When I was younger I used to dream of having a dog, but it was not practical at the time. With everyone working full time, we could not give it the time it would need. As compensation, my mum took me to Discover Dogs every year, where I fell in love with every canine I saw. As I got older, however, my interest in having a dog waned, and we stopped going.
I am still a great animal lover, however, which is why when I heard about the London Pet Show last year, I was raring to go. It was a fantastic place too - the equivalent of Discover Dogs, but for all animals. You name it, they had it: cats and dogs, small furries, ponies, micro pigs, fish, birds, reptiles (okay the person who just said giraffe can stop being such a smart alec).
When we first walked in, we were immediately greeted by what looked like a colourful igloo. On closer inspection it turned out to be an outdoor rabbit hutch by Omlet. The company makes high quality, very robust hutches for rabbits and guinea pigs, fox proof chicken coops, and even beehives for beekeeping. This hutch was called the Eglu is made to be super easy to clean; the inside floor is made of grating, so all the animal droppings fall into a tray beneath, which you simply slide out then decant into a rubbish bag. My one concern is the size - kind of the opposite of a Tardis - the outside is bulky but the inside does not appear to give sufficient room for a rabbit to hop about, even with the attachable run.
Another company called Runaround had something that could allow your pet to roam the whole garden without the threat of cats and foxes. Although the wire mesh looks a bit prison-like, it actually provides more freedom, as you can connect hutches through linked series of runs. If you get more pets, you can simply add more links for them to run around.
As rabbits and guinea pigs are our domain, we spent a lot of time in the small furries zone, where we got our first experience of stroking a chinchilla. The lady at the stall said that we made what she calls the 'chinchilla face'. Everyone who touches a chinchilla for the first time makes it. Stroking a chinchilla is like stroking air; their fur is softer and silkier than anything you can imagine. Whereas in most cases, you are told to wash your hands after touching an animal, here we were required to wash our hands before, so as not to get the creature's fur greasy. They don't like that.
As well as the chinchilla, I also got to meet an inquisitive rat and a baby hedgehog. The only disappointment was that we could not pet the rabbits and guinea pigs. This, however, was made up for by the rabbit show jumping event. You heard me, rabbit show jumping. These are rabbits professionally trained and bred in Sweeden that thrive on bunny bouncing. Well most of the time. A few were a bit stubborn.
The show also had a duck herding demonstration, and the more traditional events like a dog agility course, fly ball, and doggy dancing.
It was an excellent event, and my only complaint is about the food, which as with all venues like this, was as expensive as a Michelin-starred restaurant, but tasted as cheap as crud. Take a packed lunch and you'll be fine.
The London Pet Show 2013 is on the weekend of the 11th-12th May, with tickets costing £14 for adults, £11 for seniors, and £9.50 for children.