Moving to Thailand (or anywhere, for that matter) changes people. Learning to adapt, to make do, and to appreciate things that may not have been appreciated in a previous, non-expat life (like butter that actually tastes like butter, or Cadbury’s chocolate, or good underwear).
One of the most noticeable changes in myself (at least, it is the thing that I hear comments about the most), is my new found love for animals. Some people are born animal lovers – I was not. As a child I did have a bad tempered pet hamster that everyone was too afraid to hold, and a fairground goldfish that lived for 9 years (RIP Tyrone Mullet III) – but that’s about as far as my animal ownership had stretched until coming here. Having never had a cat or dog or other animal where you actually get some loving payback for your care (usually in the form of licks, sniffs and cuddles) I just didn’t get the whole animal thing. I certainly would never click on, like, or share a funny cat video online. Oh how things have changed.
Those of you who have been following the blog for a while will recall the first animal to enter my life – a scrawny, flea ridden unidentified black cat found under the stairs at school on the last day of term. I named her Cat, a non-name just in case she didn’t survive. But, two years later she is alive and well in all her semi-Siamese, bug-eyed beauty.
A few months later, we added Patchy to the mix when we scooped him up from the flooded gutter at the side of the road during rainy season. We initially couldn’t take him to Phuket with us and after a year staying with our old next door neighbour in Hat Yai he is now back with us. He’s actually not very well at the moment and is having weekly chemotherapy sessions as he has a TVT (transmissible venereal tumour) AKA a sexually transmitted cancer. Lesson learned here? Get your animals neutered, especially if they are out on the streets gang banging the night away. Luckily, the prognosis with these kind of tumours is very good, and don’t worry – as soon as he is well enough those balls are coming off.
After the move to Phuket, another animal entered the picture; this time he chose to adopt us (we surely all know about Brian). He’s old, he doesn’t have many teeth left and he has feline leukhemia (just call us Phuket animal hospice). Sometimes I look at him and think he has gotten so fat and healthy he could last for years. Other days I look at him and wonder how he is still going. They don’t put animals down here so it may be a long stretch for Brian yet, but he is very happy in the menagerie and much better off than his last home under a car in our street.
Then, when we moved to our new house with a lovely big garden, Marjorie the chicken quickly appeared – inherited from a friend from work. We were meant to be taking two chickens off her hands but one mysteriously disappeared (AKA someone spotted a plump looking hen and plucked her from the garden and onto the BBQ). Marjorie was hand reared and loves people. Most chickens run away when a person walks towards them, but Marjorie comes running!
When you’ve got one chicken, you may as well have a few more… and so five chicks were added to the clutch (yep, that is the collective noun for chickens there people). Unhappy hens don’t lay eggs, and I didn’t want Marjorie to be lonely!
Sadly Lil Benny, the runt of the chicks, didn’t make it very long. I learned an important message there about naming the smallest and cutest of a group of animals… small and cute = runt. Runt = not gonna make it. Lesson learned = lets avoid naming the chickens in future. Also will help if we end up having to eat any of them (clearly Marjorie will not be appearing on the dining table any time soon).
People often ask me what we will do with all of these animals when we finally move home. Luckily for us, home is the UK – and the UK is surprisingly laid back on bringing animals into the country. There are no quarantine requirements if your animal is micro chipped, has all of the necessary injections and a blood test to prove that they are rabies free. The only difficult part is paying to fly them home… we’d better start saving now! Obviously the chickens won’t be coming home with us. Maybe we will have a big leaving BBQ… chicken wing, anyone?