Ranking Pets

Does what it says on the tin.

7. Rabbits
Names: Thumper and Cottontail

Rabbits are the worst. 

My sisters and I were suckered in by the fact they look cute and are traditionally portrayed well, like Bugs Bunny, Bucky O’Hare and Buster, Arthur’s mate.

But when we got them we realised they are awful pets. 

They didn’t like being held, they didn’t do much and they lived in the garden, taking up space I had previously used as a stand in for Wembley stadium. 

We had the long eared pains for a couple of years but the novelty wore off pretty quick. Our only real interaction with them came as we chased them around the garden after their many escape attempts. It would have probably been better for all if we’d just let them take their chances on their own.

After a while my mum took over looking after them as we got bored of the twitchy nosed tools. It’s a sign of how much we’d gone off them that Thumper, the last bunny standing, was dead for a few days before us kids realised, my mum curious as to how long it would take (note: Mum had disposed of his body compassionately, just didn’t tell us of his untimely demise).

6. Pet Rock

Name: Forgotten as changed often.

I got these as a gift. They were basically some rocks with faces on. They sat on my shelf.

So, how are these better than rabbits?

  1. They took up less room
  2. None of my pet rocks ever bit me
  3. I never used a rabbit to squish a giant spider

Yeah, so Rocks > Rabbits. Unless you’re making a stew.

5. Tamagotchi

Names: Gwyneth, Willow and more that I forget.

For those who don’t remember, Tamagotchi were a big deal in the late ’90s. These pocket sized electronic pets were everywhere and kids were obsessed with them. One such kid was my youngest sister.

Unfortunately, the kids were so invested in keeping the crudely animated blobs alive that they weren’t focusing in class. And so, my sister’s school banned them. But I was in big school and so took on the responsibility as our teachers were more worried about stopping their students smoking or getting pregnant.

I renamed the thing Gwyneth after Miss Paltrow, which makes no sense as I wasn’t a fan of hers. But I must have had a reason.

At first I kept her alive to help my sister, but soon she’d lost interest and I was obsessed with keeping it going. Gwyneth lived quite a long time before she bought the farm and I replaced her with Willow. Willow didn’t live as long and after that, jaded by the losses, there were a few others who didn’t last long.

4. Hamster

Name: Pablo

I inherited Pablo after my second attempt at uni. He was our flat pet and originally belonged to my flatmate Phil. However, I took custody and he lived with me for a while.

Hamsters are odd pets. They’re quite shy and dislike being held, which limits their fun factor. However, they are very cute and at least do stuff like running on their wheel.

I spent a lot of time talking to Pablo, jabbering away to him when I was alone. It was company while everyone else went about their lives and I stayed in, hunting jobs.

He put in a good innings by hamster standards but sadly went to play on the big wheel in the sky.

3. Goldfish

Names: Squishy and Fang.

I expected Squishy to die from the moment I got him. 

I won him at a funfair, and he was tiny. I gave it a couple of weeks before I had to flush him.

But the little guy surprised me. He grew quickly and seemed in good health. He even survived a fire in our halls. And the drive home from Lampeter. 

In fact, Squishy would live for another seven years, joined in 2006 by Fang, who is still going. 

They might not be the most entertaining of pets but I loved Squishy for his survivor attitude and the connection to my uni days. They’re also quite calming to watch and, like hamsters, easy to talk to.

2. Dogs

Name: Carrie.

Honourable mentions: Phoebe, Millie, basically every other dog I’ve met.

My little sister really wanted a dog. After years of pleading and promises my parents relented. Unfortunately, the dog we got was Carrie.

Part Jack Russell, part English Bull Terrier, part unspecified dog and part hellhound, a family new to dogs couldn’t have picked worse.

We had her a few years during which she moved from cute puppy to raging bitch. She’d lunge for other dogs, for cyclists, for pretty much anything that walked or crawled. She would drag our cat about by the scruff of his neck, the cat too soft and dim to run away.

Finally, she bit all three of my sisters. My mum realised my little sister, driving force of Team Dog, was scared of the white ball of rage. Carrie was rehomed and the Page family chalked up dogs as a failed experiment. 

Two of my sisters are now firmly on Team Cat. But me? While I love felines, I still want a canine buddy.

This is because every other dog I’ve met has been tidy. I’ve dog sat for friends and I love dogs. I mean, cleaning up their shit is a drag.

