I've always loved the furry, crawly and feathery creatures we share this planet with, even the ones made of polyester.
When I was a kid, I raised pedigree dwarf chinchilla rabbits, and even won a few rabbit show certificates, usually because my rabbits were the only ones in the breed class. Many thanks to Humphrey, Clare, Pickwick, Tidge and Olly for adding delight to my life. Then we had Oscar the canary, and the little mouse I found next door's cat with. And the hedgehog that came into the garden, and the moles near my gran's house.
I learned to ride when I was six, and have continued to climb on horses whenever I get the chance. I've been lucky enough to ride Icelandic horses and experience the strange 'tolt' gait, a trot where the horse moves both legs on the same side, rather than on diagonals, so it's very swingy and comfortable to sit to. And lovely Joe Craig arranged a very special trip back in '07 to spend a week riding the ranges of Wyoming. He also snuck in some trout fishing and a wedding proposal!
And now I am proud to be the housemate of Harpo, the labradonkey. We rehomed him from a friend of a friend who wisely realised she didn't have the time to look after a large, energetic dog.
The first month was pretty challenging, and so were the five months that followed that. We'd lie in bed at 5am, cowering, as the beast below awoke and started his god-awful wailing and scratching.
Eventually he realised that life with us was quite fun, with plenty of exercise and instruction and new challenges to grow his furry brain.
And he stopped bothering with all the noise and madness.
We've been up mountains, canoed rivers, swum in the sea, tried our hand at choreographed obedience displays, canicross dog running and even gone to visit old people's homes.
I consider Harpo to be like a kind of life therapy - he keeps me in the moment, reminds me of the need for boundaries and rewards, and makes sure we get out and active every day, whatever the weather.