Thinking twice about keeping pets
I DON’T know what you think but having a pet, a vicious one at that, is a necessity nowadays.
That would obviously translate into the canine variety, in other words, a dog. A very big dog that takes about five minutes to generate a bark.
If you are of the sadistic kind, you would rather keep a pride of lions on your property. Not with thieves ruling the roost in the suburbs.
After a spate of break-ins some years back, we purchased the latest addition to the family.
It came in the form of “Fluffy,” a ball of black and khaki fur that could barely scare a fly.
The reasoning, nevertheless a bit warped, was that Fluffy would grow into the job which is to secure life and property.
How wrong we were. Fluffy was just too politically correct to be a guard dog. Worse still, he never grew much no matter how much expensive dog food we fed him.
By the time we decided to fire him, we were on the verge of starvation. I am glad to say that he did fetch quite a mint.
Our family has a chequered history of owning pets, some, I must add, quite involuntarily. We once had a rat in the house.
It must have been a rat because Anele (who was six at the time) announced that he had seen a mouse that looked like it hadn’t bathed for a while.
The rat in question placed the family in a dilemma. Either to bait him with rat poison and send him straight to rat hell or just to pretend he was part of the family to please Anele.
The first option was easier but then there was the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Rats to contend with in the form of our three sons. You see this rat was so big that he just could be classified as a pet.
It was so big that the kids concluded unanimously that it was a rabbit. And you should have heard the wails of protest as I chased it around the house with malicious intent.
My argument was that being the breadwinner; I could never get to make drastic cuts to my monthly beer allocation. All in aid of feeding a rat. The other option was to upgrade the pest to pet status. That meant coming up with some gentleman’s agreement with the rat in question.
First, he had to agree being a gentlerat and stop causing havoc in the kitchen.
Secondly, the rat would have to adjust its diet somewhat to decent food and not my magazine collection and c ont ai n e r of masese (opaque sorghum beer) in the pantry.
Unfortunately, the so-called ratrabbit (as evidently opposed to calling him a rock-rabbit) had developed expensive tastes, which explained his weight problem.
The other dilemma was the many sleepless nights that the rat-rabbit’s nocturnal activities caused.
Because of its size, it could no longer sneak out through the tiny hole it came in. So in the dead of the night, one could hear it burrowing away. to It was as if it had lost direction burrowing through any wooden surface he came across. At one point I thought it had discovered my centuries old vinyl record collection (remember those flat, black, circular objects that made music when you set an electrified needle on them?) In the end, quite sadly, some very painful choices just had to be made. Would we commit murder most foul and break our kids’ little hearts, or swallow our stingy pride and promote the rat-rabbit to pet status? I personally preferred a hunting dog having come from a long line of poachers . . . sorry . . . hunters. At the time it was a luxury we could ill afford apart from the fact that we were staying in a flat. That’s besides the fact that someone would have to clean up the dog poo. In any case, of what use would be a pet rat that did nothing but eat and poo all day long? I am yet to see a guard rat, granted the mere sight of this chap would surely keep those pesky uninvited relatives away. Relative One: “Did you catch sight of how big that rat, rabbit, thing or whatever was?” Relative Two: “I thought I heard it bark!” Relative Three: “I think I heard ‘them’ calling it by name!” Relative Four: “We might be strange but these people take the cup. I don’t know about you but I’m out of here!” Which brings us to our cute Fluffy, the cross Alsatian puppy. Its first act of heroism was to accompany the latest gang of burglars to the back door where they patted him lovingly on the head and made off with our stereo. Several years and several hundred of dollars of stolen property later, I wish we had kept the rat. He would have been entered into the Guinness Book of World Records and made us famously rich by now.
As for Fluffy, well he fell ill, died and went to dog heaven. The grief that it brought to the boys and the family quashed any future plans of purchasing a replacement canine.
For some funny reason, the burglaries stopped as well. Yes, I am as mystified as you are too!