Saturday, March 3, 2007

Dog Days of Winter

While most of the country is buried under several layers of ice and the white stuff, I live in Florida. This happened because upon marrying my husband, he had obligations here and could not relocate to MY area of the country, Tennessee. Which is to say the first year of our marriage was spent not only adjusting to sharing the comforter and the bathroom sink, but also in mourning my lost South.

Well, small price to pay for a wonderful husband and all the memories that have resulted :)

I occasionally have a hard time re-orienting myself to being in this location. It appears we need a very warm weather area due to my hub's sensitivity to cold weather. He's a hale and hearty fellow who loves a good day's hard work in the blistering sun, but plant him in any weather below about 70 degrees and he whines. And he gets asthma and goes around moaning and looking pitiful. It's sad when the male of the species is reduced to this sort of spectacle.

I give the man his dignity and endure the heat.

I, however, am always too hot. I'm one of those women who welcomes cold weather with relief, and loves to snuggle in to at least a little true wintertime and nest indoors, baking and keeping the fireplace stoked. I appreciate the break in the seasons. No, I'm no true northerner, but I do like at least a hint of four seasons.

Well, winter here is like one continual pre-fall, with perhaps one freeze just for kicks. We haven't run the heater more than 3 days tops this entire past few months, and we nearly did have to run the AC (but I'm trying to forgo that as long as possible, with the windows open and fans on).

OUR dog days of winter, around OUR house, have been going something like this:

Me: I know we're keeping things simple so we can pay off our debts. But I need something to take care of. Like an animal. A dog. Or a cat. If I had a dog, I'd never feel paranoid at night that an intruder might be lurking. And the raccoons wouldnt have as much fun at the birdfeeder.

Him: We've already had the dog conversation. We were unemployed a good part of last year and we're only now getting back on our feet. R's college is coming up in only a few months. (He rubs his head and starts looking a little stressed)

Me: Dogs are good for relieving stress. You look stressed.

Him: (laughing) Yes, you're stressing me out. We have this conversation at least once a week.

Me: (hopeful) Well, if we had a dog, we wouldnt have to have the conversation any more...

I had to leave my family dog to an adopted family before leaving to come here. The hurricanes had devastated this area, and when relocating here as a newlywed with my daughter, there were no available rentals that allowed dogs at that time...because there were very few affordable rentals at all. The one we found insisted, NO animals.

I have missed my dog daily since. I'm just not going to talk about it, that's how much I miss him when I think of him. No, I don't think of animals as people, but Shadow was an important part of my divorcee years (of not-so-blessed-memory), and I'm sad he's not here.

The other day, I was driving down the road in TNTWD (the Nissan that won't die), and saw a line of cars stopped ahead. I slowed, and the line of cars behind me slowed. It was a two-lane near my home, where suburb meets country-soon-to-be-suburb. In the middle of the road were two beautiful golden retrievers, playing with an empty paper cup. I halted feet away from them. They just looked up and wagged at the oncoming traffic.

The other stopped car facing me honked for them to move. The cars behind him were adding up. The dogs just wagged...and stayed in the middle of the road.

Remembering one of Shadow's favorite things, I leaned out my rolled-down window and whistled to them. I reached back to the back inside door handle and opened the back door. "Come on, guys!" I beckoned, and they looked up, interested.

I recommend having a couple of discarded lunch bags in the backseat of any car whose AC is broken, speedometer doesnt work, is over 17 years old and won't die....for such an event. Call it "emergency supplies." I called to the dogs again and made dog-wooing noises. Something had to be done quickly before a car in the line behind me decided they didnt want to wait and tried to go around.

The dogs ran up to investigate me and peered into the backseat. The discarded lunch bags worked their magic. The windows were all at half-mast and the old Chick Fil-A bags were ripe. It was dog heaven. The jumped in good-naturedly, sat down on the back seat, and panted happily.

I was one happy camper!

