You know the kids are gonna want one. You know at some stage you're going to give in and get one so here's a potted history of pet ownership in the Baino household:
Buster: was around when I was born so I didn't have to look after him but he was my constant companion. Big boofy labrador, never left my side and barely whimpered when as a scientific experiment at 3 years of age, I tested a corkscrew in his ear.
Hamish: common hamster designed to teach me the responsibility of pet ownership. I was about 10 I think. He had a nice little cage with a wheel in it, I cleaned it religiously, fed him on queue, played with him and let him hibernate in winter. Just forgot to give him water. No water leads to a stiff hamster.
Sam: Big mistake, spoken about him before, the almost labrador that chewed pool lining and ended up on a 'farm' (I think) because he was too rambunctious. The kids were supposed to feed and water him but . . .well you know how that goes.
Dusty: Cremello filly - my Nana sent me $200 when I was 12 and she was the present I chose to purchase. White with blue eyes, just like the Lone Ranger's horse Hi Ho Silver! Bought her at 2 years old, barely broken, extremely dangerous but thanks to being led by a carrot down to George Sanna's riding school every Saturday morning for what seemed like years, she ended up being better than a bike! Apart from that rearing thing and kicking other horses when in season. Now I had to pay for her so babysitting before I was 15 and a father who worked for a stock feed provider proved handy. Went everywhere on her and eventually sold her to a breeder who wanted to put her with a chestnut to breed pretty palomino foals in order to raise money for a car.
Ben: Another labrador, liked humping legs, towels, horse rugs and eating the crotch out of girl's knickers. (I know men like that). Again, not really responsible for him other than when he came riding with us but a good fella anyways. If we didn't feed him, he'd scrounge. Always fat. Never hungry. We had him for 16 years. Quite a stint for a lab.
Pussy: Found raped and ravaged near the Scout hut (I don't think any of the boys were involved) she needed a home. We found out a few weeks later that she was pregnant and delivered 9 healthy kittens. This was just before a family trip back to the UK. The gingers were housed, the rest went to the RSPCA so I'm not sure how many found homes. Pussy was desexed and became known as 'old pussy' when another cat came along. Aloof and outdoorsy, this little tortoiseshell mama lasted 17 years without being relegated to 'the farm'
Nakia: Went to an auction with a friend because I'd never seen a horse auction. I bid for fun, borrowed $400 from my friend because I was bidding against the nackery and bought a damn nice looking, bad ass quarter horse. He was beautiful to ride with a rocking horse canter that didn't necessitate a saddle. Bit of a jogger but looked good in a parade and indeed participated in the Bi-Centennial celebrations in Windsor. Easy to shoe, easy to float, easy to feed . . bastard to catch and an abject escapee. I've picked him up muddied at the pound and had many a complaint about him upsetting local trotters and racehorses by visiting without a permit. Weekend work at KFC paid for his food and lodging and eventually the green dream that saw him buried by a bulldozer in our back paddock! (don't freak he was 28 years old and just gave up the ghost) Someone will get a shock when they excavate their swimming pool in a couple of years.
Shane: Not really my horse but a stablemate of Nakia's who had become so destructive to his owners that she virtually gave him away for eating his stable. Fantastic pony that BabySis had years of fun owning. Another bike that would go anywhere, do anything. Babysis moved out and needed bond for her flat. BigSis paid $400 for the horse and eventually sold him on to a lady farmer in Mudgee. Now he was one lucky pony.
Gus: Found in a box at work while we were still living in a flat. He began as a buttery smelling cute little black and tan puppy and grew into a mongrel that obviously had a LOT of Bull Terrier in him. Gus was reluctantly 'babysat' by mum and dad until we managed to get a place and a back yard of our own. My mother threw food at him until he developed an unhealthy obsession for attacking elderly women in lapin coats (very fashionable in the 80's) and harrassing her own cat Shaan. NOBODY TOUCHES HER CAT. He went to the farm . . not really . . had a frolick in the fields of Nembutol I found out much later!
Basil: Named after Basil Faulty due to a third eyelid problem that damaged her cornea. Yes I said her. I thought it was a boy cat but ended up being a very horny, curtain climbing, wailing girl cat and was promptly desexed. She was my only pet for my entire married life. Ray didn't like/want a dog so she was a substitute. Top cat. Burmese / Siamese cross and fit as a fiddle. Very indoorsy so never hassled the birds. Died at 15 years of age poor thing. I never had another cat after her for fear it might become a bird chaser.
