We were overjoyed to be approved as fosters with The Little Dog Rescue, so now a new kind of more exciting (and familiar) anticipation has taken hold of the household at large. Furniture’s been rearranged, paperwork’s been sorted, and there’s little left to do but wait with bated breath. I think I’ll take this opportunity to introduce a little background story as a prequel to our upcoming foster adventures.
As a young-thirty-somethings couple and childless by choice, pets play a large part in filling the role of some entity to focus on nurturing together. Work is part of that as well, because we have creative projects together in addition to our individual ones. As our ultimate dream is to support ourselves with our creative endeavors, Muse is a continual drive and process in our lives, which frequently sees us shut up in the study for days, with no one to remind us that a daily airing is important and that mealtimes should be observed with regularity. But all work and no play makes Jack axe people in an old hotel, or something to that effect (yes, I loved the Shining, both book and film). I don’t think every couple needs a child or child substitute, but I do think that part of creating a lasting relationship together with someone is actually creating something together. And I’m a big believer in breaking the monotony to avoid stagnation.
Our first joint project was our first hamster, Chimera, who was adopted from the local branch of the RSPCA at a tender age, having been part of an “oops” litter. We were looking forward to having a little face to come home to after class, but little did we know how much she would come to own our lives. It wasn’t very long before she had us wrapped firmly around her delicate, minuscule toes, demanding attention by scrabbling at the corner of her bin cage or climbing up the water bottle and trying to chew out of the lid, running up our arms when we put our hands in the cage, and diving headlong into every toy and puzzle we could present her with in an effort to give enough stimulation to her everlasting energy and curiosity. She ran about the flat in her ball, bashing merrily into the walls without a care, chewed through “pea puzzles” made from a handful of peas and a crunched up toilet paper tube to get to the hidden treasures, and broke our hearts to pieces the day she died.
Her successor, Yeti, is both adorable and charming, but he has a more stereotypical hamsterly approach to human affections, feeling that his wheel is more interesting than most things we could offer or do for him, and too shy to do much more than hide in our laps on excursions out of the cage. While it is endearing to know that it is us he runs to for safety, the fact that the wider world is such a source of suspicion and mistrust for him is somewhat tragic. Then again, he had a much rougher start than Chimera’s somewhat charmed life. We got him from a shop where he cowered in the corner of his tank in stricken terror of the endless commotion around him. Not a recipe for a brilliant future, but we are comforted that now his particular needs and wants are catered to and he lives in relative peace and quiet.
I have never been without a houseful of pets for any length of time, and having a single one who wasn’t as keen to interact is a far cry from never going to the bathroom alone, which was my wonted state of affairs prior to the transatlantic jump. The steadfast company of Eponine (Eppy to her friends) for ten years was a fact of my life, as much a part of me as breathing. She was my Most Best, dog of dogs, and the inspiration for the dog in the banner image. I had a strong interest in dogs for years before owning her, but it is for love of her that I love dogs as I do now. In her absence I find that my anxiety symptoms are more marked and harder to curb, and I was keenly interested in getting her across the border to me. To my dismay, I found that what that entailed was much too risky for a dog of her age and particular quirks, so suffice to say it was devastating to call a halt to the pet passport process, when I’d already got permission from the landlord and was downloading paperwork and looking at airlines.
But of course, my involvement in online dog forums hadn’t waned– if anything, it has increased since the separation. With so many of them fostering, I soon became interested in the process myself. It seemed the perfect solution for our lives. I needed a dog around, they needed a place to find themselves before they found a home, and thus it all came together into the idea that I’d really like to foster instead of adopt, if I could swing it. With our puppy on his way things feel as if they have come full circle, in preparation to starting a whole new rotation.
I’m not sure what the future holds, but I’m looking forward to it.