Tuesday, February 05, 2002

Ooh, I forgot all about my promise to tell you stories of the animals I grew up with. Or was it a threat? Whatever, here's another.

Although I grew up with hundreds of animals in the home, we rarely had any pets. Our animals weren't pets, they always had a purpose - the dogs and cats were for show or breeding, the budgies were for selling to pet shops, and the cute fluffy rabbits? Well, they were for eating, I'm afraid.

But we did have the occasional mongrel or moggie. When I was about nine, we had a ginger tabby cat. She had a litter of kittens, which she cared for in a cardboard box in the kitchen.

At the same time, we also had a huge great dane; a massive beast with a heart of gold, but not very bright. It was my job to feed him every evening in the kitchen.

(You can see where this story is heading, can't you? I warn you, it's not pretty.)

I filled up the enormous dog bowl with foul-smelling pellets, poured on some warm water and added a family-sized can of mystery meat. The moment I put the bowl on the floor, the dog came bounding round the corner and began wolfing down his food with a single-minded hunger, his gigantic jaws making loud noises.

At that moment, one of the tiny ginger kittens - just like this one - decided to take its first steps out into the world...

"Aw, look, mum, he's so cute. Look at his little tail, his blue eyes, his adorable unsteady little walk."

"David, don't let him get too near the dog while he's eating."

Too late.

Without pausing, without a moment of thought, without realising what he was doing, the great dane saw something out of his eye, something approaching his food. He switched his head round to the side and snapped his powerful jaws.

The kitten's head rolled across the kitchen floor. The dog turned back to his bowl and carried on eating.

I picked up the kitten's head and body and put them in a sack, and buried them in the back garden.

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