Best friends

Picture: Louisa Jones

Furry or feathered, scruffy or scaled, all manner of marvellous animals make up the Geelong region’s menagerie of pets. ELISSA FRIDAY checks out the range.

Pet: Teddy, golden retriever-poodle cross

Age: One

Owners: Angie Hilton, husband Braith Cox and their children, Sonny and Scarlet Cox, of Newtown

’It took 10 years of convincing Braith to get pets because he had never had any before.

We picked the groodle crossbreed because they don’t shed and they look like a big Teddy bear.

When we brought him home he immediately ended up on the television show I work on, What’s Up Down Under. When they saw Teddy they created a role for him instantly.

Every time we come home he looks around the house for a present to give us.

Pets are the best for children because they show them a sense of responsibility.

A dog can change your life. If you’re having a bad day Teddy’s right there beside you, letting you know you’re not on your own.

I get out of the house so much more and you make more friends when you have a dog because they strike up conversations.

Now Braith loves the dog, too. He talks to it like it’s his baby.

When he takes him for a walk I say how Teddy’s a chick-magnet, so Braith likes walking him for the attention, ha-ha.’

Pet: Pete, carpet python

Age: 16

Owner: Paul Jackson, of Newcomb

‘My best mate and a bunch of other people organised Peter. They surprised me with a big tank enclosure and a voucher after my sister cheekily put a licence application form for a snake in front of me and I signed it.

I didn’t know anything about snakes. When I went to the store with the voucher they had carpet pythons and children’s pythons, so I chose the carpet python, which is a constrictor.

When I got him he was 10cm or 15cm but now he’s a little over 2m and about as thick as my wrist.

I hook him out of the enclosure and he just crawls around my arm and hangs on. Sometimes we let him on the carpet and he goes for a cruise but I keep a close eye on him so he doesn’t hide somewhere.

I feed him a thawed frozen rat from the pet shop once a month or so and he also has a water bowl, so I can go on holiday without having to organise a pet sitter.

Pete has a really good temperament. He’s never bitten or snapped at anyone, he’s pretty cruisy.’

Pet: Ginny and Hermione, rabbits

Age: Thee and a half

OWNERS: Amity and Ella Jacobson, and mum Bianca, of Fyansford

‘A friend had what they thought was a de-sexed rabbit from a rescue centre, so when it had bunnies we decided to get two of them.

The reason we said yes to rabbits was because we were renting at the time and rabbits live outside, so it was easier to convince a landlord.

It meant a lot to both my daughters, especially Amity who’s always been fond of rabbits.

I do all the caring, litter trays and so on. It all falls on me.

The rabbits do come inside the house on hot days because they don’t tolerate heat well.

We have tiled flooring but they tend to stay on the rug because they don’t like smooth surfaces.

Hermione is the more social one, always the first to run up and see what you’re doing. Ginny’s just more happy to be touched.

They’re surprisingly affectionate and always want to know what you’re doing. They like to be close to us. Their hutch is near the house and they can see us through the window, which they seem to like.’

Pet: Flapper, chicken

Age: Six

Owner: Elaine Janes, Ocean Grove

‘I have four chooks and two silky chooks who are as cute as and used to going out and about in the basket.

Flapper is the diva, so I don’t take the others out too often. I just keep it secret so they don’t get jealous. Flapper’s precious and knows it.

She loves modelling and is so good at it. She can hold a pose and just loves it.

Flapper’s on the front cover of the Borough of Queenscliffe’s 2018 Bellarine Calendar. I only entered her in the cover competition for fun and she was the winning photo.

Flapper loves going out and about. She’s a social butterfly. She loves going to Point Lonsdale, Queenscliff and Barwon Heads but we don’t go to Ocean Grove beach because of the dogs off leads.

The latest thing we’ve done is going on the big Ferris wheel in Geelong.

You can train a chook. The first word I teach them is ‘stay’.

They know the house rules by the tone of my voice and eye contact.

My chooks are my only family, so that’s why they’re treated the way they are.’

Pet: Chappo, blue-fronted Amazon parrot

Age: Unknown

Owner: Nathan Langsford, of Leopold

‘We adopted Chappo two years ago from family friends who unfortunately could no longer look after him.

He’s mine and my wife Kim’s pet but I’m the favourite. He can get quite aggressive with Kim because he’s formed a fairly strong relationship with me.

He’s also got a fairly big personality and is quite needy. He needs a lot of attention.

Parrots can get destructive if people don’t entertain them.

His favourite spot in the house is on my shoulder and he loves climbing up my shirt. He has a big outdoor aviary that he loves to climb around in, and an inside play gym that’s essentially a bird stand full of toys.

His main diet is fresh fruit and veg but we use almonds to train him.

We’re still doing some basic training like stepping up and stepping down onto my shoulder, just overall obedience training.

He speaks and, being a parrot, he’s quite good at parroting you.

His favourite song is Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. He’s happy to whistle it and he’s able to sing some of the words.’

Pet: Mimi, Birman cat

Pet Age: Fifteen

Owners: Victoria, Raoul, Oliver and Sarsha Grinter, of Highton

‘We kind of did a family vote and got a cat. A dog was going to be too high maintenance.

Went to a breeder of these particular Birmans and Mimi was the first one to come up and greet us, so she was the one we chose.

She was a bit of a doggy cat and would fetch things when she was younger. The kids would roll up tissues and throw them and she’d bring them back.

She’s had a harness ever since she was a kitten, mainly because we have some beautiful birds in the garden and want to protect them.

Her two cousins actually live over the road and as kittens they’d come over and play together.

Mimi is quite high maintenance because of the white fluffy coat. She needs grooming daily and I Dyson her – she loves it and purrs and isn’t frightened of the noise.

Her favourite toy is a rubber squid on a fishing line. It looks gross, but she likes it because it moves a lot. She means everything to us. She brings us a lot of happiness.’