How times have changed. I've lived in my road, Millway NW7, since I was born in 1962, give or take a few years in the 1980's when I had a spell in Stockholm and a spell in Queensbury. One of the biggest changes I've noticed is that we no longer see cats and dogs roaming the street. In the 1960's, it was perfectly socially acceptable to let your pooches out roam the streets. Moggies would sit atop parked cars and walls, imperiosly scouling at all and sundry. There was one particularly randy labrador that lived in Goodwyn Avenue and would regularly embark on trips around the neighbourhood to hump all and sundry. Sadly his happy romping came to an abrupt end when he tried to jump the vicars daughter on her way to Sunday school. A trip to the vet was arranged and Bonzo was transformed into a lazy lump, dying of obesity within a few short years. In the 1960's Millway was a sea of children playing after school. Most families had dogs which would tag along as part of the crowd.
The cats sat their, disdainfully reviewing the stupidity of their canine neighbours,wasting energy in pursuit of a pat on the head. They would sit there appealingly, wait for a stroke and then, invariably bite or scratch you as if to say 'you had that coming schmuck'. At night, if a female was in season, they would gather and howl all night, as if to say 'let's make lurve '.
Perhaps the most joyous times were when puppies and kittens were born. The massed gang of kids would be invited in for a look, returning to mums and dads begging for a kitten or puppy. Promises would be made that they would be looked after. Inexperienced parents would learn the value of such promises as the first poo appeared on the floor.
Pets had sensible names. Dogs were Rover or Fido and Cats were Smokey or Blackie. There were no pedigrees as these were seen as pretentious. After alll it is well known that morels are far healthier. Dogs were expected to bark at postmen and bite burglars. Cats were supposed to kill mice and rats. In return both got board and lodgings. All were socialised as they were out and about, off the lead. Darwinism meant that the smart ones evolved to avoid cars.
But somewhere it all went wrong. Now cats are scolded for bringing in dead rats and dogs shouted at for barking at strangers. We have expensive designer breeds that are congenitally sickly. The joy has gone. Dogs now have TV channels as the kids are kept in and play on computers. Puppies are bought from hellhole farms rather than acquired from grateful neighbours. It's all rather sad really