Vacuuming makes me laugh. I’m not deranged. It’s not like I chuckle while dusting or guffaw while washing the dishes. It’s just that every time I vacuum, Olive, my dog, goes completely bonkers. She barks, leaps, growls and bites at the vacuum cleaner in a bizarre display of fear and dog-of-the-house responsibility. It seems that this skinny black whippet is willing to lay her life on the line to protect me from the noisy nasty beasty. And so far she is doing a marvellous job. I haven't come to harm once - although sometimes my tummy aches from laughing so hard.
Everything is more fun with Olive. A walk down the lane becomes an adventure of smells, sprints, taste testing and grass tunnelling. Two days ago, our walk unearthed an apple, a sausage, a hamburger patty, the perfect stick, a dirty sock and a dead galah. Such bounty! Such ecstasy! (Such dreadful doggy breath!)
With Olive, every homecoming is a celebration - excited leaps, lavish licks and enough tail wagging to melt the hardest of hearts. Whether I’m away for five minutes or five days, Olive’s greeting upon my return is filled with the same elation and enthusiasm. She loves me and cannot bear the moments we are apart. That makes me feel special.
If I did not have a sensible husband and a vague idea of socially acceptable behaviour, my house and garden would be full of animals. I can see myself with three dogs (all living inside), chooks nesting in the bookshelves, a gaggle of guinea pigs living free beneath the shrubs in the garden, a peacock or two in the trees, a donkey running around the front yard, nipping visitors on the bottom as they wait at the front door (only the unwanted visitors!) and a spotted pig called Harold. Harold would wander in and out of the house at will, scratching his back on the edge of the coffee table, snuffling through the bins for scraps, eating the dogs’ dinner, chasing the neighbour’s cat if it harassed the guinea pigs …
Hmmm. Everything is more fun with animals. Even daydreaming. I suppose that is why I love reading and writing stories where animals frolic in and out of the pages, adding chaos, whimsy and joy.
Here are my favourite books with animals:
For children (and adults who are young at heart):
Winnie the Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne
Time Stops for No Mouse, Michael Hoeye
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis
My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
Revolting Rhymes, Roald Dahl