And to celebrate I’m going to try to see if I can remember all the names of all the pets I’ve ever owned.
This was the first house I ever lived in, with my Mum, Nan, Auntie Melly and Uncle Graham.
My first pet was my Nans dog Lucy. She was a grey toy poodle and she was a horrid little dog. She hated me. Thankfully she was rendered deaf and blind by the time she was 10, however this didn’t stop her barking every time I visited my Nan. Grr… But give let's give her her due... she didn't let a Shadow Person scare her.
My second pet was Misty the Cat. Misty was a mysterious cat, I rarely saw him. However my Mum always talks of him fondly.
The third pet was Max. Max was bought by my Uncle Graham as a puppy just after I was born and Max and I grew up together. He was a retriever with ginger coat. I honestly have never seen a dog since with the same colour coat as Max. I remember being very sad when Graham moved out, and even more sad the day Nan and I walked into town and passed a house with a dog in the garden who came to greet us at the gate as we walked past. It was Max, he’d been given away!
The fourth pet I remember is actually a shed full of birds. It was in my Nans garden, and I believe they might have been budgies. God I wish I had budgies. Love them.
My fifth pet was extremely random: I found a tortoise who I named Thomas (after the Tank Engine!). He lived with us for quite a few years until one day as we prepared his box for hibernation he made a run for it. Now you might not think a tortoise could get very far in just a few seconds but you’d be surprised. He disappeared until the following spring when he was found sleeping inside my neighbours compost heap. A little after that he made another escape attempt and disappeared… until one day I was in the local pet shop and saw him in a cage. I knew it was him as when we found him he had a large dot of white paint on his shell which we could never get off. Bastard thieves!
Gosh this is just the first couple of years of my life…
All By Ourselves
Mum and I moved out to live with her future first husband (his name was, I believe, Shitface).
We moved out from my Nans, into a caravan in Maidstone and Mum got pet number 6, a ginger cat named Garfield (it was the eighties!). She was gorgeous but as we were in between houses we wouldn’t let her out on the own. So it was a fairly common sight to see me, at five years of age, walking around Hermitage Lane with a cat on a lead. A few years later my mates and I had gone out and got some chips, as we turned back onto our street (Woodlands Avenue by this time) I saw my mum on her knees in the middle of the road. As I got closer I could hear her sobbing and saw Garfield’s bloody body stretched across the road with her still meowing plaintively for help. My mum loved that cat and she didn’t get over it for quite some time.
Under our caravan we had a family of cats, who we decided to capture and give away. One was a spitting image for Misty and as Misty had just passed away was handed to my Nan as Misty II
Our next pet was an Alsatian dog named Shane who we got as a puppy when we moved into our first house. He was gorgeous and he, Thomas and Garfield were to form the nucleus for our own little menagerie. Garfield and him got along famously until the day that Shane playfully picked up one of Garfields kittens and dropped in on the concrete killing it. He was extremely remorseful and spent weeks in mourning over that kitten but after that day Garfield rated Shane as Public Enemy Number 1 and spent her days tormenting him.
Our next pet was Geisha, a Japanese Akita and a rescued dog to boot. She was a lot more highly strung than Shane and was simply not able to be left alone at any time. She was one of the first of her breed in the country but her owners had treated her so badly that she was a wreck. Fireworks night was the worst. She used to grab hold of your arm and drag you to wherever she wanted you to be, and there was no saying no.
Bentley the Cat was another rescued animal. He was very old and had been so badly treated that his last owners had stubbed cigarettes out on his feet. We gave him a lovely retirement.
Bonnie and Cylde were two black cats we got as kittens to replace Bentley when he passed away. They were mischief makers, always hiding in motorcycle helmets and pouncing on an unsuspecting Garfield.
Marmalade was a baby ginger cat we got after Garfield died. We didn’t have him long before we abandoned the house.
Honey and Spice were two hamsters who lived in an aquarium in my room. They were sisters, whose favourite thing to do was grab my Monster in my Pocket toys and eat them. In the end Honey killed Spice. Bitch.
The Goats. Despite only living in a council house, we kept two goats at the end of our back garden. Mum used to milk them as she felt goats milk helped her eczema. If we went out they’d always escape into the main garden, knock open the ajar kitchen window and stare through it at Shane and Geisha menacingly.
We also had several rabbits, a pond full of fish, freshwater oysters and amphibians of all shapes and sizes plus a goldfish.
At one point we had Shane, Geisha, Bonnie, Clyde, Marmalade, the goats, Honey, Spice, the pond, a rabbit, Thomas, the goldfish and whatever creatures I had managed to catch on any given day.
