Slippery slope fears

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I feel awful about something: I am having second thoughts about keeping Mighty/Moose. (Those are the two names I call him most frequently, for now.)

It’s not at all because he did anything, or because of how my other pets are reacting to him, or issues like that. I like him a whole lot, I really and honestly do. I think he is adorable, and sweet, and good-natured, well-behaved and playful. He has been a good boy since he’s been with me, with the exception of one poop-on-the-floor incident (my fault since I didn’t leave him outside long enough that night) and his lingering tendency to want to chase Simon. He’s actually a lot better about that now. Simon is out and walking around a lot more than he had been, and he’s vocal with me when I spend some time with him, petting and loving on him. I don’t think he’s traumatized– he’s just very submissive and meek when it comes to other animals. He’s always been like that, though. He let Gremlin come in and run the show when he arrived, even though I wanted him to stand up and knock the new kid around a little bit. But we don’t always get the hierarchy we, the humans, would like to see. Of course.

Both Simon and Hurley are submissive, actually. Hurley is letting Mighty/Moose get away with so much right now. I always let Hurley lick my plate after I’ve had tomato sauce and pasta, b/c he loves tomatoes so very much. Anyway, last night I went to do that and he did manage to lick most of the sauce away, but within minutes he allowed Mighty to muscle on in and take over. I’d expected Hurley to growl or give a warning, but he didn’t. He shares. He always shares — toys, rawhides, my affection, etc! It’s very endearing, but I’d be lying if I said I liked it. I think of Hurley has the vice president, after all– I want him to be powerful and the boss of the animals!

Anyway, I should get back to my second-thought thoughts.

The main reason I am hesitating about contacting the rescue women and saying “OK, I definitely want to adopt him” is because I am concerned that if I do this, if I take on a second dog, it’s a slippery slope. I was already worried about becoming the crazy animal-hoarding-lady back in July when I adopted Gremlin. I wondered if guys would think twice about dating me once they found out I had not one, but two cats. I felt better when I realized that the right guys, the ones I went so far as to go on dates with, did not mind at all. Some of them were cat owners, themselves.

But if I do this, I will be the woman with FOUR PETS. That is a very large number of pets for one person! As much as I love Gremlin (and I do–in fact, he could be my favorite cat at the moment), I sometimes wonder if I should have just kept it at one dog, one cat. Now, in the space of about six months, I am adding TWO new pets to the mix. In only six months. I don’t know, but I’m worried about the urges to adopt coming back again in, say, oh, six months from now. And/or six months after that. And so on, etc.

And I have a longing to adopt a really desperate dog. One that no one else wants because it’s ‘ugly’ or handicapped… I mean, I only get so many chances to adopt a new pet, and I want to make it really count. That sounds so awful. Like some dogs are more deserving than others. I’m having a tough time articulating what I mean when I say this.

Mighty/Moose is sweet, healthy and adorable. He will be easy to adopt out. He’s little. Little dogs do have it easier in the rescue community. Especially these days, when the rescue groups are overloaded with pit bulls and pit mixes. The rescue group I’m working with has historically had only larger dogs in its foster system. However, over the past month or so, a few smaller dogs have come their way (Axel being one, Mighty another… and there are at least two others I can think of) and they’ve all garned a lot of attention and were (or will be!) adopted very quickly. In the meantime, some of their bigger dogs have been with them for 10 or 11 months already! With no one interested in them! I feel so bad about this, and so bad for those dogs.

I’m definitely deep in thought these past few days, trying to sort out my feelings and instincts regarding Mighty/Moose. I wish it was an easy decision to make, like it was to adopt Hurley, or take in Simon. Those were just automatic, almost. I just KNEW. With Mighty/Moose, I don’t “just know.” I wish I did. I know it’s because I’ve already got three pets to take care of, and I work hard to try to be equal in my attention-giving and quality time with the three of them.

I totally, absolutely want to help as many homeless animals as I possibly can.

If I do this, am I only helping four animals to have a very good home? Or can I help countless others move through the group and find their perfect forever homes? If I let Mighty go and be adopted by someone else, then yes, I probably could directly help at least a few more.

Oh man, I JUST DON’T KNOW. I’m really confused and probably giving this way too much thought. I take this so seriously, I really do. I don’t want to make the wrong decision. Not for the animals, and not for my own future.

