Did you have any pets growing up?
Loads! I was growing up in the countryside so there were always lots of pets and animals overall. As I wrote in the last post, we’ve always had fishes. We lived on the same backyard as my grandparents and aunts with their families, and we always had a dog on the backyard. The first one that I remember was called Ugryź (Bite) and he was a rotweiler. Despite his name I remember him being quite nice though he had his own boundaries and demanded respect from everyone. At the same time that we had Ugryź, for a short while there were also my uncle’s two dogs, my uncle and his family lived in a town and they didn’t have a place for them so the dogs lived with us. I don’t remember much about them as I was very small when they lived with us, I know that they were called Mona and Lisa and were both very scary and big and wild and horribly noisy, and had to be separated from Ugryź and at a distance from people, only my grandma brought them food and no one had contact with them, I wondered why anyone would like such scary dogs. There was an incident when my brother was around them both and Lisa bit him very badly and he has a scar from it. But as I said they were only for a short while with us. Ugryź lived for long years but already when I was born he was an old dog so I also don’t remember much of him.
After that we had quite a long break, until my grandma once came back from work with a very small dog. My grandma sells eggs to people so she visits lots of houses and someone just asked her whether she wouldn’t take their dog because they have to move and don’t know what to do with him. I remember we really struggled to name him, until finally grandma came up with Bobik. Bobik was very small, mixed-breed and very energetic and friendly, though a bit mischievous at times. When we lived there, my Mum always seemed to have some strange sort of luck that she found dogs on the streets, and a couple of them stayed with us. One of them was Figa (Fig). She was a big, but very calm and clever dog, though she had a very strong voice and if the situation needed it she would bark really loudly. But other than that she was really calm. She was very authoritative and Bobik always seemed to listen to her. I liked her a lot, because she was so clever. But also she had another quality that I loved in her and that was very useful to me. She liked eating wasps and hornets. When we saw it one summer, we were scared, but she always managed to do it so quickly that they wouldn’t do her any harm and seemed to like it really much. Figa also loved chocolate ice cream.
I don’t know when exactly it was but I guess sometime when we had both Bobik and Figa, my Mum got one of her strange impulses and decided that she would like to have a Caucasian sheep dog. She had a friend who had a breedery or something like that, and she got us such a dog. We called her Masha. I really disliked her. She had very stinky food, and was very noisy, and while overall a very cheerful and hearty and fairly clever dog, she had an awful habit of jumping on people which I hated dearly, and she was just annoying for me. I don’t remember her too well, I don’t even remember what happened to her, I guess we sold her to someone but I’m not perfectly sure. I was at school most of the time then probably and just didn’t think about her much.
We had both Figa and Bobik for a really long time, until they died, and they were both really faithful and likeable dogs.
I guess already when Zofijka was born, again, during a walk, my Mum spotted another stray dog and brought him home. My aunt named him Polar, as in polar fleece, because his fur was so soft. It turned out that Polar was a Polish Tatra sheep dog. He is still there living with my family. He is my most favourite dog of all we’ve had. He can have a fiery temper and always wants to be in charge of things, but he’s also very playful and just good, if you can say so about a dog. He can be very affectionate and I always feel very safe with him. He is a really good guardian and knows who is his people and who is not and is extremely and fiercely protective of his people, he is really scary when you mess up with him. Though he usually doesn’t bark a lot without a need, I remember when I couldn’t sleep, sometimes I felt anxious, or just lonely, and it was so quiet all around at night, and then sometimes out of the blue Polar barked a little, so I knew I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t sleeping hahaha. I regret that Polar can’t have children, or that we couldn’t take him here with us, I’d like to have a dog like him here, all of us would.
At the time we already had Polar, my cousin said he’d like to have his own dog, and he and his mum went to a shelter and he got himself one and called him Rico. I suppose Rico is very traumatised, or something must be a bit wrong with his brain, because he can act very foolishly and unpredictably. he’s small and has very rough fur, a complete opposite to Polar. And he likes to make lots of fuss of himself.
For a short while, at the time we’ve already had Rico and Polar, my Mum got herself a dog of one of her favourite breeds – a Munich schnauzer. We had a real trouble naming him and there were lots of suggestions, though she finally called him Bono, after Bono from U2, she loves this band. Bono wasn’t long with us and I almost don’t remember him. Mum had to sell him because our family weren’t happy with him, you know when there are so many people living together, it’s hard to make everyone happy.
We also had tons of cats on the backyard, most were unnamed, though for years we had a female cat whom I named Misia, who greatly contributed to increasing our local feline population. Most of them all were of course wild and not really up to making friends with humans. There was one sweet little kitten I deeply loved as a little child, he was very cute and small and lovable and gentle, completely not like other cats out there. I named him Parpill, in reference to my imaginary creatures. Me and my brother were carrying him in a stroller around the backyard and playing that he was our baby. 😀 Until when I was at school, one of our local drunkards ran him over, driving under the influence. I was hating him silently for years hahaha, no seriously I really hated him. Another cat that I tried to make friends with I called Pimpuś (there is a popular old Polish children’s book with a cat named Pimpuś in it, and I also had a teddy bear named Pimpuś). Pimpuś was really wild though and a little malicious, or so seemed to me back then.
