Puppy (and kitten and hamster and guinea pig) love
After the usual ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’, my first word was ‘cat’ – or something that resembled it. My mother understood what I meant, presumably because I’d point to the neighbour’s tabby and try to crawl after it. I’d cry if the cat wouldn’t come and play with me, and I’d beg to see it so much that in the end my mum, who’s not overly fond of pets, boughtme a kitten to keep me happy. So began my love affair with cats, dogs, tortoises, guinea pigs, budgies – anything with fur, feathers or four feet. I became the school monitor and would volunteer to have the gerbils and cockatiel every holiday. I’d also happily dog-sit formy neighbours and bring in every waif and stray I found.
My puppy love wasn’t just for dogs though. I had a friendly squirrel I’d feed in the garden, plus a bird table, and I’d hand-rear any lambs or kids that were orphaned on my granddad’s farm. I’d try to mend birds’ broken wings, pigeons’ bad legs, I’d even save worms from becoming breakfast to some sparrow, and pretty soon my mum was despairing of my menagerie. She thought I’d grow up wanting to be a vet or run my own farm, but I always insisted I’d be a journalist. That doesn’t mean I don’t adore animals still, and I have a hamster (Pepper) and shih-tzu (Rex), who are part of my family. I could never turn my back on an animal that needed help and neither can some of the biggest stars in Bollywood.
Salman and Aamir Khan, Kalki Koechlin and Raveena Tandon all help animals in their own country – between them creating shelters complete with medical facilities and fronting campaigns to adopt strays. It’s great to realise how down to earth they all are – and how much they care for animals who have no one to look after them. Find out how you can get involved on page 23 and let me know what you think. See you next week!