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Yesterday’s Daily Prompt … Menagerie. Is spot on for me and my family!

Do you have animals in your life? If yes, what do they mean to you? If no, why have you opted not to?

Why yes i do have animals in my life … lots of them.

This is Travis, my best friend for 2 years 9 months ❤

Both of my parents came from pet loving families. My mother had cat’s and Hamsters as a child, my Dad had … everything under the sun! Theirs was a true menagerie, with dogs,cats,ducks,rabbits,owls,falcons, fish, frogs and goodness knows what else running about their house. So it was only natural that i cam into the world with a Cat and two Cockatiels already inhabiting the home.

The Cat, Sooty, was a great animal, a monstrous black Cat who used to prowl all over the neighborhood demanding fuss from stranger and chasing dogs. In the summer he would disappear for days and come back with his fur full of burrs and grass seeds and a mouth full of dead animals that he was very pleased with. He was also gentle and tolerant of both me and my brother as children, and loved a big fuss and a cuddle. He also, loved to sit on you and drool … everywhere, whilst padding away on your lap with his great big claws … ouch! He lived until he was 22 years old, he was my stinky, manky furry friend until i was 13. And i found it very hard to adjust without him around, i would go to put him and then realize that it was a sweater that had been left of the couch or a cushion.

The cat and the birds were added too by 3 goldfish (wiggles, water ring & spinner as named by 3 year old me.) And Honey the Hamster. They were then followed by bountiful amounts of fish (i could name them all but wont) more Hamsters as each one died. A Rabbit and most dangerously of all … a Guinea Pig which i was 8. I have never been without them since. I had always presumed i was a bunny person, but when we got this docile, little creature that wasn’t as mean tempered as the bunny or as hard to handle as the hamster, with his little pink lips and shiny brown eyes – i was smitten. He was so cute and all i wanted to do was care for him. My Parents have always said that if children learned to have empathy and care for animals, then they would learn to be like that with humans too. I do agree to a point, it takes a lot to love a creature so much that doesn’t really return the affection in a way we understand or appreciate.

Our very first Guinea Pig ‘willow’

When i was a teenager, my opinion on pets changed from “Oh my gawd it’s so cute and fluffy i want to squish it and hold it and love it” to “These are actually living creatures, with their own characters, and needs, and species specific traits and oh my gawd i need to learn everything i can about them now!” My new founded interest in Fish began my exploration into actually learning about the animals in depth rather than meeting their basic needs. I still have the fish i got for my 13th birthday,”Frodo” she is now 13 years old herself.

At 18 it was all put into overdrive when i got two more guinea pigs, after the death of our elderly Pig ‘Tyson’. Pirate and Pickwick where the first Guinea Pigs i got that i had really chosen, and been educated about before we bought them. I sat in the pet shop for ages holding all the little guinea pigs and trying to decide which ones suited best. They were my absolute world and i learned so much about Guinea Pigs in the time i had them, and continue to now. They started the true Guinea-Pig-itis which had been brewing since i was 8 years old which lead me to to having at least 6 of them at a time. They are just so magical i cant get enough of them. It’s because of them I am in the job I am in now, at an Animal rescue, which i love. Because of them i’ve hopefully made the lives of other animals better, all because of what they taught me.

Pirate and Pickwick

After i felt like my head could no longer be stuffed with Guinea-Pig-ness (which is in fact a myth, there can never be enough Guinea-Pig-ness) I got some fire bellied toads, i needed something more exotic in my life. Which are awesome little creatures, i love their faces, their noises, the way the jump up to the glass when they know it’s time to be fed, and one in particular will climb out and eat food from my hand.

Nameko, the one eyed Toad

11 years after loosing Sooty the Cat I got two more, Dotty and Angel, I’ve only had Dotty a month, so were still on the middle ground which many cat owners know, the “I don’t really like you so hurry up and give me food, oh yes keep scratching my ears like that” ground. Angel is like my best little cat friend ever, and gives great head hugs. She knows when things aren’t right, like the night after Pickwick died in January, and spent all evening curled up next to my head in bed, purring into my ear, which she doesn’t often do. I have a reclusive rescue Hamster called Clay, who always has, and always will be scared of everything. Along with Frodo,there is are two new fishy additions, Dibley (my brothers rescue fishy) and Leggy.

Angel Cat ❤

At some point in my early 20’s the animals changed from things to study, to my family, i love them all dearly as much as i love my family and friends. They have taught me about love, care,compassion, understanding, how to be open minded, they have taught me of death and grief, and how to deal with it (which is not well in some cases!)

I would never be without an animal by my side, even if it was the most innocuous or the most boring … like a stick insect.