12 August 2009

to canine or not to canine, that is the question

For the past few months I've been considering getting a canine pal. There are three kitties that live with me now, and part of the conundrum is whether they would approve of a canine joining the fold; although, there are other issues I'm mulling over. It's been over 20 years since I've had a dog to call my own. With the exception of a few short months, I've never been without some sort of pet, and I love my cats, but think it would be super cool to have a dog too.

When I moved to Colorado in 2001, the townhouse I moved into came with a cat, who I named Doe.

Doe aka The Crankmeister
Doe's previous owners had abandoned him when they moved out about a month prior to me moving in. According to the neighbors, Doe didn't get along with their other cats, so they just left him. Frankly, that whole situation stinks on too many levels for me to even go into. I'd be here all day ranting and raving. Needless to say, their loss was my gain.

Doe initially was an indoor/outdoor cat, but over the years I made him strictly an indoor cat. The lifespan of an indoor/outdoor cat is about 5 – 7 years; an indoor cat can live well into their teens. Doe is now probably pushing the 12 to 13 year mark. At one point Doe got into some sort of tussle with another cat and ended up with stitches in his ear and an Elizabethan collar. Needless to say, it just made more sense to keep him indoors - for his sake as well as my bank account's. Doe's had some serious health issues over the past couple of years, and recently was diagnosed with FIV (kitty AIDS) and has to be segregated from other cats. Prior to finding out about his FIV, I had adopted Willa. I wasn't sure how Doe would take to having another cat in the house, but they became buds. Maybe not best buds, but they enjoyed playing with each other and on the rare occasion would actually snuggle together.

Willa & Doe

After finding out about Doe's FIV status, I had to make him a permanent home in the master suite, which meant Willa was locked out of my bedroom and had no kitty friend to play with. Doe does just fine living alone in his own little kingdom, but Willa was getting depressed. So, off I go to the Longmont Humane Society and come home with Izzy.


Izzy is a spaz. There's just no other way to put it. Willa had been described as "life of the party" and she was. There wasn't anything she wouldn't get into. Willa's tame compared to Izzy. Most of my houseplants look as if they've been through a hurricane. The one set of curtains I do have up are full of kitty punch holes from the floor to about two feet off the ground (thank goodness for Levolor blinds on the rest of the windows.) At last count I've replaced two lamps. If it's small enough to knock onto the floor and chase around, Izzy makes it a cat toy. Yesterday Heather caught Izzy playing with a Mini Reese's Peanut Butter cup. Fortunately, she hadn't quite got the wrapper opened and my (light beige) carpet wasn't covered in chocolate and peanut butter.

So, back to the canine issue...

Now that I'm no longer living in a townhouse and have a yard and more room, I'm seriously considering getting a dog. There are so many out there that need homes, and I really do like dogs almost as much as I like cats, so I'm thinking maybe I should give one a "forever" home. I visit the Longmont Humane Society website and the Boulder County Humane Society website and the Maxfund website and the numerous rescue groups websites. I always find at least one dog that looks like one I'd like to add to my family.

how can you not fall in love with that?

There are lots of things to consider about getting a dog. They do take a lot more attention and time than cats. Going away for a couple of days? No prob with cats; leave a bowl of kibble and lots of water and a clean litter box and I'm good to go. I couldn't do that with a dog. I would have a few choices though. Take the dog with me, find a good friend who really likes my dog and will dog-sit, or board the dog. Taking a dog with me on a road trip or camping trip might be doable. With a road trip though, I risk not being able to find a hotel that accepts dogs, and depending on where I'm going I would have the issue of what to do with the dog once I reach my destination. Since the majority of my road trips are to National Parks, it's problematic in that National Parks will allow dogs in the park, but basically they have to stay in the car. Pets aren't allowed on trails or beyond 100 feet of open roads and campgrounds. What fun would it be for a dog to just sit in a car while I'm off exploring? It wouldn't be a whole lot of fun for me either; I'd want to take my dog exploring with me. Never mind that I would never ever ever leave my dog in a car in the summer for any amount of time, and maybe only for a few minutes in weather where there was no worry about overheating. Having a friend look after my dog would be fine, as long as I could find a friend willing to do it. Hello friends! Do I have any volunteers?! Boarding would be OK as well, but it's expensive and what if the dog didn't like it?

