Paws 4 Thought

Amusing Antics & Helpful Advice

Meet our newest family member, Rocky!

13002434_10153396008636436_6073971205247608044_o Rocky is a rather lovely little chap with one hell of a story to tell – He is a lion-headed dwarf lop, approximately 4yrs old, and he only has three legs. He was  was found in April 2016 in a garden, not much was known about where he came from other then that, he had sore, weeping eyes and looked a bit unkempt and sorry for himself, so he was taken to Pets at Home in Llandudno and surrendered to their adoption charity.

The charity paid for him to have a vet check up and they tidied him up and prescribed some eye drops for his eyes to try and clear up the infection that was blocking his tear ducts up. Then once tidied up and medicated he was popped into a cage to be cared for until they could find him a new adoptive family.

Now, the fact he was found running loose gives you a clue to his adventurous nature, so, it shouldn’t be a great surprise to you that it didn’t take long for him to get bored in his cage, and while no-one as about, he decided he was going to go take a look around.

Sadly, in the process of wriggling out of the cage, he managed to hurt his back leg, and so it was back up to the vets, where they prescribed rest, painkillers and careful monitoring as they didn’t know if he had just bruised the leg, or done more permanent damage.

Three days later, he started biting at his leg, probably as it was annoying him, it didn’t feel right, it wouldn’t move right and it was generally painful, so the vets decided he had permanent nerve damage, and the decision was made that he should be put to sleep….

Through one of the kind ladies at the rescue, my husband and I got to hear about this, and got a bit cross on his behalf as we knew it was perfectly possible for rabbits to live long and happy lives after an amputation, and there is a wealth of information out there thanks to the wonderful people behind DisabledRabbits.com and so we drove other to see the vet to try and change their mind. I hadn’t even met Rocky at this point, but I knew he didn’t want to go over the bridge yet from everything I had been told by the wonderful kind soul who put me onto him at the rescue.

To be honest, I  thought I had lost the battle – the vet we saw just wouldn’t listen to what I was saying, and was adamant her assessment was the right one, she wouldn’t even consider what I was asking, and so after a very heated discussion, we left the vets with heavy hearts, and boiling blood, already mentally composing the social media rants and letters to head office. But something wonderful happened, something I said had hit home somewhere, and within 40mins of us leaving, I  got a message asking to call the charity and speak to the head vet, who agreed to take the offending leg off and give him another chance.

13002330_10153396384331436_944429925531463859_oWell, his operation was just under two weeks ago now, and things couldn’t be going better, He is moving around much better now that the leg has gone, he isn’t bothering his wound at all, and he is eating all the yummies we are putting down for him.

He isn’t really keen on medicine time, but seems to know that he needs to take it to make him better again, so doesn’t complain too much when I pick him up to do it, but it can’t taste very nice.

We bring him to my craft shop everyday, so I can give him his medicines, and keep an eye on him.

Well, that is the start of his “paws 4 thought” story, I am sure there will be many more adventures to come though.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my little Sergei had been feeling somewhat under the weather due to his tyrant of an brother. I called our then vet that Friday for some advice, but having spent the day watching him, I decided on Saturday morning that he should see a vet as something was obviously wrong.

I carefully put my grumpy little man into the pet carrier we have for just these sorts of emergencies, and we headed off on the 20min run to Colwyn Bay to see our vet at Prospect House. I hadn’t had any cause to deal with the vet since we moved other then to get Izzy’s prescription diet, but I have to say at that point, I was very impressed.

It was an open clinic, but we didn’t have to wait long. We walked into the consultation room, praying it was just stress and nothing more serious, although by now, in my heart of hearts I knew better. We talked to the vet, explained his situation and then I said the words that I had forced myself to accept.

“I think it is wet tail” I told her quickly, hoping to get it out before I could worry too much about the implications of what that statement might mean for my tiny friend.  She picked him up, causing some language I didn’t know three month old hamsters knew, and looked him over gently.

“I think your diagnosis is pretty much spot on” she replied, gently putting Sergei back to bed. “I’ll just be a minute, I will get him some antibiotics”.

