|Photo attributed to Stephen & Claire Fansworth|
When I was a Junior in high school, I brought home a piglet from the town fair. I worked hard to win that pig. There was a booth set up where you had to throw ping pong balls into jars, or something else set up to be impossible to win, and the prize was a piglet. I immediately fell in love with those piglets and spent probably $30 on tries. I still couldn't get the required number of ping pong balls into the required number of jars, so my friend Matt Yeager lent me another $20 to keep trying. The man with the pigs eventually just gave me a pig. Or rather, I paid him $50 for one, is more like it. I wrapped the piglet up in a jacket and drove home with him in my lap.
Upon arrival, my mother and father immediately said, 'No.' I tried to argue, but it was a firm, very firm, extremely firm, 'NO.' In tears, I drove Wilbur back to the town fair.
I ran into a girl from school and told her my sad story. Her mom, a woman as insensible as myself, fell in love with Wilbur just like I had and agreed to take the piglet from me. They raised Wilbur in their back yard, for at least as long as I had any contact with them.
I have a long history of rescuing animals. I can't help it. I'm maternal that way. When I was about six, I tried to rescue a baby bird who had fallen out of it's nest. I'm pretty sure I actually just killed it, but I tried. I be-friended and be-petted box turtles, as most Southern kids do. We also had non-rescued pets growing up, like our dogs Sandy, Bandit, Rascal and Benjy, and a kitten called Butterscotch. (Butterscotch and her black sister died while still kittens, I barely remember them.)
When I was a Freshman in high school, I adopted a rat named Squirt from a Senior who couldn't take him to college with him. Squirt lived in a cage in my room until his sad, sad death a couple of years later. In college, I turtle-sat my boyfriend/exboyfriend/boyfriendagain/exboyfriendagain's water turtle Speedy for over a year, because he couldn't keep it in his apartment.
When I moved to Scotland, Scott and I adopted two cats from the animal shelter. We loved those two cats, Remedios the Beauty and Clementine, very much, but my pregnancy got in the way of caring for them. The smell of the cats aggravated my severe morning sickness to the point I just couldn't keep them any more. My sister-in-law Katie and her husband Faisal ended up taking them in. At that point, Scott and I swore off pets forever. We loved pets, but they are just too much work. I had realised by that stage that as much as I loved animals, I'm just not a good pet owner. The hygiene issue with animals is just too gross for me.
But logic as usual lost the battle to my emotions, and I began wanting another pet after Isla was born. There was about a year when we believed Isla would be our last child, and I was broody. So I started looking into pet rabbits. And that's how our minilop Chewbacca entered the family. Chewbacca was great, but soon after I got pregnant with Cailean and realised Chewy would soon be rather neglected with a newborn around. So I adopted a rescue rabbit, Zelda.
Zelda died not long after joining our family, which devastated us. She was such a gentle and friendly rabbit, unlike moody Chewy. Still, I loved Chewy and had every intention of bringing him to America with us. Unfortunately, I came to understand, the reality of rabbits is that they are very vulnerable and scaredy, and the flight would more than likely kill the poor creature. So we rehomed Chewy with close Scottish friends and moved to America - promising we were done with pets until the kids were older.
Not two months later, we adopted Gracie, our miniature dachshund. Gracie had only recently been adopted by my mom from my step-dad's ex-wife's parents. Then Rico, a puppy Boston Terrier, joined their family, and we knew it was only a matter of time before Mom would ask if we'd like to have Gracie. After all, Gracie was the first dog Isla ever warmed to, and Isla loved that daft dog. Scott and I discussed it before Mom ever event mentioned it and agreed we'd take Gracie if she asked. She did ask, and we did take Gracie.
I tried to buy a Chihuahua at a flea market about a month ago, but Scott put the kibosh on that instantly. He said the next pet we got would be a 'proper' dog, like a Golden Retriever.
And now here we go again. A little black kitten followed us to and from school one day, Isla fell in love with it, played with it all day, fed it and formed an attachment. The little stray did not seem to have any home, so we have now seemingly adopted little Zombie Cat, a lucky black cat roaming around days before Halloween, into our little home.
I just can't seem to say no to animals. Even though I'm not a great pet owner, I love animals and want to care for them. Other people, like actual 'cat people' or 'dog people', would probably be better with their animals, letting them sleep in their beds or eat at their tables or take over their home, which will never be me. But show me a creature that just needs a warm bed and food and a safe place to live, and I'll find it hard to turn away.
Heaven forbid someone leave a baby on my doorstep.