Next there is the whole at home care thing. With cats I just put out a litter box and scoop it each day, and the cats are happy. Dogs you have to take outside for walks and carry little baggies to clean up the poop. Having to take a dog for a walk has its own bennies. For instance it would get me off my butt and out exercising. But now I'd have to carry a bag of poop through the neighborhood until I got home or found a bin to toss it. Then there's the whole I can't stand cold/snow issue. In the winter I'd still have to go out for walks even though the weather sucks. I suppose I could just open the side door and let the dog out in the yard, but that's not really fair to the dog is it? The dog will still want to go out for a walk and romp and play. While I do have a yard, it's certainly not big enough for a romp, and I'd still have to go out to clean up the mess. If I have to do that, I might as well just go for the walk. In the cold and/or snow which I abhor!

So, I'm constantly reminding myself that getting a dog is a big responsibility. That's not to say getting a cat isn't. Cats require care and love and they have health issues (vet bills). Since Doe gets meds twice a day, when I go out of town, I have to board him. If I'm gone for more than two or three days, I'll have to board all three of them.

My cats are part of my family, and I think it's abominable when people "relinquish" their pet(s) just because of health issues or they don't like the personality or the pet has "destructive habits." A person doesn't get rid of a child when it gets sick or has personality traits the parent doesn't really like or understand or when the child breaks/burns/trashes something. Pets aren't disposable is my point. They are a lifetime commitment, and I take that very seriously.

My mind isn't made up one way or the other; there are a lot of pros and cons to consider. The fact is the pros will always outweigh the cons, so maybe I shouldn't say my mind isn't made up but that I'm putting off the inevitable.

10 August 2009

enjoy it while you can

So, as all of you know, my daughter, Heather, is headed off to college next week. First I want to know where all those years went?! It's so not fair that the years have disappeared, but even if I'm not ready for my little girl to be a young adult, she is.


If I can offer you one piece of advice it would be, enjoy the time you have with your kiddos while you can.

Heather has never been anything but a joy to me. Even in the few times (all of which I can probably count on one hand) she was upset with mom for whatever reason, she wasn't the sort of person I didn't want to be around. She didn't throw herself on the floor and have temper tantrums. She didn't yell, "I hate you! I hope you get hit by a truck!" She didn't go to her room and slam her door and then throw things against the wall. Most times, I would just get "the" look and she would go off to her room to cool off by herself. Heather has raised her voice only a few times, and in most of those instances it was to give someone who was upsetting mom a piece of her mind. She's very defensive of mom, and mom is very defensive of her. We are a good team, and we look out for each other.

I'm going to miss her. A lot. When I have to leave her at her residence hall and get in my car and drive home alone, I will cry. A lot.

Working where I do, helicopter parents are a way of life. I have never been one and won't turn into one when she's on her own for the first time. As much as it pains a parent to see their child in any sort of distress; children, no wait, make that young adults, need to learn by their mistakes. That's not to say, if she calls and asks for help, advice, a shoulder, an ear, or a couple of dollars I'm going to tell her, "no," but I'm not going to tell her how, when, where, and why she needs to do whatever it is she needs to do to succeed in the grown up world. Heck, I'm hardly qualified to do that, since I'm not so sure of my own successes. Failures walk up and slap you in the face, successes tend to be more subtle.

However, I can say with great pride that Heather is my most important and obvious success. Heather is well adjusted, smart, beautiful (inside and out,) articulate, confident, and she possesses one quality that will serve her well in anything that she does, at anytime in her life – common sense. Heather will do well. I know this. But I still will miss her. A lot.