I held my parents responsible for my forced move to the city. I made their life hell and the only way I would settle to Sydney living was if they would allow me to have a dog. The answer was a resounding no.
A woman came to visit one day as I was again haranguing my parents and she offered a kitten from a litter that her daughter’s cat had produced. My parents finally relented and I got my little kitten.
It wasn’t long before the kitten’s hair started to fall out. My brother, already a budding scientist, devised a cure. Sulphur mixed with honey which we applied liberally to the kitten. Within a few weeks her hair was growing back and we pronounced her cured. Now it was my brother and i with the skin complaint. We itched and when on closer examination by our mother discovered that we had rosy rings in numerous places on our bodies. A trip to the doctor confirmed my Mum’s diagnosis – ring worm. There were creams to apply and special bath additives to bathe in and, of course, the trip with the cat to the vet.
When put under the ultraviolet light the cat showed rings all over her. We were given orders not to touch her and the vet and mother conferred in private. We were given no say – the cat was too little to treat and there was no choice but to put her down. I was distraught. Not only did I lose the kitten but we were also told that the spores were now in the garden and we would have to wait two years before we considered getting another animal.
To console me a fish-tank and some goldfish became my next pets and placed in my bedroom on the windowsill. We didn’t know that you needed a glass lid for a tank but I learnt when I walked into my bedroom one night in the dark and trod on two of my fish with my bare feet. It was not a pleasant sensation as I felt them flatten under my toes. The three remaining fish lasted a little longer then the fish tank went into storage in the garage.
The two-year quarantine period nearly over, I started the begging for a dog again. I persisted in my quest though each effort met with a resounding no. When a girl brought a litter of black labrador cross pups with her to school I was certain that if I just took one home I’d be able to persuade my parents, with my brother’s help, to keep her.
That afternoon I put the tiny puppy inside my school jumper. Her heart and my heart seemed to beat together. I just had to keep her. With a lot of cajoling and promising that the dog would be an outside dog, and that I would pick up all excreta, and I would train her and walk her and feed her permission was eventually granted. The two little girls next door that I baby-sat on occasion were as thrilled as I was and they immediately set to playing dressups with her.
We called her Samantha which was quickly shortened to Sammy, named after my favourite TV program of the moment bewitched.