Animal Magic

 The Wellington Hospital in North London is the most expensive hospital in Europe.  It’s very pish posh and the food is the best. In comparison Mo my cat spent the night in the emergency vets on Saturday night  and it cost almost the same price

I guess vets have a captive audience – they know that when it comes to a beloved pet, we  owners will pay whatever it takes to make them well again.   Anything to stop them going to kitty heaven

There are around 13 million pet owners in the UK who spend approximately £7.16billion on their furry friends – with a trip to the vet being the biggest single expense

Mo was spared kitty heaven but that is no thanks to her  absent-minded owner – that’s me! who wrongly administered dog worm treatment instead of cat worm treatment. The dog stuff is 10 times more potent and can be lethal to cats.

 The author John Berger once wrote that animals promise “a companionship offered to the loneliness of man as a species.”  And I get that. Since Tod died my animals  have been wonderful companions.

My compassion for animals started young. When I was 10 years old, I visited a family on my own in Cork in southern Ireland. While there I rescued a very young kitten who was about to be drowned. Hiding it in the sleeve of my coat I smuggled it  back on the airplane to the UK.  My mother was appalled and not impressed with my heroics

 “As soon as the kitten learns to lap  it is going,” she barked. But the kitten, that needed to be fed with a doll’s bottle was wise – she never learnt to lap.

 I can sort of understand now my mother’s reluctance as we already had a menagerie of animals. A tortoise who kept wandering off, so we called him wanderer.  Sometimes we would have up to 4 of them at one time as whenever a neighbour found a tortoise it was presumed it belonged to us.  Two rabbits that also kept escaping, mice,  two budgies, one that got eaten by the cat and a couple of hamsters.   

Unconventional Tale of Rabbit vs Tortoise - Light Asset

I could not imagine now living without animals. Admittedly Mo does not give me the same attention as does Izzie.  We don’t bond over our daily walks and right now  if truth be told my  relationship with Mo is more one of tolerance. And while she tolerates Izzie is all consuming.   Her  attachment to me  is fundamental to her  well-being. As long as Mo is fed, she is content,  but Izzie  feels our relationship with such an intensity that she can only be content if I am in a near proximity. 

It’s definitely  the unconditional love that does it for me.  When Izzie looks at me with that adoring face,  I know I am loved.  I remember that same expression when the children were babies.  And that lovely nudge I get just at the right moment when I am feeling a bit down.  Or the bounding dash to the  front door when I  come home. Makes me  feel special.  Dogs  definitely pick up on our moods. When my father died,   and mum  came to stay with us our dog just slept outside her room.  He could sense her sadness and wanted to keep her company. Izzie did the same when Mo returned home from the vets. She kept a watchful eye over her.

Studies have shown that looking a dog in the eyes can boost levels of oxytocin  in both the person and the dog.  Apparently, dogs  are the only species that, like a human child, runs to its human when it is frightened, anxious or just pleased to see us

How traumatic then must it have been for pet owners at the start of World War 2   when over 750,000 pets were slaughtered in  London alone – that’s  around one in four of the pet population. This was in  response to a hysteria created in anticipation of air raids and resource shortages which it appears was more hysteria than necessity.

Not surprisingly then that after the war  there was an increase in pet ownership and indeed  in the way we related to our pets.

“We started to have them inside the house rather than, say, outside in the kennel. We started to see them as quasi-human and form strong emotional bonds to them,” explains Abigail Woods, professor of the history of human and animal health at Kings College London and a qualified vet

Quasi-human hmm sometimes I think my animals would prefer that I treated them a bit more as animals – they are getting awfully bored with my monologues. I can almost hear them saying “She’s off again, let’s just feign sleep and we might get away with it. “

Meanwhile they both have no qualms in sharing my bedroom.

“Let’s be careful out there”

Author: ladyserendipidy

Journalist, event planner, mother, animal lover, not very good bridge or scrabble player, hopeless housekeeper, ex social worker, radio producer, tv executive, hater of almost all insects especially the eight legged ones. And if I am ever allowed out of my house, intrepid traveler.

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