We have a number of animals. Pets, really. And I often get asked ‘what is it like having a menagerie?’ Which I take to mean… What have you learned from having a variety, and especially, a lot of pets?
What is it like to have a menagerie?
Well, for one, I am typing this verrrryyyy slowwllly. Because I am typing it one handed. Because Gigi, our top cat, always knows when is the optimum time to come and snuggle with me. Usually when I am working on something at my desk. It’s truly a gift. And she likes to give.
On my desk also are two ducks. Both are injured, though in different ways. Neige (‘snow’ in French), one of our white call ducks, was injured by something. Ducks are prone to injuries. It’s the sad part of being ‘prey’. But they also heal fast. So she is in our catch all cat carrier, now turned hospital bed. It’s sat on my luckily large desk so I can keep a watchful eye on her. She’s been treated with antibiotics and we’re making certain she gets lots of rest.
Next to the cat carrier, Gabby is lounging on a pillow. He was found limping today. Most likely due to niacin deficiency. It’s something he was born with, and needs tending to regularly. His limp is usually a first sign that he needs a top up on this vitamins.
And on my napping couch. Yes, I have a napping couch in my office. Everyone should have one. But that’s another topic. Anyway, on my napping couch are our two dogs. They have just finished a rambunctious game of play. As dogs do. And now are fast asleep. Small blessings.
So who [currently] makes up our menagerie?
We have 2 dogs and 3 cats. And 17 ducks, of which two are imprinted. And out of our plethora of pets, at various times, 7 to 8 of them live in the house with us.
Yes, it can be utter chaos. Especially if they all decide they are in play mode or want feeding at the same time. The flip side is the sheer fun, antics and well, chaos that is pure laugh out loud enjoyment.
Words of wisdom for those who have ever wanted a number of pets?
Develop ‘mother hearing’ and stay focused. They can easily overwhelm with their demands and needs. Focus on one at a time. Prioritising as needs be. Especially when it comes to food.
Food will always cause chaos, as the more animals you have the more they will shove to the front to get their share. Unless you are good at training. We are pretty good at it. Yes, we have even trained our ducks. So much of good training is about routine, repetition and reward.
If I knew now and all that hindsight thingy, I would not have as many pets as we do. I would have 1 cat, 1 dog. Or just 2 dogs. And 2 to 4 ducks maximum. If they were imprinted ducks, then just 2 ducks.
Why the difference?
Because the main thing I have learned is that in having so many your time is divided between few. We are not able to give all the attention we would love to, because we have to spread it amongst many.
And why so specific?
Living with interspecies siblings creates additional layers. There is the pecking order. Sometimes literally. Our Gabby (duck) is forever pecking and pulling at the fur of our cats. Especially Gigi. He has put himself higher up the order, which is somewhat surprising given Gigi’s dominant personality. And being a cat, she could easily kill a duck.
We started our menagerie with a cat, an [imprinted] duck and then a dog. That was actually the perfect combination and number of pets. Their needs were different enough, at different times that we could give them the attention they wanted and deserved. And we were few enough that we all fit on the bed (or napping couch) when we wanted a cuddle.
And then Gigi discovered boys. Followed quickly by Maggie (Queen duck). Chewie (dog) lives in hope. And from them, and beyond them…
We inherited a poorly chicken. She sadly passed. But because she showed us how special chickens are, we have plans for adding a couple to the flock sometime, eventually. The ducks keep laying eggs. And though we duly eat what we can eventually they gang up on us and nests turn into ducklings. Most go off to new homes, and some waddle their way into our hearts, and never leave.
Luckily our cats are neutered, after Gigi surprised us with two lots of kittens. And as for the dogs? Well, let’s see what the future brings.