DRC and I were married over 27 years ago and when we ended up in suburbia the second time… we had nested long enough to want a dog. We got our first Golden Retriever, Brooklyn, from the Calgary SPCA. She was a year and a half old.
When you become a dog owner, your life changes. Not to compare it to children, but it does take out some of the selfishness in your life. You always have to think about a pet. There is always a responsibility. We bought our first dog a new vehicle.
It sounds worse than it was. We had a sedan and a big flannel sheet (wrong sheet for dog hair btw) and so within a few weeks (and a lot of dog barfing and dog hair) we traded it in for the first SUV and a large metal divider to keep the dog and her hair in the back. Or so you think. Dog can be contained… blowing hair…not so much.
We also bought a leash that cost more than the dog. After 18 years, the leash still works like a charm… they don’t make them good like that anymore… $55 for an SPCA dog in 1997 and $60 for a big-ass retractable leash.
She came with the name Brooklyn. She had more energy than you can imagine. The first thing she did when she met us was take a dump. and a pee. At the time we didn’t realize this was a good trait. It meant that in the future she would wait a VERY long time before using her personal space for a toilet.
We had her for years. She died a few weeks short of her 14th birthday and she was vibrant until the end. We put her on raw food when she was 6 and half and it turned her back into a dog with puppy-like energy.
After she was gone, it took a year before we were ready for another. Our home situation was a lot different because we had DRC’s Dad living with us so we weren’t sure if a young dog was in our plans. We found a 6 year old Golden on Kijiji. We call her a rescue because it was an extremely bizarre scenario. She was vastly overweight and very needy. We have since determined that she was most likely a puppy-mill dog who spent most of her time in a crate.
She is Ginny our present Golden. Her other name is Dog. She has been the only pet in the house for some time … well other than the pet mice that moved in. And because of those resident rodents, we decided to get cats. Cats that catch mice. Not all cats hunt. But then never being a cat owner in the past… I knew none of the cat things that cat owners inevitably know. Sure I had laughed at the cute cat tricks that showed up on friends Facebook feeds. But that is not even being close to being a cat owner.
We have chickens, layers who have an impeccable pecking order… previously we have had pigs and sheep. We thought about getting a donkey and goats. Every Spring we get a couple of cattle to run on the property to keep the field mowed… then butcher them in fall for the freezer and sell some of the halves to friends. All these animals are not pets but we do have some animal husbandry going on.
Cats on the other hand… don’t need husbands. Nor do they need humans at all…. or so they like you to believe.
They arrived in May… they certainly did not look old enough to leave Mama cat… the Great Hunter. I was worried we had them too early and Mama wouldn’t have passed on some of her great hunting skills. How could these two balls of fur possibly hunt, let alone kill?
For the first weeks they just slept in their little bed, all curled up together. Then they started venturing out. They were skittish… they were shy… they ran when we came near. Dog ignored them.
Slowly they became bolder and ventured out of their garage closet that was their home. When they started exploring… they would not leave Dog alone. Dog was not interested and was very jealous if we managed to catch the kitties and give them cuddles. We polled our friends and gave them official names. Marley and Hattie. Named for Marlborough and Manhattan. Marlborough being the region in New Zealand that is may favourite…think Sauvignon Blanc…mmmm….it being our house wine. And Manhattan’s, our house cocktail.
But their real names are White Kitty and Brown Kitty. And Dog continued to dislike them. They would not leave her alone… she was of course, their older sister. They cajoled, they tickled, they chased, they laid all over her and eventually they wrestled their way into Dog’s heart. It took months. Dog is almost 10 in human years so that makes her how old?… White and Brown Kitty were merely adolescents, then teenagers…. and now? Still don’t have that cat thing completely down so not sure how human years translate to cat years but in April they will be a year and already the non-stop wrestling has been replaced with hunting or sleeping.
And Dog? She hates to admit it… but when she went on a sleepover recently, she missed them like crazy. Upon her return, the first thing she did was search them out. We have officially been replaced.
And DRC and I? we gaze out on our deck to see the 3 of them curled together on Dog’s deck bed…and our hearts swell… The dog bed being the catalyst… the straw that broke the camel’s back…. the deck bed has become the shared sleeping quarters for these animals. It broke the barrier for the Dog… that and the cold. Two little furballs keeping her warm was just to hard to resist. We feel we have a perfect little furry family.