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I looked through some photos from this summer today, and there were a lot portraying children with animals. This is of course a result of many successful tours during the holiday, but it made me think about the phenomena children and animals.

My first pet and great love in life was a rabbit called Peter. I was four years old, and I had Peter in my doll stroller and both he and I were satisfied with our arrangements, I’m told. I used to bring him with me to the playground, and returned quickly if some of the older kids were playing there. I was afraid of some of them, and my Mom understood that I needed to bring Peter rabbit with me. This made my perfect excuse, if there were any children I didn’t want to spend time with present at the playground, I returned so that they shouldn’t bother Peter. (Or me…)

When I was nine, I got a hamster who I named Henrik. Later that same year, my sister met a boy, who went on to be her first real boyfriend. When he told her that his name was Henrik, she laughed and told him that we had his name-brother at home. He thought she was talking about one of our brothers, and became quit confused when he understood that she was talking about my hamster.

Henrik (not the boyfriend) lived a comfortable life, if we can disregard that Sunday morning, when he’d disappeared and the whole family was searching. Well not everyone, my Mom was finishing the breakfast dishes, and started the dishing machine. That’s when we understood were Henrik had gone! There were a loud scream, my Mom open the door, and surfing out on the wave of hot water, my beloved hamster Henrik returned.  After this episode, he never could walk a straight line again, but he lived for three more years. And how many times does a hamster need to be able to walk a straight line?

A part from rabbits and hamsters, my family had some goldfish. But we never promoted us to the bigger responsibilities, like a dog. Maybe this is the reason that all my siblings at one time of their adult lives have had dogs. And if you are a regular reader on this blog, you know that I’ve got to cats, Bajas and Baltazar.

When the rabbits became too many, (we started out with four, and quite quickly had 27,) we donated the whole family to the local Zoo. (Not Peter, he stayed with me!) This is over thirty years ago, and the local zoo has grown to be a huge amusement park, one of the favourite parks in the Nordic countries. I and my family still feel a little bit of ownership towards the rabbits, though.

I usually visit the park once a year, normally bringing some of my nephews and visiting friends. This year we were accompanied by my friend BM and her two daughters, and it was a delight to observe the children’s fascination of the animals, once again. The children were aged nine, seven and five, and we spent the whole day at the zoo, from ten to seven! This day inspired the curiosity of the children in a way that is pure joy. They were full of questions, and learned a lot during the day, and were full of new information on their way home. They notice little details and experience the sensation of understanding; this day was a new level of learning for all of them.

I think that there is nothing as beautiful as the companionship between children and animals, and I’m so glad when I see that natural connection between them, and the children’s fascination of the animals.