I don't know about you but I've always loved books featuring animals. From my childhood reads of Black Beauty, White Fang, The Call of the Wild and more, my enjoyment of books with animals has not faded as an adult.
I loved the book A Wolf Called Romeo, the true story of a gentle wolf without a pack who interacted with people and dogs in the city of Juneau, Alaska. The book was fascinating, heart warming and sad, a read I will not forget. You can read more about this excellent book here:
Currently I'm reading The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell, another unlikely animal friendship story in the form of a young man who rescues a wonderful penguin full of character, which he names Juan Salvador. I love hearing their adventures and learning some more about these interesting birds.
Reading about these amazing animal adventures, it's got me thinking of some of my own...
My first childhood animal adventure was being allowed to hand feed a tiger cub at a zoo. I can hardly believe that was allowed at one point, but I have the photo to prove it! Not even sure which zoo it was, but it was one of the happiest family holiday moments...my face says it all:
Then there was the time my sister and I as teenagers lied that we knew all about horse riding on holiday in Spain. We made complete fools of ourselves as we saddled up our horses and with great difficulty (especially given our supposed expertise) managed to clamber up and ride off into the Spanish wilderness. Our dad had come along to make sure everything went OK, and I will not easily forget his cries of panic as he ran after me on my temperamental horse, who'd decided to gallop away from the grass he'd previously refused to stop eating. My sister's laughter echoed round the mountains as my sandaled, short shorts self tried desperately to make him stop. Luckily no more misadventures occurred and the remainder of our trek was uneventful. Looking back I can see how horribly wrong this could have gone, so would not recommend pretending to be a seasoned horse rider if the closest you've ever been is a childhood donkey ride on a beach.
Fast forward to life with my own kids. We had two rabbits called Popcorn and Gingersnap. Mostly they were indoors, but on the rare times it was nice weather, they had an outdoor hutch. Unfortunately, the weather in Glasgow is ever so slightly changeable. One minute can be glorious springtime sunshine, the next hailstones and gale-force winds. The kids were at school on one such "4 seasons in one day" Monday. I heard a clatter outside and upon opening the back door, realised that the rabbit hutch had blown over onto it's side, with our two cold and confused looking rabbits sitting peacefully on the grass nearby. Thankfully they didn't make a bid for freedom, and I managed to move Gingersnap, the more demure of the rabbits, back into the safety of the warm indoors. Popcorn, however, decided to go exploring. Returning to the back garden I arrived just in time to see his little white cottontail disappear under the garden decking. Trying to figure out how the Hell to get him out from there before he managed to escape altogether into the neighbours' garden, I waited to see what he would do. Turns out he liked to play hide and seek, if I stayed still and quiet, he would reappear at various parts of the decking, only to immediately dive back under when he caught my eye. I decided to play his game...Waiting around the corner I peeked around and could see him stay up on the wood for longer when I was not in sight. I waited until he was nearer to my hiding spot and then made my move, grabbing him just before he disappeared again. After that they were only outdoors when we were also in the garden. Sadly they have both passed away now, but they brought much happiness to our family.
There have been a few animal adventures on our trips to Romania too. My husband is Romanian, and we bought a house there so we spend quite a lot time in the country I think of as a second home (hence the reason I wrote my book). The house is outside of Iasi, an area where there are plenty of animals and people grow their own fruit and vegetables. I enjoy going there and living this different way of life to our suburban house near Glasgow. We have goats in the field next to the house, and some (pretty noisy) chickens in the garden behind ours.
One evening we arrived back to the house to see a large white animal in the garden. Being quite dark, my youngest son excitedly declared we had a horse in the garden (I should point out this is not as ridiculous as it sounds...one morning we did awake to find an escaped horse in the garden). Anyway, on this occasion, it was not a horse, but an injured, lost dog which my mother-in-law had brought to the house to look after and try find the owner. The dog we later discovered was called Max, and although huge and energetic, was a gentle giant. He must have been in a fight or caught on a fence, as he was bleeding a little, but we cleaned him up and there was nothing major wrong. My sister-in-law posted on Facebook the dog's photo to see if anyone had lost him, and thankfully the next day he was returned to his rightful owner. Florin, my husband was very sad to see him go.
Our latest adventure is to look after a friend's cat. He took in a rescue kitten, and the little one is bullying poor Sophie, so she's with us for a break (maybe longer). We already have Willow, our beautiful ragdoll. Luckily apart from not understanding personal space and being super curious about Sophie, Willow and her have become good friends. It's quite funny to watch them playfully chase each other around the house. I can honestly say I always was a dog person, my son wanted the cat, but now I'm very fond of our fluffball Willow and her new ginger friend. Maybe it's possible to be both a cat and a dog person...
Would love to hear your recommendations for other books about animals, and some other animal adventures people have had. Add them in the comments.