Friday, March 31, 2006

The Trouble with Pets

The children have decided they want a dog. Spouse also wants one. To be fair, Spouse has always wanted one, but deferred in the past to my paralysing terror of dogs. We did have a deal that I'd get a baby, and he'd get a dog, but four years after the last baby, we haven't got to the dog part yet. Our latest idea is to wait till the kids are big enough to take it out on their own. I have just got my offspring out of nappies, I'm not thrilled at the prospect of potty training a dog. Or looking after it for that matter. I mean, who else is going to?

To be honest, my children are so wussy around animals, I'm surprised they've even shown an interest in our canine friends. They spent a week in Spain a couple of years ago being terrified of our best friends' maniacal dog. Why they want one of their own beats me. And it isn't even as if they've taken much notice of the pet we do have: Georgie, a little hamster.

Georgie came to us a year ago by way of our ex-nanny. She has several pets, and one of them, a parakeet kept attacking Georgie, so she asked us if we'd have him. Thinking it would be Good For The Kids To Have A Pet, I agreed.

Which only goes to show how stupid you can be. I only have myself to blame. I am about the only person who pays any attention to Georgie. (Apart from no 4 who occasionally pokes her finger in his cage, and wonders why she gets bitten. It's a wonder we haven't lost him.) I'm certainly the only one who cleans him out. This is partly because of course, being a hamster, he generally comes out at night when the sprogs are asleep. So, though on the one hand he is a low maintenance pet, so quite good for kids, he is also a non-appearance pet so they get easily bored.

I have to say having never really had a pet as a kid (my mother used to say she had enough animals in the house, she didn't need anymore - I can now see exactly where she is coming from), I've actually got quite attached to Georgie. Spouse and I often talk to him in the evening when he comes snuffling his way out when we're watching the ten o'clock news. It is of course quite ridiculous to be so sentimentally attached to a hamster. Especially as he was ten months when we got him, we've had him a year and hamsters average two...

So every time I look into his cage it is with some trepidation - especially as there are days when I am so busy I never even notice him. I know one day I will look in there and he will be lying flat out with his little feet sticking in the air.

What I feel sure of is that Georgie is probably not so happy with his lot. I am always forgetting to clean him out - viz, this week I am guiltily trying to remember when I last did it. As the children show no interest in doing so either, he has to put up with it. He is probably mighty pissed off that he left his previous comfy home, and came to this hell where this useless woman forgets to feed you, neglects to clean you and four year olds poke their fingers into your cage, while no one else plays a blind bit of notice of you.

But to be quite honest, I am quite happy for it to stay this way. As annoying as it is to have to clean him out, the longer the children ignore our pet and neglect his day to day care, the longer I can hold out on the dog thing. When they learn to look after their hamster, then they might get a dog...

Can we have a dog? They cry. Over my dead body is the phrase that springs to mind, but I think it's more likely to be over Georgie's....

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