Wet Tail is very serious, and quite often fatal. It is a myth that it only effects the larger, Syrian hamsters – it can effect any hamster, rabbit, chinchilla or several other species. Time is crucial with this illness and the sooner you can get your pal to the vet to get on treatment the better his/her chances are. You can get “over the counter” remedies too, but I personally would advise that you get them to the vets as they can confirm the diagnosis at the same time.

Sergei tried to tuck himself back into bed, grumbling and swearing – but I forgave him, the poor little guy really was sick and probably in a fair amount of pain, so I let him off his bad language, I know how miserable I feel when I have a bad stomach, and I am considerably bigger then him.

She injected him with his first dose, and then told me how to administer the rest over the next 5 days, and what I could do for him. Basically, keep him warm, keep him quiet, and keep him hydrated – syringing the water down his throat if I had to.

Then came the phrase, oh so gently, that I had been trying to ignore even though past experience has taught me harshly of the truth of them – “Of course, I have to tell you that Wet Tail is very serious, and can prove fatal even if they are medicated”

I got him up for his dose the following morning and he looked so ill (he didn’t really look ill before other then the matted area on his tail). I needed him to keep fighting this with me, I needed him to hold on and weather the storm till the antibiotics could start to kill off this bug before it killed him.

To be honest with you dear reader, it wasn’t looking good for him right then, and despite the short time we had been together, the thought of loosing him had me a complete mess.

“Wet tail” – the words that breed fear in any hamster owners heart, that was how the story started… well I am pleased to be able to tell you dear readers, that isn’t how the story ended for Sergei!

It was a rough few weeks, for all concerned, but Sergei survived and got back to himself. After that vet trip, I moved him into our room in the small carry box that I had used to take him over to Prospect House.

I was armed with my syringe and antibiotics, a pair of John’s thin leather driving gloves (I can not stress how important that precaution turned out to be), a quivering heart and the resolve that I was not going to let my baby boy die.

The first day, I didn’t need to do anything more then keep him warm, which meant running up stairs every three hours to refill the large, old fashioned, stone hot water bottle that I had on the shelf by the bed, right next to his box. The dose the vet gave him by injection was enough.

He hadn’t looked that ill when we took him to the vet, his back end looked greasy and wet, but he seemed pretty chipper still – but not long after she gave him the injection, he became listless, and started to look as ill as he actually was. During that first night I slept badly, conscience of every slight sound he made, coaxing him to hold on, silently telling him over and over that we would get him through this if he just trust me.

Some people might think this crazy, I mean he was “only” a hamster after all, right? Wrong! No animal is ever an “only” – just because he was small, and relatively inexpensive – didn’t make him disposable, I had taken him on, and with him the responsibility to do everything in my power to give him a long and happy life.

The following day, I woke, heart heavy, not sure what the dawn would have brought – had he slipped away from me while I slept fitfully? I slipped on the driving gloves, prepared the syringe with his dose carefully, and then tenderly lifted down the box from the shelf. There was a faint shuffle of movement, followed by the pained/pissed squeak that I was to become so familiar with over the coming weeks. I never knew that a three month old knew such language till Sergei started fighting the bacteria that was so intent on killing him.

Holding him as firmly as I dare, I gently coaxed the end of the syringe into his mouth, ignoring the pitiful way he was struggling in my grasp, trying to get it done as fast as I could so I could return him to his bed, painfully aware that even the stress of me medicating him might prove too much for his little body. To my relief, he took his dose fairly easily and praising him I slipped him into my pocket so I could change his bedding before putting him back to bed.

He sat so still, and so quiet in there I thought he had maybe died, but when I lifted him back out to put him in his bed, he looked up at me with large, watery black eyes and then swore fluently at me before pulling the fluffy bedding over his head.

And so the next few days progressed, dosing him twice a day, re-heating the water bottle every few hours and fretting over how little he had eaten/drank. Worried, I called the vets for advice, explaining the situation, and telling them that I had tried the chicken baby food but he was refusing it. The woman on the end of the phone was very sweet, and suggested that I try him on fruit squash, preferably one high in vitamin C like a well known brand of blackcurrant.

I thanked her, and hurried out to the kitchen to make up a small measure of squash, rushing upstairs to gently get him up and give it to him via the syringe. It isn’t so much the wet tail that normally proves fatal to hamsters you see, but the accompanying dehydration, something I was keen to avoid no matter how often he nipped and swore.

