I was a dog owner for half a day.
I was ten and my mother thought she could win Cruft’s; the procurement of a West Highland Terrier would show us the road to victory.
What my mother had not anticipated was the trickiness of owning a dog whilst living on the fourth floor of a block of flats. I think she’d anticipated the dog either being on an extremely long lead or possessing the ability to fly (perhaps she thought she was buying a Harrier rather than Terrier?)
My mother also found out, in these fateful few hours of dog-ownership, that un-house-trained dogs giving no warning of doing a pooh, nor have the talent to order a lift to the correct floor to get to down to the communal gardens.
To be fair to the dog, during these morning hours, my mother had been sporting her newly-acquired curlers which would have loosened the bowels of most living organism.
By lunchtime, with a very nervous and understandably incontinent dog, the dog was returned to its previous owners, the people who also owned La Patisserie on Balham High Road. They had got rid of the dog as it had (literally) eaten all the pies. The dog had now been returned to be a perpetual menace to a selection of Fondant Fancies.
To avert my being so distraught over the loss of the free-poohing dog, my mother promised me a pet (as long as it wasn’t a dog, obviously). I fancied an aardvark, but mother said it would ruin her newly-laid shag-pile carpet with its burrowing. I had (and still have) a terrible fear of birds, so a budgie, parrot or pterodactyl (we’d just started studying dinosaurs at school and hadn’t got as far as the extinction bit) were all out of the equation.
I chose a mouse, which I unimaginatively called Jerry. Its toilet habits were similar to the terrier, only on an acceptably smaller scale. Throughout the sixties, seventies and most of the eighties, I never owned another pet, having lived in various flats scattered around south-west London.
I now live in a house and an aardvark is back on the agenda as I have an ant infestation and it will save me money on the special powder. I think one would make a great pet, although a right bugger if it ever caught a cold!