In Praise and Recognition of Pets

Watching a fascinating programme about immigration and its history in the UK. I missed the beginning as the signal was poor, but now I have moved the aerial and balanced it on a box means I have a good picture.

One of the things I enjoy about television on das Boot is how in this small space I can watch it while washing up, cooking, stowing the stuff I have brought abroad.

While I ate (a spicy curry with brown rice since you ask) I watched the Supervet. One of the owners, whose active puppy Noel described as a box of frogs, spoke about how much she loved her puppy, Nala. How Nala was more than she had expected.

Oh how I understand. On the road, when MasterB made the occasional complaint, I examined why I bring him to das Boot, when he so obviously believes car travel is over rated. The fact is das Boot is so much nicer when he is with me. And not just das Boot. Home is so much nicer when he is there. Life is so much better when MasterB is there.

He is affectionate, a moderately good listener, beautiful, funny, playful. He improves my life beyond measure. All loved pets do. To non pet lovers, this may sound crazy, deluded, maybe even sad, proof of impoverished lives where humans fail to make significant relationships with other humans.

Except that it has proved over and over again that pet owners are happier and healthier, that we connect not only with our animals but with others of our own species.

It has been hot in London the last few days. Fortunately much cooler today. As is our wont, Octavia and I ate together on Sunday night. We enjoyed the warm evening and dined in her small courtyard garden. The Grey Ninja lay on the wall. Her paws lifted to the skies. The very picture of a cat on a hot brick wall. If only I had had my big camera with me (a lament I may repeat over the next few days at das Boot as I am already regretting only bringing my point and shoot).

Octavia called to her. I wish we had been filming this. Her hot cat spread the toes of one paw in response. Fabulous. My own hot cat, the Ginger Ninja, slept on his back with his front legs stretched out like skis. His appetite flagged; he cried to me to turn the heat down; he wanted to stay in the garden late at night when I wanted him in.

But he was alright. He had his annual check up at the vet’s on Tuesday, and Ellie the vet, who has loved him from his first visit, pronounced him in great condition. To say I love MasterB is an understatement. I didn’t want him, but he has become my companion, my barometer. Watching him brings me joy. His evident pleasure at seeing me and other of my friends including Celia and Octavia, Reinhild and Michèle, is life enhancing. Notice no men in that list. MasterB is, for reasons I cannot fathom, suspicious of men. He has grudgingly accepted Charlie and Older Nephew. It has taken him six years to accept my neighbour Adam is not the devil incarnate.

Which brings me back to Grenfell Tower. Everything brings me back to that fire. It is a defining moment in our history. We will all remember where we were when we understood the extent of this horrific incident. I was wondering how many pets were lost. No initial reports included how many of those flats were homes to animals. Then finally, I read of a man traumatised because he ‘had had to leave his dog behind’. Now by this time, I had already been planning my own escape from a burning flat, and number one on the list was how to get Himself out. To save myself at the expense of MasterB or any pet feels to me like an abdication of the responsibility I accepted when I gave him a home.

How people who left their pets behind are dealing with their grief and loss, I can’t imagine. I just hope they will receive the same counselling, the same sympathy and understanding as those who have lost friends and family members. Because your pets are your friends, they are family. No when they die, in whatever circumstances, we need to be able to grieve for them, to mourn openly, without some idiot saying, it’s only a cat/dog/horse/rabbit/donkey, you can replace it. You can no more replace a pet than you can a sibling or parent. You may get another cat/dog/hamster/budgie/horse, but it will not be a replacement, but another sentient creature with whom you form a relationship.

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3 thoughts on “In Praise and Recognition of Pets

  1. I agree that pet owners are happier and healthier. I’ve had some health issues over the past year, and I’m better now. Long walks with my dog, Chase, and the attention from my cats, Harper and Molly have really helped.

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