Many families have expanded in recent months. Their new additions have fur and four legsby Hephzibah Anderson / August 28, 2020 / Leave a comment
While recent talk of a lockdown-induced baby boom looks set to prove as mistaken as any early-days Covid conjecturing, many families have nonetheless expanded in recent months. The new additions they’ve welcomed bear names like Bella, Poppy and Alfie, and their needs will likely have infringed on sleep and freedoms, demanding altered routines and a sizeable chunk of cash down the line. What they won’t ever do is leave home and start their own families, because they are family members of the four-legged variety.
A couple of years ago, it was estimated that 44 per cent of UK households owned pets, among them some nine million dogs and eight million cats. The indications are that these figures will have leapt up in 2020. By May, it was reported that the nation was in the grip of a puppy shortage, and in July, insurers Bought By Many reported a 205 per cent year-on-year increase in policies for cats.
I understand the impulse. Back in March, I called my mum to ask if she could accommodate a rabbit hutch for us. We don’t have any outdoor space and—keenly aware of all that was about to be put on hold for my daughter—I was longing to give her an animal companion. And yes, I’ll admit it: with the world seeming more alarming by the hour, I wouldn’t have minded a cuddle with a soft furry creature myself.
My own childhood featured a menagerie of pets, though they weren’t always suited to the role. There was the battle-scarred ginger tomcat, who tried to smother me as an infant; a wild-eyed, untameable Samoyed Border Collie mix who the neighbourhood kids were convinced was a wolf; and adorable dwarf rabbits who proved too fragile to withstand the gusts of an East Anglian winter. In the end, my sister and I acquired guinea pigs, and when they turned out to be boy and girl, a dynasty was born. We sent them postcards from our holidays, threw them birthday parties, and attempted a boating adventure on our minuscule garden pond (guinea pigs, it turns out, are not natural sailors, or swimmers).
Here’s the thing, though: aside from when we were very little, I…