Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 19th 2014 Contents I WAS RAISED IN A ZOO. Be-
tween the ages of 0 and 18, my sib-
lings and I had aided and abetted a
jaw-dropping parade of animals to
pass through our house. They in-
cluded (but were not limited to)
cats, dogs, bunnies, budgies, two
hamsters, a few snakes, several
dozen white mice, morocoys, tur-
tles, one chicken (who met her de-
mise through an unfortunate run-in
with a barbed-wire fence), two
goats (we had to give them away
because the neighbours com-
plained), tadpoles, and one giant red
locust. The locust didn't last very
long --- at least not alive. But it did
spend several years floating in a jar
full of rubbing alcohol, until it even-
One vacation, my brother and sister
and I returned from one of our long,
unsupervised rambles in the Santa
Cruz forest with 11 (not kidding)
abandoned puppies we'd found in a
sack. In my late teens our house
was home to 18 cats, a record
which still stands today.
It is only recently, when I caught
myself yelling at my son for wear-
ing a fat ginger kitten like a ban-
dana, that I realised my karma has
swung full circle. I now understand
how hard it must have been for my
mother not to have pulled out her
hair and run screaming. Because I,
too, have taken it upon myself to
raise both children AND pets.
During their short lives, my children
and I have raised fish, dwarf shrimp,
cats, dogs, turtles, hamsters, and
many-many-many mice. I recently
added a lovely young stray tabby
who brushed against my leg in the
supermarket parking lot, and was
only too happy to leap into my car.
As it turned out, she had the morals
of Don Juanita, and although I spay
all my animals a rule, she unapolo-
getically found a boyfriend before
my vet's observation period was up,
resulting in a tidal wave of kittens.
But more on that later.
The experience of being mommy to
both two-legged and four-legged
(even no-legged) living things has
taught me a few things.
Pets teach children responsibility
They learn to take care of them,
feed them, and give them baths.
You may, however, have to explain
to them why they should feed their
cats in a bowl, not a pirate hat.
Pets teach children respect for life
Empathy and compassion are pow-
erful lessons: children who connect
with animals connect better with
humans throughout their lives.
They recognise pain, hunger, and af-
fection, and respond appropriately.
Though sometimes I have to tell
them that a kitten is not a brooch,
and even though their claws are
sharp enough to cling to the front
of a T-shirt, you can't leave them
swinging while you run around. (Re-
member the kittens, dears, more
about them soon.)
Pets teach them not to cut cor-
If you don't clean up after them, the
place will stink. And no, just be-
cause it's raining heavily doesn't
mean you don't have to fill up the
dogs' water bowl.
Pets teach them about death
Yes, we have had funerals for a va-
riety of dearly departed, complete
with little caskets and tearful
prayers. It's good for them to learn
about the impermanence of life.
(While they're out of the room, I
have to confess there have been
times when I haven't been up to
playing funeral director, and have
surreptitiously tossed smaller crea-
tures, such as mice and fish, into an
As for euthanasia? "Um...mommy
took the dog to the vet because he
was very sick...he...uh...didn't make
Pets teach them about sex and
Letting them watch their cat give
birth was fascinating and life-af-
firming. I handled all questions as
to how the kittens got in there, and
By Roslyn Carrington
how they got out, like a pro. It's an easy, embar-
rassment-free way to administer an object les-
son in sex ed.
Kids need pets ... pets need kids
So for all of you who put forward the usual
grab-bag of reasons why your kids shouldn't
have a pet, I say...pshaw. Kids need pets. Pets
Which brings me to my kittens. Um...I now have
two LOVELY male gingers who would LOVE to
be cuddled by a child...just not mine. If you're in-
terested in opening up your heart to something
furry, my email is email@example.com.
Was this entire article just a brazen ploy to find
homes for two kittens? Yes, yes it was.
Did I mention how lovely they are?
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