Over the years, the T(a)it family has experienced a decent salmagundi of animals, considering we’re just an average family (salmagundi means ‘a general mixture’ – I’m trying to broaden my *very limited* vocabulary whilst in lockdown). Starting off with just some fish in the pond, we’ve since graduated to: chickens, frogs borne (actually spelt frogs spawn, maybe I shouldn’t do an English degree), frogs, 2 rabbits, the odd dead rat in our garage (if that counts), another 2 rabbits, and finally, if you’ve read blog #18, you’ll know I recently adopted a gerbil.
I’d say that’s a pretty standard list of pets, apart from having chickens. Depending on the type of person you are, you’re now either, A) craving a KFC, which I don’t appreciate, or B) just thinking, what in tarnation? Yep, for about 5 wonderful years of my teenhood, we had pet chickens. Mine was called Popcorn, because my 15-year-old ass thought I was funny playing on the irony of me being veggie and therefore having zero interest in KFC’s Popcorn chicken.
Unfortunately, I seem to be the only family member with a bit of creativity, because the other poor chickens got given names such as: Gracey, Pebbles, Pebbles 2, Pebbles 3, Pebbles 4, Mushu and Pepper. You’re probably wondering why there were 4 Pebbles, rather than us just coming up with alternative names. If you look at the title of the blog, you might be able to work out why. Yep. And the sad thing is, all 4 of those chickens were my sister, Immy’s. Whilst my darling Popcorn was thriving with good health, happily running around the garden, my poor sister was hopping to the local farm every few weekends, to yet again, recycle her beloved name, Pebbles. The first one sadly passed from old age, RIP. The second attempt was then stolen from us from a hungry fox. And finally, Pebbles 3 lost her battle to an unknown disease.
Like everything, my sister took their deaths like a Queen (with a capital Q), and remained faithful to her Pebbles. And despite the deaths, we had some quality times with our girls (females provide the eggs obviously, males just make a load of noise at 5am, so we only had females). In the summer months, we’d let them roam free in the garden and watch them for hours, doing their weird shit that chickens do. When I needed some love, and I was mad at my sisters for finishing off the chocolate shreddies or something, all I had to do grab a handful of corn, and offer it out to them. The little pricks of their beaks as they fed from my hand was strangely comforting. I sat, with my legs crossed on the grass, and cuddled Popcorn in my lap, and told her all about how shite P.E lessons are in Year 9. And, although I was mainly vegan, I could still enjoy an omelette every now and again, because I knew they were ethically made with my own love and cuddles.
After a few years, their food seemed to attract a whole army of rats. One end of our garden quite literally became a school playground for rodents. To put it politely, my dad was not a fan of this, and therefore made the decision to give them back to the farm. By this point, I was 17, (nearly) a grown ass woman, so there were no tears from me. And luckily, I had already been prepared for this moment, ish…
I was 9 years young when I experienced my first death of a pet. A goldfish. We had gone on holiday for a week, and left the neighbour to feed the fish. She apparently wasn’t aware of a healthy portion size for fish, because when we got back, my dumb ass thing looked pregnant with triplets, and there was excess food still on the surface of the water. We assumed that she was just obese, and not pregnant, and avoided feeding her for a few days. When her size didn’t improve, and we realised a treadmill is not an option for a goldfish, we considered the possibility of her actually being wildly pregnant. We took her out the pond, into a bucket of water, and rubbed her stomach (this helps a pregnant fish, according to Wikipedia). Nothing happened. The next day, I was stood staring into the pond, probably wearing crocs and some appalling 9-year-old fashion choice, crying. Mowri, that was her name, was floating in the water, with her tiny little organs hanging out the side of her stomach. She had quite literally, exploded. I buried her, next to the pond and gave her a memorial. Gone, but never forgotten.
Skip forward from 2009, past the years of the chickens, to 2020, and I’m faced with another death. One of the rabbits escaped the hutch, and became a wholesome, protein snack for a dickhead of a fox, leaving Jesy, our only remaining rabbit, lonely and without a cuddle buddy. You know what they say, the best way to get over the death of a dog, or pet in general, is to get (adopt, don’t shop) another one. Once this pandemic is over, my sister and I will certainly be hopping over (pun intended) to our local rescue shelter in search for a neutered, 1 year old+ Lionhead rabbit (hit me up if you have one needing taken off your hands). But for now, we’re having to entertain Jesy ourselves, letting her roam free in the garden, and giving her lots of cuddles (not one of the worst house chores I’ve had to do).
After hearing the news of Leighanne being eaten, it made me think of King George Giuseppe Tait the 7th (my gerbil, you should know this by now). I didn’t realise how attached I had become to him until I had to go a night without him. I felt incomplete and unable to sleep without saying goodnight to my son, which is quite scary, considering I didn’t even know what a fucking gerbil was 2 months ago. So, when he does pass (they live for about 4 years), don’t expect me to write any happy, uplifting blogs for a while. I’m not sure how I’m going to cope.
Despite the fact that pets are unfortunately not immortal, the years of love, laughter and entertainment are definitely worth the few tears at the end. I think it’s such a privilege to have an animal rely on you for food, companionship, medical attention, love, etc. They of course have no language to talk to you, but this is part of what makes a relationship with an animal so special and connected. Just as you pay attention to their behaviour, body language, they too are reading you, like, Gina, why in hell haven’t you given me a treat today? I’m joking – half-joking anyway. Getting a pet is not just to serve them: it serves you too, sometimes more than the pet itself. It reminds you that part of being human, is to nurture and care for all life.
Aaand yikes, I really look like a crazy cat lady now, don’t I? I think it’s time to end the blog, so I’ll end it with this:
“Our perfect companions never have fewer than four feet,” – a very wise person.