The Best Pet

Isobel on daily active duty, guarding me against evil couriers and that postman.

There are two types of people in the world. Actually, that is extremely wrong. There are many types of people in the world, but today we are only discussing two.

Animal People V. Non Animal People.

This post is not designed to be controversial and draw a line in the crowd and incite rioting and start a campaign and produce many hashtags. It is just a factual account of actability.

For example, I am one of five siblings. Three of us LOVE animals and have so since birth, where as two of my sisters could take them or leave them. Preferably leave them. Growing up, we had a menagerie due to the fact that my mum is pro-pet. At one point we had two dogs, two cats, two guinea pigs, two horses and two chickens. It would appear that we were preparing for the big wet and somewhere an Ark was being constructed.

Even as a wee lass, I could not get enough animals in my life. I would get home from school and take an ice cream container up to a nearby field which was known for having ladybirds in impressive quantities. I would collect a couple of hundred and take them home. There I would install them into my doll’s house, giving them free reign of all the amenities. I would observe them and identify the candidates that displayed any signs of being gifted and/or talented. The special ones were then inducted into my circus. I would teach them toe walk across a cotton thread which was a tight-rope.

Them Mum would discover them and make me take my circus back to the field.

At the end of our road there was a bubbling creek, a place where we spent a lot of time swimming without supervision. This creek had thousands of guppies. Again, with the ice-cream container, I collected a lot. After schlepping them home, Mum told me that I was not allowed to keep them in my room (KILL JOY) so I put them on the back verandah. It was a hot day, I recall, so when our ancient Labrador Sam ambled up to it, my pets turned into a cold fish soup. I had enormous guilt.

I remember I would hate Mum when she would spread those green snail pellets around the gardens in an effort to kill the snails and slugs. I would then whip around and save them all, and deposit the lot of them into the safely of the neighbour’s place who didn’t give a crap about their garden.


Over the years we have had many pets. The most mysterious was a cat we rescued who was a Burmilla. (Burmese Chinchilla mix). The rescue centre had called him Burmilla Parker Bowles, which I thought was cruel for many reasons. We bought him home and Harry called him Wilson, after his basket ball. The rescue centre didn’t have much in the way of background on Wilson, but suggested that he needed to be re-homed after his owner was assassinated in the street in a now-famous criminal case.

But I think the less said about the better… (locks doors)

Last year it was estimated that there were 24 million pets in Australian households, and our country has one of the highest rate of pet ownership in the world! And they all gather at our local dog park on a Sunday afternoon where Isobel is very popular with the cattle dogs and kelpies, who for some reason, spend the whole time trying to round her up. For she indeed looks like a sheep and sometimes the instinctive urge is too strong in these traditional working dogs. You can take the working dog out of the country, but you cannot take the country out of the working dog.

And of course then there is Chuy, who is getting on in age a bit. He hates everyone apart from Douglas down the road, and Sydney writer Jo Thornely, who is naturally allergic but who takes a handful of Zyrtec when she comes to visit.

So when it comes to pets, what camp are you in?

How many do you have?

Have you ever had a favourite one?




  • Heidi D

    I am very much a pet person. Well I would be if we didn’t live in an unfenced shoe box ! We had dogs when I was a kid & I would like one now, preferably a minature dachshund. I am not a huge cat fan but have met a few I liked. I have also discovered that cats seem to know if you are not a big fan & will pick you out of a room of people to come & sit on & rub up against….. actually that attitude makes me like them a bit more ? Hopefully one day we will be able to move somewhere we can have a pet

    • I hope you do as well Heidi. Chuy certainly seeks out the allergic and the haters.

  • Jane Connor

    We have loads of pets. A labradoodle, 2 x budgies, 3 x canaries, countless goldfish in an outdoor pond. Used to have a fighting fish that mysteriously disappeared when we were overseas. We had two crazy Burmese cats, one went missing at age 13 and his sister went nuts so I gave her away. We had two chickens but they went to live on a farm when we needed their coop space to build drainage tanks in the rebuild. We love animals in general so much so that everyone that lives i this house is vegan.

    • My sister became a vegetarian at aged 6 when our dad pointed out the the riding school was actually an abboitor.

  • We have two Siamese; the beautiful Callie, who’s graced these pages before, and little sister Rumi, who is a ratbag, but amusing with it. They’re my third and fourth Siamese – and truly, I’d not be without one again. There was a long gap between my last one and these two and the house now feels right. Growing up, there were always animals – usually a dog and a couple of cats. When I was small, there was Miffy the chocolate miniature poodle, a ginger cat Mum called Christopher Robin but who was always called Puss, and Fred, the adopted, grey FEMALE Persian. Mum refused to get me a Siamese as a child, and presented me instead with a black moggy kitten I called Jennie, after Paul Gallico’s book. Later on, in the wake of Miffy’s demise, there was a basset hound called Emma, and two more cats, Oscar the wild kitten from the litter born at the nursery where Mum worked (who, having grown up in an environment where sprinklers came on at night, had a thing for water) and Henry, a Russian blue cross. Dragon Dad protested a tad about getting the girls – he had a corgi from when he was a little boy who died when he (DD) was 21, breaking his heart. He said he couldn’t have another animal. I wore him down and now he’s besotted with the girls! They make us laugh and they give him something to look after now the child has left home 🙂;

  • Maria Ledwidge

    I like them. 2 cats, 1 dog and 2 bearded dragons. Fish have gone to fish heaven so no more. The pussas are cool but weird and the dog saves us from bats, geckos and crows. The beardies…they were Mr 17’s idea 9 years ago….I’m hoping he’ll take them when he leaves home…ugly things.
    Always had animals growing up. They’re good company for all ages.

    • I have quite lively discussions. Mainly with the cat.

