Long before we produced human offspring,
my husband and I had a baby.
He was a six week old stray,
a brindle Staffordshire,
and he commandeered our lives.
He walked to work with me every day,
we took him out for a walk every night after work before (a consequently late) dinner
and he was our child.
We lost Murphy when our first child was one.
He was only eight years old
but developed a heart based tumour
and had to put be put down.
My husband and I were devastated.
We got another Staffy, Violet,
when our first child was one.
She is now nearly seven
and fits in to our little family pack somewhere above our youngest child
and below the others
(mind you, the way our youngest runs her life,
poor old Violet will be relegated to the back of the pack very soon)
But my priorities had changed.
With the birth of each child,
my days have been taken up more and more taken up with simply coping
and looking after our non-furry kids.
I am ashamed to say that Violet does not live the life that Murphy did.
It was easy to let life get so busy and challenging that
our pets were not a priority.
A couple of years ago,
we lost both our old cats.
I was devastated and missed them badly
but it was easier to say "later"
than get new kittens to toilet train, feed and keep safe
when I had three young kids to toilet train, feed and keep safe.
Today we brought home our new additions.
Violet the Staffy is blissfully unaware of their arrival at the moment
(and when she is, she will be perturbed-
as well she should be.
Two one-half kilogram, six week old kittens will consider themselves significantly further up
the social ladder of our family than a mere twelve kilogram chunk of dog)
I am well aware of the advantages of pet owership, including with regards to children.
Reduced blood pressure and stress levels,
improved emotional and physical fitness,
higher survival rates pst-heart attack,
teaching children responsibility,
lowered childrens' allergies;
I could go on.
Hubby and I need to take the time
to teach our kids to value our pets,
to love them as members of our family
and to care about their wellbeing.
But sod my cardiovascular health- what I really hope to gain from having pets
is a few snuggly cuddles at the end of the day
and a warm little furry ball at the bottom of my bed keeping my feet warm.
Our little boy (the already-destined-to-be-trouble-climbing-the furniture-with-my-claws one)
is called Walloon (which I am sure will become Wally)
and our little girl (the butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth one)
Yes, odd names.
10 years ago my hubby and I travelled around Europe for 7 months in an old Combi
and discovered that Belgium has 2 regions.
Yes, you guessed it,
Walloon and Flanders.
I decided there and then that I wanted to name our next pair of cats after Belgium.
In my defense, I did expect that they would be boys but my 3 year old adamantly chose the little black one,
now stuck with a really odd name)