I have lost track of the number of animals that Tom and I have brought into the house in our 18 years of marriage. Suffice it to say that if we still had them all, we’d be showcased on television and not in a positive light. For us dogs and cats have always been disposable. We enjoy them until they do something to piss us off like chew our belongings, poop in the house or spray toxic cat urine wherever they please. At one point prior to my giving birth to our first child, a friend actually said to me “you actually have to keep this one Mary.” As I look back on the complex pre adoption home study that was completed on Tom and I, never at any point did the Social Worker ask if we had ever given back an animal. I am convinced that had she asked we would not currently be parenting Emondre. I think I just found the subject for my Master’s thesis.
Anyway, prior to having children, our unwillingness to cope with the negative aspects of pet ownership never had a negative effect on anyone except us (unless you count the animal.) They would come and go with very little emotional impact. Not so since we have had Patrick, Emondre and Michael. Patrick, who can become emotionally attached to a blade of grass has had the hardest time. After we gave away our last cat in early 2008 we swore off all future cats. We have been successful at standing our ground on that one even though our house was overun with mice this past Winter. We had even decided that we would put up with the most heinous of behaviors and grossest of habits practiced by our two Boston Terriers. Neither Tom nor I ever wanted to look our children in the eye again and tell them the pet had to go because it was too bothersome to us.
That being said, we put up with Lily’s numerous physical maladies over the past 2 1/2 years. We regularely cleaned up her poop and vomit off of the kitchen floor, put up with her room clearing gas and wiped her butt after she pooped so the blood would not stain the rug. This past week Lily was diagnosed with cancer. The tumor which had been growing on the outside of her stomach could be removed for the bargain price of $600, however, the vet assured us that the cancer would almost certainly recur. And so we said goodbye to another pet. We received the blessing of the rescue group that we had gotten her from, in fact, the Director told us that she would make the same decision given Lily’s age and other ailments. That fact , however, did not lessen the children’s pain or allow me to feel blameless. I had still brought a pet home, encouraged the children’s attachment to her and then abruptly snatched her away.
Patrick is recovering slowly. Last night before bed he asked if we could keep her ashes. I told him no that we would have had to request them earlier. Desperate to hold onto a peice of his beloved dog he was not accepting of the explanation. Hopefully with time it will become easier. I expressed my fear to Tom that we are permanently screwing up our children emotionally. He assured me that we were not. Only time will tell.