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PHILIP SALOM

Poet and Novelist

 

More animals, briefly

Sitting with one of the puss cats tonight made me consider - for the first time - not how much I like animals but how long I've been sitting beside one. Or been in close contact with them.

As a child, my first 12 years on the farm meant we had several cats and at least one dog and all the cattle, which is a visual if not always a tactile harvest. When I went to high school I boarded in a larger country town, now a small rural city, and was without animals (except the teenage kind) nearby for four years. It was my first extended period away from them.

My years at an Agricultural College provided fortnightly contact with farm animals of the eccentric menagerie known only to staff and students of such places in such an era - on one farm there were: beef and dairy cattle, a range of sheep breeds, pigs, chooks, turkeys, horses, rabbits, cats and dogs. During my cattle research years I looked after 'experimental' animals - beef cattle - hands-on, every day for nearly three years. 

In the city I moved from house to house for another four years or so and no one had pets until I bought a pup in the mid 70s ... and since then I have had a cat or dog, or both, or two cats at any one time, with only one year gap in all that time. 

It makes, say, only nine or so years without them. Fifty-ish with them close by. Nearly forty years with animals inside the house. What a privilege.