30th July 2017
At what point does an Animal become a Pet?
I’ve been thinking about that, having a good look, and I don’t think it’s when they’re skipping about a field. It might be when you place a lead around their necks. And are they still a pet when you enjoy them cooked and sliced up, with gravy all over the top? No, now you see I’ve got too far with that last example; that animal is just a meal at that point. But hopefully you’re understanding what I’m trying to get at? I’ll have one last try.
I used to work with horses, and I’d be happy to go right ahead and call them animals. Especially when they wouldn’t let you catch up with them and shove a head collar over their ears. Anyways, we had a few Newfoundland’s kicking about the fields as well. You know them; they’re the toyish looking hobbit-horses that frequently have attitude problems. I never thought that they were quite ‘an animal’ as much as they were ‘a pain in the arse’, or ‘a pet’.
Except not, because like everyone else, I wouldn’t recommend leaving an infant alone to play with a Newfoundland unless there was adult around ready to taser the toy horse when it gets that look in its little eyes. And that would mean that a pet is something safe to be around, or close enough; it might shit on the lino, but knows better than to do that when there’s people around. I fed a pet rat this morning that adheres to house rules way better than what I just described, yet it still didn’t appeal to me as a pet. Don’t take me wrong, they’re interesting critters, and they know just how to watch you go about the business of cleaning up after them. I’d wager that if you could share a language with a rat, it’d be the best conversation you had all day. They’re right on the button of whatever it is that they are. But they’re not a pet, even when they fit in with the household like shared slippers in autumn.
Of course my co-conspirator, Arthur Wapkaplitt is a friend and professional hedgehog conservationist, so I get to have experience when the markers of wild animal and house pet become blurred. You’d have to say that it’s a more immediate upheaval for the baby hedgehog to deal with a tame household, but then you see Arthur drop everything every two hours to go mix up their milk and feed them with his giant, gentle hands… it’s not an example of anything really, but it is pretty special to see them blindly sucking on a teat. A hedgehog really isn’t a pet though. Unless they appear to be in distress, don’t hassle them when they’re going about their business. Don’t let that put you off watching them though, they’re terrific.
Up over Long Mountain I get to hang out a little with some shooting dogs while I do the gardens. The markers of animal/pet are all blurry here as well. You end up fussing entirely hospitable Labradors that are hot for the action whenever the call goes out. Is it possible that a Labrador carries more dignity and self respect when it is clutching a pheasant in its jaws, and not a ratty old tennis ball? I try not to come down on any side with that type of question, I just watch the old Labs while I’m taking a tea break from gardening.
Many times before I fell, or was otherwise displaced from a horse, I had just prior confused something that was animal with something that was tame. To be honest though, sometimes horses are neither, nor wild or tame; they are just plain belligerent, and bigger than you are. And yet we keep them enclosed, in large pens that they could clear with not much of a run up. I’m glad they don’t run away, and I think I may have realised something.
It’s not the wild in the animal, or the taming in the pet. It’s the word Pet. I think that’s what’s got me started; it’s poorly fitting and ill-dignified. Stop it, and then I’ll throw the stick again.
My apologies for the above; it’s been as intense as a swear word with writing The Brine in Me this week. There’s been significant narrative revelations/inconveniences for Derek Gainsborough. He is ball deep with the dead ends of his forties in his own autobiography. He’s realising its best not remembering any of middle age, especially as he’s been wearing rose tinted shades looking back at his youth, when he could sink a boat without consequence.
Anyway, it’s pulling tremendously at my strings, so after I fed the rat this morning I thought I’d see what he had to give me, see where that would get me with this blog. If it was poor advice, that’s the rats fault.
Wicked be wicked, and luck be a rose…
JW Bowe xx
P.S! Anna urges me to point out that what I had written here should not be published under any circumstance. She made me delete it, but that’s administration for you.
Bloody pets (And I’m not having that deleted. That’s writers for you).
If you enjoyed this blog, and you’re impatient for something else to read, feel free to bunch up close to a free sample chapter from JW Bowe’s debut novel, The Meifod Claw, which is available now at Amazon, iTunes and on various other international eReaders.
You can also double up your sampling by following this link to the forthcoming fictional autobiography of The Meifod Claw’s wheelchair-in-chief, Derek Gainsborough. His life and apologies will be released next year under the sail of The Brine in Me.
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