Friday, January 6, 2012

Planned Parenthood

Some people have the luxury of planning when to expand their families -- waiting until the time feels "right," finances are in order, space is adequate or whatever physical or psychological obstacles once believed to exist are removed. There is excitement and anticipation imagining life with the new addition -- activities like family walks and cuddling on the couch. There might even be a practice run conducted first, spending time with a friends' family -- possibly a trial-by-fire opportunity to test one's patience and limits before launching headlong into the expansion program.

I recently underwent a process of considering whether my home and my life were capable of taking on responsibility for another. It's been an interesting learning process that showed me I have more patience and compassion than I used to (largely due to living with Moose for the past two years), and that maybe 'things' that could be destroyed by some knee-high creature running around aren't as important as relationships, and I like feeling needed (thanks again, Moose!).

In preparation for my growing family unit, I had several talks with Moose. This is not unusual, as I talk his cute triangular ears off regularly, but this time I was explaining to him that soon he wouldn't be the only one getting all my attention, but that doesn't mean I love him less.

There was a practice run when this cute little beagle-chihuaha mix named Winston came and stayed with us for a weekend. I had imagined a scene where Moose and Winston were frolicking and playing (which I saw Moose do at the shelter with this little dog Eddie I have wondered about ever since), but instead, they gave each other respectful space and/or climbed all over me while paying little heed to each other. They didn't seem to hate each other, and both were ecstatic when leashes and keys were picked up and it was clear we were going for a ride. Winston is lighter and leggier and can jump up onto my bed, while Moose hops alongside like a little circus performer, and Winston once looked down from the bed at Moose and growled, but I was optimistic we can move beyond this.

A few weeks later, Moose went off to a lovely pet resort in the Tennessee countryside while I went home to New England. He was surrounded by dogs of various breeds and sizes for twelve days and came home either tired or depressed, because for the first few days back he slept, rejected his food and seemed mopey. I took this as a positive sign that he would be agreeable to another dog being around all the time, but I have been known to be way off the mark on my assessments of a variety of relationship situations (especially when I'm involved) so who knows.

I reminded myself that I was ascribing human emotions to a dog, and maybe that was a little neurotic. But I do fear Moose is lonely -- the most playful I've ever seen him was that day two years ago at the shelter when he was so happy and playing with Eddie, and it's bothered me ever since that my little guy's happiest times may have been while on doggy death row. I even went back on Petfinder looking for Eddie shortly after getting Moose, but without luck.

At least it's finally being fixed. I am as ready as I'll ever be. Moose shall be a lonely only fur-baby no more. Winston, our test-drive houseguest, is coming to live with us. Last weekend, Moose and I went to PetSmart and got extra chew treats, toys and femur bones. Fancy Christmas collars were on clearance, so I bought two, imagining next year's Christmas portrait of my two little guys, maybe with Santa. Or maybe even forthis years now-too-late-for a Christmas / New Year's card -- maybe a new arrival announcement instead? I can probably get it out for Groundhog Day.  

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