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helen legh COLUMN: Picking out the right pet for me is so diffucult.

Byline: Helen Legh

I WANT a pet. A lovely cuddly wuddly "hello baby who's mummy's little snookums", rub noses, waggy-tailed pet.

However, I live in a one-bedroom first floor flat.

Such things are not conducive to litter trays or mad half hours of running, four legs-a-flapping, from one end of the place to the next at 50 miles an hour.

Not with my strange neighbour giving me the evil eye in the car park every time I as much as put the volume on my telly up one notch.

So last week, I went to a pet superstore to get some ideas. Fascinating it was, wall to wall catnip in one aisle, more freeze dried locusts than you could shake a stick insect at in another.

At one end were cages of love birds and multi-coloured budgies, the other, the huge talking mynah bird they seem to have in every major pet store, that you can spend half an hour trying to get to speak and it just stares at you with its beady eyes.

Then the second you walk away: "Who's a pretty boy then?" comes reverberating around the dog biscuits.

Now one section of the pet superstore was dedicated to small rodents.

I have few fears in my life really, but I have to admit that small rodents would be up there with being made to listen to The St Winifred's School Choir sing There's No-one Quite Like Grandma at close range. Terrifying.

My boyfriend sniggered to himself as I gave a pathetic yelp as I realised what was in the cage nearest us.

Mice.

After being coaxed with the promise of a cake that afternoon, I went closer and stared very hard at the disgusting little creatures in frontof me.

All white fur and snuffly noses. Eeuw. I even touched the glass at one point. Then withdrew my hand very quickly.

"What exactly do you find so horrible about them?" said boyfriend. "They're sooo cute." Sucker. I knew he'd be sucked in by their cute faces and warm bodies.

"They are vermin," I said. "They spread disease."

"Helen, they're not spreading anything, they haven't even got their eyes open," he said.

"Thank the good Lord for that," I said.

We moved on to the hamsters. "I might get one of those, you know," said boyfriend.

After I'd picked myself up from the floor, he said "They don't take a lot of work do they?"

"You have to clean them out once a week," I said.

I think that put him off.

This is the man who doesn't do the washing up for three weeks. Then at the same time, we both saw the fish.

"Fish!" we both cried, far too excitedly for adults in their late 20s. Ah, you see the fish were beautiful, neons and shubumpkins and ... er ... dogface puffafishes.

I had found my pet niche.

Until that is I heard that they eat each other. And saw evidence of them eating each other. Have you ever seen a half-eaten fish? And I'm not talking about when you order a too large portion of haddock and chips.

So back to the drawing board then.

Anyone know anything about boa constrictors?

Helen Legh co-presents The Morning Crew show 6am-10am every weekday on Mercia FM - read her column every Saturday in the Evening Telegraph
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 16, 2002
Words:556
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