A terrible, totally unexpected thing happened to me last year. My 17-year marriage broke up and I couldn’t put it back together again despite trying everything short of brute force.
I had to leave the home that I’d hoped to have as my forever home, a five-acre sanctuary for various aging pets. When I finally I drove away, I had to leave behind my three shelter dogs, my closest, dearest companions (that’s Buster, my 13-year-old Great Dane/Border Collie mix, in the photo). I went north to find an apartment, a job, a new life …
After much searching, I finally found an apartment I could afford. The lease agreement said pets were permitted on a case-by-case basis. I was overjoyed; maybe I’d be able to get one of my dogs … maybe.
But then I thought about what breaking up the pack would mean to the dogs. And what about taking free-roaming dogs used to five acres of paradise to call their own, and making them apartment-bound hounds? The dogs are aging, too; would they be able to hold off on doing their business until I could get them out the door, down a long hallway, to an elevator, down five stories, across a patio, up a flight of stairs and to the “pet area” defined in the apartment bylaws?
My wondering was cut short when I discovered that the building had a weight limit on pets: 25 lbs., max. None of my dogs weighed that little. But still, maybe I could sneak in the female dog who weighs about 56 lbs.? I could be sneaky if I had to.
So I called the landlord’s property manager and asked what having a pet would entail. “We’d have to amend the lease,” the chilly woman said. “And I wonder if you’re really ready to cover the costs of things your pet could damage. I mean, they might have an accident on the wall-to-wall carpet and you’d have to change the whole thing. That’s hundreds of dollars. And then there’s scratching at the door. And nuisance barking. And if it’s a cat you want, they can spray even if they are altered. Did you consider all that?”
I told her that I had considered all those things but that I missed having my dogs — or something alive — in my life.
“Well, it’ll be a $350 deposit for a pet and we’ll have to get the lease amended and you’ll be responsible for all the damage a pet can cause.”
I gave up thinking about my dogs, not because of the money — or because of the potential damage a pet might cause, but because I couldn’t see making an aged dog leave her home on five acres, her pack and the familiarity of my ex just because I felt lonely. My new job does have me away from home for extended periods of time — too long to leave an old dog alone. When I pet-sat a friend’s dog in my apartment, that dog would howl like a lonesome coyote whenever I took the garbage down the hall — for a mere two minutes!
I guess I can’t have a dog in my life. Not right now. Still, I can’t stop thinking about wanting to foster or adopt SOMETHING. C
ats? Two, maybe, so they aren’t lonely. (See Jesse
, pictured above, and Hope
, pictured right, two potential adoptees at Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
in Arlington, VA.) Would that be a $700 pet deposit? What about a bird? Or two birds?
I’ll keep thinking, keep looking on Petfinder
. I’ll re-group later.
Life without a companion animal just doesn’t feel like life to me.