So in addition to the dose of antibiotics morning and night, I insisted he drink a syringe of Ribena. Once he realised how sweet it was, he didn’t really complain about it, and in fact was soon (much to my relief) happily drinking it from the little dish he had in the cage.

His fur had started to fall out, and his skin was very red and irritated, so I took him back to the vets, concerned about this new turn of events. She looked at him, though kept her distance as he was more then a little upset, and told me that as he felt better he would give himself a clean up and it would settle down. That I could try and clean him, but to be honest, it would cause more stress then it was worth.

Then, that night he seemed to take a turn for the worse, squealing and rolling over defensively before getting stuck. I got up to him several times, got him out, and gave him some Ribena to settle him back down again, before going back to bed with a sinking feeling and laying waiting to hear the next noise from him that would tell me he was at least still alive.

When we had chicken for tea one night, I took some of it upstairs and put it in his bowl, as he still wasn’t eating well, hoping against hope he would take it, he did – and the three other pieces I took up for him. The following day when I woke up, he was already up, sat at his food bowl, nomming a sunflower seed – the weight in my heart lifted, it was such a small change, but it was a change, and a positive one.

So I started to add a bit of cooked meat to his diet to help build him up – and it worked, he was soon getting up regularly, normally for a swig of Ribena and to check for sunflower seeds or chicken, but it was still a step in the right direction.

I called the vets again, still worried about the fur loss and irritation, and was told it may be he had mange – this is fairly common on sick hamsters as the mites live happily enough on the hamster all the time, not really causing any trouble, till the host gets sick…

They suggested an over the counter option to help until I could get him back to the vet. John was dropping some friends home, so I didn’t have transport, so instead I called my Dad who was coming to stay for a few days and asked him to grab some for me on the way up.

When he got here, I carefully read the instructions, which stated that it should not be used on animals under 50g’s – now I was sure that meant my little guy. Undeterred, I opened the pipette, squeezed it into an container and using the spare syringe I had for Sergei’s antibiotics, worked out how much it contained. I knew that the .4 ml it held was suitable for a 50g animal, so all that was left was to find out how heavy Serg was. I weighed him careful using the kitchen scales, he weighed in at a meagre 28g, I carefully drew up .1 ml of the mite treatment and put in over his back – preferring to under dose then over dose as he was still pretty week.

I took him to the vets a couple of days later and she greeted me with a “I thought this little guy would be dead or better by now, whats happening?” I explained what I had done to treat him, handing her the shop brought medicine.

She smiled, told me that it was exactly the stuff she would have used, that I had worked it out correctly, and to re-dose him in a fortnight. She also reassured me that his fur should start to grow back fairly quickly but to make sure he was kept clean, warm and secure.

I was floating on cloud nine, she had given him a clean bill of health from the wet tail, and seemed happy he was on the mend and I was doing the right thing for him.

I swapped the water bottle for a small electric heat pad that I ran on the lowest setting, supporting his box on a few books to prevent him being directly on the heat source, and carried on as I had been, changing his bedding daily, disinfecting his house and cage, giving him vitamins in the water, and feeding him tit-bits of cooked chicken, mince or steak.

When the fortnight was up, I got him up, re-weighed him, and was delighted to see that not only was he looking a lot better, but his fur was growing back and he had put on about 4grams since I last weighed him. Gently I re-dosed him, and decided to move him back into his actual cage, still in our room, still over the heat pad, just to give him a bit more room to move around if he wanted too.

It was about 3 days later that he first decided to use his wheel again, and I was elated, despite being woken up at 2am, as it meant he felt better. His fur was still growing back, but he was back in with his siblings now (in a separate cage of course) and was going from strength to strength! I am so glad I didn’t give up on him, or he on me… he really was my little miracle man and I loved him dearly.

