As it turns out, our dog Chryssi missed her even more than I did. Chryssi has some orthopedic problems that require us to keep her very lean, but she was getting depressed and lethargic and putting on weight. The house seemed empty - even John agreed. Just as we started contemplating the possibility of another dog, we saw an article in the newspaper about a dog at up for adoption at the local shelter. As soon as I saw his photo I put on my coat and headed over to see him.
At the shelter they told me he was a five-year-old lab who had been found wandering around, wearing an electric collar, in northeastern New Jersey. He was healthy, had recently had his teeth cleaned, and has had knee replacement surgery. They kept him as long as they could, assuming that his people would show up, but they never did and the first shelter ran out of space so they transferred him to a shelter near my home. By that point he had developed pneumonia and was not tolerating shelter life well - not that any animal does, but it is especially hard on senior dogs (turns out he's actually closer to ten years old than five). It was love at first sight, and as soon as he recovered we brought him home.
They called him Hunter, but we changed his name to Touch of Grey (Grey for short). He is a dream dog, mostly. He came to us a ready-made family member. He was trained, gets along great with Chryssi, is awesome with the kids, he's mellow and doesn't bark, and is just a super-sweet dog.
BUT. There's always a but, isn't there?
Grey is not a cat person. He chases and basically terrorizes them. It's horrible and they have been pretty unhappy about the new state of affairs. I thought they would work it out, but he's been here for five months and things haven't improved much. The cats each have retired to separate bedrooms - they used to spend a lot of time together, but now they just want their own spaces. The Little Man prefers the master bedroom, where he can escape out of reach under the king-sized bed, can sit in the window when the coast is clear, and has access to a litter box. At first he was terrified, but now he's starting to adjust and comes out at night when the old dog is asleep.
And then there's Althea. Poor Ally Cat, she fought the good fight at first but then just got tired of dealing with it and retired to the kids' room. They have bunk beds with a trundle underneath where we store (make that stored) Bess' stuffed animals, and that is where Ally decided to live. When it became apparent that she has no intention of leaving the room at any time for any reason whatsoever including litter box use, we decided to set up an apartment for her in the trundle complete with, as Bess refers to it, "room service". We set her up with her food and water, a litter box, and her bed, and now she's much happier. She's even been coming out to say hi every now and then. We're working on reaching a detente, but for now, everyone seems to be safe and happy.
See that kitty in the shadows? That's Ally, enjoying her new digs.
I am a scholar-turned-mother/activist who is interested in issues of personal balance and social justice. I have published a number of articles and given presentations internationally on the topics of voluntary simplicity and humane parenting. Learn more at my website www.beautifulfriendships.net.