Angela Scanlon on pets that are basically our children, only furrier
I'm not a dog person, I mean I don't own one. I can't. Where would I put it? The idea of getting a dog when you live in a small place or a city makes me feel a bit sad but maybe I just don't get it. The animals in my life have largely been the outdoor animal-kind, not the indoor basically-human-kind. My granny's terriers Brandy and Bailey, Lady the neighbour's dalmatian, Scut the three-legged shih tzu down the road, they were all (the shih tzu aside) functional, outdoorsy dogs. Dogs that did dog things, not dogs that were basically children but furrier.
We had dogs when I was a kid. A labrador, called Brian, who gleefully tore the place apart - taking him for a walk was like being dragged along by a particularly fresh Shetland pony. He was out of control or perhaps we were just too small to handle him.
Then there was Daisy, a miniature diamond of a dog. Who knew what breed she was - no one really cared then did they? Daisy was delicate and well behaved but my youngest sister was absolutely terrified of her. Her fear was irrational but led to hysteria whenever a furry four-legged was about. My dad thought it would be sweet to gift her with a little one in the hope that this fear would turn to love. It didn't, she cried uncontrollably and while it was reported that Daisy 'ran away' while we were at school I'm pretty sure they gave her to a family in the village who were sworn to secrecy and renamed her Maisy.
We tried our luck with cats too. There was Mitsy or was it Misty, we could never quite agree. This silky grey phantom cat would rub herself against the kitchen window and wee on the neighbours' rhubarb; we liked her. She was elusive and high maintenance at the same time. She had surprise kittens one Sunday morning.
Then there was Marmalade, a delightful little ginger kitten that travelled from Clifden in a cardboard box. We loved her, she was like us, she even looked like us. Playful and passive, summer days were spent exploring with Marmalade and treating her to turns on homemade carnival rides, mostly made out of plant-pots and twine. She loved it and on occasion we would sneak her into our bedroom ignoring the 'no animals in the house' rule in favour of furry cuddles and washing cat poo down the sink. It was a small price to pay.
I don't remember what happened to those cats but they were around for many years. There was never a sad, ceremonious burial, I don't recall tears or misery or heartache. When I watched Marley and Me I thought it was sad but also a bit mad - that level of emotion for a dog? People around me were wailing. Maybe it's the closet farmer in me that airs on the side of practicality over sentimentality but it made me feel a bit like Father Dougal, like I was the only one in the room who didn't quite get it.
I have a hankering for a spot of camping. I feel drawn to the open fields, pitching a yurt and cracking open a bottle of bubbles before having a bath and retiring for the night. This obviously sounds nothing like the camping of an 1980s' child; Tupperware boxes and EasiSingles, half-cooked sausages and washing in the closest stream. But glamping is now all the rage and I'm bloody interested.
Call me carrie… or maybe Imelda
Shoes have always been an issue for me. The more fantastical and ridiculous the better. The brighter, the shinier, the shaggier, the more I love them. I have more than I could wear in a year and a handy excuse for every additional pair - a different reason why I can't do without, why they're actually totally different to the other ones you think look the exact same…
Exhibit A. My latest obsession; furry, red sandals that are just perfect for that Spanish wedding we might be going to sometime next year… Yeah? Perfect!