Give Me Shelter

Goose, my 6-year-old daughter, was recently discussing her plans for when she grows up.  “I want to be a mommy when I get bigger, but I don’t want to grow a baby in my belly.  I’m going to get one from the shelter.”

For those who don’t know, I work in a veterinary hospital (12 years and counting), and before that, I was a volunteer for a greyhound rescue.  All of our dogs and cats have been rescues of one sort or another.  Discussions about homeless animals and responsible pet ownership are common in this household.

Me:  You’re going to get a baby from the shelter?

Goose:  Yes, I want to be mommy to a baby that doesn’t have a mommy.  Maybe one that’s zero years old, but maybe one that’s bigger because it’s harder for older kids to get families.

Me: That’s true, Goose.  And I think that’s a wonderful idea.  But children who need homes live in a place called an orphanage or a foster home.  The shelter is where dogs and other pets go. When you add a child to your family that way, that’s called adoption.

Goose:  Just like when we adopted Frances (the dog)?

Me:  Something like that.

Goose:  How will I find the orphanage or foster home, mom?

Me:  You’ll find the way.  Your heart will lead you.

Goose: Yeah, I have a big heart.

Yes, you do.



Wish You Were Here…

This is bound to be one damn long post… you’ve been warned. I’m a little emotional so apologies in advance for errors in grammar, tense, style, etc.

In case anyone wasn’t aware, the fam and I went on vacation this past week in Myrtle Beach to visit with the in-laws. We planned to leave on Monday. The week prior to our departure was rife with stomach bugs and other forms of viral unwellness. The Saturday before we left, our beloved lab mutt, Liesl, hurt her back. I opted to leave her where I work (a veterinary hospital) while we were away and hoped that the rest and therapy and careful attention of the medical team there would prove to help her.

We leave on schedule that Monday afternoon. I was apprehensive. 3 kids in a car for 13+ hours during the overnight hours seemed daunting. We prepared for the worst, including the possibility that we would have to stop somewhere along the way for an overnight. I had DVDs, snacks, books, and various other sorts of entertainment available (Thank you, Target Dollar Spot!), as needed to distract the children. But truly, I just hoped they’d sleep.

Goose and Buddy ended up sleeping a good part of the way. Bear was bothered by the lights from oncoming cars and slept very little. Even so, all three of them were champion road-trippers. We made the trip in 13.5 hours with exactly 2 stops. I don’t think hubby and I, when traveling alone, ever accomplished the trip in that length of time.

It’s Tuesday morning when we arrive, and while most of that day was wasted in catching up on sleep, we still managed a short trip to the windy, cloudy beach. Wednesday and Friday, we also go to the beach only this time both days are beautiful. Breezy, but sunny and warm. Goose runs straight into the waves, which were very very cold. The chill didn’t bother her at all. She jumps and splashes in the waves for as long as I can stand to be there with her.

Bear was having fun running along the beach until a wave barely touches his foot and sends him screaming back up the beach to drier ground. He would not go near the water again.

Buddy prefers the sand to the surf, too. He tells me that he will get swept away by the ocean if the water touches him. I don’t know where he heard this. I did certainly did not say it. I tried in vain to convince him that he wasn’t in any danger if he was with me or daddy. He remained unmoved.

Thursday, daddy went golfing and the kids and I went shopping with their grandmother. They made Build-a-Bear Dinosaurs. Buddy has a spinosaurus named Dino. Goose has a velociraptor named… Rose. And Bear made a wooly mammoth named Wooly. Dino sings “Happy Birthday”, Rose growls, and Wooly giggles.

Bananas Foster & Cherries Jubilee

Hubby and I managed a date night at The Library Restaurant, which is such a wonderful place. The food was outstanding. The service was wonderful. It was quiet enough that we could actually have a conversation over our crab cocktails and flambeed desserts.

We plan to leave Myrtle Beach Saturday.

We press on. Just as we hit Delaware, Goose starts complaining about her tummy hurting. I think she may need a potty break. We stop. (Shout out here to the Potette, AKA “Car Potty”, for saving us from near disaster on numerous occasions during this trip. While “car as restroom” is not optimal, it certainly beats “car seat full of sewage” when time is of the essence.) We move on, hoping to reach a hotel in Wilmington. We get to the hotel as Goose says, “My tummy really hurts!” I calmly tell hubby that I will get us a room and he should get a bag for the kid to barf in (Potette to the rescue, again.) We hope all night that it was car sickness and not a stomach bug. We made it through the night without incident and head to the Bronx zoo late in the morning.

The zoo was fine. The kids had fun but were disappointed that we couldn’t see everything because we had gotten there late and it was cold and sort of drizzling. We were finally home later in the evening Monday night. I think the whole family was happy to be back in our own house, and in our own beds. It was the longest vacation hubby and I have ever taken in our almost 13 years of marriage. I’m thinking it may have been a day or two longer than necessary.

And now today.

