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Baby, Family, Life, Pets, School

Homeward Bound

09.20.08 | 9 Comments

A few weeks ago, Chief and Sarge were placed into a new home. This decision was made after much consideration, mostly painful. On our list of pros and cons, the only pros were that 1. I loved them, and 2. They acted as good Hoovers when Zoe dropped food. As heavily as those weighed, the numerous cons and rationality won.

The family lives about an hour and a half outside of Houston, in the country, on three acres. One acre of that is fenced in and has a pond for swimming. Three kids are part of the family, two pre-teen girls and a teenage boy, who later slept with the dogs. The mom wanted dogs that would alert them when someone was approaching; Chief and Sarge are protective that way. It was a perfect fit. When I met the lady and her son at a gas station, we transferred all the dogs’ possessions and loaded them into the car. I cried and cried. (I now understand how my family felt after leaving me in the Fatburger parking lot in College Station. The dorm parking lot was swimming with cars and people, so we went a couple of blocks farther to say our goodbyes, and I walked back to my dorm. We laugh about it now, but I think it is one of my Mom’s great regrets.)

Generally I am not a crier. Crying was once my fallback cathartic mechanism for any overwhelming emotion, from joy to pain to sadness. I guess it was the experience of being a military spouse or watching my Granddad’s decline or having cancer or something during that time. Whatever it was, like a thickened scar, I became not only toughened, but insensitive to pain. I have become rather adept at accepting things and moving on. But for the next week, my heart actually ached, and I cried at the thought of them. It was a little bizarre.

As my birthday approached, Joel asked what I wanted. “Chief,” I told him each time, an answer that was met with pity and consternation. (I got an awesome camera instead, which I really appreciate.)

I called and emailed the lady who had taken them, getting updates a few times. The dogs were happy, she reported, and the kids loved them. I missed them, but as long as they were okay, I thought, I could accept that this was a better situation.

Fast forward to Monday. Having fled Hurricane Ike, we were in Garland at the Watts Homestead. I received an email from the dogs’ Garland vet. A lady outside Houston (in Jacinto City) had Chief and Sergeant Pepper; please contact her ASAP.

The dogs had been roaming in their neighborhood for “a couple of days” – the lady said they appeared after the hurricane. Her kids had seen them hiding in a neighbor’s garage and took them some water. She called the number on their tags and gave my name (which still had our San Antonio information on it), and the vet’s office contacted me.

The Jacinto City family already loved the dogs and would keep them, except for having a damaged fence from the storm and no way to get them food. My dear friend Rachel (whose praises I will sing forever and ever) got them supplies, drove to Jacinto City, and rescued them until we would get back to Houston on Tuesday. (The family wants to visit the dogs sometime.)

Now I’ll never know the details of the dogs’ journey. But the facts are that they were a good distance outside Crosby, Texas (the exact location is unknown), a hurricane hit, and “a couple of days” later they showed up, together, collars on, in a neighborhood at least 19 miles away, with kind people who took them in and tracked down their original owners. Joel made this map to illustrate. They were on a direct path to our residence.

So. The dogs are back with us. As much as I want to know more details, I haven’t called the lady who took them, though she and her kids may want to know that they are safe, depending on what happened.

Zoe has been hugging them and sitting on their backs; I think she missed them, too. The plan, and I expect to be held accountable for this, is to walk with them every night. They need it, and I need it, and our family could use the interaction. We could all benefit from a routine, some fresh air, and more exercise. It’s about the spin you put on things. I can say, “Ugh, the dogs should be walked.” Or I can say, “Let’s all get out there and enjoy the evening together.”

I’m learning that the trick to surviving this busy time is not to eliminate everything from my life. Certain things do have to be put on hold, yes. But as my long-time friend Jennifer (new Mom and pediatric resident) wisely told me as I applied to medical school, you really figure out what’s important, make room for that, and let everything else fall away.

We have a family, and it includes dogs. We’ll make it work.

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