Life among the animals


This house is cold. It’s empty, except for me and a dog and two cats. Like St. Francis, I live among the animals. They are good company, but I’ve never been a person who mistakes animal companionship for human company, or to raise my dog as my child.

It’s difficult living alone after an active family life, and this is just a taste, as my daughter comes home Saturday.   The house is largely silent. I fill the space with television, a bright light in the morning hours to trick my body into wakefulness, and a cell phone so I can call a friend if the silence is too difficult.  It’s chilly; I’ve turned the heat down.  Blankets and coats are cheaper. I’ve filled the house with twinkly lights of various colors for a better nighttime mood. Night isn’t over until 8 am, and it starts here at 4:30 this time of year. I wouldn’t’ do well in Alaska.   I hear the heater fan go on periodically.

I notice the cat noises more, the munching on their dry food, the scampering.

I wonder if it’s best I let this house go.  The ink is barely dry on the divorce papers, and the agreement is that I will pay to remove my ex from the title by next December or put the house on the market.  But where would I go with this entourage of animals?  The animals are a support and a burden.  My ex left with no thought to the expense of feeding any of them, and he didn’t offer or apparently want to take a pet with him. The dog is big; most rentals don’t want a large dog.  I had a bad moment a few nights ago when I thought about putting the animals to sleep.  I noticed my unhappy thinking and shook it off.  There’s no need to do that now, and probably never.  

My male friend who is divorcing has asked me repeatedly to take his Great Dane.  I suppose it’s because I have a yard, and he won’t have that in his new place. “Are you kidding?” I asked him.  “I have three horses, a dog, and two cats-and when is your next business trip?” He told me he’d be gone from the fourth through the fourteenth.  “That’s a third of the month” I said.  He denied that his trip was that long. “Do the math” I said.

“Oh” he responded.

I wanted to scream at him. ARE YOU STUPID?  But this is a conversation I should have had with my ex, about loads of things. I just didn’t want to continually point out that man’s distortions, and avoidance led to disaster.  Honestly, I was the one who initiated bringing nearly all our pets into the house-the cats that died of old age, the guinea pigs that died because they don’t live long, the cats that replaced the first cats, the dog that needed rescuing.  There was one dog that my ex wanted and we got, a purebred animal that was quite beautiful and also the most neurotic and difficult to care for. The dog he wanted couldn’t be one in the shelter, it had to be a purebred.

He swore he’d pick up the yard. While this dog came before the kids, soon there were babies, and I didn’t want to constantly be picking up poop and scraping it off their shoes.

I cleaned a lot of shoes.

I know I won’t have as many animals soon.  I love my dog Owen, he is a sweetheart and he is old, and warm, and friendly.  He may have one or two years left.  I adore horses, but will need to find some new homes simply due to cost.  As I predicted years ago, the animals really belong to the mom. My ex considered himself one of the kids, so I have both the responsibility and the love.



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