Let me say right up front that I don’t have any children and I don’t presume to know just how rewarding, amazing and challenging raising a child must be. What I do know is that my five animals are like kids to me and the love I feel for them is pretty overwhelming itself. And when it comes to having to leave them for an extended amount of time, I turn into a neurotic, annoying, mess.
My husband and I just got back from our annual summer vacation in the islands and as usual, it was amazing. What wasn’t amazing was the realization about six weeks before we left that our usual babysitter would be out-of-town the same week as us. Our babysitter is my mom, or ‘grandma’ as she’s known to the animals. (Well, mostly the dog, who freaks out with joy when she hears that word. The cats, as they’re wont to do, tend to not react at all.) Anyway, grandma only lives 10 minutes away and when we’re gone, Maho the dog gets to go live with her for a week and the cats get a visit from her every day. Even though we miss them like crazy, it takes a lot of worry off our minds knowing that our babies are in such good hands when we’re gone.
Cut to six weeks ago when I told my mom the week we’d chosen to go on vacation and her dropping the bomb that she had scheduled a vacation that same week. Both of us had already paid for plane tickets and such so there was nothing we could do. Immediately, I started stressing. I know there are many great kennels and ‘animal spas’ out there nowadays but A.) None of my animals have ever stayed in one before and B.) many of my cats are have special needs, including a formerly feral one who would have to be tranquilized just to get him out of the house. So we scratched a kennel off the list right away.
That left finding someone else to take Maho in and come check on the cats throughout the week. I have a lot of friends who are big animal lovers so you’d think that would have been a pretty easy task. But my husband and I approached picking that person out like we were choosing a god parent or something. The checklist was almost comically long: Had they met Maho already and did she like them? Did they have a secure, fenced backyard so Maho couldn’t get out? Did they not have any other dogs in their house since Maho is kind of a big scaredy-dog when it comes to other canines? Did they live close by so they could check on the cats often? Had they met Rhett and understand that even though he’s blind now, he may still attack them? Did they know about all our cats’ various medical issues and could they handle them? Did they mind having to clean out four, yes, four litter boxes? (Wow, reading that back over I realize what a high maintenance crew of animals we have.)
Anyway, after spending a whole evening offering up names of our various friends, then running them through our checklist, my husband and I finally agreed on the same person, and if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve read about this cool chick before. She’s my friend from my old TV station that spent a night climbing fences, ripping her shirt, then getting her hand ripped up as we tried to catch Sweetie (the feral cat) when he showed up badly injured. Thankfully, she was more than happy to take on the big job of babysitter and we took off for vacation with our minds thoroughly eased.
Now, that’s not to say we didn’t spend stupid amounts of time wondering how they were doing, talking about how much we missed them, postulating what they were doing at that exact moment, etc… I even called and texted my friend almost every day just to ‘check in’, (I’m sure she loved that,) and to say hi to Maho. And the moment we got on the plane to come home, all I could think about was opening that door and seeing the cats come running and hearing Maho’s shrieks of joy. If that’s how I feel about my animals, I can’t imagine what it must be like for all you real parents out there. How do you ever even leave the house?? 🙂
I’d love to hear about your animal love on the Adopt-a-human Facebook page. It’s dedicated to spreading the word about getting shelter cats adopted into good homes and the more people who participate, the more animals’ lives that we’ll save. Thank you!