It’s not that I don’t love animals because I do. I’ve always loved them. I was always bringing home strays and pets people no longer wanted whether or not I was allowed to have them in my apartment.
I remember one time keeping a kitten hidden in my room at a rental house my mom, my sister, and I lived in. We lived in the smallest house in a tiny town named Narberth. I don’t know why I thought I could get away with hiding a cat in my room, but that’s what I did.
At some point my mom said tiredly, “You can keep the cat.” She was probably tired of me lying about how an animal had followed me home, or me proclaiming I didn’t know it was there!
Pets Need a Paycheck, Too
Soon, though, I grew up and realized the enormous responsibility of owning a pet. It cost money to take care of a cat or a dog, and I was living paycheck to paycheck — sometimes even living without a paycheck and paying one credit card with another. I knew I couldn’t possibly subject another living being to the hunger I sometimes experienced. It was one thing to tell myself that I could afford to eat something tomorrow, and quite another to explain this problem to a hungry, mewling cat.
The Realities of Marriage
I got married at 28 and soon learned that my husband wasn’t much into doing anything he didn’t want to do like cooking, cleaning, laundry, taking care of the kids, driving anybody anywhere, or anything that didn’t feel good to him.
He was a 10-year-old boy in an adult’s body proclaiming, “I don’t wanna do my chores!” And true to his word, he didn’t. If something needed doing, it was up to me to do.
The girls were constantly asking for a pet and I was constantly dodging their requests. I couldn’t imagine adding more responsibility to my already over-loaded plate.
Then one day my husband brought home two cats.
The girls were ecstatic. I thought about all the kitty litter I was just signed up to clean without my permission, the trips to the vet, the vomit to clean up, the food to buy, and the ruined furniture, and I sighed while they squealed.
I was not disappointed — I had all those chores and more added to my lengthy list of to-do’s.
But, it turned out, I didn’t actually mind it. I enjoyed having the cats around. They added another dimension to family life. They added personality. They gave me unconditional love.
Everything Happens for a Reason
A few years later, the kids were bigger and I was in the final phase of finishing my Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. I was stressed beyond belief because I was writing 10 mini papers, 2 medium papers, and making daily progress on a term paper every single week.
While taking a break from writing a final paper for one of my classes, I was sitting at the kitchen table, looking at the newspaper. I read the classified section for pleasure. It helped me relax.
For no good reason, and completely uncharacteristic of me, I said out loud, “Hey, there’s a Labradoodle for sale here and it’s only $250. Must be a typo.”
There was a second of silence before a roar erupted from the family room. All three of my daughters and my husband yelled in unison, “CALL!”
I tried to backtrack. I tried to wriggle out of calling. I tried reason.
I didn’t want a dog.
I did everything I could to NOT call but I was overruled.
Oh, what had I done?
I called the number listed and prayed the entire time the phone was ringing that the dog had already been adopted.
“Hello, I’m calling about the Labradoodle for sale?”
“Is it still available?”
The kids surrounded me, waiting to see the expression on my face.
“Yes, she is still available. Do you want to see her?”
Everyone cheered except me.
I made an appointment to see the Labradoodle the next day.
The Big Doodle Day
Prior to leaving for our appointment with the dog breeder, my husband took me aside and said in no uncertain terms, “No matter what, bring the dog home.”
I no longer had a say about whether we had a family dog or not.
The girls and I drove about twenty minutes and arrived at the modest home in a quiet neighborhood. We got out of the car and walked to the front door. When the door opened, we were greeted by two adult dogs, and a puppy of about four months.
I sat and chatted with the owners, met the parents of the puppy, while the girls played with the little dog.
The girls wanted to try out names for the sweet puppy. One daughter said one name and another mentioned a different one.
“Pearl” my mind whispered to me quietly.
My youngest daughter who hadn’t weighed in on a name yet, a few seconds after my mind told me her name, said “Pearl!”
I looked at my daughter wondering if I had said the name out loud. I knew I hadn’t but couldn’t believe she had somehow read my mind.
We loaded the flea-infested puppy that smelled like nothing I’d ever smelled before into the family minivan, and headed to PetSmart for all kinds of shampoos, conditioners, flea soaps, toys, leashes, collars, a food and water bowl, treats, and a crate.
Pearl arrived at her new home on April 15, 2010, and I’ve never looked back. We had a rough start to be sure, but I knew I’d never take her back to the breeder.
Third Day of Thanks for My Three Pets
My third day of thanks is how thankful I am for my pets. We have Billy (a cat), Brody, and of course, Pearl. They have added so much to my life and to those in my family. Their personalities are so unique but sweeter than anything I’ve ever known. They know when I’m sad and stay close, and they know when I’m happy and willing to throw a ball for an hour.
They’ve become the additional children I wanted but didn’t end up having. They give so much every day and ask for so very little in return: a gentle belly rub, an ear scratching, a dinner, an occasional treat, a long walk to sniff everything, and kind words they seem to understand.
They follow me around while I garden and sit with me while I binge watch my favorite NetFlix series. They listen to me no matter what I’m babbling on about. And they lay at my feet as I spend hours writing.
I am thankful for my three wonderful pets on this day, Thanksgiving, and every day.
Day 11 of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge I dared myself to start (and finish).