Friday, October 2, 2009

My own personal zoo

So how can someone who claims to live on a budget end up with so many animals? They all come with a story. They are expensive when you add them all up, but what they add to our lives more than makes up for the cost.

The first to come into our household is Orion.

We got Orion as a tiny kitten back in 2002, when we were still living in an apartment. This old, mean kitty has been through 3 moves and all kinds of little kid attention. He has grown up with my own children, and is very much a part of our family.

It helps that he is a great mouser, and we live in the country. I hate mice. He earns his keep.

After we finally got our house and moved in, I started thinking about a dog. My husband at the time was on the road 5 days a week. I didn't necessarily want a guard dog, as I did have two young children. What I wanted was a companion to sleep in my bed with me, and give me a warning bark should someone come to the door.

Enter Sam.

We adopted Sam from the local humane society as an 8 month old puppy. He is a golden retriever/chow chow mix. He is also the absolute best dog anyone could ever hope for. He is gentle. He listens (well, most of the time) and he has enough of a bark that someone with ill intentions would think twice before coming into our home. Sammy really is the kind of dog every person hopes to end up with.

So here we are, one dog and one cat. It works for us. The one early spring day in 2008, I hear a noise in the barn. It sounds like a bird maybe. A high pitched squeak. Wait. Oh no. You are kidding. Kittens. We left them up there a while, watching for the mama kitty to come back to them. Nothing. At the end of the day, I climbed up into the rafters, and handed down to my husband 1 - 2 - 3 - oh boy - 4 - yes 5 little runts who could not have been more than a day old, and looked like they had not eaten in that time. Only one was making any noise. I have seen newborn kittens before. Living out in the country in cat dumping land you get used to seeing the strays and their litters. These kittens were tiny. Mama never did go back for them. Perhaps she knew they were too small.

So 5 kittens, being bottlefed around the clock. I kept all 5 alive for a week before I lost two of them. It was another week before I lost two more. The only survivor is the only one who would grow. He was the biggest of the litter, but still very very small as a cat. After all I went through keeping that little bugger alive, there is no way I could find another home for him. I am his mama. So we named him Columbia.

Now, fast forward to early this year. My daughter begged and pleaded and cried for her very own pet for her birthday. Did she want a guinea pig or a hamster? No. She wanted a dog. Now years and years ago we had two dogs who got along very well together. It was really nice actually because they kept each other busy so they were not always hanging on me. Now Sam, as I said before is the ideal dog. Adding a second, medium sized dog can't really be that much more trouble right? Our house is big enough and we have half an acre, which isn't huge but is good sized. So back to the humane society we went. We looked at all the dogs, found a beautiful basset mix who was so sweet and so sad looking. Unfortunately, it was late in the day, and we didn't remember to bring the animals shot records for our current pets. I was still working at the time, so my husband agreed to go the next day after he got out of work and get all the adoption work done. So he came home with Jack.

Wait a minute! That isn't a basset mix. That is also a puppy. Did I mentioned we agreed on no puppies? Yeah. Apparently, Gracie, the basset mix had been adopted out about an hour before he got there. We missed our shot. So because he promised to bring a dog home, he looked through the dogs again and went with Jack. Jack is a boxer/lab mix and was not quite 6 months old at the time he was adopted. I am still warming up to him 6 months later. He is a sweet dog, but he is the most sterotypical dog I have ever had in my life. He eats everything. When I say everything, I do mean everything. He digs. He chases sticks. He swims. At a year old he is over 70 lbs and is bigger than Sam. Not exactly a medium sized dog. He also drools. A lot.

Still, he absolutely loves attention and the older he gets, the better behaved he is. We still have to crate him at night and during meals. He is also about 95% housetrained which is more than I ever thought he would be. He has the potential to be a great dog, so I tolerate him.

The rats are the personal pets of the older daughter, and don't cause a lot of trouble or expense. The fish are the newest addition being fair prizes from our trip to the county fair this summer. I have told the girls no more pets. Period. We are a full house.

Unless of course you are talking about laying hens or raising a pig. That may possibly be in our future, but I want something that is going to actually save me money in the end, and nothing that comes in the house.

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