Brenna: Black Lab, the first one I actually owned myself. I didn't really have the time to dedicate to her but she was a decent old thing and a damn good guard dog. Gentle and sweet tempered but cross with strangers. She now dwells in a pretty green box tied with a white ribbon awaiting her final resting place where her ashes can be laid to rest. Worst thing I did to her . . .took her riding and she almost died of dehydration and spent 2 days in the vet with a drip. Heat aint good for black dogs. Beware visiting puppies that you don't really want to buy . . you will!
Tiger and Pinky: Mice . . .yep you can go 'euuuww' now. Tiger was a brown brindle and Pinky your typical white mouse. Tiger ate herself into a stupor and died of engorgement. Pinky developed a nasty little rash and I paid $75 to have her euthanased. I just couldn't do it myself. Guess who ended up cleaning out the cage, paying the bills bla bla . . .female mice do smell! Oh but DrummerBoy loved to have the little buggers climbing all over him in his bedroom of all places.
Fish: These were too numerous and frequently replaced to allocate names. Groovy Granny bought a trendoid little hexagonal fish tank with a filter etc one Christmas. We had to buy the fish. I wasn't happy with their lack of space so upgraded to something bigger but the promises to keep the tank clean were never met and every fortnight there's me with magnetic sponges and acclimatising water so that our little fishies would be happy and healthy . . they never were, it's too hot for them in the summer and most turned belly up . .through fungal infections or too high a pH in the water. Do not get fish, they are not easy pets to maintain and they're expensive to replenish.
Laurie: (Ahem, I mean Lasalle Royal Flash) Bred by a lovely Catholic Priest in Mudgee we assumed he'd have the manners of a good private school boy. Well we thought ClareBear and I could 'share' a horse. So I bought a 15.3hh Arab. He was smart and wise to Clare's inexperience and despite her incredible stickability was deemed a little dangerous. Also had a rearing problem so decided he probably wasn't the best choice for a 12 year old. The worst habit was dropping poo all the time as if he was Hansel trying to ensure that he left a trail to find the way home. I once had to stop at a friend's place to wash his embarrassingly dark green inner thighs thanks to prolific shitting along the trail. I decided to keep him for myself and bought her . . .
Chippy: (Sorry he's just told me he's actually Yorkston Classic!) Welsh Mountain dapple grey, chip loving pony who, now like all old men, has gone white. Stubborn, pretty, hard mouthed but well educated and fine for ClareBear for a couple of years of pony club and horse camps until boys and cars came along. Both he and Laurie are now wild and free at BabySis place and suffer only the indignity of a six weekly manicure and the odd stomach drench.
Lily: (this is where you go awwwwww Bewfulls) the latest, now six years old and a delight to behold. Well trained, very pretty, well behaved but her medical problems don't come in halves. Being much, much more active than the average Labrador, (she was a gun dog in another life) she managed to stuff her cruciate ligament in a back leg 18 months ago and cost me around $4,000 in medical bills, not to mention the pain and hardship of convalescence for 12 weeks! This was only slightly more than my own recent desexing bill! Her pristine titanium knee is holding up well but I still can't stop her scuttling on the slate to bolt out the door after possums or rabbits so have resorted to baby gates to slow her exit. Run into that one biatch! And of course the ongoing ear problems due to her excellent ability to swim, dive and retrieve. The chin rash is a newbie for me so I'm hoping it's nothing too serious and we can clear it up with some anti-bacterial wash and a round of antibiotics that cost more than the human versions. My kitchen bench resembles a pharmacy!
Mr Right: Next pet is going to be a bloke, they make great pets when they're toilet trained. They can carry Eskies, put out the rubbish, mow the lawn, work out how to program your DVD . They barbie a great snag but don't let them near your fillet steak cos they cook the bejeezus out of it. They can reach things you can't, are a dab hand with an alun key, will check out if that's a lizard or a mouse behind your couch, fix your wobbly fridge and if you're lucky, maintain your car. They are eternally grateful if you can cook and keep them fed, clothed and bonked four or five times a week. Small price to pay I say . . . Yep, they make great pets!