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Pet Obsessed

Currently in my household there reside my 3 kids (14, 18, 20), my husband, my mother-in-law, and me.

And approximately 347 animals.

OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But for my non-pet-loving husband, I’m sure it feels that way at times.

 

Currently we care for 1 big, noisy, hair-factory dog named Berkeley, a 9-year-old blackIMG_7141 lab; twin 2-year-old kitties named Stella and Luna that we can only tell apart by their collars and their personalities; 2 parakeets, Jasper, whom we’ve had for 4 years, and FullSizeRender 13Kalani, whom we’ve had for 1 after summer pet sitting turned into a forever home; a new mud turtle named Franklin who’s supposed to be in my daughter’s care—we’ll see how that goes—a koi fish pond out front that currently holds 2 gorgeous koi named Kiiro, which means yellow in Japanese, and Kireina, which means beautiful, at least according to Google Translate and an aquarium with fish that now number about 15, I think.

Phew! Sounds like enough, doesn’t it? Yet every time I see that someone needs a home for an animal, my mind always jumps to the idea that just one more won’t make a difference. Then I think of my husband, long suffering but loving, who just shakes his head at my obsession.

IMG_8058He agreed to the mud turtle because it doesn’t make any noise.

And it doesn’t shed.

Mind you, we live in the ‘burbs. We’re not on a farm where animals can roam freely and be outside most of the time. Ours are all indoor animals, though the cats love the screened-in back porch and are excellent lizard hunters.

So every morning I get up before I really want to and take the cover off the birds’ cage, let the cats out of the laundry room where they’re confined for the night because they kept bothering the birds in the wee hours of the morning, let the dog out, check the food and water levels in everyone’s bowls and step IMG_7792out the door, rain or shine, to make sure the koi get their sustenance.

Every night I cover the birds, feed the aquarium fish, clean the litter box, give the kitties their treats and lock them up, let the dog out and make sure Franklin has been seen to.

In between comes the washing and the playing and the cleaning of filters and changing of water and bird cage liners, and, and, and. The list is endless.

So why do I do it? Why do I keep these little critters that take up so much time and energy?FullSizeRender 14

That’s a good question I’m sure my husband would like answered.

Before we got the 2 cats we have, we had another big ol’ boy we named Oreo (can you guess what colors he was?). We weren’t going to get another cat, but my eldest told us of a dream he had one night where his class from school went to a pet store, and everyone got to get a pet but him, because his dad wouldn’t let him.

I didn’t even put him up to it, I promise.

As David was praying about the issue, God told him that by keeping pets from his kids, he was limiting their capacity to love. They did, in fact, need to have these creatures into which they could poor affection.

oreoWhen Oreo mysteriously passed away at the young age of 8, this is what my then 16 1/2-year-old, that same boy who had the dream, said in way of eulogy on Facebook, along with the photo (left): “My friend, it has been an exciting and pleasurable journey we have taken. Every moment and every part of your existence was well spent, and although I don’t know if cats have a true sense of feeling and emotion, I hope you felt that you partook in a life well lived. Though the circle of life continues, your being will never be forgotten as long as I live. Our vast array of memories will never leave my mind. Rest in peace, Oreo, my wonderful pet, friend, and companion.”

Capacity to love? You betcha.

I also feel like a love of animals has a biblical basis: Psalm 50:10-11 says, “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And everything that moves in the field is Mine.”

They really do reflect the glory of God. He made them. He cares for them. He has given usFullSizeRender 15 stewardship over them.

Do they cost a lot of money in upkeep? Yes.

Do they make a lot of noise? Some do, yes.

Do they make a lot of messes? Again, some do, yes.

Do they sometimes ruin things that we have purchased? Yes.

But would I give them up to have a spotless house, a pristine yard, an unscratched window, a lot less work? No.

When that fuzzy little body climbs onto my lap and purrs, I know that I am touching something sacred. And would I have missed my boy’s heart for his cat? No. All of my kids speak lovingly of having pets of their own when they move out.

The care and loving of an animal will prepare them for parenthood, it will make them kinder people, it will make them more patient and accepting of others. I do most of the work mainly because I want to, not because the kids are shirking their duties. They know there will be work involved.

So in my 55+ years of life, I’ve invited into my heart 4 dogs, 5 cats, 3 birds, numerous fish, a rabbit, a couple of mice and a hamster that was really my brother’s.

And I’m all the richer for it.

 

 

Ducks In My Driveway

My husband built me a koi pond for our front yard about a year and a half ago. Since then I’ve been able to enjoy watching my fish grow from abut 2″ to more than 12″ each. They are lovely. Just yesterday, 2 mallard ducks decided to joinIMG_6386 us in our yard. They are a beautiful pair, calm as could be, letting us come within a foot of them with no problem. I have a bird feeder in my yard, so I grabbed the bag of seed and scattered some on the driveway for them. The sprinklers were on, so they enjoyed getting wet and sipping in the puddles.

Then they began to show interest in the koi pond. Uh oh. I wondered if that was a good idea. Would they scare my fish? IMG_6391Could they harm them? The fish are almost as big as they are, so I didn’t figure they’d eat them, but would they hurt them in some way? Luckily, the drake just jumped on the side, looked for awhile and then waddled away. But today, they were back again, and this time, they thought they’d take a little swim. The koi don’t seem to mind, but I was concerned about possible parasites or bacteria from wherever else they’d been. IMG_6403I did what every rational person does at a time like this: I googled it. “Ducks in my koi pond.” And of course, I came up with as many opinions as there were answers. Tame ducks are OK, but stay away from the wild ones (that should be true of our friends in life, too, shouldn’t it? haha). Ducks add interest to your pond, let them stay! If you attracted ducks, you’ve done something right!

I’ve decided to let nature take its course. They’ve already helped me out by eating the pink apple snail eggs that tend to line the edges of the pond, so that saves me from having to scrape them off. And they’re just so darn cute! My husband is hoping they’ll build and nest and we’ll have babies eventually. I’m not sure whether that will happen or not, but for now, we’re enjoying the company. IMG_6401And yes, that means all of us.

My question is: why are they suddenly finding our yard attractive? Where did they come from? Will they be sticking around? If only we could speak duck.

Sometimes we all find ourselves in circumstances different than what we’re used to. What’s that saying? Like ducks out of water? We’re uncomfortable, we’re frightened, we’re unsure of what we’re doing. Sometimes we just have to find IMG_6396
what’s familiar. Is that some water over there? It’s smaller than what we’re used to, but let’s just go with it. The fish look pretty friendly. Maybe someone will toss us some seed every now and again.
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Eventually, wherever we are, we will settle in and life will become normal again. New normal, maybe, but normal nevertheless. Whether we stay in that new place, move on to another or go back from whence we came, God sees us, He goes ahead of us, and He knows what we need.