But I genuinely love dogs. MWF’s mum has a Jack Russell who is amazing. All my mates’ dogs are ace too.

And so I would really like a dog in future, with my preference being for a French Bulldog.

1. Cats
Names: Tom, Jerry, Tiger, Yoga, Tad, Llew, Midnight and Pumpkin. 

As the above list shows, cats are the most consistent pet I’ve had. There were cats when my mum brought me back from the hospital, and there has been at least one cat in the Page house since then.

MWF is a crazy cat lady waiting to happen, and so early on we knew that we would always have cats. 

Enter Midnight, our wonky eyed cat who was followed by Pumpkin, a manic ball of energy who speeds around the house like a white and orange Tasmanian Devil. Sadly, Midge and Pumps didn’t get on, so Midnight has returned to MWF’s mum’s house while Pumpkin is now the boss here.

Pumpkin recharging for his next assault

Cats tick a lot of boxes. They are cute and like attention, without being needy about it. They have distinct personalities, and are entertaining to watch, there’s a reason cats dominate the internet. You can play with them but they’ll also just curl up and chill with you. And they are loveable. 

In my opinion cats are the best pets. You can disagree. But you’re wrong.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO. 


1 down, 8 to go

If being a parent is half as stressful as this week, I’m happy to wait a while, because fretting about what MWF calls “our little fur baby” was a stressful and tiring experience.

Midnight, our little black fuzzball, is a natural scavenger and any food below waist height is fair game as far as she’s concerned.

This gluttony got her into trouble on Thursday when, wanting to relieve a headache exacerbated by the Wales match, I dropped a paracetamol tablet and she was in like a flash to gobble it down.

Thank the gods she’s insured as otherwise a frantic visit to the emergency vet would have cost me most of a month’s wages.

Thursday  was a stressful evening of worry and poor sleeping, and with Midge still being treated throughout Friday that wasn’t much fun either. We collected her from a bloodied and scarred veterinary nurse, and a cranky Midnight spent the evening with us.

In the morning it was back for more courses of anti-poisoning IV drugs. Finally on Saturday she was home for good and quickly back to her usual self, the only lasting effect being her shaved legs.

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A broken leg and now an accidental OD. Black cats might be unlucky after all.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


15 Minute Blog: Psycho Seagull

Current mood?

Tamping.

Fuming.

Raging.

I’m currently sat down waiting for MWF (as a taken man 60% of my life is waiting) as I wait I sip a pink lemonade Lucozade to sate my thirst. My hunger, however, is not satisfied.

This is despite me spending £2.99 at Starbucks.

Urgh, tax dodging Starbucks.

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I’m more of a Costa man, but needs must. I’d got a breakfast roll. Having worked 8 hours this morning it was something I was looking forward to.

Sausage and egg and bacon, oh my!

I got two bites.

Two measly bites!

Why? I hear you ask (think the title may have tipped them off- Editor Chris)

Because I fell victim to a “psycho seagull”.

After a summer of rubbishing the tabloid hyperbole and “psycho gull” craze I actually got attacked by one.

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Quality journalism

I was strolling along eating away enjoying the rare September sunshine when this feathered f**ker swooped down.

It cuffed me around the head with it’s wing and grabbed a beakful of roll.

So startled was I by this winged w**ker that I dropped the roll. Though I’m not sure eating a roll covered in gull gob would have been advisable.

The avian a**ehole then landed nearby and eyeballed me and my lost food. With no other avenue I turned the air blue with an angry rant that would make Tarantino blush. Throughout this the beaked b*****d looked at me, looking smug. Or smug for a seagull.

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Finding Nemo got it right. Seagulls are jerks.

I briefly considered throwing my bag at the…at the…dammit! I’ve ran out of bird themed alliterative curses!

Wait!

I briefly considered throwing my bag at the gobs**te gull but thought better of it. It probably would have just stolen that too.

I love nature and animals but in that moment had a gun been to hand I’d have blown that bird away faster and more coldly than Clint shooting a bandit.

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Are we going to be forced to abandon al fresco dining? Are picnics to be a thing of the past?

Are we doomed to live in fear of these aerial rats?

