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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Change of plans

My husband and I have a cat. Marley is 16 years plus and has lived an eventful life. We acquired her while in college at the University of Missouri. I worked at the student newspaper and my husband and daughters came down to the office to meet me for lunch. I was running late. Big mistake.

Becky, the staff business manager for the paper, had brought a basket of new kittens to the office in hopes of finding homes for them. My husband was never really good at telling our daughters no. So by the time I arrived, we were the proud owners of not one -- but two -- kittens. One was Marley. The other kitten lived only a few months and died from an infection acquired at the vet's office when he went in to get nuetered. Marley thrived and moved with us after college to Texas, then back to Missouri, then Oklahoma, then Florida, then back to Texas. After our youngest graduated from high school, she officially became my husband's cat. She's traveled across the country at least twice and spent a few months with my son's family in Pennsylvania when we were traveling. Marley is part of the family.

Over the past few years, we've "sat" for a few months, our son's dog, Dixie. And, when my eldest daughter and her family lived with us for a while, Marley tolerated their beagle, Snoopy. So we've never been a household without pets.

Occasionally after emptying another vacuum canister full of animal hair, my husband would grouse, "After Marley goes to kitty heaven, we're never getting another pet." I, who suffer from persistent allergies including dog and cat dander and hair, wholeheartedly agreed as I popped another pill and reached for the inhaler.

That was the plan anyway. Then a few weeks ago, we were in downtown for a festival. I was heading to find the restrooms and we walked by the Humane Society's trailer. In each window, there were puppies of varying sizes and shapes.

I stopped to look -- I'm always a sucker for cute puppies, though I never planned to adopt one. Well, because we had a plan.

The I saw her. A tiny little brown Chihuahua. She was not a puppy, anymore, but I wasn't sure she was much more. She made eye contact. I looked away and oohed and aahed at the other puppies. "That dog is watching you intently," a man standing beside me said, pointing to the Chihuahua. "She's cute," I said. "But I can't have a dog. I have a cat, and besides, I don't like Chihuahuas."

He put his hand near the window. She backed up. I reached up and put my hand on the window, she came back and put her little paw up on the window. We made eye contact again.

My husband came up. He liked the little dog. "The dog likes your wife," the man said again. Then, he looked at me. "That puppy picked you. You at least have to hold her."

My husband said, well, let's just ask. Big mistake.

The woman from the Humane Society explained that these were dogs and puppies who had been in the shelter for a while. If not adopted, they would be euthanized the next week, so the adoption fee was cut in half.

I held her. I filled out the paperwork and paid the fee.

Sammy is now part of our family. She sits on a pillow on my desk while I write. She jumps for joy when I get home from work and she refuses to let anyone else walk her if I'm home.

My husband dotes on her and buys her gifts whenever he runs to the store. Marley tolerates the intrusion and soon realized that means she gets more treats too, because we can't favor one "child."

I find myself doing things I said I'd never do like shopping for a doggie sweater because she shivers in the cool morning air. I let her sleep on my bed. I'm head over heels in love with this little dog.

I have to hire a sitter, or call ahead to the hotel to make sure she can travel with us when we head out of town. I get up earlier than I'd like on the weekends to walk her. Yep, our lives are more complicated with another pet. And, we love it.

So much for plans.