Furbabies  - originally a little gremlin toy that took the world by storm in the 90s – now has  very different meaning.– furchildren – non biological children – us animal lovers have a variety of names for our beloved animals. Non quite as animal loving people deem us batshit crazy or psychologically challenged – but why can’t our animals be called whatever we want to call them?

I recall when I was at a show a few years back – I was chit chatting amongst people when I heard my class being called so I announced – “oh that’s me – I must go get my daughter” , to where one of them said “oh I thought you didn’t have kids” – my reply was “oh only the four legged kind” and off I dashed.

I don’t have human kids – not that I don’t like them – but I just never had that maternal instinct to have them.  I never dreamed off cradling a baby in my arms – or their first day at school… it just isn’t a life path that ever interested me.

But yet, when it comes to my animals – I always have been insanely maternal, protective and loving of them.  I treat them like I would an actual human child.  I worry about them in the same way any parent does their children.  I love them in a way that equals how I’d love any family member.  I’d die protecting my animals and they share in all occasions or events, such as Christmas or their birthdays, just as any child would.  And whilst for some – this concept of love for any animal – might be seen as psychotic – to those of us who love animals – we do it without thought.

We spend an insane amount of time, money and effort on our animals.  When they are not well – we don’t care about the bunking down in a stable for the night with them. If they get a kick or bite in the field – we run to them like any parent would – to comfort them and check they’re ok. Cuts and grazes are tended to with military precision and care. As they grow older, we adjust how we care for them, find feeds that are easier to eat, offer them an easier way of life and just ensure that they are comfortable.

It has been proven time and time again that when an animal dies – we mourn them in the way we would any family member.  Often more – because take the likes of a dog- most of us spend more times in the company of them, than we do fellow humans.  Grief is grief – no matter who it is for and this is becoming more recognised – with some companies now offering paid time off for those who lose their pets.

We become their guardians – protectors – as any parent would if their child was in danger or showed signs of discomfort.  I remember at another show-  a rather unsavoury character took an unhealthy interest in Peanut – my 8hh show pony.  Sniffing around, asking questions – how much would I sell her for, he’d pay anything for her – ignoring my answers of “SHE’S NOT FOR SALE” – and even annoyed requests for him to leave us alone didn’t deter his interest in her.  Scared to leave her in the horsebox on her own, that day she came everywhere with me – we got chips, walked around the grounds watching classes, she even accompanied me on a loo break!! I know that anyone reading this who treasure their animals is not even raising an eyebrow – because they’d do the same thing – because it’s what we do!!

Social media is a prime example of the evolution of animal parents.  At this point I should point out that I am not referencing to those who exclusively don’t have children either – as I have many friends who have them and when asked – they reply 2 biological, 2 non biological 😊  But think of the amount of posts that are solely animal related – talking about their pets like they are their actual kids – photos of a dog curled up in a new bed – or having graduated for doggie day care.  Ponies who are wearing pyjamas (ok onesies to keep them clean) but the captions will never say that – it’s “ooooowwwwwieeee how cute is X in their new pj’s”  - think of the amount of animals whose owners have set up social media pages for them! Me being one and totally proud of it! I set up my ponies one – The Antics of CRH Peanut and Pixie to document their progression from rescues to the little legends that they are today and even their followers astound me – interacting with posts as if the ponies are sitting at the computer replying – it’s actually inspiring how people just live in this world of pure innocent animal loving and interaction.  It also means the world to me – as their mother of course – to see so many people have an interest in their lives and embrace the nuttiness of our little world! But also – these type of pages do not just how unending love from humans for their pets but it’s FUN!!!! Good old fashioned, clean harmless fun!

So to all my fellow animal parents – I salute you!!

We might be deemed insane by those who don’t share the way we treat our animals – but that’s ok – those who matter don’t mind and those that mind – well they don’t matter!!