I hope that gull chokes on that roll.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Rhinos, Endlings and Mankind’s Stupidity

In the 30 years I’ve been on this planet 21 different species have died out. That’s depressing enough as it is, but infinitely worse when you realise many are due to mankind’s impact.
Destruction of habitat, hunting and climate change have all lead to us losing many species, and many more teeter on the brink. In 2011, the Western black rhino was declared extinct and four years later it’s cousin the Northern white rhino is down to four, after Nabire, who lived in a Czech zoo died.

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RIP Nabire

Imagine being one of the last four humans. Going years without seeing another of your species and being kept in captivity.
The situation has become so dire that a term has been invented for the last of their species. Endlings.
We’ve had to invent a word for it, which is rather depressing when you think about it. Species getting down to the last beast standing is so common/accepted that we’ve had to make a word for it.
The term was applied to Lonesome George, who was the last Pinta Island tortoise before his death in 2012.

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RIP George

While many species’ numbers were greatly reduced due to excessive hunting back in the day, and it would be nice to put this down to the ignorance of the past, a lack of understanding of nature (as witnessed in H. Rider Haggard’s writing, making uncomfortable reading for modern audiences) but as recent events show, we still have moronic hunters and callous poachers galore.
As a species mankind’s legacy on our world is hugely negative- greed, cruelty and selfishness have led us to ruin habitats, slaughter animals and alter ecosystems wherever we go. While we have accomplished great things, our impact on nature is a black mark on our record.
Which is part of the reason we need to work extra hard to save the species that are endangered and seek to fix the messes we’ve made.
It’s a tough, uphill fight but by supporting organisations like The WWF we can at least try.

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We need to educate people about nature, to stop them growing up as the kind of cruel scumbag who hunts a living creature for no reason other than sport.
Our technological advances can help. Surely we can Jurassic Park some of the critters we’ve forced into oblivion? It’s been almost 20 years since Dolly the sheep, surely we can make some clones of some of them. And we can set aside land for them to live on, teach future generations to love nature and appreciate the creatures we share this planet with.
More importantly we can make sure they keep that love, appreciation and respect for nature as they become adults, and work to save them. For some it may already be too late, but for some we can still keep them with us.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Curiosity killed the cat, I just injured it

The last few days I have been racked with guilt. And utterly unable to ignore or forget it because I am confronted with the consequences of my actions on a regular basis.
What awful thing have I done? What is my own telltale heart reminding me of my evil deed?
The guilt is brought back every time I see Midnight, the kitten MWG and I have recently got.

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As shown above, Midnight is an adorable bundle of black fur, and, like most kittens, a dervish of action and inquisitiveness. She scampers everywhere, climbing all the furniture and snooping about before curling up on one of us and sleeping, having knackered herself out.
However, since the other evening, her energy has been diminished and she goes about the place limping, avoiding putting weight on her left front paw.
I am the cause of this limp.
On Sunday night, I walked into the kitchen just as a small black blur rushed the other way. As my clumping size eleven came down there was an anguished squeal and the black blur shot off under the table.
For the rest of the evening she limped. I felt bad, apologised and hoped she would bounce back soon enough.
But Monday saw her still limping. There was no crying and she still showed affection and played, but her paw still caused her problems. I felt terrible, and this got worse as the day went on.
MWG decided that if she was still limping by Wednesday (today) that we’d have to take her to the vets.
This morning she was still limping.
The vet told us that she’s probably broken bones in her paw (tomorrow an X-ray will probably confirm this). So, dosed on pain killers midnight came home with us and dozed off.
I broke her paw. Of course, I feel a complete heel and every time she limps by it just gets worse. And her squeaks at the vets were even worse.
I know it was an accident, and I know that in a few weeks she’ll bounce back, cats are quite tough, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling utterly terrible about it all.
I guess in future I just have to look where I’m putting my foot more carefully.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