I turned the car around at the next street and began to look down the main road to see where they may have escaped. It couldnt have been far. They were GORGEOUS, full-grown, and very people-friendly. And no collars.

Sure enough, in a driveway down just a few hundred yards came running a desperate looking man, and I waved to him to put his mind at ease. When it was clear to cross, I pulled into his drive and told him what had happened. It appears he lives on about 10 or 20 acres, and I offered to drive them up the really long drive, since the the only fence was well back onto the property. He said yes and met me behind the fenced area.

I'll cut to the chase. I got out and let the dogs out, and they acted like I was their long lost mom. Most golden retrievers are this way to folks who are friendly, yeah, I know :) I was giving them a farewell hug and pet, and told the guy it's obvious these dogs are well-loved and cared for, and I glad they didnt come to any harm. And they're gorgeous! (I said all this while being licked in the face by both animals).

The the man said "Do you want them?"


"You mean do I want your dogs?" I asked, confused. "I let them into my car in order to get them off the road so they wouldn't get hurt, but I had no intention of taking your dogs for myself," I reassured him.

"No," he said, "I mean you seem to really like the dogs and I wondered if you wanted them."

"Uhhh...who wouldn't want these guys?" I asked. "I've been wanting a dog, and who wouldn't? Why do you ask? Why are you wanting to give them away?"

"My family just split up, and these were the kids' dogs. Now they don't have anyone to really spend much time with them."

I wasn't really processing this very quickly, because I was so stunned a guy would offer these dogs to a complete stranger he knew nothing about. I gave the guy my phone number and told him to give me a call, that I needed to talk to my husband.

"Think about it and if your family decides that's what everybody wants, give me a call," I said. "I'm not positive I could keep them, but I'd be willing to discuss it." I said. I said this because I could already imagine the spectre of my being disowned by my lovely husband...ha!

I got home and J was there. And yes, I DID try the I Saved The Dogs And This Must Be Destiny conversation. He hugged me and kissed me and was supportive.

It boils down to the fact that we're not set up for animals yet. Yes, were I still single, I'd have taken the dogs, paid for their upkeep and kibble out of my current grocery budget, and have come home daily to chewed up furniture and dog hair, and possibly worse (been there, done that, survived it well before).

But then we did The Adult Thing and looked at what we can provide NOW with what we have NOW, and our outdoor accomodations NOW...and came up lacking. This is the reason my husband is NOT in financial trouble, but I was before I met him. I listened to reason, and the fact that he also LOVES dogs and cats and WILL be agreeable to them WHEN we're at that point. I felt like a junior high kid being told she can't have a pony. But I knew this was an adult decision for the long-term, and relinquished myself to my present animal-deficient state. Not so gracefully, but we both the end. We DON'T have acreage, nor a fence, nor extra money for food and vet.


I wasn't so sure the full impact of my resignation and agreement had been appreciated by J. He reminded me that because we're doing the right thing NOW, we're approaching the day faster when we CAN do these things. He grabbed me, held me, kissed me repeatedly...all very supportively. I'm telling you, he's a great guy. It's just that I was not yet fully devoid of pique. "Yeah, Robbyn, grow the right thing, " I silently coached myself.

"Well...when we CAN have animals, I get to pick 'em!" I mumbled to J who was still giving me a "now-that's-a-good-sport" sort of embrace as we sat on the couch. He was far too jolly.

MmmWWWAAAAHH!! He planted a final That's-the-end-of-THAT kiss on my cheek. "Now what's for dinner?"

"Thanks for discussing it. I still wish we could get the dogs," I concluded.

"That's what I'm here for, honey!" he replied, way too cheerfully for my mood. How can some people be so darn cheerful when declining to care for The Dogs of Destiny?

"I'll get dinner started," I said. "Oh, and by the way, the smooching on the couch just now was kinda fun. Did I happen to mention the dogs licked me all over the face only minutes ago?"

;-) heehee

I' got a call from the dog owner just yesterday. I'm going to help him find a good home (not MINE) for the dogs.

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