This story is from Feb 2011 but I think you will find it amusing and it has taken me a little while to see the funny side of it 😉 When someone asks you what were you doing last night, most sane people would look confused and say sleeping, or maybe they will blush and look away coyly – however, you wouldn’t expect them to say “turning my house upside and walking the streets” – this though, was precisely what John and I were doing for an hour and a half in the wee hours of the night in question.
We had just introduced Izzy to the wonder that is a cat flap, she loved this idea as it allows her to go in and out as she pleases during the day, without having to rely on her notoriously mean “pets” to open the door for her. We also love it as it keeps some of the precious warmth we are fighting so hard to create in the house, even if to start with, we had to prop open the cat flap so her highness didn’t bang her delicate nose when entering or leaving her palace.

Now, we both decided that during daylight hours the cat flap will remain open, but at night, we would lock her in – we have too many nightmares about how the morning might come when you mix small, not very bright, black cats with dark, twisting Welsh country roads. On the whole, after a few “you gits, you shut the magic door” miaows and looks, Izzy accepts this too and will find somewhere warm and snug to spend her evening.

So, back to this particular night where, late afternoon, she wandered in for her normal, “you still here?” check and John locked the cat flap, we progressed with our evening and a good time was had by all. Then comes bed time, I go through the usual lock up routine, adding checking that the cat flap is still locked to it (hey, you never know, she might have worked out what bit to turn to open it) and then head upstairs to check the smallest members of our family, Izzy on my heels.

When I get into what we shall call the “Rodent Room” as it is where all the small fry live, my evening started to get a bit urm, “interesting”. Sergei and Alek had been fighting like cat and dog for the few days previous, and though I had left them to it hoping that it was just dominance squabbles that they would sort out for themselves, I had made a point of checking daily to make sure no serious damage has been done to either of the combatants.

This night, as I was doing this check I noticed that Sergei (who was very much the smaller, more timid of the two) was looking more then a little stressed, his coat on his tail end looked greasy, he was distressed and any time anything moved near him he would rear back in submission squeaking.

Well maybe I am too soft, but I decided enough was enough, especially when as I was watching Alek initiated another unprovoked attack on his smaller brother. John went down and fetched the small carrier we have on hand for emergency vet trips, put some sawdust in it and brought it and a shallow bowl (ok, a nutella jar lid) upstairs.

Gently I put Sergei in there, with some food, bedding and water, promising him that it was for the best, that at least here he wouldn’t be picked on. It was a hard choice, because although they fought viciously, they did seem to make it up and curl up again together in the end.

Once he was settled, I ran downstairs to check quickly for symptoms of wet tail – a nasty, often fatal, illness that can be brought on by stress. Although he had the matted fur, that was the only symptom that fitted (although I called the vet to get their advice, just in case).

Relieved, John and I headed back upstairs to bed. We had been laying there awhile, when in all innocence he asks “Where’s Izzy?” – the reason behind this is that normally, once the rounds are complete and we have settled down, there is a soft thump and our feet are suddenly unable to move, a routine that was absent.

“Good question, I guess I better make sure I haven’t shut her in with the little ones” I replied, and duly got out of bed to go check the rodent room for feline interlopers. No sign of her, so I started checking the other rooms as we closed most of the doors to conserve heat, calling her, narda, not a whisper.

Now this is a very unusual situation, normally me calling her will gain at least a chirp of recognition, so I wandered downstairs in my tee-shirt, and started checking the downstairs rooms, nothing…. By this time, John has also got up and is helping me hunt, knowing I won’t sleep till I know where she is.

Heart in my mouth, I go and check the cat flap, certain that I have checked it, and it was locked, but that “just in case” doubt was starting to flower in my mind. It was locked, so I returned to searching the house, calling, and offering bribes to try and get a response, still nothing. By now I was starting to get a bit upset, and John and I were going back over the evening, comparing notes on when we had last seen her, when we last had the door open, etc.

Having both searched the house, twice, to no avail I go back upstairs on leaden feet and start to get dressed. As I think it was Sherlock Holmes once said, “once you have checked all the possible, it is time to check the impossible!” – Logically we both knew she couldn’t have got out, but we couldn’t find her in the house…

I did two circuits of the house, calling like an idiot, checking under bushes, rattling treats, even wandered down the lane to see if she was down there, no small cat, I came back in, and started turning the house upside down again, while John, watching my growing distress took over looking outside despite my protests he should go back to bed.

