Monday, 13 June 2011

Feathers Fur and Fins Part 1.

Throughout my childhood, I remember many pets and animals that joined our family. We were raised to appreciate the animal word and I grew up around a variety of different animals. We were fortunate enough to have a father and mother who appreciated the more basic kind of life, so even though we lived in suburbia we still had a chook pen, and ducks. Cats and dogs.
I recall spending a lot of time in my younger years down in the far back garden watching the chickens rummage around in the dirt, I loved sitting under the mulberry tree throwing grains of wheat their way.
I’ve always had an affinity with animals, and felt closeness to them.  Dad used to say I spent way too much time talking to them and not enough time feeding them or cleaning up after them.  My mum used to set the chooks, and we would be blessed with little chickens, with their yellow fuzzy coats running everywhere.
Mum went to great pains to keep them secure; tacking together fully covered chicken coops, with nesting boxes to keep these little yellow bundles safe from the likes of cats and chicken hawks.
I was always amazed at how she could pull a MacGyver and create these contraptions. From what seemed like nothing more than piles of wood and wire.
I’ve so many memories of the animal friends that graced my life, so I thought, in this entry, I’d name a few that had the most profound impression and effect on me.
So here goes:
Brandy, a part Persian torteshell cat is the first cat I remember, there was one before her, Lucky being his name, but I hold no real memories of him.
Brandy was a long time family pet, she used to play happily with me and my toys, was not shy of being dressed in the odd bonnet and nightie and didn’t seem to mind too much being pushed around the garden in a little pink pram.
But she was closest to my mum, for they were bonded and although an outdoor cat, due to Nan not permitting cats in the house, I still remember the odd morning wakeup call from Brandy licking my face, while mum smiled at the bedroom door.
She was with us for many years, and it was a very sad day the day she finally passed. I remember that being one of those rare times I saw my mum cry.
During Brandy’s time we also had a rooster called midnight, He was raised from a chicken, and even though he used to savage me when I went into the chook pen, (I still have the scar on my knee to this day) I was fascinated by him, he was a black pullet, young and very aggressive, but for some odd reason I loved him. Unfortunately though, my mum did not see my attraction and after yet another attack upon my shins. He somehow disappeared from the chicken coop. Funnily enough; we had chicken for dinner that night.
In my teen years, I took up the ownership of Casper, much to my Nan’s annoyance. Casper was a white rabbit; I purchased him whilst my family was away on holidays.
My Nan was appalled that I would want to keep “vermin” as a pet, but Cass weaved his magic on her too, and I still smile when I look at the photos of her sitting on the front veranda with Cass draped lovingly across her lap.
He was no more than the size of a tennis ball when I brought him home, and after many months of spending every waking moment training him, he became part of the family. He was an exceptional pet; I am convinced he thought he was human. He had a fondness for bounding into my room in the morning, jumping on my bed and thumping me with his back legs. He also loved to lay in front of the heater on cold nights, snuggle up with mum’s two cats Kasha and Cricket (Brandy’s predecessors) and was also partial to choc biscuits and liquored chocolates. He used to steal my pencils, chew up my erasers and tear up my notebooks. But all was done with love.
I still had Casper in my early 20’s, I was already driving, and always took him with me on outings. He would sit in the back window of mum’s datsun, and watch the world go by, amazing drivers behind me who would think he was just a plush toy in the window until he’d move.
He loved the beach and adored digging holes in the soft sand. He would baffle beach goers and dogs alike with his tunnels and  incessant hole digging, his white tail bopping up and down in the dunes.
Casper was the first true pet that was mine, and even after I left home as an adult I still made provisions for him. He stayed at mums, enjoying her garden. Until the day he decided to jump off of the laundry table in an attempt to get out the open window. Breaking his back and subsequently forcing me to make the hardest decision I Have ever had to make in my young life. I remember that call so clearly, I sat on my bed in my unit, listening to the vet tell me that my precious Cass had lost the use of his back legs and was losing organ function. My mind raced, I couldn’t do it, but knew I had to, and after one last visit, cuddle and liquored choc, he was gone.
Mum and I decided to bury him in the back garden, as that was where he spent his days. I’d had pet rabbits after him, but none ever where a patch on Cass. He was truely  one special bunny.