Given that there are more than 4.35 million pets in Aotearoa, we think it’s about time they got a whole week of content.
After his evening biscuits, my cat Link will sniff the same book on the shelf for dessert every single night. It is a splashy number from 1997 called The Spice Files, featuring a series of interviews with the Spice Girls. I don’t know why we have it, and I don’t know why he loves it so much, but every night, like clockwork, he will sniff The Spice Files deeply, eyes closed, as if he is inhaling the notes of rich red wine.
And every evening, I watch him and I laugh a lot.
I laugh because it is objectively a funny book for a cat to be enchanted by, but I also laugh because it sums up the absurdity of living with a pet full stop. This random guy started his life in a wild cat colony out in the Auckland suburb of Flat Bush, hissing at everything that moved, and now he just swans about our Mount Eden apartment, having two adults scoop his poop on the daily so he can enjoy the rich aroma of The Spice Files in peace.
It’s not just that pets are funny, though. Over the past two years especially, the animals in our lives have taken on new meaning as we have found ourselves intermittently separated from our human companions and locked down in our homes. Dogs have dragged people out of the house for their daily walks. Cats have got stuck up trees (mine), forcing hilarious socially distanced interactions with neighbours. Vets have been flat out. People have taken pet grooming into their own hands, with mixed results.
This is all to say that it’s about time we celebrated our weirdo pets and the lives we share with them. Given that Aotearoa is home to more than 4.35 million pets, we think the least we can do is dedicate an entire week to our furry, stinky, slithering friends. Running from today until Sunday, and made possible thanks to our friends at Animates, our cavalcade of critter content will captivate you more than even the spiciest of Spice Files.
We’re going to tackle some big questions – how did the “oodle” take over the dog world? Where do animals go when their owners flee domestic violence? How hard is it to walk a dozen dogs at once? What do you do if you are anxious around pets? When we all fall asleep, where do our cats go? Who decides which animals are pets and which ones are food? Where in the country can you take your dog on a bus? When is a pet actually a pest? And why are our cargo planes jam-packed with bees?
We’ll also include some of our old favourite formats, including a ranking of all our favourite animals from local ads, a television review written by a panel of animals, and a Sunday Essay by literary legend Ashleigh Young about her beloved cat Jerry. Make sure you watch The Project this week as they share in some of our best Pet Week stories, and keep an eye on our social media to see how you can get involved in The Spinoff’s first virtual pet day (remember those?!).
Finally, we promise to keep the floofy pet puns to a minimum, aside from right now.
Yours in purr-PETuity (sorry),
Alex Casey (senior writer)