Saturday, 23 July 2011

My first pets

I have always been an animal lover, when I was younger dreaming and wishing of having a pet, writing down lists of names and projects of how I would look after them and drawing what their home would look like, writing plans of where I would get everything from (usually the Argos catalog as that's all I had access to at the time).
We didn't have any money though so the idea of having pets was unlikely, which I didn't fully understand.
 My mum gave in when I was 11 (my brother 9) and got us our first pets. We got them after going to a Radio1 road show on Plymouth Hoe, when they did it on Sundays at several venues round the country.

Our first pets were a rabbit and a guinea pig .....Holly the rabbit who was so small she fit in the palm of my hand and was a cheeky little thing bouncing up to the glass to say hello. She had the colouring of a wild rabbit with a white splodge on her tiny twitching nose, fluffy white paws, and was a half ear up one ear down.
Not our actual pets, but these two look good friends as well
Sparky was the guinea pig ....she was the smallest of the litter ....the runt and very shy, running and hiding behind the other animals, particularly Holly. I loved her at once and knew she was the one. She was black with a thick white stripe down her face and bits of brown on her body.

They had lovely friendly characters and we'd let them run around inside and outside. When we had an old pram out the garage with a blanket in the bottom, the pair of them climbed in and snuggled up together and would groom each other. They loved being together.

Holly however died very unexpectedly when still very young. I say unexpectedly, but the night before I'd had a vivid nightmare that she had died. It was so real I was incredibly panicked and had to go and check on her the next morning before I rushed off to secondary school. She seemed fine. I still remember the walk home, picking some dandelions for her, only to get back, open the hutch door and see her laying exactly as I had in my dream.......dead. I was heartbroken and also horrified as it all went exactly as my nightmare had and I will never be able to explain it.
I remember the next day at school, trying not to cry and obviously looking miserable, and having my Geography teacher say something along the lines of "cheer up it might never happen". I could have screamed or hit her (if i'd been violent and unstable lol ) It already had happened!!! I think that is one of the most ignorant moronic things you can ever say to someone.....if they look that upset, it is pretty likely the bad thing has already happened!!
Sparky mourned her greatly. They had been very close, they were best friends and  Sparky was always squeaking her head off when Holly was in the run without her and scrambling up close to her when they were back together. We got another guinea pig to keep her company, a tiny tan coloured, at first very very shy, but very loving girl who we called Mossy, only to find Sparky was too territorial and bit her! :(

So they had to live separately. They were lovely inquisitive, intelligent, loving pets. They loved to cuddle up to you and would lick your face and come rushing up to see you. A couple years down the line Mossy got ill......I think it must have been mange, and i didn't realise then what is was and that my mother couldn't afford to take them to the vets. I think maybe she could have been saved which is heartbreaking. If I'd been older I might have known to try and take her to a shelter or somewhere to help her.
We tried our best to care for her, bathing her, which she hated, but that didn't make her better. Then one day when out in the run she didn't want to leave me and kept scrambling up on my lap to be as close to me as possible. I didn't know why so cuddled her then put her back. That night she died. She hadn't wanted to be alone. It was awful and I wished more than anything I'd let her stay with me.

Sparky still lived on and I spent a lot of time with her, especially when i was going through hard times it was a great comfort to have her to cuddle and care for. Like Mossy she could be very vocal (especially if either of them heard vegetables being chopped!) and she loved her food, especially cucumber! She wasn't allowed too much mind to protect her tummy. When she was about 3 and a half however, she started developing the same skin condition and I couldn't believe it, but as I didn't know much, I still never thought she would die. I so wish we could have taken them to the vets, I suppose we should never have had pets in the first place if my mum couldn't afford that, but she was trying to do something nice for us.
I knew she was getting worse when she would refuse things like her cucumber, and the night before, she did the same thing as Mossy, which I'd forgotten about so didn't realise the significance of it, when I tried to put her back in her hutch she didn't want to leave me and kept jumping out onto my lap and scrambling as close to me as possible. That is the most heartbreaking thing. I wish I'd never put her back in and just let her stay with me.
The next day at school I got incredibly violently sick out of the blue and couldn't stop thinking that something felt wrong and it must be Sparky. I got home and mum wouldn't let me see her, said she'd fed and cleaned her out etc. I was desperate to see my pet and put up a big fight, only to find my mum had been trying to protect me as Sparky had died at lunchtime when I'd been throwing up at school. 
Sparkys death was the worst for me, I'd never felt pain like it. They'd all been part of the family and I'd grown so close to her and people don't realise how affectionate and interactive guinea pigs are once they know you and feel comfortable, so they can't really understand your loss. 
I would cry myself to sleep every night, feeling so hurt and my mum at one point suggested antidepressants (I was 14 at this point, I think at about 13 i had started to develop signs of depression when I became unwell with IBS, tried to tell my mother after spending ages trying to pluck up the courage and she told me because she used to be a nurse, she knew everything and that I was crazy and there was nothing wrong with me. She was wrong, but made me feel helpless, alone and rock bottom at that point. Life at home was very difficult for other reasons then too. Hence why Sparky was often my comfort). I remember thinking, that it didn't matter if I searched every inch of the earth.... I would still never find her.
That's the catch with pets, they are such a joy to have, but you know at some point you will lose them and it is awful when you do.
Sadly as my mum stopped taking photo's after I was about 7 (I've no idea why) I never got any pictures of Holly or Mossy :'( and only managed to get a small one of Sparky ....which I still have but I don't have a scanner to scan it onto my computer. 

Again, not mine, but cute :)
About a year later I did care for two mice for a couple months, which i called Amber and Fluff, without my mum knowing. Amber was white with browny black patches and Fluff was white. I ended up having to give them up as they would escape during the night and I'd find them in my wardrobe after searching for ages. They were lovely, inquisitive, entertaining pets, but just not right for me at the time.

I didn't have a proper pet then until I was 17 and had moved in with my friend Catherine, due to my family having to move away and me wanting to finish school.
Instead of going to an optional P.E class, me and Cat somehow ended up going and buying a Hamster!!
Completely random I know! After making a list of names we whittled it down to Minstrel, who at first interaction bit right into my finger. 
We'd chosen her as she'd got too old to be with the other babies and had been separated all on her own and needed a home. Once she knew she was safe with us, she was a lovely friendly creature, although Cat always seemed somewhat squeamish around her, I think she prefers bigger pets! Then again me and Tony did used to put Minstrel on her shoulder....maybe that was why!
Unlike this cutie, Minstrel was a lovely sandy/golden colour

Minstrel lived on the top floor with us, which was best considering Catherine's gorgeous friendly, very over excitable dog Saffie who would have loved a chew toy.
When I moved away when school had finished, Minstrel came with me, but then a couple months later I started University and wasn't allowed to take her with me :( So from then on, I missed out on her life.
My mum developed cancer that year (which thank god she recovered from after a traumatic 8 hour operation and radiotherapy) and Minstrel ended up having to go back and live with Catherine and I never saw her again. I do have a picture of her, but again not a digital one.

I didn't have the option of having pets during university, even though at this point, if I'd budgeted well (which I didn't ....first time I had the money and freedom for nights out and to get clothes) I could have afforded one. I didn't have the space or the rights in any of the places I lived to have one.
However in my fourth year in Liverpool, when I'd moved into my and Jen's new place, a week ahead of her, so all on my own, a little creature decided to adopt me as her owner.
My next post will be about her.

                                                  x - X - x

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