We grew up with animals/pets and they often make appearances in my mental meanderings but one thing that I think about quite often is my Sister and her penchant for being bitten by dogs, well mostly dogs. The other injuries that she has had that I can think of were either self or sibling inflicted but in our defense she did seem somewhat of a glutton for the kind of attention that gets you an anti Rabies shot and some stitches. Having offspring of my own now and living on an Island that consists mostly of people compensating for their Empty Nest Syndrome by having one or more canines to keep them company in their dotage has made me more than once utter the words I heard fall from my Mother’s lips “Don’t put your face in the dog!’ – it must have helped a lot because the Sister of mine has only every been bitten by a dog six times – not the same dog mind you – always a different dog. And there are a lot more people than dogs out there in the world – I think that was pretty good going for my Mother.
My Father brought his own pets into the marriage, two Welsh Corgi’s (something to with being a fan of the British Royal Family) They were both pedigrees with papers to match and were named Humphrey and Bogie – Bogie was the epitome of the Welsh Corgi, with all the right markings from his ‘fairy harness’ down to his short stubby docked little tail. Humphrey on the other hand was pure Brak (mongrel) – longer legs, scraggly fur and a face like the Tramp from Lady and The Tramp. He lived a good 22 human years and is remembered fondly. Bogie, not so much, he used to eat our wax crayons and when we lived in tropical climes every afternoon around four when the storms would start to build he’d dissolve into a nervous puddle of panting drool, stinking it up under a bunk bed more often than not. Because he was a lot lower to the ground my Sister liked to ride him like a pony – needless to say she was snapped at and had to spend a week in an oxygen tent (for croup – that she had at the same time – not because of some strange over reaction on the Mothers part) and have plastic surgery on her lip to mend the little nick – I surmise to this day that is the reason she’s considered prettier than me. And that was the first time – maybe a Dog is her totem animal? And so they keep wanting to bring her back into the pack as it were.
The other holiday we were travelling together, Auntie Sister and I, with my two wee ones, regaling them with stories of our idyllic youth and how awesome it was to grow up together – you know how one makes it seem really awesome to sucker the kids into growing up and leaving home and lying to their own kids . Going through a town famous for it’s Crocodile and Ostrich Farm. There are posters on all the street lights proclaiming these one on one encounters with Cheetahs and Warthogs and a Hippopotamus. To illustrate their point as and as a sales gimmick there are full colour photographs of little children and yummy mummies cuddling with these creatures as if they let them sleep in their beds at night! Sending myself into paroxysms of paranoia at the thought that some one’s mother let them pose with these WILD ANIMALS – I wonder if they all got away unscathed or if that ad campaign has a couple of literal skeletons in their closet. So now, when we speak to the kids of animals that they might encounter we hold up Auntie Sister as an example and in a firm voice say, ‘Keep Your Face Out Of The Cheetah/Crocodile/Dog.’