DEVIN HOUSTON Adjusting our lives to pet sounds
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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