Friday, February 13, 2009

Ode to the spouse of a pet lover

There’s a certain level of madness that comes into play when one chooses to marry a pet lover. Sure, you were aware that your intended loved animals, but that small fact left you wholly unprepared for the direction your life would take.

How shopping for things as ordinary as chairs, tables or carpet would become a discussion not about what style or color would best suit us, but what item would last the longest under the daily onslaught of critters, and what color would best blend in with the pet hair. Or, now that the cats are older, how high a bar stool is too high for the cats to safely jump into.

Or how we would trade in a perfectly serviceable table and chairs (granted, the chair back edges had been thoroughly chewed by the cat) for a different raised table because it allowed the cats a better view through the kitchen windows.

You had no idea that “disposable income” meant money for neutering neighborhood strays or covering vet costs for creatures who needed a little help, or that your garage would become a virtual rehab center for critters needing a little extra time to heal --- and that at any moment another rehab case could show up on the doorstep.

You never imagined that there were oh-so-many animal programs on TV, and that you would get to know the doctors on Emergency Vets by sight. Or that there were as many pet contests, pet sporting events, pet magazines, pet books, pet products and pet videos in the world as there are, and that at some point you would see most of them.

It never occurred to you that your spouse would be sporting a puppy bag the way other women carry baby bags, and would do so with equal pride, displaying all of the great dog items that can fit in a bone-shaped bag for anyone who asks.

And you didn’t know you were marrying a stalker who wanders through the aisles of PetSmart and Petco hoping to see a puppy or a friendly dog just so she can say hello (although you quickly found a way to pretend that you had no idea who the crazy lady is).

Then there’s the leisurely car ride cut short because your spouse had to pick up a sick kitten on the side of the road (see vet bills, above), or morning rescue endeavors for injured pups that no one else was going to help, or keeping a stash of pet food in the car in case we came across an animal too scared to accept help, but not too proud to eat.

I’m fairly certain you didn’t know that trips to far-off places never get taken because the funds just got donated to the pets’ food bill, or vet bill, or toy bill or some nonprofit that needed a little extra help.

And I haven’t even started in on the poop, and the puke, and the hairballs. Yeah, I’ll bet no one ever told you how much pets can do all three of those things, sometimes simultaneously, and often at the least opportune moments. If there were a doctorate program in poopology, you’d most surely be given a degree based on experience.

Though there’s been some grumbling at times (and sometimes a wee bit more than grumbling), you’ve hung in there and have seen past the fur to the heartbeats that reside beneath it, and you’ve gotten it. I’m not saying you always enjoyed it, but you did get it. And in getting it, you’ve gotten me, and the essence of who I am and what matters in my world.

It may not be what you picked, but it’s what you got. And you stayed. I love you…not just for these reasons, but they easily rank in the top ten.

Happy Valentine's Day.

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