Monday, July 03, 2006
Pet Purging
Saying no has never been a strong point of mine. Whether it be volunteering for ministry, taking a meal, driving the carpool, raising someone else's kid, solving someone else's problem - I stink at saying no. When it's agreeing to adopting something with four legs, my record is even worse.

We grew up with a menagerie of critters. I doubt we paid for any of them. My brothers likely dragged some home; others were fed at our house for too many days in a row and stayed. We never visited the vet; heck, we kids rarely went to the doctor! Consequently some died of mysterious deaths. Looking back, I realize it was never terribly sad saying goodbye to any of our pets. They didn't stick around that long. They didn't last long enough for us to get attached to them. I remember one puppy in particular. His history ended under the wheels of the school bus, and we had a neighborhood "funeral" that felt more like a party. Only one pet ever, ever lived inside our house. Her name was Pauletta Sue June Boaz, a little grey poodle with bows in her hair. She slept inbetween my sister, Barb and I. She'd been given to Barb by some dying relative of an old boyfriend. I still can't believe my father agreed to anything with four legs living inside our four walls. Even Pauletta Sue was given away when our family moved across country. There was no goodbye, she just didn't make the trip I'd already left on.

We all carry baggage from our growing-up years; I will always have an unhealthy attachment to any falling down, paint-peeling, white clapboard house that just so happens to have a front porch. I'll always have a soft-spot for making homemade ice cream with a hand crank freezer. I'll also have an unnatural pull toward creatures. Especially dogs and cats. Somehow I convince myself if we don't adopt them nobody will. My husband would rather I go to the mall than the humane society. About 15 years ago, due to my aforementioned inability to say NO, we'd climbed to an all new high number of pets. T.W.E.L.V.E. If I remember right, there were two dogs, Lindy and Daisy; two cats, Bullseye and Mooch; three goldfish-no names needed; a guinea pig named Ben (who was really a girl named Jennifer), and four teddy bear hamsters, all named Timmy, after my husband's brother (which always cracked us up). It was also the summer we had our three kids, and we'd agreed to raise my brother's two year old, non-potty trained son.

At some point I reached saturation/overload level. I just could not stand one more creature depending on me to stay alive. I knew I couldn't get rid of anybody with two legs, so everybody else became open season. I just woke up and H.A.D. H.A.D. I.T.

My first act of the day was to give the fish the royal flush. It truly didn't occur to me that a chlorinated swim would be painful. I scooped them out and sent them on their way. Next, I convinced the kids selling their hamsters was a good way to make money. $5 is a lot of money to a kid. We sold them all. There were a few parents left out there who didn't know a $5 hamster needed $50 in habitrails, sawdust, etc. I still don't know how we convinced somebody to take a cat. I didn't require an I.Q. test, so off it went. A boy from the high school agreed to take Daisy, the bird dog. He actually hunted birds; all we were using her for was to bleach out the carpet, one spot at a time. It was the end of the day. All that was left was Ben, a.k.a. Jennifer the guinea pig. He/she lived in a 10 gallon glass aquarium. There was no drainage. Just soaked newspaper clippings. She'd grab her water bottle with her little mouth very early every morning and let it go, over and over, to let us know it was breakfast time. Time to deliver lettuce to her front curb. She'd whack the glass wall, then let out a screech. Ben had to go. I would have kept all the others just to send him to somebody else's house. Ben belonged to our son, Dan. Dan didn't really mind the screeches and smells coming from his room. Boys are good that way. He loved Ben. I finally convinced Dan he could sell Ben for $10. Dan had never had $10 in his life. The money lured him in. Alas, we couldn't find anyone with a mother clueless enough to pay for the pig.

There was one hope left - Jeremy. Jeremy's Dad was out of a job. They didn't have $10, but he had one of those moms who has an even bigger problem saying no than I do. Perfect. I told Dan I would buy Ben from him, then give Ben to Jeremy as a gift. To cheer him up. I still vividly remember stopping by the ATM machine on the way out of town; standing there with Dan withdrawing the $10 bill. Handing it over to him. Trying not to feel completely evil.

At the end of the day we had T.W.O. pets. One cat, one dog. Like most normal Americans. Sad ending to the story; Ben didn't live very long. apparently Jeremy's mother cut back on Ben's water supply so he'd stop that infernal racket with the water bottle. Dan grew up, realized $10 is not a fortune. To this day if I mention Ben, he lets me know he hasn't completely forgiven me for waving a $10 bill under his little nose. He's still convinced we literally sold Ben into a certain death. That's how it went down - the day our family refers to as "Pet Purging Day."

I recently changed my profile photo. The main reason was, as Sarah, my daughter pointed out, the photo had Sydney in it. Sydney, who I sold when she was six months old because she was driving me crazy. Sarah pointed out there was probably something wrong with posting a photo of me and the dog I deserted. Point well taken. Thus, new profile photo. Note - I DO have a cat and a dog, take good care of them, and have no plan of removing them from our household. I only mention this to make up for the fact that after I sold Sydney I put Sadie, the other cat, to sleep, or as we like to say - "sent her to heaven to be Jesus' pet." My reason was a good one, but I'll spare you TMI. Sometimes I just have to, as I told Sarah, "kill the cat." Alas, sometimes the sins of the parent are visited on the children; I'll let my daughter, Sarah, tell you the rest of the story.

  posted at 12:16 PM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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