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The company of animals

I have been living in Sydney for nearly two months now and, truth be told, I don’t really feel homesick at all.

But there are times when the loneliness is almost unbearable. I knew that leaving my husband (who will only be able to join me later this year), pets and family would be hard, and for the most part, it’s manageable. Every now and then though, usually around the time when everyone else in the office goes home, the realisation that I am on my own on the other side of the planet hits hard.

An obvious solution to the loneliness would be the acquisition of a companion animal. I would desperately love to have a cat to keep me company. But there’s no chance of that; pets are not allowed in the building I’m living in. In fact, very few buildings in Sydney allow pets (“pet friendly” is a selling point), and given that I am going to be renting for a while, it could be years before I get to keep a pet again.

In an attempt to satisfy my desire for feline company, I visited the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home. Located in the anonymity of the suburbs south of the Sydney CBD — a place where almost the entire population appears to have been abducted by aliens, since there is no sign of life — it took me more than two hours to get there last weekend because the trains were not running due to track maintenance. When I got there, I offered up a box of Whiskas to the sensible woman with ratty hair and apologised for not bringing Iams.

Alas, it turned out that I could not spend time with the cats as I had planned, because a couple of volunteers were filming inserts for an educational video (trust my luck). So I vryfed a very friendly ginger chap — rather insultingly named Frances — who had conveniently curled up on a shelf next to the chicken wire and watched the presenters do take after take of “It’s not called the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home for nothing”. Then I gave up waiting, made a donation and left.

Two hours later, I was back at my rented apartment. But a place isn’t a home if there’s no one and nothing to go home to.


  • During the day Sarah Britten is a communication strategist; by night she writes books and blog entries. And sometimes paints. With lipstick. It helps to have insomnia.