It occurred to me today that, with the exception of the animals currently in my life, nearly all the pets I have ever known are now dead.
There were those who were part of my family: the guppies; Bubble and Squeak the (pointless) gerbils; Tigger the football-playing Angora rabbit and his painfully shy guinea pig friend PG Tips, who were both murdered by a fox; the goldfish Chicken George and Bowie; cute but mange-ridden guinea pigs Dorian and Aloysius and Rosie the Dutch rabbit, adopted from the kids I babysat for.
Later there was Big Fish and Little Fish; then Rabbit, the loveliest, cheekiest bunny ever, who died when he was only a year old but who taught me so much about rabbits and the importance of a balanced diet.
Then there were those who were part of my life but not mine: Whiskey the mad mutt from down the road and the Alsatian from next door, who bit my friend Elaine on the back of the neck when we were six.
There was Wagger the dog, who taught me that barky and bouncy doesn’t necessarily mean violent; Snowy the greyhound, from whom I learned the importance of regular teeth cleaning, and Anna, possibly the most beautiful agoraphobic greyhound there ever was, who once nipped me on the face when she was scared. There were umpteen cats, which I never really cared much for and a newt that ran away almost as soon as I caught it.
Lastly, there was Sammie, my sister’s dog, who I loved more than I could ever put into words. She was wayward and only affectionate when she felt like it but, for a short time, was the only reason I got out of bed in the morning.
Even though thinking about all these pets has made me a little bit sad, it’s also got me thinking about future pets that will come into my life. All the animals that aren’t yet born – in fact, whose parents or grandparents might not have been born yet. It’s an exciting thought and I can’t wait to meet them.