In the midst of attending to our animals’ needs I sometimes ask myself why we have so many of them. It is, of course, a rhetorical question, I know exactly who is to blame, but they have both grown up (or older) and gone on to other things while I am left injecting dogs, administering flea repellent, trying to remember to buy food and supervising many small disputes. Our first new animals in Italy were Night, and her (late and much mourned) sister Dragolina, portly fluffy puppies whom the boys treated like small Barbie dogs. They tell me that I exaggerate, that they only bathed and blow dried the dogs once but the chaos the four of them left in the bathroom left a memory engraved deep in my housewifely soul. Both puppies cried when left alone so I was reduced to grouting the swimming pool surround on hands and knees with a puppy balanced on each calf – the builders objected to the sound of the puppies’ wails if I tied them up or popped them into the dry shell of the swimming pool under construction.
Tim is at heart an only cat and he hasn’t taken to any of the newcomers, firstly Smokey (the thieving Siamese) and his (late lamented) sister Snowy followed a few years later by Mimi the prima donna and Twilight. Mimi is the only one who really loves me, following me from room to room in the hope of catching a lap to sit on, lashing out with a paw to catch me as I walk past. Tim growls quietly at all the cats while they eat and he isn’t even that sure about the earless aardvark sharing the wall with him.