Is it terrible and selfish that I worry a little about what potential dates might think about all these animals? Now, I do know good and well that the RIGHT GUY won’t care at all about how many pets I have, and in fact, will love animals just as much as I do. But seeing as no one is lining up at my door and I very rarely even see attractive, single guys as I go about my real-life daily business, I wonder if I will ever really find anyone sometimes. This is a tricky emotional issue for me, because on one hand, I am quite content with teh way things are right now and don’t want to deal with the hassle of dating at all. Yet, on the other hand, I feel envious and jealous sometimes of my friends who are all married or in committed relationships all around me. And I can’t even let myself think seriously about the Kid Thing. If I can’t even get around to dating, how in the hell can I ever even fathom the thought that I might one day be a parent? That ship probably sailed a long time ago, and I am coming to terms with that, for real. I know I flipflop on the Kid Thing, yeah, but deep in my heart I feel terribly sad and disappointed that it hasn’t happened for me… and if things keep going on the current trajectory, it really won’t happen. It’s getting to the point where I’ve gotten nauseous visiting Facebook, and seeing photo after photo and post after post about people’s cute little kids. Every now and then, a photo or a story will just get to me and give me a case of the Jealousies. If so dang many of my friends weren’t parents, it wouldn’t be as difficult, but whatever. I can’t begrudge any of them, or any of you, your happiness and joy, of course! No way. I don’t mean that I don’t like the pictures or posts, or the fact that you’re happy and blessed. I just mean I am jealous. Plain and simple. And sometimes, I feel it stronger than other times. That’s all it is.

I can’t believe I am taking this tiny little 8 pound dog and attaching all this angst to him right now. Ridiculous. Sometimes I want to slap myself silly.

But yes, I really do need to figure out what is the best thing for me to do in this situation. I totally wish I could discuss it with Hurley and the cats, see if they really, really like this little guy or what. Would they miss him if he left?

I don’t have much time to decide about this, really. Mighty/Moose will have to go up on the rescue’s website very soon if I am not going to keep him. I need to let them know what I want to do.

Dear, sweet, lovable little dog: Please know I am trying my best to come to the absolute best decision for all of us. You, too. Maybe there is an even better home out there for you and if I am keeping you for myself, you’ll miss out on that! Or, not. Maybe I am the best home for you. This is so difficult. I wish I knew more, and could see the future.

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5 responses »

  1. I think if it’s not a clear-cut decision, then you can stop worrying. Just keep him as a foster. There’s nothing wrong with that. Heck, maybe he’ll even stay in the family… But don’t worry about the hoarder thing. Hell, there’s only me and DH in our house, and we nave NINE pets, total! Two turtles, three dogs, four cats… So I guess if it were just one or the other of us, we’d have half that number- or maybe all of them. What I mean is, stop obsessing over the “pets per human” status quo. This isn’t a nursery or a daycare facility (is that rule still one adult for every three kids?) It’s all about how many you can handle. I didn’t see you once mentioning being unable to reliably feed, care for or otherwise clean up after them, and the rescue people don’t seem concerned about that (or your number of pets) either. So, just do what you decided to do in the first place. Foster. It’s normal and natural to have the “Oh, I wanna keep it!” impulse. We all do. It’s also normal and natural to think things through seriously and come to more rational conclusions. Mighty’s not looking to you for any solid decision, he’s content to be in the here and now, in the good care of someone who loves him.

  2. Man, I wish I had an answer for you. I can totally understand why you want to adopt him, AND why you don’t. I do have faith that you’ll do the right thing by him.

  3. Okay…this is gonna be a lengthy response. Let me just get The Kid thing out of the way to start. Torey and I have been married since 2005 and neither one of us has ever had even the slightest urge to have a baby. In fact, my entire life, even when I was little and playing with dolls, I never ever wanted to be a mother. I know everyone will think this is horrific for me to say, but I view the entire gestation/labor/breast feeding bit to be completely disgusting. It grosses me out. So you’ll never see a kid photo from me.

    Now, as the matriarch of a household of 2 people and SEVEN cats, I think I have a lot to say on the adoption subject. Torey and I LOVE cats. We just do. But every single adoption, even the rescues made on dark, stormy, monsoon pouring-rain nights, was well-thought-out. The thing is–we’ve always just known. When we deliberately adopt and go to the shelter, it’s very easy for us to find the ones that are supposed to be ours. There’s this strong feeling inside of you, a conviction, that this little creature belongs in your life.

