40 in the year of 40 – #27 ‘Family pet’
The Easter Bunnies have arrived. One of them dropped off chocolate for all the family, with the resultant sugar rushes this morning. The other has decided to stay. He is called Ben (or Benny) and he was a birthday present for Jacob who turned 8 last week. Not surprisingly he has immediately found his way into the family’s affections.
Benny is our first pet. The boys have not had a goldfish, hamster, guinea pig, or even a pot bellied pig before. Let alone a dog or a cat. This is mostly because of the care responsibilities if you want to be away from home, which was something that both Nicola and I had experienced, with the accompanying feelings of guilt, when we were children.
We both had dogs: my family had a much-loved Golden Retriever called Mac who, like Benny, arrived when one of the family was 8 (me); Nicola’s family had a Shetland Sheepdog (or Sheltie) called Benji, who was still alive when we first met and, like Mac, was a treasured companion. Nicola also had a rabbit, called Snowflake.
The children have asked for pets before. They haven’t pestered, been insistent, or whined that some of their friends have had them, when they haven’t. But we’ve known for a long time that a fifth member of our family would be a welcome addition … and so, this year, having a family pet, and learning how to look after, nurture and care for another living thing, was to be on my 40 in the year of 40 list. It seemed the right time.
For Christmas 2010, Jacob asked if he could adopt an animal. He put in a request for an Orang Utan or a Jaguar, and was delighted to receive a letter from the World Wildlife Fund thanking him for adopting a baby called Koyah, along with a cuddly version to keep.
Other notable ‘friends’ of Jacob include Lottie, the Golden Retriever who lives with my sister’s family. Whenever we go to their house, Lottie and Jacob whip each other up into a fever of excitement. It’s hard to tell who is having the most fun.
There are also the ‘mini-beasts’ (worms, woodlice and various other critters) that live in the ‘mini-beast hotel’ that Jacob built in our front garden.
But Benny is something else. I think out of all of us, Nicola has spent the most time with him in his first week here. Thomas loves playing with Benny too, feeding him watercress and preventing him from escaping out of the garden. Jacob is ‘mucking in’ as you can see, and is looking forward to lots of cuddles.
So … it is Easter. We have chocolate, we have a bunny, a few members of the family have been to church, and both sets of Grandparents are coming for lunch. To top it off, the sun is shining in this unseasonably warm Spring. Long may it continue.