I grew up without pets, with the exception of a guard dog named Rover when we lived in Zambia (and I was too young to remember him). I didn’t miss them, pine for them, ask my parents for a guinea pig, parrot or dog.
When a previous roommate of mine insisted on getting a cat, I relented, but was convinced I would have no part of it. Within a couple of days I was won over by the kitten. A year later, I added a second kitten to the household, a runt of a litter who reached out of her Humane Society cage to tap me on the arm. Soon, I realized I was allergic to cats after all, and bringing the new one home just added to the dandery air.
When that roommate and I moved on, I agonized over leaving behind my kitty, but my sinuses were glad. For weeks I had dreams in which I’d forgotten to feed her, or left her outside to freeze or perish in various nightmarish ways. I’m happy to say that my old roommate has nurtured both cats into their old ages.
Later, a previous partner insisted we get a dog. Eventually I relented, convinced I wasn’t going to have any part of it. Well, you know the rest. She (the ex-girlfriend) and I split up and unfortunately we (the dog and I) parted ways.
Since then, I’ve thought about getting a dog and never managed it because I didn’t really have the lifestyle to support all the walking and poop-picking-up required of a pooch. And then I became a self-employed therapist and writer, and found myself at home alot of the time.
So I insisted on getting a dog. My partner, luckily, has relented. I sit here writing with a dog at my feet (she’s just fallen asleep after licking every drop of honey out a kong–yes, that might sound x-rated to some of you, but I assure you it’s not). She’s been with us for 5 days now.
Maggie is making me wonder about loving an animal, and how this adoration will make it into my writing. People say that having a child changes the way one writes, but I haven’t heard this said of pets. I recall that in Stealing Nasreen, it seemed really important that Nasreen have a cat named Id, who watched over her behaviour. Id was a companion, but also a witness. I wonder now if Maggie will make her appearance in a future novel, perhaps as a dog who loves a woman who loves her back.