Monday, May 18, 2009

Dutch Pets and Ethnic Animals


Maybe my ever favorite book about Holland is "The Undutchables". Very cynical but indeed: a classic. I was (re) reading the chapter 4 "A Dutch Home" when I reached the section "Pets". I transcribe below the hilarious description of "Favourite Pets" among the Dutch:

Favourite pets (huisdieren) include:

- cats (to catch mice)
- dogs (the smaller the abode, the larger the dog)
- fish (observation of which supposedly curbs violence)
- rabbits (for the children to cuddle)
- guinea pigs (for the rabbits to cuddle)
- rats (to carry about town on owner's shoulder)
- exotic birds (to feel sorry for, locked in the cages).

A popular pet in country homes is the female goat, an ethnic symbol, to provide milk and cheese (geitemelk, geitekaas)

I just have to agree with everything said above. In one area of my village there are very small houses and I got surprised that some people there have two or three big dogs at home, Scoobidoo size ("the smaller the abode, the larger the dog"). Dogs also go with their owners to restaurants, hotels, parks with children and babies, buses and trams. It seems also that rabbits here go nowhere, they are kept locked in cages ("for the children to cuddle") and do not jump around in the backyard . Maybe because my brother is a veterinarian I have always heard that aquaria have to be regularly exposed to the sunlight. However I have noticed that in Dutch houses normally an aquarium is kept under the stairs and has artificial light.

What surprises me also is that in villages people keep goats, pigs and poneys. I am not talking about rural areas. I live in a village in the Randstad that is quite well developed (ok, ok, everything is relative) and some people do have such animals in their gardens or back yards. As a matter of fact, they are kept as ethnic animals. Maybe it is to give some luck, maybe as a symbol of protection or strength... who knows ?

Look at these sweeties below. The photos were taken in my village. Such poneys were in a ground next to the owner's main house.


Lo-ve-ly indeed. And now, before you ask me... No, I do not have pets and I do not wish to have one.

1 comment:

A Touch of Dutch said...

Another great post :-)

Not only do I love your reference to "Scoobidoo"-sized dogs, but I also love this obvservation because it's one which rarely gets touched on. In my neck of the woods = ditto. My bus stop has a grazing pasture on the other side of the fence where I've watched up to 7 horses while I wait, which is fantastic yet almost out-of-the-blue for its location ;-)

I have no pets either, though I love animals. If I had more space, I would most certainly consider a dog.