To adopt or not?

great daneA 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.”
cute kittenI 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!
cute kittenI 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. Cats? 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.