It’s hard to think, hard to talk, hard to listen when no one wants to hear…that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try all the same.
I have never thought of my dogs and cats and other animals, both pets and farm, to be my children.
It just wasn’t what they were to me.
That does not mean that they aren’t important to me. That does not mean that I don’t love them dearly.
But they are not my children.
Now I do have siblings that see their dogs and/or cats as their children. It was never strange to me that this could be. We each need different things as we are all different people. The reasons for why some of my siblings look at their pets and think, ‘this is my child,’ just as there are reasons where I don’t.
What I do see when I look at my cat, or my dogs is a companion that is a part of my family, but not my child. They are dearly loved and I am ever grateful for the years that we travel through life together. There have been times when they were watching over and taking care of me and just as many times where I was taking care of them. Both instances were also hand in hand with us having our own lives separate though we do take time to just sit and be with one another.
For are those not things that companions have with one another?
I had a friend ask me once if I understood why others would look at their pets and think ‘children.’ I answered that I understood in a way. One of my siblings and his wife are unable to have children. They have two little dogs and three cats and are parents to those five little furballs. These are the grandchildren they show to my mother when she goes to visit and these are the grandchildren that my mom greets and loves just the same.
I have a sister that has two fine human boys as well as several other children in the form of a little dog and several cats. She loves them all just as much as the others. She mourns when some of her children reach the ends of their natural life long before she does, but that pain doesn’t stop her from loving them just the same.
I have another sister who is single with no human children, but has an aging cat that she took in as her child when the cat was already half-way through the cat’s natural lifespan. For a short time we had that cat with us at the last house when my sister was staying at a place that didn’t allow pets. Said sister rejoiced when she got a new apartment because it meant she could live with her little daughter again.
Again, I have another sister (yes, my parents had eight kids, there’s a ton of us) who does not view her pets as children. She still loves them and mourns them when they reach the ends of their lives. She has always been the quickest of my siblings to bring home dogs and cats because those animals actually followed her home of their own free will. They are still considered members of her family, but they are not her children.
Family and friends come in all shapes and sizes and species. They come at different times in our lives. Many come as complete surprises while others were carefully planned, but they come all the same. But just as humans need different things at different times, the same is true of dogs and cats.
Each being on this planet is different, even, or maybe especially, those that are of the same species.
There are, after all, just as many stories out there about animals adopting orphaned young from a completely different species. (In fact, I have a pair of ducks that hatched and raised a pair of chickens who follow them everywhere, as well as a pair of dogs that have three young, two of which are cats while the third is their own actual blood offspring.)
So I’ve been prescribed more aerobic exercise by my new neurologist, does hauling buckets of water out to newly planted saplings, herbs, and berry bushes count?
I get to sit in different rooms and listen to Bella call her daughter Ysma from one room to another with kitty chirps.
If it’s Springtime in Utah, my true love gave to me…
Twelve birds trying to pen-brake
Eleven hours of watching MASH
Ten cabinet doors to hang
Nine sleeping dogs and cats
Eight beings with coughs in the house
Seven humans on our land
Six weeks and counting
Five packages of tp in the store
Four adults going nuts
Three dogs that are happy
Two cats that are not
And waking up to freshly fallen snow
So life took an extra turn when I woke up to frozen solid animal waters and snow on the ground. The best part was that I was so tired that I didn’t even notice until my eldest nephew pointed it out to me. I’d been out there before he had when most everything was kind of frost covered and I hadn’t even noticed.
This wasn’t the first time since the Spring Equinox that I’d woken up with snow outside, so I’ve kind of had parts of this bouncing around in my head for a few weeks. Finally got to get it all out, though. (And the reference to coughs was that we all had colds of various degrees. We were tested and came back negative, but somehow still passed our colds off to the dogs. Everyone’s getting better, though.)
For I have felt fear
Lurking behind me
Even as I seek shelter
Especially with what I face before me
So my dogs figured out how to open the chicken yard this morning. No chickens or ducks were harmed in the events that followed, but I spent about an hour with my niece and then nephew trying to catch our birds and put them back. Most of them were fairly easy to catch with the help of our oldest dog. Vincent is very skilled at pinning our chickens without hurting them and can even pick them up without harming or killing them.
Our rooster, on the other hand, got out of the yard entirely. My niece and I chased up all up and down the easement to the south of our property. He kept trying to run out onto the road, which is a major road in our valley. We finally managed to pin and capture him, but it was very tiring and we were all scratched up. The easement is mostly a steep little hill that leads from our fence to the road.
I’m pretty sure commuters got a kick out of watching a grown woman and a teen chase a rooster alternately away from the two roads while occasionally lunging in an attempt to catch him. (Our house is on a corner.)
He evaded us every time until we were able to herd him around the fence and into the actual front yard where we pinned him in a hedge that partially shields the house from the road.
My sister has returned to work
Even as her children remain home
Letting everyone know the risks
To keeping things running, yet safe
Don’t think we aren’t worried
Or flippantly scoffing
We have to keep going forward
Not leaving things on a cliffhanger
My sister’s job is going on a three-shift format to reduce the risk of people getting sick. There is an option of working from home if you have to quarantine, which we did use for two weeks after she came back from California. (It was a business trip, and everyone was sent home early when things really started to move fast in the U.S.)
I’m very grateful for the fact that my anxiety meds were adjusted right before things went down with the pandemic. Very grateful. It also helps that I generally get along well with my family.
Also, in the mental health history of my family, we’ve always done better when we have cats and/or dogs. We have cats, dogs, and a bunch of farm animals. That helps a ton.
Why ever have you done this
And trampled over me
Kept your joy contained
Even as it reigned free
Unless this was the plan
Perhaps more clever you are than I am
So I’ve got a cold and feel like crap. I wasn’t going to get up for a while yet because I was warm for once. One of our dogs, Helena, didn’t like that I wasn’t up right now this second. So she catapulted herself not just onto my bed, but directly onto me and started jumping around. She’s a medium-sized dog, our smallest, but she’s still a decent size and heavy enough to knock the air right out of you.
It wasn’t the wake-up call I had in mind and it was at least two hours earlier than I had planned. Unfortunately, I know from experience that trying to go back to bed while Helena wants you up isn’t just futile, it’s also incredibly foolish. She has no problems using her little claws to aid you in arising. Her claws aren’t sharp enough to cut, but they still hurt. (Clipping her nails is hard because they’re black and I don’t want to clip too far.)
Of course, heaven help you if you need to get up and she’s asleep on you.