Barking Blondes: Do you remember your first pet?
The London Pet Show opens in Earls Court next weekend and yours truly have been asked to open it. Our two bull breeds, Molly and Matilda, have only seven more days of peace before they are paraded out to the public for much patting and pawing.
Is there an adult out there who has never owned a pet? Isn’t it the rite of passage, through childhood, to pester mum and dad for a kitten or a puppy? Don’t most long suffering parents eventually relent and opt for something low maintenance like a gold fish or a hamster? Or maybe just foster the school rabbit during the holidays?
Most popular, used to be a sleepy tortoise from the top of a crawling pile, squashed up against the pet shop window. Only to discover, the following spring, that it hadn’t survived hibernation, despite a warm shoebox. Thankfully, for tortoises, those days are long over.
The belief that any pet is “low maintenance” is a delusion. How many of you, reading this, are getting moist eyed at the memory of Tommy the terrapin floating wrong side up in the living room fish tank? Or Hammy the hamster mysteriously disappearing from his cage, only to be discovered six weeks later, stiff inside grandad’s shoe?
Over 53 per cent of British households own a pet and dog ownership has more than doubled in the past nine years. The benefits are obvious. Children brought up around dogs are healthier, possess greater self-esteem and cognitive development. According to a recent Finnish survey, dog-friendly children have better social skills, a more harmonious family dynamic and fewer allergies than kids that don’t grow up with a dog.
Stroking any pet, be it a guinea pig, hamster, or rat, lowers your blood pressure and stimulates ‘happy hormones’ in your brain. Who can argue that walking the dog isn’t a great way to get out and meet other people. In a world where we’re stuck to computers and smart phones, dogs give us a great antidote to being sedentary. Ferrets are Britain’s fourth most popular pet, but we are becoming more diverse, with the growing popularity of micro pigs, reptiles and exotic fish.
If you’re contemplating taking on a Chihuahua why not check out the Discover Dogs area run by The Kennel Club. It offers expert advice on many breeds with grooming displays, vet advice and lots of retail therapy. Who wouldn’t want a gold embossed poo bag? The show is a chance for anyone wanting a pet to get the measure on what animal would best fit into their lives.
For children, the acts of nurturing and responsibility towards another living creature, brings its own rewards. The flip side of course, is that often, the death of a pet, is their first brush with mortality. As for the two of us, the nurturing gene seems to have completely bi passed both of us. That is as far as humans are concerned. All our maternal instincts (what little there are) are ladled on to our dogs.
Busy and career driven, with no stretch marks and no history of breastfeeding, all our disposable income and love is lavished on our dogs. This lifestyle, which by dictionary definition refers to our pets as ‘furkids’, is the subject of our long awaited book. So we are pleased to say, next weekend at Earls Court, we’ve got a limited run of preview copies of Barking Blondes, it’s first come, first served for a special signed copy.
The Barking Hour every Thursday 3-4PM BBC London 94.9FM www.barkingblondes.netTagged in: London Pet Show
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