Sadly our little menagerie ended abruptly when, for various reasons, my Mum and I fled the house. My auntie moved in and looked after Shane, the cats and Honey. Thomas had made his escape. The pond was filled in after all the fish were killed by a summer outbreak of blue algae. The last goldfish had died and wasn’t replaced. Geisha and the goats moved to a farm run by two lovely gay guys who owned another Akita and I imagine they spent their days frolicking in meadows. The rabbit was eaten by one of the neighbours racing dogs who had got into our garden and ripped open his hutch. (Mum promptly shot the dog… my Mums tolerance of animals was only extended to those who were not evil bastards)
There was only a brief interlude between leaving Snodland and arriving in Shepway before we got our first new pet.
It took Mum and I a while to convince my stepdad Tony we needed a pet after moving into Sellindge. Eventually we got one from my auntie Melly. She was the daughter of Melly’s cat Sophie and sister to Misty III. Millie was a black and white cat and I fell in love with her immediately. She hated all humans deeply and wished nothing more than to be left alone. We were soul mates. The thing with Millie was that if she sat on your lap or meowed at you, then you were truly blessed as she didn’t give attention away willy nilly. Millie was short for Millwall (Tonys football team). She lived to be 11 and died in 2005.
Hurlock was Millies son (named after a player at Millwall). He was a minx and eventually Millie forced him to find a new home. No one in the house was too upset by this. He was an extremely badly behaved cat.
Pocket Money was my most beloved pet. He was an American Bullfrog I raised from a tadpole over the course of a couple of years (much to Millies intense curiosity). One day I went away for a week to see my auntie. I left my Mum strict instructions on his care. I returned to find my Mum had rearranged my room, moving his tank next to the radiator… his water had evaporated and he had cooked to a crisp. I was devastated (as only a 12 year old can be). I am still trying to forgive her.
Chekhov was a Russian Hamster who lived in a cage in my room. He wasn’t very friendly and often bit but we got on okay (I stopped him from being eaten by the ever interested Millie and he didn’t use the wheel at nighttime). One day I got home from school and he simply wasn’t in his cage. I asked my Mum what had happened. “Well I took him to work with me” She worked with the young mentally handicapped, “And I gave him to one of our clients and he bit her and she threw him against a wall.” Sigh.
The Stick Insects. After Pocket Money died I got some stick insects. One day my Mum decided to be very helpful and cleaned out their tank “throwing away all those sticks”. We kept finding stick insects in the garden for the rest of that summer.
Apple. We got ourselves a rabbit when we moved into Old Mead and Beth treated it so badly I ended up looking after it. One day it dug itself out of our garden, straight into the jaws of our next door neighbours dog.
For some reason, after we moved into another house in Cheriton, we decided to get a new cat. Angel was brought from our home town of Snodland and was quickly adopted as “Beths Cat”. Millie was “Jasons Cat”. However Angel didn’t like labels and used to follow me for street after street whenever I left the house. I think this may be because Millie hated her and would spend her days growling at her. Funny thing is that since Millie has died and my parents have a new cat called Tinkerbell, Angel has taken on Millie's role. She’s still a sweety though. She is the soppiest cat in the world.
Molly was one of my Mums boyfriends dogs who came to live with us. She promptly escaped and was last seen playing on Pent Valley Schools property.
Crystal was a local homeless cat who was the mankiest thing you’ve ever seen. Despite my Mum saying that if anyone fed him we’d be shot, I spent my days surreptitiously passing food to him outside. This lead him to move in, much to my mums annoyance.
Bob was an evil rabbit. We kept him in a hutch and let him out for a run every day. He soon grew to massive proportions and spent his time in the garden running round and round the cats (terrifying all three of them). Eventually he grew to believe he was a cat. Some days I’d be upstairs in my room and I’d hear the cat flap go… then I’d hear a bouncing on the stairs. I’d look down from my bed and there would be Bob looking up at me EVILLY. Sometimes I’d wander into the front room and he’d be curled up on a sofa fast asleep with Millie keeping a watchful, but distant, eye on him. He eventually grew bored with us and moved house. I’m telling you, that rabbit was a sentient lifeform. After he left we couldn't get rid of his hutch... Millie had decided it was going to be her new home. We didn't argue.
Scooby was Angels son. He stayed with us for a while but soon moved into a neighbours house. He still visit my parents.
And now, here in Greenwich, we just have the tropical aquarium. With a giant clown loach. Who makes such loud clicking noises you can hear him across the room when he is hungry. He worries me (and our other two, much smaller, loaches). Plus there's two black tetras who just never die, three neon tetras, a pleco, at least two catfish and one hardy survivor from an original 5 yellow barbs.
My family now have two cats Angel and Tinkerbell, a Jack Russell called Noodles (Jim loves that dog), some fish and a hamster. I predict it’s only a matter of time before they have goats.