Today has been a very sad day. Libby is somewhere over the earth on her way to Holland with her sweet kids. They’re gone. I know it’s only for 20 months, but I miss them already and selfishly would have liked to stop the plane, but I’m told that I am not the center of the universe. Here’s wishing them safe journey, and a wonderful adventure in Europe. We will keep in touch… I have to figure out Skype, and where to get a passport. RIP MaryAnne.

And finally: Liesl. I had been calling in to check on her daily during our vacation. It was weighing on me. I know she had a slipped and/or ruptured disc. We decided against surgery given her age and the arthritis in the rest of her joints, figuring that a serious surgery followed by a lengthy recovery and rehabilitation was probably more than she could handle. I hoped that while we were away, the wonderful team that I work with might be able to improve her mobility at least a little by the time we got home. She had acupuncture, chiropractic care, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, massage and a battery of meds. They put her in a cart (essentially a wheelchair for dogs). They let her lay in the sun and spoiled her with cookies. They cuddled and doted on her. I can’t thank them enough for that. I know that she spent her last days content and as comfortable as possible in their care. I am sorry that I wasn’t with her, too. This morning we went to see her, and made the decision that no pet lover wants to make. She was never going to get her back legs to work again. She was essentially paralyzed in her back end. And so we stuffed her full of some foul-smelling cookies that she seemed to really love and then… we said goodbye.

For nearly 13 years, she was with us, through 3 houses, and 3 kids. We adopted her from the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society just a few months after we were married. Since then, she has been thieving our socks, shoes, and underwear, tipping over trash cans, barking for cookies, entertaining us with her soccer ball antics and generally making a nuisance of herself. My heart broke today, and I will miss her terribly.

I haven’t told the kids yet. I couldn’t. I’ll try tomorrow.

For tonight…. I’m going to try and get some sleep.

Every Rose…

I mentioned in my last post our guinea pigs, Daisy and Rose.

Weeelllllll…..*sigh*….. Rose has ummmm… passed on.  Poor little thing.

I have acknowledge that I never warmed up to Rose in the few short weeks she was with us.  She was distant and aloof while Daisy is inquisitive and spirited.  In hindsight, I recognize that Rose was distant because she wasn’t feeling well.  Damn you, prey animals, and your insistence on survival by way of pretending that you aren’t sick.  Pneumonia.  If I had caught it sooner, we might have been able to save her.  We tried, her vet tried, but it wasn’t meant to be.  RIP small one.

After I finished the required exercise in self-loathing for letting the creature down, I turned my thoughts to the next problem at hand: what to tell the kids.  Especially, what would I tell Goose.  Rose was her pig, as Daisy is Buddy’s. I momentarily wished  for a religion to reference.  There wasn’t much time to figure it out.  I had to pick up the children from school and they would immediately ask about Daisy and Rose, and I would need to tell them.

So I did.

On my way to pick them up, my stomach did flips, and I felt panicky.  How would they take it?  Would they understand?  I wanted to find a stand-in Rose to make it all go away, but resisted.  A substitute is just that: a substitute.  It would be a cop-out.  What would I say?

I arrive at school, and pile the kids into the car.  They see the carrier and ask.

“Did Daisy and Rose go to the doctor today?”  Buddy asks.

“Yes,” I answer.

“Are they sick?” asks Goose.

Here it comes.

“Well,” I say, “Daisy is just fine. But Rose passed away.”

I immediately hate myself for using a euphemism.

“Is she still at the doctor?  Is the doctor going to make her better?” Goose asks.

“Well, technically she’s still there, but the doctor can’t make her better. What I mean is: she was too sick, and…”

“Then when she’s better, she’ll come home again.”  It was a statement, not a question.  She was sure.

I sigh.

“No, Lovey. Rose was too sick.  She was so so sick that the doctor couldn’t make her better, even though the doctor tried really hard to help.  But 100 doctors can’t fix Rose.  Rose died.  That means that we can never see her again.  She’s gone…. forever.”

I’m trying not to be dramatic, but want to make sure that they understand that “died” means Rose isn’t coming back.  They stare at me in silence.

“Soooo,” I continue, ‘”what we need to do is take really extra extra good care of Daisy so that Daisy doesn’t get sick, too.  Can you guys help me take great care of Daisy?”

“Sure, mommy.  But where did Rose go?” Goose asks earnestly.

“Well, that’s a tough question to answer, but ummm…” I stammer for a second when Buddy interjects.

“Can we get Daisy a new friend?”

“No.  Not yet.  Not until we make sure that Daisy is well and strong.  Then, possibly.”  I pause. “Maybe in a few months.”

Buddy looks thoughtful for a moment and says, “Don’t worry, Goose.  We can share Daisy, and we’ll take really good care of her. And when she’s really strong, we can get her a new friend.  We’ll name her ‘Share’.” (Note: SHARE not Cher, as people have thought in the oral telling of this tale)

“Buddy, I think that would be a beautiful name for Daisy’s friend.” I tell him.

“I think so, too.” Goose nods.

And that was it.  No tears.  No awkward explanations.  They haven’t asked any more questions and I’ve decided to let it be until they do.  They are only 3, after all.   Thank goodness I  have them to remind me that most things aren’t as complicated as they might seem.