. However, when the many many many babies appeared, they were so small they managed to get out. We discovered them all over the house. When one intrepid explorer found its way into my bed, it was time for them all to go.
Our cousins had a dog named Peter. He was a cocker spaniel whose ears required a daily wash after flopping in his food. I have a feeling Uncle John took over the chore of exercising Peter, which didn’t help our cause.
We did eventually get a cat though, which came as a big surprise as we had always been told Dad was allergic to them. I know he did have problems with his nose. I remember a time when he went into hospital to have some polyps removed. And he always had a much-used hanky in his pocket.
Shortly before I left home, my mother employed an elderly cleaning lady who had two topics of conversation; one was the washing.
‘Nice day for drying,’ she’d say. Or more commonly in England, ‘Not a good day for the washing today.’ And that was it.
The second subject was her cat Minna.
‘Minna ate all her food today.’ Said as if that was unusual, but it was the same thing every day. ‘I gave her some nice fish. She miouwed and miouwed.’
But sad to say, the time came when this lady needed to be taken into Care. She was quite happy to go herself, but she was worried sick about Minna. So Mum said we’d take her.
She hadn’t been with us long before I heard Dad standing at the front door one evening calling ‘Minna Minna ,Minna’ in a sing-songy sort of voice. And shortly after that he was observed walking down the hallway cradling the cat in his arms as if she were a baby. And not so much as a single sneeze was heard.