But the real question is why? They cause more problems the older they get than do the kids and/or the ageing relatives - and that's saying something. The only great thing about them is that they can't answer back because of the 'one vocal cord' thing. And I bet they're fooling us i that respect too! And Jeez... but can't they make the most of that one sodding vocal cord they DO have?!!
I'm talking pets, of course. And the reason we have them? Simply children. Our parents had them whilst they were children - didn't they use them to help shift heavy logs and stuff in the fields or something? And we have such fond memories of the ones we had ourselves as children, don't we? We instinctively seem to deem them a part of our history and thenceforth our own children's history-in-the-making.
Personally speaking the dog in our house was the only living creature who ever truly listened to me when I needed to bend a (soft, fluffy, warm) ear but that was about the best thing about it. Okay, walking it was quite nice - if the weather was right. Brushing it was okay too - so long as I got the requisite fifty pee payment afterwards. But would I ever have stooped so low (see what I did there?!) as to pick up any of our family pet's 'messages' from the street/park/shoes it saw fit to leave a deposit in? Er... I think not! If lifting a steaming pile of dog shit with an inverted Co-op carrier bag had been a part of my daughterly duties, then - pocket-money-making or not - that would have been a chore too far.
Of course, I don't honestly know what I would have done to have passed this motion (fnnar, fnnar!) to my parents - just reneged on the 50p demand I guess. No great standpoint really.
We had gerbils too. Two of them. One for me (Big Un) and one for my brother (Little Un). Which all started out perfectly nicely until my parents found them in a state of procreating frenzy and the penny dropped they weren't the same sex the guy in the shop told us they were. Arse. I'm still not certain which shocked my parents more... whether it was witnessing post-coital gerbils or the fact we'd have to buy another cage to separate them.
I'm wondering if this thought was at the back of my mothers mind when she inadvertently sat on one gerbil which was hiding underneath a cushion on the setee when she threw herself into full relax-mode from work one afternoon. The little thing managed to drag inself out from underneath with a clear daze about it and managed to survive another week or so but I think it wa delayed shock that finished it off in the end. Having my mother's rear bearing down and subseuently flattening the breath from you HAS to be way more shocking to a gerbil than the thought of carrying your brother's incestuous love-child. Surely?
When Mini-Me was about 5 I thought her having kittens would be agreat introduction to health, hygiene, responsibility, grooming... oh I'm floundering with my reasoning now... I think I was cajouled into getting two cute little fluff ball because her friends all had a pet something or other and I felt left out. (me - not her!). So two gorgeous fluff-balls of 6 week old kittens were duly purchased to much excitement and enthusiasm - for about 6 months and then, guess what? They became cats. Proper, squawking, stay-out-late, shit-where-you-want, bring-gifts-of-dead-mice/birds-home, sick-up on the carpet when you feel like it, mewing, refusing-to-eat-anthing-other-than-gourmet-foil-trays (my grandfather's meals on wheels pale into insigificance) cats.
Wave a stick/ribbon/piece of wool in front of either of them now and they look at you with the disdain of a superior being who cannot seriously believe it has the misfortune of having to share a home with you - much less have to move to get off a favourite chair or cushion to let you sit on it. God damn can't you SEE I've still only slept for nineteen hours today?! Get a life, you sad excuse for a human being... oh and while you're getting that, a nice saucer of (Whiskas) milk would be nice too... it's exhausting lying about here licking my balls all day.
Gah - what a life!
But awwwww... what memories they're bequeathing us, hmm?