    With each new adoption, the biggest worry on our minds was how it would affect our current family of cats. If we brought someone in who destroyed the harmony that exists here, it would be devastating. That happened once, very early in our marriage. We had 3 girls at home–an adult siamese alpha (my Frost), and Opal and Lola were still kittens. We rescued a beautiful flame-point boy siamese from the side of the road by an empty lot, and we took to him right away, and he took to us. The problem is, he did NOT take to any of my girls. He was territorial, aggressive, and downright mean. He needed to be the only animal in the household, so after lots of crying, we found him a good, safe home where he could be alpha and only.

    Here’s the thing: Moose is in your household and isn’t really causing any waves. There’s the typical adjustment period, but it sounds like overall things are going pretty well. All 4 personalities are working together. You do not and can not know if the next animal you foster will fit so well into your family. It could turn into a nightmare.

    Now a word about animals who have had to be in-and-out of foster homes and shelters: When I was 14, I already had my Frost, but my parents wanted to get another cat, for my little sisters. So we went to the shelter. And there they were: 2 sister kittens who looked nothing like each other save for the exact same eyes and the natural “necklace” of light fur around each of their necks. I wanted so very much to get the glamorous, long haired charcoal-colored girl, but my family chose the short-haired skinny tortie because they decided that the gorgeous cat would be adopted right away while this skinny minnie with big ears would get passed over because of her looks.

    Fast forward a few months. My mom gets a call from the shelter, and they are BEGGING her to please, PLEASE take the glamorous sister cat. Because by that point she had been in and out of foster homes and shelters and they just couldn’t find her a home. So my mom said yes, and we finally got her. But because of all that back-and-forth, because of all those different homes with different animals, she was now mentally and emotionally damaged. It wasn’t until the last few years of her incredibly long life that she truly became normal and loving and purry and perfectly sweet. Years and years of a family loving her, including other cats and dogs, and it took that long for her to reach a point of mental peace.

    So, by sending Moose back to the shelter, you do run the risk of a similar situation happening to him. I imagine the chances are slim, and I didn’t tell you this to scare you, just to give you all sides of reality.

    See, that day that my family went to the shelter, I knew in my gut that the charcoal grey beauty was supposed to be with us, but my family disagreed with me.

    So, just because an animal is cute or beautiful or tiny does NOT ever guarantee that he’ll be quickly adopted.

    And honestly, I would be scared to bring a pitt bull of any mix or rottie of any mix into your household. You’ve got very mellow dudes, and the general personality of pitts and such are not mellow and chill.

    And now onto you being the crazy animal lady with 4 whole animals living with her. Torey and I, as you know and as I’ve said, have 7 cats. Say Torey and I split up (which will never happen, this is just hypothetical)–what happens to the cats? Well, one of us gets 4 of them and the other one gets 3.

    Also, my brother-in-law has 3 cats and is in a serious relationship with a gal who has SIX dogs. Medium-to-big dogs. Should their households ever merge, neither one will get rid of any of their animal babies, so should things go far enough, they’re looking at a family of 6 dogs and 3 cats and 1 little boy. That’s NINE animals, sexes and genres mixed. Oh, and I forgot the tortoise. There’s a tortoise, too. Seriously.

    I don’t pray. But I do ask the ether for guidance from time to time. Every time a new animal comes into our lives or has the opportunity to do so, I ask for guidance and I look deep inside my heart and my gut and I always get the right answer. And so many of our cats have such truly bizarre personality traits, I know they could never get the love and care that we give them anywhere else. Nobody else is going to be so patient with Obsessive Compulsive Opal or Mania-Driven Xavier or Fear-Driven Zoe, or Football Linebacker Shiloh.

    I know you’ve got a lot to think about, and if you want to talk about this further, give me a call, okay? And remember–making a difference in the life of just ONE animal is a great act of kindness. And how can you continue to make a difference in multiple animal’s lives? GIVE to the shelters of your choice. Give them money, give them animal supplies and food and toys, whatever. But if it looks like Moose is finding his niche among your boys, that right there might be guidance enough to make the right decision.

  4. Awww, thank you for sharing so much! One clarification, though: If I didn’t adopt Moose, he’d just remain my foster until he did get adopted. He will not ever go back to a shelter! That’s not how this rescue works. All the animals are in people’s homes. They’re all pulled off the e-list at the county shelters, initially, though. But they are all safe. 🙂

  5. Oh! Phew! That’s a relief. You wouldn’t think a cat could have serious mental and emotional issues, but it is completely possible. I’m just glad her last few years were so happy and peaceful and friendly. Glad she lived a long, long life in order to get to those good years.

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