Since the untimely demise of Mc Mickey the tortoise, the boys have moved on to dogs and cats. If I thought having a pet tortoise was work, I had no idea what waited for me by keeping a house dog. Having some level of OCD, I was totally opposed to having a dog, more so a dog that lived in the house. However as the only female member of the household when it came to voting I was outvoted and before I knew it, in came Toby. I tried my best to hold back and not form any kind of affection for the new member of our household. This was not easy to do as he is one of the prettiest little dogs ever, mostly white with tawny patches and drooping ears and a curly tail, he was not only good to look at but also gentle.
To be honest all that did not move me much, what touched me was the fact that he was obviously terrified to be away from the familiar and his mommy, he trembled violently every time someone, other than Toriah, approached him. He would also stand in a corner shaking in fear and peering with his huge soulful eyes. It tore at my mother heart and eventually melted my resistance. I found myself taking him to the vet, washing him, grooming him and even blow drying his fur to keep him dry and warm in the cold weather. I still cringe when I see Thayu hugging him and trying to kiss him (particularly after a tumble in the shamba where his white coat becomes an indiscriminate reddish brown) but I am grateful for the comfort and companionship he has offered the boys as they adjust to life in the country.
Then enter Susie, our cat. Moving to suburbia, no one prepared me for the wild life. I was appalled one day to find a mouse devouring our ketchup label, all nice and dandy in no hurry to go anywhere. Like I said I suffer from OCD, a million scrubs and bottles of jik and all manner of chemicals promising to get rid of rodents, I resulted to the tried and true; a cat. As a child we had cats and all of them were named Susie and so Susie the new cat became. Imagine the shock when we discovered, a few weeks later, that Susie was a tom cat. Oh well he had already learnt to respond to the name and so Susie he remained. As promised by my farming neighbors that was the end of Jerry (the mice).
Having pets and living in the country has changed all our lives in significant ways. The absence of immediate neighbors has forced the children to look to each other for company. The squabbles have minimised as they realise that they are each other’s only option particularly on a rainy Saturday afternoon. It has also made us more appreciative of nature and the things money cannot buy; solitude, fresh air, fresh food and lots of manual labour.
The person who has benefited the most is Thayu. He has learnt what many others have learnt before him, that a dog is indeed man’s best friend. Because he spends the most time with Toby and Susie, they have a special bond and he can get away with almost anything. He will hold them, ride on them, sometimes throw them and they won’t bite or scratch.
When Toby first came, I didn’t think I would ever be at peace in my space, all I could see were fleas, ticks and dog poop. I have since grown, so much so that come this weekend we are going out to bring yet another dog … and a goat … and some chicken. This time though, they will all live outside.