Pets

I was talking with some friends the other day and the subject of budgies came up. We all remembered so many households where there was a pet budgie. It always fascinated me that if you wanted the budgie to be quiet you put the cover over the cage and it immediately thought it was night and went to sleep. Most of the ones I knew seemed to be called Joey. I don’t know anyone with a budgie now. This got me thinking about how the change in pet-keeping since the 1950s and 60s.

Budgies – or Budgerigars, to give them their full name

I haven’t seen a budgie for many years now but when I was a child they were very popular pets. I often used to see them in the homes of elderly relatives we used to visit. I’m sure there were other names but I used to know a lot of budgies called Joey. They were either blue or green. People used to train them to say a few words. I wondered whether I don’t see them now because it’s illegal to keep them so I looked this up and found that it’s not against the law to keep a budgie as a pet. The decline in numbers is simply changing fashions in pets.

Tortoises

I never had a tortoise but they were very popular pets in the 50s. Children in storybooks and comics often had pet tortoises. I remember reading about owners painting their initials on the shell in case the tortoise ever escaped.

Goldfish

It was very common to see goldfish in bowls when I was a child. One common practice, which is still legal here and shouldn’t be, was the winning of goldfish at fairs. This was still happening when my children were small in the 1980s but is far less common now. The ‘lucky’ child was given a small plastic water-filled bag with a goldfish swimming in it. If it was going back to a household which didn’t already have fish there would have been no tank or bowl and no fish food so the chances are the poor fish would be dead by the next day.

Whilst researching for this post I learned that just last year my nearby town, Wakefield, banned fairs from giving goldfish as prizes to children.

Cats and Dogs

I lived in a farming village so most of the families we knew were farmers and they all had cats and dogs. These were working animals. The dogs were sheepdogs and were trained to work with flocks of sheep. Most of the ones I knew on our local farms were called Fly, Moss or Belle. Cats were there largely to keep the mouse population down in the hay barns. These weren’t indoor pampered pets. They lived outside and in the barns and outhouses.

When I was 13 we moved five miles from our village into the small town nearby. Here there were more people with pet dogs who were taken out for regular walks on leads. We acquired a pet dog, a Golden Labrador, when I was 15 and we all absolutely adored her.

Perhaps the range of pets available in the 50s and 60s was greater than I’m remembering. It could be that my experience was different from others from that time because we didn’t have a pet shop anywhere nearby. However, this is how I remember things and I am only speaking from personal experience.

Credit to Wikipedia and Google Images. I endeavor to ensure I am not infringing copyright when using photographs obtained from the Internet. If anyone objects to my use of a photograph, let me know and I will remove it.

10 thoughts on “Pets

  1. Yes, we had a blue budgie called Joey! I remember when he died in the mid-50s I held an elaborate funeral in the garden and buried him in my mum’s 4711 Cologne box. He fitted just nicely and looked peaceful.

    We also had a mongrel called Tinker who roamed about and never had a walk on a lead. Seems rather neglectful now but dogs weren’t expected to be pampered and kept indoors. We lived in a seaside area with very little traffic so never worried about him and he seemed very happy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Guinea pigs, rabbits, gerbils, and hamsters were also popular when I was growing up. My brother and I had a guinea pig named Whitey. When Whitey passed on, we had a terrier mix we named Soft Paws after Snoopy’s girlfriend in the Peanuts cartoon.

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  3. We had a cat named Cookie and, of course, he was a mouser. He liked to bring in a mouse, drop it on the carpet and lay down beside it. When the mouse came to, he would whack it with his paw and stun it and when it recovered he would wack it again. The game would continue until either my brother or I would be ordered to remove the mouse – much to the cat’s chagrin,

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      • Another time, he brought home a rat. It was a Saturday night and I was going to take a bath before going out. The bathtub was the old style on feet and I noticed a shadow iunderneath. Upon closer examination, it turned out to be a rat. Dead or sleeping? Who knew? But I did knoww who was responsible so I collected the culprit from his nap in front of the fire, brought him to the bathroom and tried to get him to take the rat out. Not interested (the rat being dead, I suppose) so, once again I was forced to get rid of his plaything. The thing was quite long and I handled it gingerly, with dustpan and poker. The things I did for that cat!

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  4. I also knew people who had budgies. I was never a great fan of them as I couldn’t quite understand their expressions with the parrot-like beak! But when I was a child I had two canaries, one after the other. Much as I loved them, I regret having kept birds caged as I now adore wild birds. But they wouldn’t have survived in the wild anyway, so I could never have released them, as these canaries were bred in captivity. Oh and the thing of quietening budgies by putting a cover over their cages? One of my canaries sang so much – all day, all evening – that one day I got really fed up and put a cover over it during the day, with the very sad result that it never sang again. 😦

    My sister had had hamsters (in the mid-1950s) – and they escaped (probably under the floorboards as it was a very old house) and we never saw them again.

    I had tortoises too, but was never successful in hibernating them (or rather, my dad wasn’t, as that was his job). They’re nice animals and surprisingly responsive (they like their necks stroked, under the chin!)

    After we moved here to the country, a local farm had a farm-cat that would come here at night and sit, in the dark (we could see it from the light from our kitchen window) on our bird table eating left-over bird food. I was never sure if it was just opportunistic or was actually vey hungry.

    I’ve a whole load of allergies, so all the pets during my childhood eventually had to be rehomed.

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