When our son left for college almost 6 years ago, we anticipated a whole new life for ourselves. We certainly knew we would miss him, and we did. We still have days where we would love having him here, but he’s successfully become an independent young adult, which is the way these things are supposed to happen.
We thought the house would be quiet, and that we might look at each other and not know what to do with ourselves. That actually hasn’t happened very much. Our house is never quiet, or boring. Quite the opposite. It is full of love and intrigue and paws and fur.
We’re both animal lovers and always have been. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t live with at least a cat, and generally also with a dog. Someday, maybe, I’ll share some of their stories.
Right now, we share our home and kitchen and sometimes our bed with four furry, four-legged family members. I know, I know… not everyone considers animals their family members. But we do.
The cats are litter-mate sisters. They will be 11 in June. They were abandoned by the side of the road when they were about two weeks old. We found them – Phoebe and Sophie – at our vet’s office when they were not quite 3 months old. For whatever reason, they never learned how to meow. That doesn’t mean, though, that they don’t communicate. Far from it.
Ozzie, our Australian Shepherd, is almost 7. We adopted him from the Humane Society when he was a puppy. Turns out, he was taken by Animal Control from his former home because his owner was sent to jail after violating the terms of his probation.
Finn, our husky/Golden Retriever mix, is also almost 7. He has been with us for about two years. His owners had to downsize their living space and needed to give him up for adoption. He came to us a few weeks after we lost our beautiful 12-year-old husky Rosie. We got her after she went to the Humane Society after her owners had violated THEIR probation. (See a pattern here? Yeah, I know. When the probation officers find animals in these situations, they should call us first, instead of Animal Control; we’ll probably end up having them live with us in the end).
That’s the background. Here’s the daily reality…. these animals have their own world, and their own rules. They figure out who does what within the group, and they live in their own little society. The way it plays out in the Moe Pack is this:
- I refuse to be part of the pack. I’m the person.
- Bill is the Alpha of the pack. He is part of the pack, no matter what Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer) and I have to say about it.
- Oz, whose breed is designed to herd cattle 10 hours a day, wants to be the boss. He tries really hard to do so, even though the others don’t really want to work. On Oz’s watch, there is no fun; just work. He is sweet and loving to us, and he bosses the others around (or tries to).
- Finn, who looks and acts like a Golden for the most part, just wants to have fun fun fun. He reminds us of Tigger (and, since we recently saw the movie “Up,” reminds us even more of Doug. “Hi. I’m Doug. I love you.”) He wants to play, and Oz won’t let him. Finn is the most “Mama’s Boy” dog I have ever met. He follows me around Every Minute of the Day.
- Sophie can’t decide if she is a cat or a dog. She’s not too bright, and everyone pretty much ignores her and lets her hang out with them. We often find her curled up with the dogs (unless she is sitting on a chair and they walk by her; then she reaches out and gives them a good punch). Other times, she and sister Phoebe are inseparable.
- And then there is Phoebe. She’s sweet, occasionally. Mostly to me. We think she might be very near-sighted. Either that, or she is an uncoordinated as I am (she often misses when she is trying to jump on something; on the other hand, her sister Sophie who is a little…..ummm….rotund….. is quite able to perch on top of the smallest things, like the railing to our stairs). And she is definitely the ruler of the rest of the gang. What she says, or glares, goes. Sophie tries to love her. Finn respects her but makes sure to stay out of her way (he puts up with her because she “lets” him share the bed with her). Oz stays clear of her. So she is a loner, but I think she’s ok with that.
My husband loves the TV show “Survivor.” He has watched every episode of its however-many seasons. What he enjoys most are the shifting alliances, the game-playing and the deal-making. And, since he has always anthromorphized our pets, he sees every day in our household as an animal “Survivor” episode. It’s quite amusing to see.
Pets have been shown to be of great health benefits to people….. lower blood-pressure, higher life satisfaction, improved outcomes for children with disabilities, etc….. Sometimes, I get frustrated with all the noise (they love to LOUDLY greet us when we get home) and the mess and the work (I will admit that my husband does most of the …… ahem…… heavy lifting of cleaning up after the dogs), but the pure unadulterated love they provide us is priceless.
Now, if we could just figure out a way to cut down on the amount of fur that is shed.