Ephemeral as an animal life

Warning: Long, incoherent, stream-of-consciousness post.

I think I need a life coach.  I want to be able to hire a professional to make decisions for me — why isn’t such a service available?  You go to some trained counselor-type person, present them with your options, your pros and cons, and they analyze your situation, read you for any unspoken clues in your words and/or body language, and tell you what to do.  In lieu of that, I’m writing this as a form of thinking out loud in the hopes it will lend clarity.  Though if any of y’all have insights to share, by all means pass them on.

Which is all a long-winded way of saying that I’m at a loss about my pet situation.  I thought it would be rather nice to have a new pet join the family around Thanksgiving, not only for the holiday spirit, but because we have free time off.  But there are TOO many choices!  TOO many animals who need help and TOO many humans who suck and don’t do anything about it.

Leaving well enough alone is an option, but it isn’t a satisfying one.  I know from experience that our home has at least a 3 pet capacity, so I feel obligated to give an animal a home because I can.  And I want to. But who or what?

I know that some time ago I tried to completely write off dogs as an option, but I’m having a hard time making that stick.  Mostly I can’t get past the Kodak-moment-itis Syndrome of focusing on the potentially cute moments instead of on having to pick up another living thing’s shit with my hands!  And the finality of it: if we don’t get a dog now, and get another cat, then it would be 15 or more years before we could try again and by that time there’s no WAY I’d want a dog.  Even hypothetically. And there’s the simple fact that we SAID that when Gandalf died, we’d get a dog.  I like to stick to plans.  And how can you follow up Gandalf T.-muthafuckin-Grey with another cat?  Seriously, that cat would get a complex.

All of that said, still….dirt. shit. drool. inability to leave the house. walking in rain. being spoken to by dog people. Gah.

And the guilt I’d feel for not helping a cat.

On the dog front we have a couple of options.  Option one is shelter dogs.  We both really like pit bulls.  But we’ve been looking at shelter dogs since summer, and in all that time we’ve only met two who both met our requirements and that we liked.  Both were adopted out from under us before we could take any action.  :(   It’s discouraging.

And then there’s always the greyhounds.  We’ve looked at several so far and haven’t “clicked” with any of them.  That’s part of the problem with racing greyhounds — they come from such an assembly-line/lab rat lifestyle that they really don’t have any personality when you first meet them so it’s very hard to have a “click”, unlike shelter dogs who are fully-formed individuals.  Newly-retired greys just sort of sit around and look decorative.  (Gawd, if the Greyhound Crazies heard me saying that, they’d never give me a dog.)  And while I sympathize with individual dogs who need homes right now, overall “homeless retired racers” is a false problem.  It could go away completely in 5-10 years if states would make dog racing illegal.  The dogs are a byproduct of an inefficient industry that needs to be shut down.  Whereas strays, dumped animals, overpopulation…the problems that result in shelter animals are endemic and will never go away because human beings are horrible.  So it feels more “helpful” to adopt a shelter animal.

But greyhounds are so purty.  And they don’t bark.  And medieval artwork is full of them.  And there may be a good contender on the horizon:  one group has acquired a black, cat-safe male, said to be calm and gentle.  These were the qualities we liked in Ciaran, could they repeat themselves?

We haven’t even started to address cats yet!

Back when I (thought that I’d) ruled out dogs, I decided that Plan B would be to adopt a kitten.  We haven’t had a teeny-wee kitten for 18 years (Ed was 6 months old when we took him in, so that doesn’t really count), and I’d like to experience that again.  Also, I think it will be easier to introduce a wee one to E and B than an adult. And, OMGkittens!

But there is a cat at Animal Friends, a young adult grey/white female who was there when we adopted Barrett in January and is STILL there!  I noticed her at the time (the grey/white thing), so that’s why she’s stuck with me.  She went to a foster home for a while but is now back at the shelter.  I cannot understand what such a pretty young cat is doing at a shelter.  Her only “negatives” are that she apparently can get overstimulated and nip a bit when playing, and she doesn’t always want to be petted.  Doesn’t that describe pretty much every cat? So part of me just wants to march in there and say, “Enough!”, and liberate her.

But…kittens! Argh.

And all of the above still doesn’t take into account the 8-pound black monkeywrench named Nala.  Oh Ms. Nala, what are we going to do about you?

She is well now, and available for adoption.  But being an 1. adult 2. black 3. cat who only likes to be handled on her own terms, I have little to no hope that some kind stranger will become enchanted with her and whisk her off to a happily-ever-after.  I think her only chances for a home are if I nag someone into it, or adopt her myself.  Much as I care for Nala, I’d prefer the first option because then two animals get helped: Nala and someone else.  Further, once Nala’s former owners get slapped with their citation, BW says he’d feel a bit leery of owning not one but TWO of their cast-off cats.  I doubt they’d pull any kooky revenge stuff (they’re too lazy), but one never knows these days.

I’d love to just “follow my gut”, but my gut gives out totally mixed signals from day to day.  Probably my gut would say to pick the hard-luck cases, a pit bull or the long-termer cat.  But it could just as easily be distracted by OMGkittens! If I followed my gut, I’d have 3 cats and a dog and life would be living hell.  My gut is useless.

The current plan for this week is: visit the pit bull, go and see Nala on the weekend with my mom, and then meet the greyhound.  So.  Opinion, Mr. Spock?


Shit, Spock wants no part of this emotional mess and has beamed himself down to Beta-Antares IV.


2 Responses to “Ephemeral as an animal life”

  1. LOUP Says:

    You could always put out feelers for a dog that acts like a cat. They exist. Cinder is proof. But that would just make the decision process even more complex. If you get a dog – your life certainly will change drastically. Rainy, cold walks – having to find a sitter any time you are away for any longer than 8 hours to come by and feed, walk, etc. or take them with you every where. They make scooping contraptions for the poop to get our hopes up but you end up picking it up with that veil of plastic between you and it. They bark, they shed, they smell, there is a lot more time and money involved in grooming them.

    Having a dog is nice — there is comfort in it. But unless you can’t imagine your life without a dog … I would stick with cats. 10 years ago I never would have said this — but dogs are way too much like children.

  2. tarsier Says:

    That’s the deal with greyhounds, they are supposed to be “cat like” despite their size. I appreciate your input, thanks.
    (I knew I liked my Cinder for a reason!)

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