I don’t like pets.
Well, that’s not really true, perhaps I should say I don’t see the point of pets. I mean, what exactly are they for? They smell funny, they get under your feet all the time, they don’t talk, they can’t even manage simple tasks like turning the TV on or off. As far as I can tell they contribute nothing to the family unit.
Smiley’s sister often brings her dog over. Smiley goes all soppy over dogs and talks to them in a patronising voice that makes him sound like a simpleton. He’d really like a dog but every time he raises the subject the conversation always ends with the phrase “We have enough going on in our lives at the moment”. I don’t know what that means, but I don’t think a dog will be taking up residence any time soon.
Anyway, Sister Smiley’s dog is an enormous brown thing and pleasant enough in it’s own way, but I just don’t get it. It needs walking all the time or letting out into the garden and you have to follow it round with little black plastic bags and pick up what Sister Smiley charmingly refers to as ‘presents’. And it eats huge amounts of smelly food that it can’t prepare for itself. I’ve tried pulling its ears, pulling its tail, kicking it, grabbing large clumps of its saggy skin and even yanking its baggy, slobbery lips to provoke a reaction but it just stares at me with its big dopey eyes. Other people in the family have remarked on this as ‘A Good Thing’ in that the dog has shown remarkable restraint and intelligence in not biting my head off. I think it’s just extremely dim.
Frowny pretends to like dogs just to please Smiley and his sister, but I’ve seen the sideways looks she gives them. She and Flower Girl have a real thing for cats…. as if dogs weren’t bad enough! I mean, what exactly is the point of a cat?
We currently have two cats who stay well away from me. Quite right too, but even from a distance I can tell they’re a complete waste of space. At least a dog can fetch a stick or play with a ball or look at you as if it understands you… a cat never changes its expression, stares at you with utter contempt, sleeps for 23 hours of the day and expects to be fed as soon as it’s awake. If I behaved like that I’d… well ok, I do behave like that a lot of the time but that’s not the point.
By now you’re no doubt thinking that I’m a serial pet-hater. But you’d be wrong.
I was more surprised than anyone when Smiley and Frowny brought home a kitten one day. A really stupid looking thing even by kitten standards, with enormous ears out of all proportion with its head. It looked more bat than cat. And because it was bright orange it was immediately christened ‘Jaffa’ (Do you see what they did there? They were so pleased with themselves when they came up with that one).
This animal was mean and vicious. The previous owners had hinted at this when they’d mentioned it had had a few homes, each time lashing out with its claws and scratching whoever it came into contact with. Smiley and Frowny, gullible as ever, presumed they’d been exaggerating. And at first it seemed quite cute, sitting on Frowny’s lap it would latch it’s little teeth and tiny claws into her hand. But after a few days it became obvious that this thing was potentially lethal.
It would lie in ambush at the side of the staircase and shoot out a claw to slash at Frowny’s passing ankle. If Flower Girl attempted to go to the bathroom without shoes it would leap on her toes and attempt to kill them. Another of Jaffa’s party tricks was to lurk at the bottom of the bed or across the other side of the living room; like a coiled spring he’d sit in the pounce position and stare at you for several minutes with a crazed look in his eyes that would completely freak out the chosen victim. Poor Smiley’s hands were scratched to bits by this thing every time he had to separate it from someone’s flesh. Soon even they had to admit that Jaffa was a killer that could not be tamed.
For some reason Jaffa never attacked me. While apparently hating everyone else on the planet this cat would roll over and want it’s tummy tickled as soon as I came near. I lack the fine motor skills and temperament for that kind of behaviour, but it would still frolic and play with me and share the toys I liked. I have a large fabric tunnel that I used to enjoy crawling through, and Jaffa would play a game where he’d run in and out of the opposite end. He never once bit, scratched or hissed at me.
And then one day he was gone.
I overheard Smiley saying something about the fact that Jaffa had finally met his match in taking on a Range Rover but I’m not absolutely sure what this meant. Or what it had to do with the shoe box.