I never should have ended that last post with “…” – it was only ever going to lead to trouble.

Well, Loki’s home, Sari’s home and Cara’s still home. Loki managed to live up to his namesake more than we thought possible – he settled in just fine with his new family, was very happy and much adored, but drove their dog to depression. I can only assume he made some very catty comments about the dog’s appearance which severaly undermined its self-confidence but, fortunately, Loki was un-rehomed before the dog was driven to suicide, for which we are all grateful.

It can be very difficult to integrate a new pet into a home with existing animals, particularly if they’re older, or used to having their humans all to themselves. Sometimes you have to make the difficult decision that the new arrangement just wont work, and then the even more difficult phonecall which follows, because you have a responsibility to the pets you already have to ensure their wellbeing.

There’s only been one occasion in my family where we realised we’d made a mistake with some pets. Mum had a work friend who bred Persians and decided to buy a kitten – tiny, fluffy and pure white who we named “Bubbles” (I can only assume I was responsible for the naming of the cat, since I was about 6 or 7). Mum’s colleague, Gilly, asked whether we would also take Bubbles’s mother (her name is lost in the annals of time, so we’ll call her “Hellcat”). This was undoubtedly a mistake on all fronts. Bubbles had chronic diahorrhea from the get-go, which turned his beautiful, fluffy, white coat into a disgusting, matted, brown mess. His mother, Hellcat, was just awful. She spat, crapped in wonderful and inventive places, and was just generally a joy to live with. She lasted 2 weeks before we finally had to admit defeat. Bubbles lasted for a couple of nasty, stinky years, involving untold amounts of grooming, pet visits and careful but judicious bum-hair trimming, before we finally called it a day, and he too returned to the breeder. Mistakes happen.

In general we find ourselves in no worse a situation – I am meeting two women on Sunday who are interested in Cara, a nice woman has expressed an interest in Loki,and we she is coming to meet him on Sunday and mum has agreed to take Sari. More than that, she has agreed that if I don’t feel that either of these women is abolutely perfect, utterly committed and reliable, she will take Cara as well so, one way or another, Cara and Sari are safe.

The whole experience of finding homes for our pets has been harder in some ways than I expected. I expected less interest, but I genuinely thought once they went away they wouldn’t come back, perhaps because of the way my family and I feel about rehoming pets. When we lived on the Black Isle, my mum answered an advert in the paper looking for a home for an 8 year old cat called Annie. Annie came to us, and died 10 years later. 10 years in which she consistently and vehemently despised our dogs, and in which the dogs thought she was about the most interesting thing on the planet, watching her like hawks, but that was just the way it was. Mum (who has always played the role of the UN, or the Rhineland in our house) found ways to make sure the animals each had their space, and conflict was avoided. Each of the animals was individually happy and Annie died happy, of old age, in our living room, with the dog still watching her as though she were a particularly interesting TV show.

We discussed this over dinner last night, and mum told me it had never even occurred to her to give Annie back because she didn’t like the dogs – she had committed to take care of her, and that was that: she would make it work for the best. I can understand why the situations so far have turned out the way they have – no-one is to blame, and it’s not the end of the world: everything works out for the best in the end. We’ll get them sorted in no time, and I’ve learned valuable lessons from this experience, so I’ve decided to make some changes.

To avoid further upheaval, I have a new plan for rehoming the pets, which should mean that once they’re gone they’re gone: I think this time I think I’ll make prospective owners sit at a bare table under a single, bare bulb in an over-heated Thai prison and question them thoroughly while Loki bites their noses repeatedly, Sari grooms their hair with her teeth and Cara whines about playing fetch. If they’re still interested, they’ll be put through a trial by fire, chased by wolves across an assault course, forced to sing an Andrew Lloyd-Webber medley and force-fed marmite, all whilst proclaiming their commitment to the cause.

That should do it, I reckon.