According to pet accessory brand Paws and Presto, approximately 62% of households in the UK own a pet in a population of over 67 million. We love pets. But growing up I didn’t see many Black people with pets, and living in South East London pets outside of dogs and fish weren’t as common. Yet, I was a very persuasive six year old and my first ever pet was a goldfish named Buddy. The joy that little goldfish brought my brother and I was insurmountable.
As I grew older, I realised I wanted to become a vet, however, maths and science weren’t my strong suit. I was better geared towards humanities subjects but this didn’t deter me from wanting to learn more about pets. I would spend hours after school in the local library’s animal section just taking in as much info as I could. I begged my parents for a dog or a hamster literally every single day, to the point of creating a long PowerPoint presentation about the benefits having a dog would have on us all.
Surprisingly, the begging worked, and I’ve grown up with two dogs, six hamsters and many fish. I wouldn’t describe myself in my adolescence as a shy kid but I definitely adopted the “weird kid” label throughout secondary school – not that I minded. I knew I was different but loved being so, and for me having pets was a form of friendship I didn’t realise helped me in many ways. It was the responsibility of looking after them but also the enjoyment they brought for me.