As most of you know, I seem to have more animals than the average person. Some are my own, whilst others are fosters (either short or long term) for a rescue. I am often asked what it’s like having lots of animals of all different species, so here’s an insight;
It’s a lot of work
I have always had a lot of animals and have managed to find a routine that works for me. This routine differs slightly depending on the time of year, but keeping to a routine makes everything easier. My day starts with the morning feeds, which includes giving everyone breakfast, head counting everyone to make sure everyone appears well, spraying the frog and lizard tanks and letting the dogs and cats out into the garden. The dogs are walked in the morning (at least a couple of hours after their breakfast), depending on the weather, they either get a run through the woods or an on-lead walk if it’s really muddy as Princess will refuse to walk in puddles or dirt! After walkies, it’s time for the rabbits to go in the outdoor runs for some exercise and I only have them out if I am home as I am pretty paranoid about their safety! Then, depending on the day, I will clean a species out, e.g rabbits, rodent room, exotics or water change the tanks. Giving each species a set day means I can concentrate on them for a few hours and make sure they are all clean and happy. Some days I will do vet runs, see animals in out in the evening, then there is the evening feed and finally, cuddle up with the dogs and cats on the sofa.
I try to buy food in bulk where possible, but with perishable goods such as vegetables and live food, its not always easy. I want my animals to have the best diet I can give them, so I try to vary what they have to make things interesting for them. I order online as much as I can so I don’t support the pet shop industry.
Vet trips add up
It’s lovely having lots of animals, but recently I have had a string of bad luck and many of my animals have needed vet treatment in short succession. Tommy, my Pomeranian has a few health issues, and recently needed a heart and lung scan at a specialist vets and has just started hydrotherapy, equalling nearly a thousand pounds. Eric my pug needed a luxating patella operation costing around £800 and 6 weeks crate rest, Nacho needed an MRI scan on his spine costing just over £3,000, Thelma my elderly cat had a bout of cystitis costing £100, Lily my rabbit had a lump removed and sent to the lab, costing £200 and my other rabbit Zack has a chest complaint and whilst he is currently on antibiotics, he may need a chest x-ray. All these treatments have happened in the last couple of months, and luckily some of them are insured, but not all of them are. All my animals will see the vet if am ever worried about them, but having a lot of animals is costly, especially when specialist treatment is involved in short succession!
There’s a lot of heartbreak
Regular readers of my blog may know I am drawn to the terminal or elderly animals, and I usually have a few of these at any one time. I just enjoy filling their last weeks or months with as much love as I can, as not all of them have had this their whole lives. It is a lot of work, as many of them need to see the vet often, others aren’t house trained or have perhaps forgotten where they are meant to go, and others may be confused and senile. It’s lovely sharing time with them, but no matter how short our time is together, it never feels long enough and they take a piece of my heart when they go.
It’s a huge commitment
Having a house full of animals means I have lots of lives depending on me, and they all deserve a good diet, time out their accommodation and a clean home every day. This takes a lot of time meaning I can’t drop everything to go out, I can’t go out for a full day and if I do want to go out, I need to plan things in advance. Some of the animals here are on medication which needs administering a few times a day, so there is a lot for me to consider. Holidays are hard to plan and I can’t go away often as my lovely mum has to come over to look after everyone. I am really lucky she loves the animals and I know they are in good hands with her.
It’s hard to say no
Being so heavily involved in rescue is really rewarding, however, it is also physically and mentally draining. It’s really hard to see animals who have been neglected and not cared for properly, and it’s heartbreaking to see animals with mental issues due to how they have lived prior to coming to me. As I am only one person and the rescue is home-run from two houses, there is only so many animals I can take in as each one needs a certain amount of space, time, and rehabilitation. Some need lots of medical treatment, whereas others need help trusting humans again. All of which takes a lot of time and patience. As much as I would love to have land, I don’t have a huge house and it is only me looking after the animals. If I take on too many, they still need care, so I would be overworking myself. It’s really hard to say no, especially when people make me feel guilty, but I can’t take on more than I am able to.
They don’t all get along
It’s a very romantic idea to think all the animals live in harmony, and whilst they do to an extent, I don’t let them all mix and play together. All the dogs get on, and they are mixing with the cats all day. The cats have areas in the house they can go to if they want time away from the other animals, and my dogs are crate trained so can go in a crate if they choose to. Other than the dogs and cats, I don’t let the other animals mix. I have a few rabbit runs in the garden, and only bonded pairs share runs or hutches. They share the garden with the dogs and cats when they are in their exercise runs, but as they are used to rabbits, they ignore bunnies in the run. Even though I only own small toy breeds, I won’t let them mix with the rabbits at any point. I am also careful with housing placement, for example, I have predator species such as a Pacman Frog and I make sure he is kept away from everyone else, as I think it would put my mice on edge if they lived close to him! I try to be as sensible as possible for the well-being of my animals.
I couldn’t live any other way
I love my animals so much and I wouldn’t change a thing. The long days, physical work and mental work is 100% worth is as I love them all to the moon and back. I feel very lucky to share my life with some of the most precious souls in the world and will carry on this way for as long as I can.