Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Adopted A Zoo

Okay, you have heard the saying before: Empty Nest Syndrome.  It is an over-worn but very true phrase meant to signify a time in your life when you are adjusting to no kids at home, or less kids at home, or...more pets at home, as is the case with me and Fred, my husband.  And one of us ain't likin' it.

The count at the Reillys: 1 horse - non-negotiable. Lives in Salem, NH.
 1 rabbit named Nelson - cute, low- maintenance
 1 guinea pig named Betty (Nelson's  best friend, they co-habit and were adopted as a pair)

3 dogs: Copper, Neeley, and the recently added Bella. a sweetheart of a dog added this week to my wolfpack.

Honestly, I must be working through something, because I like pets, but I've never been like this.  Never.  And honestly, I do still have one child at home, my 13 year old son.  He is my partner in crime, and my very best bud.  "Do you think we could handle another dog?  It would be up to me and you," I say to him, perusing the web, looking at all the dogs who need homes, especially in these hard times. 

("We are part of the hard times!" my husband reminds me emphatically, as he uses the lint roller to remove dog fur and scoots a little dog from the pathway to the door.  He then points at Nelson, who is hopping by.  Nelson is trained to return to his crate to use the bathroom; he free-ranges around the house all day with a frighteningly blank look on his face.) I know, I shrug; I can't help it, and with James helping me, well... it's almost do-able.  And the Titanic almost made it.

I have analyzed myself, as I lay across my bed with a dog on my feet, one under my dangling hand, and another curled up in my bedroom chair.  "Hey, Nelson," I say gloomily, as he hops past me.  (He really is sort of disturbing.  No expression at all - is he happy?  Sad?  Mad? We'll never know.)  Why do I need all this activity, this busy-ness, this chaos?

Well...because I miss it; the full house with the three kids and the friends and the noise.  And, I want it for James.  I want him to stay away from the tv and the video games, and I love expanding our family.  As I often say to Fred; hey, these animals could be foster kids.  Think of that.  I'm not ready to fold up my chair and go home yet.  And, with so much that a son shares with his father (hockey, sports, NESN, hockey, baseball, hockey, ESPN, hockey) this is for me and James, and for now, it (barely) works.

So, this Friday I drive down to Maryland to see my family.  "Who are you taking?" my husband asks, meaning which pets.  Nelson hops by eerily; would he like to go?  Who knows?  I opt to take Neely, the tiny dog who loves the car, is obsessed with me, and who settles in happily down in Maryland, spoiled to his eyeteeth by my mom.  I'm looking forward to a break from work, and housework, and all the obligations that make up my home life.  But I'll miss everyone too, and leave my son in charge of the zoo until I return.  Not to all these pets...but to him.  Ok, and the pets... even that freak Nelson.


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