DEVIN HOUS­TON Ad­just­ing our lives to pet sounds

The Weekly Vista - - Opinion - Devin Hous­ton is the pres­i­dent/CEO of Hous­ton Enzymes. Send com­ments or ques­tions to devin.hous­ton@gmail.com. The opin­ions ex­pressed are those of the au­thor.

She was a present from my wife for my 49th birth­day. We drove to Hot Springs to pick her up. She was an un­usual breed: part bea­gle, part pug. A species of dog known as a Pug­gle. She was 6 weeks old and cute as a bug. We named her Sevin.

There were the usual puppy in­ci­dents: stained car­pets, scratched doors and mold­ing. Jesse the Chi­huahua tol­er­ated her; Sevin con­sid­ered her a foster mother. We added Ma­jor the cat to our col­lec­tion a year later and she be­came close friends with Sevin.

Pets force us into rou­tines. Feed­ings, out­door walks, and at­ten­tion are ex­pected from own­ers. We cut short our evenings away be­cause we have to get home and let the dogs out. Va­ca­tions are de­ter­mined by whether the pets can go with us or be boarded. They wake us in the morn­ing de­mand­ing food and out­door time.

Our peak pet own­er­ship du­ties were from 2006 to 2010 when we had the two in­door dogs and the cat. The Chi­huahua was most de­mand­ing. She barked us awake early each morn­ing. If we did not at­tend to her needs within a cer­tain amount of time she would leave a mess by the front door. As she got older she de­vel­oped heart and kid­ney is­sues that re­quired daily med­i­ca­tions. When she turned 13 in 2010 we re­al­ized life was not fun for her any­more. We made the de­ci­sion to give her a peace­ful end­ing to her life. We brought her back home and let Sevin check her over as she lay in her box. Sevin seemed to know she was gone and walked away. We buried her by some pine trees next to our drive.

For the next eight years Sevin and Ma­jor were in­sep­a­ra­ble. They slept to­gether. They wres­tled and chased each other. Ev­ery evening they would wait pa­tiently in the me­dia room while I watched tele­vi­sion. When they heard the click of the re­ceiver turn­ing off they would dash to the front door. Sevin would go out and do her nightly ac­tiv­ity while Ma­jor kept watch. Sevin would come in and they would race each other to their food bowls for a bed­time snack. I turned off the lights and re­tired up­stairs to bed. Once they heard our bed­room door close, both pets would sneak up­stairs and sleep next to our door.

We had to put Sevin down this past week due to a num­ber of health is­sues. We tear­fully buried her next to Jesse in the pines. That night, I turned off the tele­vi­sion and got up to let the dog out. I froze when I re­al­ized there was no dog to let out any­more. I had to re-think what to do next. I fed and brushed Ma­jor, turned out the lights, and went up­stairs.

We think we dic­tate be­hav­iors in our pets, when ac­tu­ally the op­po­site is true. We ad­just our lives to meet their needs, some­times grum­bling about the ag­gra­va­tion and ex­pense. Our pets be­come en­twined in our lives for years, when they leave; a vac­uum is cre­ated. I now have fewer obli­ga­tions and a lit­tle more time for myself.

But I miss the rou­tine.

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