Pet Hates

Over the years we haven’t had much success with pets, whether we’re talking an epileptic dog or our inbreeding guinea pig program. The guinea pigs were horrible pets – they’re just manure factories. Their Tic-Tac shaped output somehow seemed far in excess of their green leafy input.

Our poor pet history has come to the fore again this week because Miss7 has decided she wants a budgie. We’ve said no, but of course that’s only made her more determined.

So what does a seven year old do when she wants a budgie but the parents aren’t forthcoming? Well she makes a nest, takes a few eggs from the fridge and then … waits.

The reason we don’t want a budgie is we’ve had one before, when Master19 was a mere Master8, and it was messy and loud and painful. Not that the budgie was particularly loud, but my protests at having to feed and water and sweep up after it were. Plus the silly thing wouldn’t sit, or rollover, or balance a ball on its beak or anything. Worst pet ever. Anyway it obviously didn’t think much of us either because it went all ‘Great Escape’ on us after a couple of days and flew away.

Escape artist pets aren’t novel in the Devereaux household. We seem to inspire them somehow. We have a pet – a wonderfully well behaved and sweet natured fluffy white dog named Jazz – who one day may rival Houdini for her disappearing acts.

Jazz came to us when she was less than a year old, from a good family with an unsuitable home, and without fences she was always running away and licking the neighbours. Our fence has only slowed her down, rather than stopped her, from roaming the neighbourhood. We play this game with her where she runs up to us in the morning with dirt all over her white coat and we spend the next several hours trying to work out where she’s tunnelling. I feel like Colonel Klink to her Colonel Hogan.  

A friend of ours stumbled across an ad seeking a good home for Jazz just at the time we were thinking we needed to attend to our young children’s fear of dogs. So we got a free pure bred dog for nothing where we’ve friends who pay hundreds, or indeed thousands, for their four legged pals. Okay, so we didn’t get to enjoy the fun puppy stage where they pee all over the place and chew on shoes, but it was a trade off I was prepared to make.

As for the whole ‘fear of dogs’ solution, we’ve cured two out of three. Our Jazz just wants to be loved. Unfortunately for her, Miss4 thinks Jazz wants to eat her. When Jazz licks her though Miss4 is convinced it’s more the sort of lick you give a Paddle Pop before you take a bite off the top rather than a dog-kiss sort of lick. Still, Jazz The Infinitely Patient remains calm despite Miss4’s howling screams of protest which bring close neighbours running to their windows.

I’d really like to claim she’s a great dog because of all the time we put into her, but my pants would burst into flames and engulf my nether regions. It’s simply that her previous owners have trained her to such a high level we haven’t been able to undermine it (yet).

I haven’t been able to teach Jazz many tricks yet, although I entertain thoughts where we send film of her dancing around on her hind legs into Australia’s Funniest Home Videos and we win stuff. So far the only trick she does is where food falls off the kids’ spoons onto the floor and she licks it up. I call it The Dustpan.

My parents were not a lot better at pet owning either. I remember dropping in to their house as they were packing to move house and my mother marched past me with her goldfish in a plastic bag.

“You aren’t moving for three days yet. Will they be alright in that until you set up their tank in the new place?” I asked.

“Oh, they aren’t coming with us,” my mother answered, opening the freezer and shoving the bag in.

So I’m guessing genetically I wouldn’t be any better at fish ownership than I am at dogs, or was at guinea pigs or budgies.I saw a woman on the telly the other night who had a pig for a pet. Tracey scoffed a bit but my first thought was, “That’s brilliant!” Afterall, we don’t eat dog and in a post apocalyptic world it’d be handy to have an extra food source trotting around the house.

She looks so hopeful
I have ‘a thing’ (Tracey calls it ‘a problem’) where I can’t see animals as anything other than the sum of their meat cuts. When we go to Underwater World I get seriously hungry looking at all the potential Chilli Crabs and sushi scampering around the tanks. And the fillets on some of those fish!  If I worked there all I’d need to bring for lunch would be a deep fryer and a spud, and maybe make a nice aioli.There’s also a lip-smacking good time to be had at petting zoos. If we go to a petting zoo it’s not so much an opportunity to let the kids touch animals as it is an opportunity for me to teach them where bacon, drumsticks and meat pies come from. Sometimes the kids won’t eat their dinner for days.

Miss7 has just walked up to me with her bird’s nest and asked if she can put it next to her bed tonight. I think she’s worried I’ll put them back in the fridge while she’s asleep. She’s also concerned we’ll have nowhere to keep the little budgies when they get here.

But we’re very supportive parents so of course we’ve told Miss7 we’ll buy a cage and some seed the moment the chicks hatch.

And if there’s no movement by Wednesday maybe I’ll show her where omelettes come from.

For more evidence of how poor we are as pet owners, try this post Oh my dog, what have we done or for more on my dog-fearing screaming children All that Jazz.

When not typing away over here and checking his stats every two minutes Bruce Devereaux hangs out at his ‘BIG FAMILY little income’  Facebook Page.

 ’raising a family on little more than laughs’


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