I think you’re too late guys

Every Saturday some of the market stalls go outside and walking down St Mary’s Street treats you to a mixed bag of vintage artefacts, battered paperbacks and general tat.
This weekend there was a stall selling random old photos, another which tempted me with old Now albums and a third which sold old badges, which I treated myself to a couple (see above).
There were also vintage clothes stalls, but they don’t really interest me. Clothes shopping is, for me, the worst kind of shopping, outside of looking for tombstones for loved ones. I hate trying things on and its mind numbingly dull, gods bless the internet, I say. What’s worse is vintage clothes shopping, because while old fashioned clothes can look cool (Hawaiian shirts, old gig tees and military jackets), people tended to be thinner back then so they don’t have fat man sizes.
The problem was that the vintage clothes stalls had prompted what was possibly the most pathetic protest of all time.
Featuring a solitary banner waver and a man dressed as a fox, it was a protest against fur.
The minimal presence was one thing, but also the target and manner of the protest were uninspired. They were going after vintage clothes stalls. The animals who’s unwillingly donated their pelts would have died by now anyway, and if you’re going against the fur trade shouldn’t you be targeting the future trade?
Campaign against fur farms or the importing of these things. Boycott and pester companies who use fur until they change their ways. Encourage fashion weeks to not allow fur on their catwalks.
I’m against fur, which I admit is hypocritical as I have owned leather goods, but I think I’m okay with that because we eat cows, so its more of a sin to waste their skins after slaughter, or at least that’s my view.
The only time I’d wear fur is if I’d slain the beast myself, like Hercules and the lion.
The thing is, while I admire their cause and their commitment, I found that these two were (a) targeting the wrong people and (b) not drawing attention to the cause in any noticeable way.
We’ve had high profile anti-fur campaigns with big names like Pam Anderson, Khloé Kardashian and others, so the cause is out there, in the public eye.
Perhaps these two would have been better off sticking up a few flyers, or writing letters, because they seemed to be having little effect. They weren’t going to save any animals’ lives and as I saw a woman leave in a new animal-based coat, they weren’t stopping these old clothes being passed on. And surely an old fur rotting in a cupboard is worse that it being used, its not what animal should die for, but as they have isn’t it more wasteful to just leave those coats to gather dust?
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend…

Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read- Groucho Marx

I’ve been reading since I was a little kid, and by the time I left primary school I’d already developed a massive love of reading, devouring books over my holidays or on rainy days. I was pretty good at reading, but there was one thing I hated-

Reading aloud in class.

We all had to do it, and while I wasn’t the worst I was aware that I still stumble over words, or worse, come across a word that I’d never seen written before and mispronounce it horribly.

Unfortunately, reading aloud continued throughout comprehensive, and I continued to be nervous, shaky and stumbling whenever I was called on to read. I loathed it, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

So, I thought it was pretty cool to hear that over in North Carolina, USA, a library has started an initiative where kids who have issues with reading, learning disabilities and anxiety disorders. The idea is that they get to visit a library and read to a dog.

The idea being that a dog is a non-judgmental audience and won’t laugh when they cock up, criticize them or generally be a douche to them. By reading to them they get used to reading aloud and gain more confidence. It’s a lovely idea, and I think would be of benefit if it was rolled out in more places.

I mean, think about it, there are plenty of dogs that need homes and attention, so why don’t we just train them as therapy dogs, add a little room off the side of a library, or in a school, and put them there (the librarian/teacher can feed and walk them, or even better a kid can walk them around the yard, as a form of reward system).

So, you’ve re-homed a bunch of dogs and given them a purpose, and a bunch of kids have been helped with their reading. Everyone’s a winner.

Miniature English Bulldogs Picture

And it doesn’t end there, apparently, you could also use dogs to help uni students with stress, as one Canadian university did. And it’s not just dogs, cats are great for calming you down as proven by the cat cafe in Budapest, so why not re-home even more shelter animals in places where they get warmth and affection, and you help folks out.

But not just at universities and schools, why not at offices? The pet would serve as both a stress reliever and a sort of mascot for the workplace.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Budapest Part 2: Feline Good

So, MWG was flagging. We’d seen the synagogue, and the outside of St Stephen’s basilica, but we needed a break from walking and a boost.

Luckily, I’d spotted a flyer for something I knew would perk MWG right up and the map informed us we were mere minutes from it, and so we headed for it and then we found it.

The Cat Cafe.

The Cat Cafe

The Cat Cafe

The idea of a cat cafe is wonderfully simple, and I’m a little surprised it hasn’t spread further and quicker.

It’s basically a cafe. With cats.

For non-cat lovers, or those with allergies, I’m sure this sounds like hell, but for feline fans it’s a dream come true. And MWG is a massive feline fan, she can’t pass a cat in the street without stopping to coo over it and has an uncanny ability to befriend almost every cat. If we ever got lost in Africa and menaced by a rogue lion I wouldn’t be surprised if ten minutes later MWG was scratching it on the head and have it purring itself to sleep.

