I’ve always enjoyed being snuggled inside on a rainy day.
I absolutely loved running out into a summer storm, skin parched from intense heat, revelling in the fat, cool raindrops splashing all over me and making the ground have that smell.
Since becoming a wheelchair user, rain has been a drag. I’ve been caught in intense downpours with an unresponsive NHS ‘chair, which has been both terrifying and frustrating. Sitting in a damp, uncomfortable wheelchair for hours after getting soaked is absolutely rubbish. It’s hard to find the positives in rainy weather now.
Last weekend though, I was hoping for it. Not only did I feel London needed it after such unexpectedly high temperatures but I also had a more selfish motive. For a while now, Sullivan has wanted a pet. We had a goldfish a few year back but maintaining a big enough tank for her was a struggle. When she passed away, we decided to stay away from fish as after doing a lot of research, they are often miss-sold (as she was to us) in inappropriate set-ups and without full explanation of the difficulties and health issues feeding/balancing water levels/cleaning waste can bring. Cats and dogs are not allowed as part of our tenancy agreement. Small, furry animals are lovely but with both mine and Sullivan’s allergies they’re a definite no-no. They are also often miss-sold in smaller cages and without enough (or too many) cage buddies for their temperament and needs.
One night, I was browsing Facebook. I saw a dear friend’s post about her pets and it got me thinking. Could this be the perfect pet for our family, too? After a lot of researching and asking my friend a million questions, we decided that, yes, we had found our perfect companions. Snails!
Kids have been popping garden snails into Tupperware containers with a couple of leaves and twigs to watch eagerly at home for decades passed. Could we really just go and pick up a snail and give it a new home? I wanted to do it right for the snail. I also wanted it to be an educational journey for Sullivan, too. We researched together what they eat, what they need, what kind of habitat we should create and how to do that best for them. We looked into how snails bodies work and how they live their lives.
We purchased a large plastic terrarium with plenty of ventilation holes in the secure lid, along with some organic coconut fibre soil, sphagnum moss, a cork bark hollow log, a small leaf-shaped feeding tray, some cuttlefish and a water mist spray bottle. We had some carrots, peas, potatoes, cucumber and lettuce to offer for food. Once everything arrived, we waited patiently for the rain to come. The night before we were predicted a downpour, we set up the terrarium in the hopes we’d find ourselves a new buddy (or hopefully two as they enjoy company) the following day.
The rain came and we ventured out! I travelled in my Lith-Tech Smart Chair 1XL, as not only is it super easy to dry out and wipe down after being caught in rain, it also performs great in rainy weather with the help of the protective bag, which is easily held over the control panel while navigating. Speed and control was fine and most certainly not limited to a snail’s pace! I had no fear of being caught in an unresponsive wheelchair this time or having to sit on a soaking cushion for hours after.
Lots of snail shells we came across were sadly empty. It really does open your eyes to the realities of the food chain, creature population numbers and life in general as a wild animal when you actively go looking for things like snails. We ended up in our local green area, Winsford Gardens, where there were snails-a-plenty (much to the annoyance of the gardeners there I’d imagine!). We found our first buddy halfway up a bush. He was then named Fluffy. Yup… Fluffy. Our second buddy was found a few metres away, nestling in another bush. He’s now called Teddy. Fluffy has a more pale brown look to his shell, Teddy is a deep brown. I find them both impossibly cute!
So that’s my snail tale. I’d love to hear about anyone else’s slightly different pet choices below!
Also if you’re a wheelchair user like me, how have you found venturing out in the rain? I hope your experiences have been as good as mine with my Lith-Tech wheelchair. If not, maybe you should give the guys a call to see what kind of awesome experiences you could start having!