My niece recently turned three years old. It was the first birthday where she was old enough to choose her own present. Since the shops are currently shut, my brother got a toy catalogue that she could look through to help her choose but she already knew what she wanted. My niece wanted a puppy.
One curious effect the coronavirus has had is double the price of puppies. BBC News reported in September that the average price of a puppy in the UK has doubled to £1883. This is one of many reasons, this gift request was denied. Instead a rabbit was chosen (average cost £40 plus no walks in the rain are required). The birthday girl was less than impressed with this substitution and has taken to woofing at the rabbit hoping it she can train it to bark. No success yet.
As far as I can remember, my first pets were three goldfish I got as a runners-up prize from the fairground (rather than the toy I was hoping for). I named them Boris, Doris & Morris after the characters from a short-lived kids TV show called ‘Through The Dragon’s Eye’ which only ran for ten weeks in 1989, sadly longer than the goldfish lasted.
Then for my tenth birthday I got a hamster which I called Henry. Henry spent most of his time crawling through toilet roll tubes before destroying them. He also managed to escape on several occasions, I was convinced it was because he learned how to open the clip on the door (rather than the much more likely explanation, that ten year old me kept forgetting to close it properly).
On his various escape missions Henry destroyed:
- A packet of envelopes
- An entire bottle garden
- The Christmas edition of the Radio Times
- A box of Milk Tray (except the coffee ones, even hamsters don’t like those).
One year while we were on holiday, Henry performed one of his infamous escapology routines at my Grandparent’s house. He ended up chewing a hole in the skirting board which we think he disappeared behind. He was never to be seen again.
While writing this, it occurs to me that my brother’s guinea pig also perished under the watch of my grandparents. I believe they stopped volunteering for pet duties after that.