Mid-Life Ramblings; Sanity Optional

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


I have always loved animals. My dad is an animal lover but my mom can take them or leave them so I had a couple of turtles and a couple of ducks as a small child but no dog, no cat. Mom's rule was always no animals in the house. It always made me sad because I longed for a dog to snuggle in my bed with.

When my brother broke his arm during his kindergarten year, Mom and Dad broke down and got us a dog. He was a tiny little thing - half Chihuahua, half Rat Terrier - and we named him Crunch after a dog my dad had when he was a child. Crunch lived in our backyard and we each adored him. He became our confidante as each of us turned to him in times of sorrow. We'd go out alone and sit on the edge of the patio and just talk to Crunch and sometimes cry in his fur. Even though he couldn't talk back, he was the perfect listener. He always made things better.

After Crunch died I got a German Shepherd puppy and named him Baron von Richtofen - the Red Baron. My mom was furious the day I brought him home because she'd sworn off dogs after we lost Crunch. But Baron won her heart immediately. He was the smartest dog I'd ever known. I was working for the Sheriff's Office then and I took him everywhere with me. He topped out at 110 lbs but was the sweetest dog around. When I built my first house and moved away I had to leave him at Mom and Dad's because I didn't have a fenced yard. I don't think Mom would ever have let me take him anyway. He was her guardian and it almost killed both she and Dad when he died. She's never allowed herself another dog but I'm working on her. Now that she's retired I think she needs a little house dog. I'm going to get a miniature or toy poodle from rescue one day and bring it over. She'll fuss at first then fall in love. [vbg]

After I moved into my house I got cats. I ended up with three fabulous cats, the youngest of which is still alive and will be fifteen this June. I tried a couple of dogs through the years but never could housebreak them. Now I know that males are extremely hard to housebreak. If I'd known that then, I'd have gone with females.

About six months after E and I got married I was yearning for a dog. I knew the three cats would be pissed but I needed a dog. That's when we saw the ad in the local paper for the Peke-a-poo pups. E and I drove over that Saturday morning and the old lady brought out Sophie and her brother in a box. That was it - I was in love. Sophie came home with us that day. She was so very tiny and we dragged her around in the car all day that day. E swears that's why she loves a car ride so much. She'll be five on St. Patrick's Day and has been the light of our lives all along. She taught the cats that dogs weren't too bad after all. Although Tyger and Penelope never snuggled with her, they came to respect her as a family member.

We lost Tyger and Penelope just two weeks apart, each at the ripe old age of fifteen. I thought E was going to have to bury me with them. I knew then that my broken heart needed another little fuzzy baby to help it heal. We'd decided long before then that when the two older cats were gone we'd get a Bichon Frise. Enter Sneauball - a white ball of fluff that came bounding into our arms on a cold February night three years ago. I announced to E that since Sophie had bonded more with him, Sneauball was to be mine and, boy, is he! My little Bean (short for Butterbean) is a Mama's boy through and through. His favorite thing is to climb up in my arms, lay down, and have me rock him to sleep and I just love that. [vbg]

When we bought the house in October of last year, it came complete with a fenced in backyard and E was feeling the need for a big dog. I was longing for another German Shepherd so I found a pup in rescue in Birmingham, Alabama. On the day after we moved into the house, we drove the six hours (one way) to Birmingham to pick up little Rikka. Although she was four months old she only weighed thirteen pounds. Those puppies had been through hell before they were rescued but they all rallied. Rikka is eight months old now and queen of the backyard. She's weighing in at about forty-five pounds now and has teethed on everything out back. She apparently didn't like the garden hose being as long as it was so she's sectioned it into three foot sections. She must love the taste of lawnchairs because she drags them all around the deck. She sleeps on the deck outside my bedroom window and snores like a buzzsaw. E is completely smitten and I'll be better once she quits teething on the external electrical outlet.

Thanks to a bout with cancer nearly fifteen years ago I cannot have children of my own. We considered adoption for a while but realized that we're pretty set in our ways. I now know that I was meant to be the mama to little furry faces and I'm good with that. In fact, if it were up to me, we'd have ten dogs in this house.

I began watching the Westminster Kennel Club Show years ago when I had Baron because I was interested in the German Shepherd breed. Through the years they have introduced me to over 160 different breeds. Some breeds do nothing for me but I have a mad attraction to others. One day I will have a Bedlington Terrier and a Chinese Crested, much to E's chagrin. [vbg] He loves big dogs so we'll always have one or two of those around as well.

We finish every evening by snuggling in our queen-sized bed. Sophie crawls in and lays horizontically between E and I stretching out to her fullest capacity. Sneauball takes his place in what we call the "pup tent" - which means he crawls behind one of our pillows that stands against the headboard behind our heads and snuggles between the pillow and the headboard. Most nights you can see his nose sticking out of one end and his behind sticking out of the other. Omar, the Persian cat, crawls up on my back and purrs me to sleep. I know it sounds crazy to some folks but I promise you that I don't sleep well when I'm away from home. There's something about those fuzzy bodies laid out around me that helps me sleep. E admits to being similarly afflicted.

Today he wrote some haiku about our home and I'd like to share it here:

Haiku of Our Home

Large wet dog outside
Waits to jump when I enter
Tumble with me. Fun!

Small dog waits inside
Brings ball to me to play
Play, Play, nothing more.

Bichon Frise waits
Wants nothing other than love
Scratch me, hold me. Ah!

Old stoic cat waits
Waits for food, waits for petting
At night, sleeps on wife.

Cockatiel sings loud
Very loud, if possible
Only stops for wife.

Wife and I are home
Our children are animals
Family still they are.

Furry, fuzzy family
Each speaks to us differently
Expressions of love.