And finally... those pet stories you may have missed
Saturday 24 May 2008
Tony Blair sadly passed away in March, but up to that point the rat had been a very successful artist. His owner Helena Saget had thrust him into the limelight after she recognised his talent and posted some of his work on the Saatchi Gallery website. "I first noticed his creative potential when he walked across some clay tiles and left his paw prints and it went from there," she said. In his creative life, Blair worked on numerous projects, including a shredded plastic-bag art installation and a gnawed blanket, with some of his work selling for up to £1,000.
* Comet the goldfish laughs in the face of that old three-second memory myth – far be it for him to be amused by swimming in circles. Thanks to his owner Dr Pomerleau, instead Comet "limbos" under a miniature bar in his tank, shoots a tiny ball through a teeny hoop, and weaves his way through the smallest of posts. Dr Pomerleau is a cheerleader for brainy fish: "There is mounting evidence that fish are more intelligent than people give them credit for," he says. "People in the market for a dog might want to consider a fish instead."
* Who needs a night light, when such advances in technology mean that your cat can glow in the dark? Last year, South Korean scientists at Gyeongsang National University cloned two cats, and modified the genes so that they became fluorescent; now the Turkish Angora cats turn red when under ultra-violet light. The scientist in charge, Kong Il-Keun, said the technology could be applied to "help develop stem-cell treatments", which could be good news in the long term, but surely there's a market for a glow-in-the-dark cat or two? Suddenly cats that stay the same colour just seem so terribly passé.
* Pity Mozart, the tame iguana, who until recently had to suffer the indignity of a permanent erection which stopped him walking around. After the abject failure of various remedies (involving cold water and the introduction to a female iguana or two), the only solution was castration. Which he duly had. A spokesman for the zoo that put him under the knife wasn't too worried, and almost avoided punning: "Male iguanas – including Mozart – have two penises," he said. "So this is unlikely to be a big problem for him."
* The love of a pet has known no bounds for Vicky and Sam Mills, who live in South Wales with Lily, their Rhode Island Red chicken. After Lily's accident with a barbed wire fence, her owners have lived sparingly for the last year – and taken out a bank loan – in order to pay for seven operations, a drumstick amputation, and the post-operative depression that the beloved chicken was diagnosed with. £2,000 later, and with a pledge from the Mills to leave the television on when Lily is home alone to keep her company, things are looking up all round, not least for Lily, who's back laying eggs.
* Beth and Brian Willis, from Newcastle, are pleased with their unique way of keeping the memory of their pets alive long after they've passed to the Happy Hunting Ground. Sweaters. When their pets were still with them, the Willises gathered up the moulting hair, and knitted that hair into jumpers. Kara, a pedigree white Samoyed provided one exceptional piece. Mrs Willis explains: "It is not actually a hair but a wool ... It would just fall off the dogs and I would run a wet hand over the carpet and pick it up." Sadly Kara is no longer around, but the jumper is. So too with Penny, their Swedish Lapphund, whose hair keeps Brian warm when he's doing his shopping. "They are extremely warm and pretty much waterproof," he confirms of the knitwear. "I've always got a sweat on by the time I get from the bus to the shops."
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