Love is... a fur- and feather-kid family


Illustration by Jenny Lamont

In which DD reflects on her beloved furry and feathered kids and realises how blessed her life is because of them (well, mostly!)

Do you, like me, find it incredibly odd to visit a home without even ONE furkid? Honest, I don’t know how people cope and I can honestly – and happily – say that I’ve never experienced life without a furkid or two, or three (or more!).

Sure, I can see some of the pros (which non-animal lovers are rather quick to point out): you can wear your clothes without worrying about animal hair on them; you can wander with gay abandon on your lawn without the threat of treading in fresh doggy do; you can wave at or even converse with your friendly postman without a cacophony of barking dogs. BUT…

How lonely it must be when you arrive home and there is NO ONE to greet you with a big smile and a tail wagging eagerly to and fro. Or having to go to bed alone! Having no warm, furry lump against the small of your back, or in the curve of your tummy. Having no one to which you can explain what you’re doing with every daily chore (my dogs like to know as I busy about sweeping, cleaning the bathroom and going out to hang out laundry).

By now, you know all about our precious animals that share our lives in our little cottage in Cape Town, but in case you don’t, let me introduce you – let’s do it by age.

Sammy Bear

Our oldest and by far our most high-maintenance of all is little Sammy (or Sammy Bear or Sammy Bastard – depending what she’s been up to!). Sammy is almost 12 years old, although you’d never say so. Show her a ball and she has more energy than the Duracell Bunny! She keeps up with a speed walk, as led by her furkid sibling (not blood related, of course), Sheba.

She’s a feisty little Morkie and if I have to be honest, she does suffer Small Dog Syndrome. She’s a known sock thief – or actually ANY clothing or shoes that she can get her little paws on. She’s obstinate when it comes to eating and, in fact, everything she does is on her terms only. But, over and above all of this, she’s “Mommy’s Favourite”, and although my love for her goes mostly unreciprocated (sadly), I wouldn’t swop her for the world.

Sheba Shanks

Next up is Sheba (or Sheba Shanks or Mrs-Two-Bottoms!). Sheba turns eight this year and is our goofy girl. Everyone who meets Sheba falls in love with her immediately. She’s a happy-go-lucky dog, always keen on a game of ball (she has to charge around like a loon to find a ball to present to every visitor to the cottage), is a bit keen on a “slap” chip (or anything edible, really – she is a Labrador-mix, after all!), and is the total opposite to Sammy-don’t-dare-touch-me; she LOVES loving!

Sheba is a gentle soul and is absolutely adored by Brother Lewie, one of our cats. Watching them schmoozing with each other makes one feel a little like a voyeur – I sometimes find myself muttering “Oops, sorry” before beating a hasty retreat to another room. Actually, I’m not entirely sure that Sheba truly enjoys the extreme advances from Lewie, but at least she doesn’t object.

The Twins

And then we have The Twins, Arty Cat and Brother Lewie. The Twins will be turning four years old this year; they were rescued as feral kittens with their mum on an abandoned building site. Full disclosure: I don’t think they’ve quite got over the feral part yet.

Arty Cat is slowly seeing the benefit of being a homebody, but Brother Lewie… When it comes to him, it is truly like we don’t even HAVE a cat. He pops in for food like a sneaky, um, cat burglar, and just maybe a small catnap in the dead of night when no one is watching, but mostly he’s out.

No one knows where or why but he is our “wild child” and I’m guessing he’ll never change. Neither of them are cuddlers; in fact, they run in the opposite direction when approached, which is incredibly hard for me, a crazy animal lover. I can only hope that one day, when they’re old and grey, they’ll settle down and be happy to curl up on my lap, to be stroked or cuddled in my arms. Here’s hoping!

Boris and Georgie

And last but not least we have The Budgie Birds: Boris and Georgie. I have no idea how old Boris is but Georgie will be two years old this year. To be honest, I’d never thought of myself as a “bird person” (and maybe still don’t – I kind of feel like they are little prisoners; I’m not a fan of keeping animals in cages), but we rescued Boris from our garden shrubbery (read more about it here http://www.happytailsmagazine.co.za/dds-blog/the-bird-in-a-bush/) and little Georgie was rescued by a birdie animal rescuer at a time when we felt that Boris needed a friend.

In hindsight, I’m not sure Boris agrees with our choice: Georgie is an overly confident budgerigar who definitely wears the “budgie broeks” in the cage. We were under the impression that Georgie was a girl when we welcomed her into our home but it turns out that “she” is actually a “he”. They have their cosy-up moments, like pre-bedtime and on waking up at budgies’ fart in the morning, but, generally, Boris sits back and watches Georgie take over the cage. I see Boris as a wise old soul who is mostly entertained by this young whippersnapper.

Despite never having considered keeping birds before, of course of all my animals, these kids get the most of my attention. They’re moved to various and best possible places all day long, get fed a better diet than anyone in the cottage (humans included) and have their every whim and need pandered to. My only wish is that one day they’ll tame up (we work on it daily) and eventually allow me to handle them and let them have some free time out of their cage. It would be a dream come true. But, until then, I will love them with all my heart. I’ll play them their favourite budgie videos and delight them with as many toys and treats as I can. I think they know they are much loved – it’s the last thing I tell them after I’ve sung them their “goodnight budgie” song at the end of each day…

The boys

And then there are my boys – the human ones, that is. They get no bedtime songs or tennis balls or other such treats. The only time they get to go on walks is if they come with the dogs, and their slap chips are never entirely their own.

Unsurprisingly, my teenaged son, Aaron, and my long-suffering partner, James (aka The Dad), are firmly of the opinion that they feature beneath all the animals on my list of priority. And that, I have to confess, may be true!

Sorry, boys!