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13 Pets And Counting…
Hannah Russell, Features Writer
Badger and Paddy
I’ve always been an animal person ever since I can remember. My parents used to buy me the weekly animal magazine from my local store and I was desperate to be a vet one day. It was only some years later that I discovered my fear of ‘blood’ – even typing the word makes me feel pretty weak.

If I couldn’t be a vet I settled for the next best thing, become a mummy and carer to lots of pets. I’m very lucky to live in the stunning Yorkshire Dales where I am surrounded by hills, dry stone walls and beautiful natural landscape, which makes it quite easy for me to have so many furry friends.

My parents own a house with some land and so it’s ideal to keep my four ponies behind the house. We are also very lucky to have 4 stables to keep them nice and cosy during the winter months.

As well as 4 horses I have 2 rabbits, a lion head and a lop eared. Four guinea pigs, which run me ragged as they are so cheeky and full of personality. A robo hamster called Twinkle that is just adorable and 2 dogs who are just the best.

Alf and Pepper
If I’m not working I’m usually with my animals who all have individual characters and certainly keep me on my toes, but I couldn’t imagine my life any other way and I certainly couldn’t envisage life without them.

I’ve always said that my pets are my family and I think if any of you own pets you’ll understand that statement. Your pets are the ones who are always there for you no matter what. They see you at your worst and your best and most of all they fill your heart with memories, laughter and a lot of love.

‘Most’ of my animals get along with each other, which makes things so much easier! Although from time to time they can get a little bit jealous of each another, but I really can’t blame them. I should probably introduce you to them all – although I do warn you we might be here quite some time…

Maggie, my Cocker spaniel is really close to Sasha our family German Shepherd. Maggie barks a lot but she is adorable. Luckily she is only small so when she barks it’s not too dramatic. She loves telling us a right story on a daily basis and is always making some sort of noise.

Maggie is now 12 years old which is pretty hard to believe. She has unfortunately lost her vision over the years but luckily Sasha looks after her. We have always had German Shepherds who are a lovely breed. Sasha always tries to sit on your lap even though she is massive, which is hilarious, but sometimes she jumps up at the most awkward times, for example eating your breakfast you can guarantee she is there.

Sasha loves Alfie - they are great friends, but sometimes they both get a little bit too excited so I do have to watch them. Saying that Sasha is a huge softie and she is brilliant around my guinea pigs and rabbits.

I have male and female rabbits and guinea pigs, but they are all kept separate for obvious reasons. I have a male lop eared rabbit called ‘Malibu’ he is so sweet. He’s huge and eats a lot of food but he is a gentle giant. He is best friends with ‘Hamish’ who is a male guinea pig. A lot of people tell you not to mix rabbits and guinea pigs together but my two are inseparable. They sleep next to each, eat together and they play together, so on that note they stay together!

Going on to the girls - I have Muffles a white lion head rabbit who has one blue eye and one brown eye. She is very pretty and I love her eyes. Muffles lives with Holly who is actually Hamish’s sister! Holly has a habit of ‘grooming’ muffles and well ‘Muffles’ loves being ‘motherly’ so they are together!

Candy and Floss, my oldest two guinea pigs live in my office with me. They are brilliant company and squeak at me every morning. I couldn’t imagine my office without them. I always ask them for opinions when I’m typing up new manuscripts and I find them a brilliant help.

Also by Hannah Russell...
September With Little Alf
Book No 6 Is Launched!
Little Alf’s Memoir To Be Published In German
Keeping Cool In The Sunshine
Summer Time With Little Alf
Twinkle, my robo dwarf hamster lives on his own, although he does have quite the elaborate bed which is like a mini hotel!

Last but not least I have my four horses, Badger, Paddy, Pepper and of course Little Alf.

Badger was my first pony. I’ve had him for as long as I can remember and he is now over 30 years old and enjoying retired life. Paddy was a rescue. He is always creating mischief and doesn’t know how big he is. In fact I always think Paddy and I are quite alike as we're both clumsy in a good way! I clicker train Paddy and he loves learning new things.

Pepper and Alfie my two mini Shetlands are never found far apart. They are both very cheeky and always up to no good. Being the best of friends they enjoy long days in the fields playing together and there is nothing I love more than summer nights watching the ponies in the paddocks as they always look so happy.

So there it is my life with 13 pets who keep me busy. I think when you have pets you feel such a responsibility towards them. I see my animals as my friends, I really do. I think some people may find that odd but I spend more time with my animals than I do with my actual friends and some of my family even!

13 Pets And Counting…, 6th February 2018, 13:32 PM