My mother has always maintained that people and their pets are alike. I had a 4 ft 3 inch red tail boa constrictor on the grounds that it didn’t shed, it pooped and ate in the same place… and it didn’t malt or need to be walked…it suited my OCD.
I wasn’t an animal lover so to speak. I have no real affection for cats or dogs or puppies or bunny rabbits. Our family dog doed when I was a teen, and everyone was upset – but I didn’t really understand.So I was the one that picked up her body and put her in the back of the car.
Then one day I got a call form my brother BEGGING me to take in a cat that he couldn’t keep. It had been shipped from pillar to post and ended up being rejected in various homes about three or four times in a row, and then eventually landed up in a cat home where he stopped eating and had given up. His hunger strike landed him in the vet, and he was put on drips.
And then the tenacious kitty cat escaped – and made his way along a 40km journey, which included an eight lane high way and made his way over a period of two weeks right back to my brothers house. The same house where had just arrived one day and decided to stay – much to the upset of the resident dog, and three cats.
He wondered through the front door and collapsed at the food bowl and ate a little, drank a little water and then assumed position in the garden.
My brother made a few calls and found that this poor boy had not been welcome anywhere – but he still could not keep him. So he called me. Having serious issues with animal gob and hair and general high maintenance I protested, a LOT – but my brother persuaded me, and brought Marley to my house.
I was given basic instructions on how not to accidentally kill him, and I was given a three months supply of food and a soft blanket for him and a whole lot of other stuff. Marley sat on my bed, as though he had been there a million times before. He watched my brother go and then made himself comfortable on my bed on the blanket and fell asleep.
Knowing nothing at all about cats, I had no idea what he was doing when he ‘pawed’ at the blanket. It looked more like an orgasmic experience than anything else. I wont lie – I was disturbed.
I lived in a very big complex, I would go for walks at night just to slow my brain down. This particular night, the night Marley arrived, it was POURING with rain, and as I love the rain I decided to walk in it. To walk from one end of the complex and back was about a half hour walk. So I set off with my hoodie and cigarettes strategically placed. And then – there was Marley. At my side, ears back, head tucked down, walking with me. I picked him up and put him back in the flat, and left again. But he found a window and he found me. I stopped in the puddles and enjoyed the cold on my bare feet. He would sit and still, with his ears down, stay with me. He followed me for the whole walk and when we got back he started his lick himself dry thing until he joined me on the bed and we slept. I was saddened to realise that he had no voice, and had lost it on his horrible journey. The irony is that I met him when he was still an unwanted at my brothers house, and he has a proper set of lungs on him. The even crueler irony is that I named him, before he was even mine.
I trundled through the following morning only to find Mr. Belvedere, my Boa Constrictor, and Marley having a staring contest through the glass of the tank. I eventually had to put a cover over the tank so that they couldn’t see each other. I was used to not having to make sure I didn’t smell like ‘furry food’ when I handled the snake – but it was becoming increasingly hard when I had cat that say and lay and investigated every corner of my flat.
One particular day I had locked Marley in a bedroom and took Mr. Belvedere out to handle. Routine was to let him do his on thing while I cleaned the tank. He was very chilled usually so I didn’t think it would be any different. Tank cleaned, I picked him up and he started to wind his heavy body back into the huge tank. He was almost all the way in when he did a lightning speed u-turn and tried to latch onto my face. Between me me jerking backwards and him losing his balance as he did, one of his front teeth sliced clean through my nose and he dropped to the floor instead of being able to stay attached and wrap.
My first thought was that I didn’t have a nose anymore. It was incredibly painful and I was bleeding enough that it was dripping in giant pools on the tiles. Mr. Belvedere had slithered under my couch and I went into the bathroom. My chin and neck and shirt were covered in blood, and it took me a minute to steady myself before looking in the mirror. I counted 1…2…3… and I stepped into the sight of the mirror. I laughed, because I still had a nose, which was brilliant news.
So after much time trying to stop the bleeding and making a few calls to people who had the balls to help me get Mr.B out from under the couch – help arrived. The sight of all the blood scared them more than the very large very grumpy snake under the couch. But we got him back into the tank, and he was NOT a happy camper.
It was surreal cleaning up my own blood and even more surreal that by morning my nose had almost resealed where the paper thin slice was.
I had to give Mr. Belvedere to a snake lover friend of mine because it was clear that he wasn’t going to let me handle him anymore with out smelling something that meant ‘FOOD’.
So then it was just my feline and me. He walked to the shops with me, he walked round the complex with me and he was never far from my sight. He would never let me cuddle him, but he did the ‘head bump’ i own you thing to me frequently.
Three years later in a new home, there was a shooting over my wall. I was on the perimeter wall so my already crazy paranoia turned into forward planning. I did a lot of research on different breeds of dogs and decided to get a Pitt Bull. For several reasons. Firstly, because most people are afraid of them. 2. Because I knew it would require energy and discipline from me to train it so that it was a an extension of me and not just a guard dog. Third, going back to what my mother said – people choose certain breeds because it’s a reflection. Keep in mind however that I, at that point was not an animal lover. I just wanted a scary dog – to help me be scary – if something ever happened in my home.
So along came Lyra. Lyra being my the name of the main character in The Golden Compass.
I soon learnt that she was a TANK and that playing with her in the garden always left me full of bruises and scratch marks. She was eager to please and so loving. As she got bigger, I realised that I had to get her a play mate, because I wasn’t quite up to the task of remaining calm when she playfully run straight into me and send me flying off my feet.
And then came Jack. Now… although I loved Lyra and Marley – I was still not an animal person. I was a Lyra and Marley person. I was completely ignorant to the misuse, abuse and horrendous things that go on with dogs, fighting, baiting etc. So I answered an add, where there were Pit Bull puppies for sale. Complete with papers and vaccination forms and everything.
And this is was I got (with fake papers and an identity pet card instead of actual papers).
I was filled with such rage that someone could do this to an animal. At the vet the following morning it was confirmed that he was covered in mange, and was a day or two away from death. He was very malnourished and dehydrated and was sick. They phoned the SPCA and the puppy mill that he came from was closed down. His mother and father had no hair at all they were in such bad shape.
When I confronted the woman I had dealt with she said she would give me my money back, and that she wanted the dog back. Enraged, I just said, ‘Why the FUCK would I bring a dog back into that environment? Besides, I don’t care about the money idiot! I care about what you do to these animals. And if you were such an animal lover you would have home checked me and taken my details down. But you didn’t. So good luck getting the dog back.
So Jack became my first education in animal cruelty. I have since become a lover of the breed and if I was able to I would have a house full of them.
So this is my family now, My boyfriend James. My loco cat, Marley, Lyra, and Jack – who has made a beautiful recovery and is the most gentle pooch ever.