“We can’t get a cat – I’m allergic to them.”
“So am I, but I DON’T care!”
Pets are the great dating equalizer. Dog people like dog people, cat people like cat people. I am really not sure how that first conversation went from awkward introduction to pet preference, but it did and our dogs had their first “date” before we did.
It went like this … his dog bit mine, mine retaliated and I wore an obnoxiously large swatch of bandages he had wrapped around my thumb and forefinger that evening on our actual date. Our dogs hated each other on sight. But by the end of the first year they had made peace and years later when we had to say our first goodbye, the one left behind seemed lost without his other half.
We each brought one dog to the relationship and consummated it with a third. Mine, his and ours. They lived very long lives and when my husband died, we were down to one. We watched the dog’s slow decline from grief and old age until he reached the point of no return and we were ready to say goodbye again.
So, with the exception of a turtle that enjoys living in a cesspool of its own making, we are finally pet free. I don’t have to canvas the yard with rubber gloves and a plastic bag every week, I am no longer spending more money on his food than ours, and time away from the house is not dictated by an old dog’s incontinence.
Before you get your pet-loving panties in a twist, let me point out that I have lived with animals for as long as I can remember. As a child, we had dogs and (I think) a cat. We had a horse, deer, great horned owls and barn owls, raccoons, a hummingbird, porcupines, a skunk named Florabelle and enough snakes to make Medusa’s head spin. After that there were geckos, fish, parakeets, a team of sled dogs, fish of all kinds and an albino hamster named Snowball that succumbed to constipation. In college it was a set of dwarf bunnies that chewed through the arm of my ski jacket and all of my parents’ electrical cords. Yes, the rumors about bunnies are true. After a lifetime of testing the waters of pet ownership, I was ready to commit when I walked into a pungent barn and laid eyes on the reckless and dirty runt of the litter. And then I committed to two more dogs that lived for 15 years and a 250-gallon fish tank that flooded our living room … twice.
Which brings me to my current pet preference of “if-you-bring-an-animal-into-this-house-you-better-have-the-speed-and-agility-of-a-cheetah.” I am officially and indefinitely on pet-vacation. But my children have been campaigning for a replacement. So while my daughter is in one camp and my son firmly entrenched in the other with the outcome undecided, one thing is certain.
They are going to need that box of rubber gloves.