When I look back at my teenage years, there are two incidents involving my personal relationship with animals that I feel super shitty about.

When I was young I had always wanted a Labrador. I have no idea why I wanted a Labrador, maybe because they were big and cuddly? I wanted a chocolate coloured Labrador in particular as I thought they looked the cutest.

One day I remember being woken up and told that there was a black Labrador puppy being advertised in the paper for Β£200. He was young and needed a new home because his original owner decided that he was too much hassle. I was so excited. I was going to get a Labrador. At this stage I didn’t understand what it meant for a dog to be sold nor did I understand the responsibility needed to look after a dog.

My plan was to call him Teddy but he was introduced to us as Levi and I immediately fell in love. That first night, he slept in my bed and in the middle of the night he threw up on me. Now I realise how scared he must have been being away from everyone that he loved and everything that was familiar to him.

Every morning, every afternoon after school and every evening I took him to the local park for a walk. We had great walks but I thought it would be cool if I could train him to walk without a lead. One time Levi ran after a dog that was outside of the park and on the other side of a busy road. Not only did he nearly get killed, but a bus nearly crashed because of my actions. I had a lot of angry adults screaming at me. Rightly so. However, this isn’t the incident I am ashamed of.

Levi was left alone every day whilst I was at school. One day he destroyed something in the home and it became very obvious that I couldn’t look after him. That night he got taken to a dog shelter. The day he left was one of the saddest days of my life and even now it brings tears to my eyes. More importantly, I can’t imagine what Levi must have gone through. I hope he didn’t think he did something wrong. It was all me. I was a stupid child that only cared about satisfying my want for a dog, not considering the consequences if I wasn’t able to look after him. I can’t imagine how he felt being taken away, taken to somewhere new to be left in a cage by himself, not understanding why he had been abandoned.

And yet I still hadn’t learned my lesson.

Despite eating meat, I’d always considered myself an animal lover (now I realise how wrong I was). So when I went to a pet store to get food for our cats, I was mesmerised by all of the birds on display. There were up to 50 cockatiels in a cage at the back of the store. I didn’t see a problem with the fact that these birds were crammed in a cage. I didn’t see a problem with the fact that birds should be free to fly. I wanted one, so I bought one. I named him Bebe, bought him a tiny cage and took him home. He was scared of me. I would have been scared of me too.

I clipped his wings so he could never fly away. I tried playing with him and letting him sit next to the window. I thought he was happy there because he would sing, but now I think about it, he was probably screaming and just wanting to escape. Nothing made him truly happy so I decided to double the torture I was causing and buy a second cockatiel. Her name was Moya. I got them a big cage because I thought this would make them happy. I did my best with them in my own naive way. My intentions were for them to be as happy as possible.

A few years later I decided I wanted to do a postgraduate degree, but the university was far away and so I had to move. The place I found to live was perfect but it didn’t accept pets. So what did I do? I found another home for Bebe and Moya of course. I wasn’t about to let my animals get in the way of my future.

Argh, I’m such an awful human being.

I cried so hard the day they were taken to their new home. Not because I thought they would be scared or mistreated, but because I was losing them. I only cared about myself.

I’m not sure what the turning point was, but one day I came to the conclusion that buying animals was wrong. There was more to the life of an animal.

Just over five years ago, Wonderful Husband and I began to consider adopting a dog. We contacted a couple of rescue organisations. When asked what kind of dog we would like to adopt, we requested the dog that needed us the most.

I’d made a full 180ΒΊ turn.

I was no longer bringing an animal home for my pleasure (but to be fair, I get an immense amount of pleasure) but because the dog needed us. Nutty Dog was chosen for us as he was scheduled to be euthanised the next day. It’s simply by chance we adopted the most amazing little dog in the world.

The strong point of this post is to really emphasise that animals are not our property. They are not to be bought, nor sold or given away. They are members of our family that we make a life-long commitment to.

The other point of this post is for me to face up to the suffering I’ve caused innocent animals. Please learn from my mistakes. Never buy animals and if you are thinking about adopting an animal, please consider whether you have the means to look after that family member forever as abandoning an animal is such a cruel thing to do. I’ll never forgive myself for the pain I’ve caused πŸ’š