When I was a small child, I desperately wanted a pet. Not just any pet — I wanted a kitten.
Every few days I’d ask if I could have one, and every time the answer would be the same. No. My Dad was allergic to cats, so there would be no kitten. (It didn’t seem like a very fair reason to me back then.)
But in the spirit of intrepid preschoolers everywhere, I didn’t give up.
It was grocery day. I was four years old. Mum was pushing the trolley while my three year old brother and I walked with her.
“Mummy?” I asked. “Please can we buy some cat food?”
“We don’t need any cat food. We don’t have a cat.”
“But if we buy some cat food, Daddy will have to let us have a cat so he can eat it.”
We didn’t buy any cat food. But it was only a short time later that I got my first kitten.
I named him Dusty and loved him so much, I can still feel him in my heart.
A few years later I got Mr Bounce. He was a gorgeous black and white cat with the dubious honour of being the only male cat to ever give birth to kittens of his own. (Okay, so maybe “Mr” wasn’t entirely accurate.) We had Bounce for a few years before he got a paralysis tick in the bush and made it home just in time to pass away.
My next cat was named Pepper, and he was my constant companion for years and years.
When I moved out of home, I bought two kittens of my own: Newton (he discovered gravity when he fell off a table within hours of coming home) and Missy (a sorority cheerleader of a kitten if ever there was one). They both disappeared on the same day a few years later, and I like to think that they went off and founded a cat kingdom together in the bush.
A few years later, my grandmother was moving into a retirement village and wasn’t able to take her cat with her. So my husband and I inherited Puss — a surly orange tomcat with a bad attitude and a penchant for drooling, clawing while purring, and being relentlessly persistent in the face of adversity. He was 12 when we inherited him, and he lived for another 4 years before we had to put him to sleep.
I have never cried so much as I did that day.
I’m a cat person through and through. It’s not that I don’t like dogs. I just don’t like dogs that drool, bark, bite, jump up, lick, whine, or demand attention every minute of every day. I’ve got two children who do most of those things.
So when five year old Big Brother started talking about wanting a pet, I figured we’d get a kitten.
But here’s the thing. My boys are not cat people. Not in the slightest.
“Pleeeeeease can we have a puppy?” Big Brother would ask. “Can we just look at the puppies at the pet shop? Please?”
And finally the day came when he looked at me with those big blue eyes and said, “Please can we buy some dog food? Then we’ll have to get a puppy to eat it!”
I put it off. We didn’t need another mouth to feed. Little Brother is a full-time job on his own. I figured another year or two would be fine.
But Big Brother was at least as persistent as I was at his age.
In early December, he caught a little beetle of some kind. He put it in a plastic container, added some grass and drops of water and brought it to show me. “I know I can’t have a puppy, so this can be my pet. I’ll call him Lightning and take him for walks and feed him every day. What does he eat?”
Clearly, Big Brother needed a dog.
So when my parents asked me for suggestions as to what to buy the boys for Christmas, I knew what to ask for.
Mum and Dad surprised the boys with a beautiful puppy on Christmas morning. Big Brother took one look at him and named him ‘Buddy’.
Both boys were a little reticent about getting too close to Buddy to start with. He’s a big dog — 5.4kg (12 lb) at 9 weeks — and they haven’t had any other real exposure to puppies. But within a few days, they’d all settled in together.
I knew it would all be fine when Big Brother said to me, “Buddy is the awesomest puppy in the whole entire world.”
Little Brother doesn’t know that many words. He just cuddled up to his pet and said, “I love you, Buddy.”
And, you know what? This cat person may be feeling just a little bit of puppy love herself.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?