Both of our kids have now left home for university. We live in a rural area of Australia, and we’ve known for years that our kids would have to leave home for higher education.
We’ve always had pets, and over the years we’ve had a variety of animals pass through our house. There’s always at least one cat and one dog wandering around our place, but we’ve had a fair variety of others pass through as well.
Our eldest is currently studying a Bachelor of Animal Science, which explains a few things, but my husband and I do have to take some responsibility for most of the cats and dogs. When we first married, I had a dog and a cat, and my husband-to-be had a dog. Fortunately everyone got along well when we combined our households. Currently, we have two dogs, two cats and are looking after a couple of fish belonging to our daughter. She’s headed off to uni, with her two rats in tow.
One cat (the Nosey Monster) belongs to me, and the other (Socks) to our son. The german shepherd (Anzac) is officially a family dog, but has decided that my husband is his person, and the other kelpie/staffie cross (Jace) belongs to our daughter. Strangely enough, uni accommodation doesn’t allow students to take pets (except for the rats!), so the animals now outnumber the people in our house.
Any regular readers of this blog will know that I do tend to post Nosey pics, because I think he’s just the best cat. And of course my current series of books features starcats – huge, glow-in-the-dark felines (check out the lovely artwork from the cover of Frontier Incursion) that insist on sleeping on the bed.
As I’m writing, Nosey is snoring behind me on the back of the chair, Socks is tucked up on a bed, and the dogs are veging on the patio. I was sitting here contemplating the universe when I began to wonder why we’re all so fond of our pets.
Animals fulfil a companionship need, is the conclusion I’ve come to. They listen uncomplainingly and without interrupting when we talk to them, and they return our affection with gentle care. Dogs are unhesitatingly enthusiastic about their people. Cats are slightly less so, but once they’ve decided who their person is, they stalk them uncompromisingly, making sure that they’re the centre of attention precisely when they want to be, and for some strange reason, we feel honoured to be coerced by them.
There’s something about gently tugging the silky ears of your dog, or running your hand over your cat’s soft fur. The gentle tickling of a dog sneakily licking your toes, or the rumbling purr of the cat sitting warmly on your lap is something quite indescribable.
And then there’s baby animals. Why, oh why, are all baby animals so ridiculously cute? I saw a picture of a baby hedgehog on the internet a few days ago – tiny, ball like and even somewhat snuggly looking. It’s almost impossible to look at a baby animal, or a picture of one, and not feel your heart melt.
Not far from where we live is Devil Ark. Tasmanian Devils are endangered in the wild. Normally only found in Tasmania, their very existence as a species is threatened by the facial tumour disease. Devil Ark hosts a population of disease free Tassie Devils that are being bred to make sure there’s a population of devils if the wild population become extinct. I follow Devil Ark on Facebook and during breeding season, they post photos of little devils. Despite their reputation, little devils are some of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.