While he was outside, I even checked the rabbit hutch, despite her being terrified of Brambles, just in case… such was my desperation at this point. It was on my dozenth check of the spare room I suddenly spotted that one of the wardrobe boxes we moved with had its door slightly open. Hope flared in me, I moved the boxes around it to be able to look inside, and who should be curled up, sound asleep on one of my old coats in the bottom of the box, blissfully unaware of the tears and tantrums she had caused, but the demon cat herself.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the look of “do you mind I am trying to sleep” she gave me had me almost to the point I could have happily throttled her if I hadn’t been so relieved about finding her safe and well. It was with many tears (of relief this time) that John and I finally headed back to bed, cursing the softly snoring cat in the box.

Moral of the story, when searching for a cat, ALWAYS check the boxes!!

I have been told repeatedly by my husband that my animals are a bit strange… personally I don’t see it, but then I guess that is just me – so dear reader, I am asking your opinion on this matter!

The thing that first triggered this statement was when Izzy, feeling a bit cold when it came to bed time, did her usual trick of jumping up on the bed beside me, walking up to stand on my pillow, miaowed softly and started patting at the edge of the duvet. Now, this is a well recognised signal, one I have been trained by many cats to acknowledge by rolling onto my back, bending my knees and lifting the edge of the duvet so they can slip in to curl up under my raised knees in the “tent” that is formed there.

This is an ideal position for a small, somewhat chilly, cat – as it is somewhere dark, warm, and smells of “Mummy” and therefore safety (so long as I don’t fall asleep, forgetting they are under there, and drop my leg on them). I have had several cats that have trained me to do this, or something similar – Tinker (the calico female cat I had with my ex husband) used to climb under the covers, put her head on the pillow, her paw around my neck and purr till we both fell asleep curled up together.

I see nothing strange in this, I just see it as part of the special bond between my cats and I – ok, granted, not everyone would be as willing to share their bed that way with an animal, but I have never had a problem with a cuddly kitty.

Okay, so I have had sock-knappers (raiding the laundry bin at 3am for dirty socks – god alone knows why), chocolate thieves (again, an attack of the midnight munchies), and cats trained seemingly by the SAS who have managed to get to places I have stashed the catnip or treats when I have no idea how,  or disappeared so thoroughly in a locked house that I swear they have vapourised – but this isn’t really strange behaviour, just quirky behaviour and we all have quirks, right?

However, it isn’t just my cats that I have had this accusation leveled at – my rodents have had similar comments made about them, ranging from when Sergei and Alek are asleep in their tunnel, upside down, or one of the rats climbs up the cage, suddenly realises that girlie rats aren’t really built to reverse and so just let go to get down, or when hamsters past have decided that chips with curry sauce and an evening watching star trek or x-files is simply all that a hamster should do. (I would just like to mention that the chips with curry sauce was a VERY occasional treat, not a regular diet (much to her annoyance)).

When the rats took down their hammock and decided it was a far better sleeping bag (if you chew the edging of the hammock up so you have an opening between the two layers of fleece, it really is quite snugly you know) – it just seemed to me that this was another of the quirks, it didn’t make them odd, or strange in any way in my eyes, but then I suppose I could be a little biased 😉

I have come to the conclusion that one mans strange, is another woman’s quirky – and no matter the outcome, I wouldn’t change any of them for the world, their quirks are what makes them unique, and what makes them who they are – life without a few quirks would be very dull indeed.

I promised that I would tell you the story of how the princess, otherwise known as Izzy came to be mine, or rather, how I came to be hers!

Izzy

She lived on our estate, belonged (and I use the word loosely here) to a family that lived opposite us – but from a very young age, almost day one in fact, she was kept outdoors, all her meals were given to her outdoors (which frequently meant she had to fight off the other neighbourhood kitty’s) and no matter what the weather was doing, she was denied the luxury of a warm, safe, dry home.

Personally I had never understood the point of them having her in the first place, I mean, surely if you get an animal, you want to interact with it more then just to stuff a food bowl under its nose twice a day?

Me, being soft as I am, couldn’t stand to see such a small creature out in all weathers, and it wasn’t long before (despite the strict “no pets” clause in my rental agreement) I was encouraging her to come in to my home for a little while now and again for some comfort and company. I was good, I never fed her – I would never feed any animal that I knew belonged elsewhere, and when she asked to go back out, I never refused her, no matter how much it tore at my heart to watch her slink out into the foul weather once more.

