How a family lives together varies by country and culture, but the standard family with husband, wife and children is no longer the norm. Living with multiple partners, grandchildren, adopted or foster children, eight cats or three dogs: In this series, people talk about their families. This week: Cynthia (31) and Remon (33) Huizinga have a daughter (7) and more than forty pets.By Hannah Koenig
They live in a detached house in a cul-de-sac in Farmsum in Groningen. He works as a maintenance engineer, she has a dog walking service. Cynthia and Remon have been together since they were teenagers and have been married for seven years.
Although they deliberately kept it with a child, they still have a large family: “We have two horses, three dogs, four cats, a rat, a hamster, a snake, a goat, two chickens, four rabbits, an aquarium with fish and sixteen parrots.”
Cynthia grew up with animals; she had a dog and a cat and got her own horse later in life. She would prefer to have more animals at home, but her parents did not allow it. Remon never had pets, but wanted them. When the two started dating and moved in together, they broke up.
“All three of us love animals. When we’re on vacation, we look for a zoo or petting zoo because we miss our animals so much.”
Sometimes I wonder: what do people who don’t have animals fill their day with?
All a favorite animal
In the morning Remon walks the dogs, Cynthia starts her day cleaning the litter box and vacuuming: “It’s a lot of work, but that’s what I like about it; there’s always an animal here being fed or a path . there is cleaning to be done. After I take our daughter Floor to school, I start my round of care and feeding. Sometimes I wonder: what do people who don’t have animals fill their day with?”
Floor (7) loves the fact that there are more than 40 pets in her home: “She has her own hamster, snake and cat. We all have our favorite animals. Harley, our blue-and-yellow macaw, is my favorite An new dog, a Great Dane for a few months. Recently someone asked: you already had two dogs, why would you add one? But it’s really a feeling. I wanted another big dog, so it has arrived.”
Kraamverzorgster Dominique kraamt in een huis vol dieren, vertelt ze aan Ouders van Nu: ‘De geur van al die dieren is penetrant, maar ik doe m’n best niets te laten merken’
Not a cheap hobby
Parents of her daughter’s friends regularly ask the question: how many animals do you have? But for Cynthia and her husband, having dozens of pets is normal. They can’t imagine life without animals, but it also has disadvantages.
“We can never go spontaneous, I always have to arrange a babysitter for the animals. And it costs a lot of money. We spend around 350 euros a month, so it’s not a cheap hobby.”
A life without animals seems meaningless to her. Before she started her big family with pets, she wanted more children, but she came back to that after Floor was born. Cynthia: “I love raising a child, but I think it’s more difficult than raising and taking care of an animal. I used to want more children, now I’m really happy that we only have one.”
Most of the work is done by Cynthia on the parrots: “These animals require as much attention as a dog. And they make an extremely large mess; I spend a lot of time cleaning the aviaries and repairing them. Parrots are extremely fond of demolition, so I also make demolition toys for them, which they can have fun with.’
Most people in the area like the family’s collection of animals, says Cynthia. “When the birds are screaming, curious local residents sometimes come to see what’s going on. I invite them to come and see our wildlife. Fortunately, despite the noise pollution, most respond positively.”
Ashes on TV furniture
There are also two former pets on the TV cabinet: “We have the ashes of two deceased parrots in a jar on the cabinet, both were cremated. It’s sad, but in this way they are a bit involved.”
Will there be more animals? Cynthia rules that out at the moment, but her big wish is to live on a farm so that even more animals can be added. Her family is different from what she used to imagine: “I expected more children and fewer animals, but I feel grateful and happy.”