  • Can’t imagine life without DOG. She’s just bloody marvelous. Oh and I take care of about 30 fish in the pond which I have managed to feed up and not kill and now a couple of the girls are almost big enough to eat. Lucky I don’t like fishing.

  • TanG

    We recently got 2 wire haired Jack Russell puppies. I have cried so much since they arrived… The guilt of admitting I’m not an animal person and apparently very materialistic and selfish. I just want nice things and not to have to clean up another creatures toileting- I’d just finished with nappies after 9 years? Oh, and it would seem I’m allergic to them…

    • Nicola

      Oh Tan – I do feel for you. I am now unashamedly an animal person but I remember getting our first puppy when our youngest was just out of nappies and wondering what had possessed me to give in to the full scale campaign that had been waged by the rest of the family to get a dog. Every time I cleaned up a poo or found a chewed shoe I berated myself for being stupid enough to think this was a joint venture and everyone was going to help. But it passes – puppies become house broken and trained and they do stop chewing when their adult teeth come through. That first dog was totally devoted to me and I wept for weeks when he died. We then went to the pound and got another dog ( six years old and past the chewing/ weeing stage – and calm) and she is just the most perfect thing.

      My long term plan is to move to the country and have a menagerie of dogs, cats, goats, chickens and sheep. Definitely in the animal loving camp now!

    • Puppies are so much hard work. It does get better. Ours ate every pair of thongs in the house. A year later, we are all good. But I totally understand the stresses that come with them.

  • Bee

    2 cats and 2 dogs currently. This is Ollie, isn’t he beautiful? I love the ladybird story. I used to rescue bees out of our backyard pool. Let them have a rest to recover then put them through an exercise circuit to get strong enough to fly home.

    • He is lovely. What a gorgeous face. Love your bee story!

  • Tracey

    Currently we have one cat (Teddy Westlife) and one dog (Rambo Hemsworth). I have always been a fan of dogs and hubby a fan of cats. HOWEVER after getting Rambo last year, he is now converted from the Dark Side and is a dog fan. Growing up we always had a dog, and the best dog in the world EVER was my rottie Maxine. No you cannot convince me that your dog was/is better than Maxine. It’s not possible.

    • One of our favourite growing up dogs was a Rottie called Lucy. She was a beautiful boofhead.

  • Mermaid

    Animal lover wish I could have more, but renting. Leo the Lion a 10yr old Maltese x Tibetan Spaniel. My BFF ❤

    • You are making me feel bad about Isobel’s current hair situation….

      • Mermaid

        Fresh from the parlour 😉

  • Kel

    I was terrified of animals, especially dogs, until I was around 17 years old and my family rescued a rottweiler. She grew up to weigh 60kg and was my best friend. I held her enormous paw when she went on her way, it was horrible but it was the least of what I could do for her beautiful heart. Now, we have three dogs and a cat I am allergic to, but the cat was here before me. I love them. So much. Sometimes I look at them and wonder how I got so lucky.

    • Hotties are wonderful We had one as well.

  • mummamoo

    I’m a bit ‘meh’ about pets, but husband and Grot 1 and Grot 2 love them, so we have 2 kelpies Missy and Bonnie (were supposed to be working dogs, more like snuggle buddies), 1 cat Puss (to save me from the mouse plague of 2015) and 3500 sheep (all of whom I dislike more than the slime in the bottom of the veggie drawer). Each year sees at lease 3 or 4 orphan lambs arrive at the back door, who become my responsibility once the Grots are bored. Copious early morning bottle feeds and washing of sloppy lamb poop off the verandah.

    • Those kelpies should be bottle feeding those lambs! What working dogs….

  • Louise

    We have one dog. It’s actually my daughters dog. She wanted a puppy. After months/years of nagging I said ‘If you improve your maths mark you can have a puppy’. Husband thought I was mad and I said she won’t do it. But she did from a C to an A and she got the dog of choice. That was 5 years ago, she’s just gone off to uni 800kms in Bathurst and we’re stuck with the bloody dog, which has both my husband and I wrapped around her paws. We also have 12 useless chickens that manage to lay 1 egg between them a day.

    • Those chooks better step up! Earn their keep. Jack wants a Pomeranian but I pointed out that he will leave in 8 years and then what?

      • Jenny

        My husband had a Pomeranian when we married. They shed A LOT of hair in the house.

  • Louise

    Animal people in our house: we have 3 cats and 1 dog. I can’t go to Animal Welfare without bringing someone home. Latest is a tiny kitten called Mira. I think it’s good for kids to learn to care for someone else and to get a sense of what is important in life. At night on the sofa we will have a dog at our feet and (now) 3 cats lying on us. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    • Sounds like heaven to me! But then I feel mean when I but Isobel in the laundry at night. Chuy has the run of the house and chooses to sleep in with Jack.

      • Amanda Garven

        Same in our house! Dog is in the laundry at night and cat gets the run of the place!

  • I have twelve pets. I absolutely loved your ladybug story. What a sweet little girl you used to be. 😉

    • 12! What are they? Yes, I used to cry for an hour if I saw road kill.

  • Barb Fisher

    I am a huge dog person. Which is good, as I’m about to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on little Whiskey Popcorn, to turn her into a bionic dog who can leap tall buildings in a single bound (that, and actually just have hips that work). x

  • Amanda Garven

    Definitely animal house here. Always had pets and animals in our house growing up and it continues. We very sadly had to say goodbye to our beautiful Frankie on Friday as he had an aggressive cancer in his throat. Cats are very good at hiding their illness, its a survival thing. We are all devastated, especially my eldest son as they had such a special bond. We will definitely look at having another cat at some stage but we need time. We have a lovely little dog, who is 13. I cannot even fathom him not being here.