I was often found outside, playing with her, making a fuss of her, and talking to her – she seemed to enjoy the contact as much as I did, and regularly came running over when she saw me come home from work, or follow me to the bus stop of a morning to purr around my ankles till my bus came.

She also took to darting inside whenever the door opened, much to the annoyance of my then boyfriend who would then spend his morning trying to catch her and put her out before he left for work too. One particular day, he was running late, and she refused to go back out, hiding in out of reach places so he couldn’t persuade her. There were some leftovers from the night before’s supper on the side, which he had forgotten about in his rush to get out to work. I got home before him, and opened the door, went upstairs and saw a trail of pastry crumbs up the stairs, confused, I followed them, to discover a very sleepy little black bundle of fur curled up in the centre of my bed, with the remains of what had been a very tasty looking chicken and ham slice on the covers around her.

It wasn’t till I started to giggle that she cracked open an eye, yawned, stretched, chirped as if to say “so, you’re home now huh” and came over to headbutt my hand by way of thanks for her bed and board for the day before jumping with her customary thud from the bed and trotting downstairs to ask to go out. I nervously searched the house for mis-haps but much to my relief, there wasn’t a single puddle or pile to be found.

It was with a heavy heart I watched the family pack up and move, knowing that my time with Izzy was running out, but hoping that they would finally start to treat her like part of the family (not that they had shown any inclination in the 18 months I had known her). At first, I missed seeing her around dreadfully, I missed our interaction, despite me being friendly with several other cats in the area, but as the days went by, although I still missed her, the weight lifted somewhat.

About six weeks after they moved, after several weeks of severe weather, I was coming home from work in the dark, not really paying attention, lost in thought, when I rounded the corner to my front door. It was only when I heard a tiny squeak (she still hasn’t learnt to miaow properly) which was instantly familiar that broke me from my thoughts. Peering closer into the dark of my lawn, I saw a very thin, very sad looking little black cat – her third eye-lid mostly over her eyes, and generally in a very poor state.

I called her and she came over, warily nuzzling my hand before skittering off again, the weeks since I had seen her hadn’t been kind to this small waif. Hurriedly I unlocked the door, and tried to call her in out of the rain, she sat, looking longingly at the warmth just in her grasp but too afraid to trust the offer. I was at a loss, what had possibly happened to this confident, carefree little cat to make her so timid.

I ran up the stairs to my kitchen (it was one of these fancy maisonettes with most of the rooms on the second and third floors) and started rooting through my cupboards for something to offer her, all the time calling to her down the stairs and hoping she wouldn’t run off before I got back down to her.

Snaring up a tin of tuna, and a bag of those pre-cooked chicken bites, I hurried back to my front door. At first I couldn’t see her, but then came the same sad little squeak, and I crouched down, tearing open the chicken. It didn’t take long for her nose to start twitching, she was obviously very hungry, and gradually she came to me for the food.

My boyfriend came home, and hopped off his bike, and she ran. I sighed softly, loosing her quickly in the dark. He apologised and offered to go look for her when I explained what had happened. I refused the offer, hoping she would come back of her own accord now she knew there was food here. Over the next week, I repeated the same steps, most days she was waiting for me, or when she wasn’t the local kids (who knew she was back and without anyone to care for her) would knock and tell me where she was. I would go to her, feed her, talk to her and coax her near to home.

One night about a week after the first time she arrived on the doorstep I was feeding her titbits at the door when my boyfriend came home. Seeing what I was doing and giving me a resigned look, “Well,” I said defensively, “I can’t just leave her…”

He smiled, agreed, and snuck past us to go upstairs, leaving me to continue feeding her and tempting her nearer and nearer the door. When she was within reach, and seemed to be a bit calmer, I gently swung her up in my arms, backed through the door and kicked it closed.

At first she was nervous, but she soon found the chair and curled up to doze. While she was sleeping I snuck over to my friend’s house to beg some cat litter from her, I explained the situation and she was only to happy to donate some for me.

