This is my story written for children or anyone who likes simple language.
When I was about 5 or 6 years of age and my sister Rosemary 2 years older, we lived in a small house in a very pretty town in England. The only pet we had was a budgie called Perry. Budgies were very common after the Second World War probably because houses were generally too small for pets any larger than that.
Perry was let out of his cage every day, and eventually found his way to the kitchen. However, this was the last time we saw him, because Rosemary opened the door and out flew Perry, no doubt keen to explore the outdoors, and who could blame him? My sister and I were distraught and prayed every night that he would come back, but he never did. This was my first experience of household pets.
Two houses away, the family had a black cat, also called Perry. Perry was obviously a very popular pet name in those days. Rosemary and I always used to stroke him whenever we passed, as he always seemed to spend his days dozing in the sunshine, especially in the summer. One day, Rosemary gave him the usual loving stroke and Perry lost no time in lunging towards her, biting her on the finger. For the rest of my childhood, and in my case until I met my friend, cats have always remained pets to be avoided at all costs. This is still the case with my sister even today.
Very soon after that, friends of my parents bought a little brown dachshund and the family were so enchanted with him that my parents went ahead and did the same thing, the only difference being that ours was black and tan in colour. People often call dachshunds sausage dogs as they are long with very short legs. To me, they’re gorgeous and by far my favourite breed even today.
My sister and I would run as fast as our legs would carry us home from school to play with Fritz. As we played, Fritz liked nothing better than being dressed in children’s clothes and being pushed around in our doll’s pram. He really loved it, other wise we would never have played that game with him. After our experiences with Perry, the cat, I never really came into any contact with cats. On the very rare occasion we visited friends’ houses, I was very nervous and kept a very safe distance. The experience with Perry had left it’s mark.
It was only when I was an adult around 40 years of age, that I met a friend who had a cat called Judders. He had rescued her from the biting cold one November evening as she took shelter under a nearby car. As the cat was coaxed from under the car, her tail juddered with excitement and so she was named Judders, or Judds for short. I have to admit that at first I was a little afraid to stroke her. However I was soon to learn that she too was nervous of people she did not know, so it was a difficult time for both of us. It took some time for us both to feel comfortable with each other, but when that time came, we became very close. I consider myself special that I was one of very few people she felt comfortable with.
In her younger years, we used to play together and I would make up games for us. Her favourite was called ‘under the stairs’. This involved chasing her and tickling her with a feather on the end of a long stick, which my friend had bought at a local cat fair. My friend would ask us to stop making too much noise on a Sunday morning when he was trying to read the Sunday Paper!
I also made up a game called ‘cat tennis’. This involved a small ball on a piece of elastic and whoever hit the ball further won the point. The noise from this game also caused the odd look from the man of the house!
I came to love Judds as much as my own family. Our black and white moggy became the most important member of the family and I loved her with all my heart.
The message from this story is that it is possible to love any kind of pet with time, no matter what bad experiences have happened in the past.