What brought that to mind? I was browsing several of my blogroll blogs and noticed a number of posts about pets and other animals. (Yes, there IS a point to this. You’ll get there eventually.)
(DISCLAIMER: I love animals! I would swerve my car off the road to avoid hitting a lowly skunk or raccoon if I thought I could do so without serious injury to myself or strike damage to the car.)
We used to have pets. In fact, for most of my life I’ve had pets. When I was growing up we always had at least a dog and a cat at our house. Sometimes there were two cats and a dog. Seldom more than that.
Those early experiences with pets satisfied my craving for canine or feline fellowship. Well, let me rephrase that. Based on my childhood experiences, one (or maybe two) pet(s) was “normal” for me, and enough. My sister, like Mick Jagger, “got no satisfaction” along those lines. In senior adulthood, her “norm” has become from 3 to maybe 6 dogs, and cats whose number seems like the biblical sand on the seashore.
Maybe, “cats without number” would be closer to the truth, because the actual number could never be determined. She’s had cats in the chimney, cats in the heat and air conditioning ducts, cats in every room in the (huge) house she owns, cats all over the furniture, cats underfoot… you get the idea.
When I first married Carol we adopted a kitten. We named her “Ginny” because she was from Virginia. As the years passed and children came along, we acquired a dog, then another dog, and then another cat.
At that point I drew the line. No More Pets.
Our children became young adults and went off to college. We ended up with three dogs and no cats. Then one dog (Christina’s) died, essentially of old age. (Brought on by “the tyranny of time,” a quote I love from a poem by one of my blogging friends. Anybody recognize it?) I bawled, but Carol was stoic.
Not long after that, Carol’s all-time favorite pet, an English bulldog named “Marshmallow,” drowned one evening in our backyard pool. We bawled together in each other’s arms.
At that point we were down to one little miniature Dachshund we’d named “Wiener Schnitzel.” Since she was so short, we shortened her name to “Weenie.” It fit. By now the daughters were married and gone. It was just the two of us and Weenie.
The pool developed major problems and we had it filled in. (It’s now a lovely landscaped area adjacent to our back patio. You should stop by and see it sometime.)
Then Weenie began suffering the ravages of old age, and finally she also went to that great kennel in the sky. We both bawled again.
Not long after that we realized a great truth. Like many in this country we had been caught up in the debate concerning abortion; with a division of opinion between a woman’s right to choose, and a viable fetus’ right to life. One burning question that the medical experts and the philosophers wrangled over was, “When does life truly begin.”
One day we read the answer in the newspaper, and realized from our experiences that it was correct.
Life truly begins when the last child has left home and the last dog dies.
(Before you get angry, re-read the disclaimer at the top!)
We still have a phone—for now—but I’m mightily tempted to disconnect it and fulfill Mr. Miller’s song lyric.