I’m a bit of a sucker for animals. My whole life, I’ve been collecting waifs and strays (there’s a bit of a parallel to my dating life right there). Antisocial rabbits and lumpy hamsters and that dog with the funny eye that everyone walks past at the pound. In they all came to the household, bringing love, pet hair and a lucrative source of income for the local vet.
As I’ve grown up I’ve got more canny and sensible. My ex got the dogs in the divorce and since then I’ve taken the line that two pooey bottoms are quite enough to be running round after, thanks very much. Anything else that I have to provide hands-on care for should at least have the potential to financially contribute to my old folk’s home.
My daughter is not such a huge fan of the anti –pet stance. A couple of months ago she sidled up to me clutching my iPhone. On the screen was a picture of the saddest budgerigar in the world in a little black cage. It had one stick, a food and water bowl, and an air of palpable depression.
I don’t like birds in cages. If I had wings I’d damn well want to use them. This one would have met the sides of the cage if it had stretched them out.
“Free to a good home – kids are sick of it,” said the text underneath.
I looked at my daughter to find her channelling the cat from Shrek. We can’t leave it there, said her pleading eyes. It’s just one little bird, they said. I’ll keep my room tidy forever, promised the eyes, outright lying by that point.
I sighed and picked up the house phone. Two hours later we sat together and studied Binkie the PTSD budgie in his little cage.
“He needs toys,” said my daughter, firmly. We visited the pet shop and filled up the cage with bright plastic things with bells on the end. Binkie looked at them sadly and sat on his stick.
“I think he needs a bigger cage,” suggested my daughter. My credit card groaned as we went on the internet and selected a budgie palace. After assembling it and mentally writing off 30% of the space in my lounge room, we introduced the budgie. He crouched on his highly expensive perch and eyed us dolefully. At this stage, I was ready to start crumbling Zoloft into his drinking water.
My daughter turned to me, eyes bright. “I think he needs a FRIEND!”
Oh, for the love of all that is holy. Sure, absolutely. Why NOT get a companion for the budgie I hadn’t wanted in the first place? We visited a breeder and procured a pedigreed, brightly plumaged, ridiculously costly friend for our original little yellow freebie budgie.
Outlay so far: $250. Mass improvement to world happiness: Who knows? But karma, please take note of this next time I buy a lottery ticket.
I’m writing this to the sound of little birds singing