The setup wasn’t very sophisticated, an old Avon box lined with a black bag was her litter tray that night, and I shut her in the kitchen as I wasn’t sure she knew where the box was before I went to bed. She howled and howled to go back out, completely confused that this was now her home, I hardened my heart and ignored her, telling her softly that it was for the best this way.

It was a long night, and the start of a fairly rocky couple of weeks for us, but also the start of a life long bond that exists between us, something really special. But dear reader, I have taken up enough of your time for one blog – there is plenty of time for me to finish the tale for you, and many others to share with you too – so for now, I will say “until next time”

Hi, Its good to meet you dear reader, let me introduce myself and the rest of the mad house you will find lurking in these pages ready to attack your unsuspecting toes.

My name is Nikki, and I love animals – I always have from a very young age, a trait that was whole-heartedly encouraged by my equally soft-hearted father. It all started in the normal way, with a host of hamsters padding softly through our home, followed as I grew by the larger animals such as Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, and Cats… Although some of these are no longer with us, their stories may well end up sneaking in here from time to time for your laughter or tears.

There have been brief periods of time throughout my thirty something years where out of necessity I have been forced to live in a petless house, but even then, I normally found a way around it by “adopting” the local stray, or playing with whichever neighbourhood moggy happened to cross my path.

Approximately 10 years ago, I had a fateful meeting with one such neighbourhood kitty. I was sitting on the lawn in front of the house with a friend of mine, discussing generalities and putting the world to rights as was our want on a lazy summer evening – when out of the blue, this tiny black streak went hurtling past us with Toby, the local border collie, in hot pursuit. My friend and I looked at each other, and a look passed between us that if we should hear any sort of sounds of distress, we were going straight after the pair to ensure that Toby didn’t get too enthusiastic with the tiny kitten he had been chasing.

We were just starting to get worried by the silence, when Toby burst from the bushes as if the hounds of hell themselves were after him – imagine if you can, the surprise on our faces when a moment later the reason for his headlong flight appeared – yes, you guessed it, that self same tiny kitten had turned the tables on a dog more then eight times her size and was now chasing HIM across the estate.

Little did I know at the time that this fluffball would end up playing a huge part in my life just about a year further down the line, and infact, still lords it over the household to this day. That tiny kitten, was in fact my own dear Izzy, and how she became mine is a story for another blog.

Also in our mad house, is my ever loving, extremely indulgent, and very understanding husband, John. Who quite frankly will let me get away with pretty much anything, and can normally tell just from the look in my eyes when we enter a pet shop or shelter, if he will be gaining yet another housemate. I can’t express how much I love the man, who despite having his own reservations about some of our housemates, has good naturedly agreed to me having them anyway.

As well as Izzy, who is undoubtedly queen of the roost, we currently have two rabbits (Blackberry and Daisy, a bonded couple), eleven guinea pigs (Diva, Divine, Todd, Toffee, Hannah, Ginger, Honey-Lemon, Nutmeg, Midnight, Lucy, and Lulu), Twelve rats (Spot, Splat, Splotch, Ruby, Liquorice, Cariad, Precious, Blue, Luna, Maggie, Thelma and Louise), fourteen degu’s (Dilbert, Pinky, Dribble, Bag, Dougie, Squeak, Stitch, Titch, Pancake, Donut, Big Mama, Sweetie, Cupcake, Darling), three gerbils (Spatchcock, Ginger and Cinnamon), three ferrets (Taz, Dooky and Shadow), and two hamsters Cohnan (Syrian) and Marvin (Chinese).

You will also “meet” in these pages some of the precious babies that we have lost over Rainbow Bridge, including our guinea pig friends Patch, Nibbles, Fluff,  Fudge, Tinker, Daisy, and Amy.  Brambles, my dwarf lop rabbit,  her boyfriend Jasper, and our netherland dwarf grump Lola, our gerbils Mungo, Jerry and Honey, as well as a whole host of little hamsters including Aleksandr and Sergei who were the first of our welsh pets, and then finally, our rat babies, including Tess, my half blind albino rat, and her sister Lola (grey and white) to name but a few (if you want to know more about any of our animals, check out the relevant pages on our main site).

I think that is enough about us for now, but dear reader, if you are still with us here, maybe you will come back soon, and see what other tales (or should that be tails) I have added about our somewhat eclectic family.

See you soon.