And then again, when Zofijka was already born, so I was maybe 11-12 or something like that, my grandma came back from work with a cat. Her client said they need to give him away because her daughter, his actual owner, was pregnant. So, to Dad’s absolute dismay, Mum took him home. He didn’t have a name, he was just the cat, until when Zofijka was big enough, she started calling him Kiki. She was showing him her adoration in really strange ways – like dancing around the kitchen holding him by the neck. – Surprisingly, despite all the suffocating love from Zofijka, care and food from Mum, Kiki’s favourite person was Dad. At night, he would always lay on his legs, and follow him everywhere around the house. Kiki, like Misha, was rather withdrawn, though didn’t have the adventurous side to his nature like Misha, he was always afraid of the outdoors and never willing to come out. He was also a bit more affectionate and loyal than Misha, in a way that for Kiki it was more obvious. I liked Kiki, though wasn’t too attached to him and don’t remember him too well because I was mostly at the boarding school I think. I’ve always felt a bit guilty thinking of Kiki. When Kiki was with us and I was home for the Christmas break, I remember that when it was finishing, I really didn’t want to go back to school and was very determined not to go. Not like I wanted it any other time, but with each time I just grew more and more sick of it. I looked up lots of ideas on the Internet how to get ill on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to go, and I made a very precise plan what to do. I waited in my room until everyone will go to bed, Kiki was in my room, and then when finally everyone seemed to be asleep, I sneaked out on the terrace barefoot just in my pj’s. There was a lot of snow and I was walking around in it and wallowing in it for quite a long while until I got all freezing, and then got back home, closing the terrace door behind me, and did the rest of my plan. Mum woke me up early next day as we had to travel to the school, I wasn’t feeling sick at all, other than of anxiety. And the first thing Mum told me was that something utterly unbelievable happened. She went to the kitchen, and saw the cat on the terrace, glued to the glass and waiting for someone to rescue him. Of course the loyal Kiki had to follow me, though I didn’t have a clue about it, and closed him there. I felt awful about that but didn’t say anything, so it stayed as an odd anecdote in our family and Mum always told it to people. I only revealed the secret on my 18th birthday party, when I was out of school and Kiki wasn’t with us any longer, and that was quite a shock to everyone. My Mum got rid of Kiki very spontaneously. She is quite pedantic, and although Kiki was really clean as I remember him, Mum claimed she had way too much cleaning with him. But she wanted to get rid of him in a nice looking way, so decided to be generous and give him to my aunt who has MS so that she’d have company during the day when her family are out at work. Kiki had a good life there as far as I know, and was thoroughly spoiled by my aunt and uncle, got to eat lots of sausage and had become really fat. But then my cousin, who was mainly taking care of him, became pregnant, and they had to give him away. My Mum found him a new home in Warsaw, so he had to travel a fair bit of the country, though I don’t know anything about him now, he’s probably very old if still alive. I wish we kept him for longer, so maybe I would form some real relationship with him and be able to compensate for closing him on the terrace, but then we most probably wouldn’t have Misha, which would be even more sad.
And, as a little girl, maybe 8- or 9-year-old, I was reading articles about different pets and how to care for them in children’s magazines. I generally wasn’t the type of child who would be crazily into animals and always dreaming about a pet but suddenly I got some sort of obsession with pets, and for like a month or so I was constantly tormenting Mum, begging her to buy me a hamster or a guinnea pig. At that time I was really trying to fit in and be like other kids and even had a sort of friend in the neighbourhood, and one day in summer our mums and us were going shopping. And my friend’s mum heard how much I would like to have a hamster or a guinnea pig and was the only person who showed me compassion and understood how badly I wanted a pet and said that their friend’s daughter has a hamster and they have to give it away for some reason so she’ll ask that woman if she could bring it to me. I could see that my Mum was very unsatisfied and annoyed with it and tried to explain to my friend’s mum that it’s not really the best idea, but her point of view was just like mine: “Oh but if she wants a hamster, why not? It’s not a problematic animal”. I guess her friend desperately wanted to get rid of her hamster, and she really wanted to help her. 😀 I was over the moon. So, very soon, just the next day, my friend and the other girl – the hamster’s owner – came to me and I got my hamster with the cage. I called him Bingo, and thought it was a boy, though apparently it was a girl. It was a very weird hamster and acted as if he/she was wild, not at all like the hamsters I read about, and not very playful or likeable. Once he even bit me. So my feelings for him were slowly dissipating, and my Mum really disliked him. When I went back to school after the summer holidays, Olek offered to take care of him and become his temporary owner, but when I came back home, Bingo was long dead. I don’t really remember how it happened. But Olek was taking care of him and then made a very neat grave for him in grandma’s garden. I was actually relieved that there was no Bingo, he was really weird.
And one year I tried having snails as pets, and kept them in a tin filled with salad. That was very short-lasting though.
How about you? 🙂