The cafe was home to twelve cats, who lounged around the place like they owned it. It was hard to judge if being the main attraction had gone to their heads, because cats already swan about like furry lords anyway, but they seemed pretty happy.

We paid a little bit much for a latte each and sat there, stroking the cats and taking photos. It was rather lovely, and chilled out and the staff were far happier than the average coffee shop staff.

I’ve heard that stroking a cat is good for your health. It reduces stress and does all these other wonderful things for you, and while I’m not a scientist, and none of the customers were rigged up to sensors, I think it does, because everyone there was happy, relaxed and friendly with one another.

MWG was in “kitty heaven” (her phrase, not mine) and I think if the coffees had been more reasonable, or the weather more miserable, she’d have happily stayed in there all day. I’m not as big a cat fan, although I’ve always had cats and loved them, but I would have been fine chilling there, because there’s nothing better than seeing someone you love ridiculously happy.

MWG making a new friend.

MWG making a new friend.

Refreshed, I dragged MWG away from the cats and we headed to the Basilica for some more culture.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Perspective and pigeons

Walking through town the other day I passed two toddlers in pushchairs, one of whom was losing his mind, grinning like a Cheshire cat and pointing excitedly at something.
A friendly dog? One of Cardiff’s living statues? Santa in a shop window?
Nope, the kid had seen a pigeon.
Now I’m a nature lover, and as a GCSE student spent Physics lessons looking out across the school roof at pied wagtails bouncing along or at the gulls circling above. Being the son of avid twitchers means I can recognize a fair few species of birds and will happily watch Springwatch and anything with David Attenborough narrating.
But a pigeon?
I see thousands of these strutting, s**tting flying vermin everyday. And while I don’t wish them ill (aside from the avian arsehole who crapped all over my phone a few years ago, that feathery f**k deserves any ill he gets) they are more of a nuisance than a wonder.
And yet this kid was pointing at it in the way my Dad would if a flashy bird of paradise suddenly perched on his bird feeder.
It made me think of all the things we take for granted, and stop noticing. This kid was close to a bird, probably the closest he’d ever been, and couldn’t believe his luck. A bird was right there!
I’m not saying we should all walk around in childlike wonder all the time, gods, it would slow everything up, but we should enjoy the little glimpses of nature we get in life.
A pigeon isn’t a bald eagle or one of those crazy dancing birds, but its still part of nature and an example of its ability to adapt (what did pigeons live off before discarded chips and pasty flakes?). And you can still wonder about what it would be like to fly, and what you’d poop on first.
Cardiff is a lovely city in some ways, and blessed with greenery and parks, and we should take a moment to enjoy the nature it has.
Just this morning I paused to watch squirrels scamper around. To some grey squirrels are a pest, the villains who drove out the red squirrels (bloody grey squirrels, coming over here, stealing our nuts) but I can’t see one and not stop and watch. I walked off smiling and in a far better mood.
I’m glad that some of that childlike wonder towards nature is still there, and I’ll try to be a bit happier when I see a flying rat pigeon next.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO


An Incredible Journey

I’m a bit of a soft git at heart. I like love songs, happy endings and get choked up during the “It’s Not All Doom and Gloom” section of Russell Howard’s Good News, so the story I’m writing about today was bound to warm the cockles of my heart (an expression I’ve never really thought about before, but which seems to make no sense now that I do).

Recently a bunch of Swedish athletes took part in an adventure race, which is a race that involves hiking, orienteering and other tough things that look extremely knackering, but oddly appealing, in a way that you sit on your couch and think “that looks cool” before being distracted by the Coca-Cola trucks advert.

Anyway, these uber-fit Swedes were down in Ecuador doing their thing when they came across a stray dog. They gave it some food and the dog started following them. At first they just thought it was following a few of the teams who were bunched up, but when they all spread out a bit the dog stuck with his new Scandinavian friends.

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The team adopted him, naming him Arthur, as a sort of mascot and took him with them, although it seems to me as though the dog adopted them as his new pack. He followed them for the duration of the race and the team became so fond of him they raised cash to get him some veterinary treatment and then to fly him all the way to Sweden where he began a new life with a new family.

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If that doesn’t warm your heart, you must be a robot or something. And if you want to help other stray dogs why not give to one of these good causes: The Dogs Trust, Stray Aid or the RSPCA.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.