i Editor's Letter: Animal love


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I have never been a pet person. I only ever had a couple of budgies as a child — both called Pip for a reason lost in the mists. I recall on the occasion of both deaths that I came downstairs to find them dead in their cages. It was traumatic, but not life-scarring.

I am mildly allergic to dogs. So I can only scratch my head in bemusement at the obsessive, parental-esque sort of behaviour they inspire in the likes of our own Simon Kelner and many i readers. It's Ma's fault. She would say, as if on a continual loop during my childhood: "The trouble with the English is that they love their pets so much more than their own children."

I grew up trying to dismiss this — as with so many other of those Italian Ma sayings, but there was troubling evidence that suggested she might be correct in the homes of almost every friend with a pet I ever visited.

I got to thinking about this, because — bizarrely for me — I got emotional about animals twice yesterday, and it really pulled me up. First up, as my daughter was visiting her grandma, I fed her beautiful black cat, Minky. We don't have much one-on-one time, Minky and I, but the big green eyes, the cocked head,the nuzzling up and purring all had the desired effect: I filled her bowl with way too many dry fish pellets. I guess you are a cat person or a dog person. It's cats all the way for me. I left with a heavy heart.

The other occasion was even more bizarre, because I have a) no familial links with Kauto Star, and b) next to no interest in steeplechasing. But, we turned on the King George VI race at i because Louis wanted to watch it. We were all enthralled. The beauty, heart, power and sheer talent of the horse was very clear even to me, as his jockey Ruby Walsh nurtured him over the course of the race, and produced a focused, determined finish to hold off last year's winner Long Run. I even welled up. Again. Go figure!