Sunday, May 17, 2009


I have been pretty unfortunate with my pets to date; most notably I have had three cats die on my birthday. Greta, a beautiful but unhinged kitten, was given to me for my 25th birthday and exactly a year later she ran straight into a traveling car and died. Ooop was the loveliest, most affectionate and laid back cat I have ever come across, he graced my life with his presence for three years until I found him in my garden on my thirtieth birthday, he’d obviously been run over. Caring for stray animals is supposed to do wonders for your karmic status, according to those who believe, I say bollocks, humbug and balderdash!

Having your pets die on your birthday is obviously quite depressing, however, I am fortunate enough to not ever have killed my own (or anyone else’s) pet, yet.

As a young child Nadia was given a hamster, Fluffy, but was disappointed to find that hamsters are nocturnal creatures and subsequently make, at best, mediocre pets as they are reluctant to play during daylight hours. Instead they keep children awake by scuttling, rustling and gnawing all through the night. One night, brimming with disappointment and sleep deprivation, Nadia took Fluffy’s cage and placed it on the doorstep of the house. She woke the next day to find that her world had been covered in a substantial enough layer of snow to play with, mid-excitement she remembered Fluffy. His tiny snow capped body was frozen solid, if he had only had the sense to keep running on his wheel, he might have generated enough heat to survive the night, but hamsters generally really suck at staying alive for any length of time and Fluffy was no different.

Rebecca returned home from school one afternoon in the early nineties and was enjoying a snack of cheesy wotsits and a can of seven up in front of newsround when she noticed the fish watching her from their tank. Having a generous spirit, Rebecca thought she would share her delicious meal with her aquatic friends, and so she put a wotsit in the fish tank and then added some lemonade to the water. Twenty minutes later the fish were all dead.

Reuben’s turtles were becoming very lethargic in their tank, behaving like they were about to hibernate; on closer inspection he noticed that the water in the tank was unreasonably cold. Deducing that there must be something wrong with the thermostat, Reuben removed it, allowing the water to heat up quickly without the regulatory effect of the thermostat. He left the room to watch some telly while the tank heated up. Sadly, Reuben was distracted, mesmerised and/or enchanted by the televisual offerings of that evening, and when he finally remembered about the chelonian reptiles in his care, they had reached near boiling and could not be resurrected despite fervent efforts.

I obviously don’t envy Nadia, Rebecca or Reuben for having killed their own pets as children, but I do think they have had a certain advantage having been confronted with issues of love, loss and guilt so early on. It builds character.

Mia Tagg 2009®

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