I HAVE TO ADMIT IT.
I love animals. Almost as much as kids. Especially dogs. Notably Corgis. My best friend (besides my husband!) was my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Molly, for 15 years. She was an awesome dog. From the time I got her as an eight-week old puppy, she never did anything wrong. Molly didn’t bark, bite, or pee in the house. She didn’t demand attention, but was just glad to be at my feet day and night, and she went with me to Russia and then to Ukraine when we were missionaries, where she died of old age. That was in 2007. I still miss her.
My life, from when I was a little girl, was surrounded with pets, from mice and gerbils to dogs, cats and horses. When I was growing up, we lived on ten acres at the edge of the Everglades in Florida. We had a fox, a buzzard, a possum, caymans (a small variety of alligator), and a slew of cats, dogs, and horses (and a few sheep and cows). I remember one time when my Aunt Emma was visiting from Texas, one of my mice got out and traveled to her room. She simply caught it and returned it to me. Later that same night, the mouse got out again and visited my mom in her bed while she was asleep. That time, I had to let the little critter go outside (and I cried myself to sleep).
Jeff never had animals.
When my husband and I met, he didn’t quite know what to make of me. He was an only child who had grown up in a nominally Jewish home in New York City, without pets. I had a moderately large family (two brothers) and animals out the wazoo. We were (still are) a fun-loving, close, happy family, and at the time Jeff and I met, I had two dogs and lived in an apartment. After Jeff and I got married, he got used to and learned to love animals almost as much as I do. He humored me through dogs, cats, horses, goats, chickens, ferrets, gerbils, and birds galore. Once someone called our house and the birds were so noisy that the caller asked if he had reached a pet store. (Between the animals and the five kids, quiet was at a premium in our house.)
We lived in the mountains and had more animals.
In the mountains of northern New Mexico, we had only three acres, but that little homestead was teeming with our zoo. We raised miniature goats and even had a few foals born to our Thoroughbred/Warmblood mares. Our kids raised geese, chickens, and miniature goats, and had a couple of ferrets. Then—for some unknown reason—we became the unofficial dog rescue. People would come and simply drop dogs at our gate. That was bad. We seemed to always have 6-8 dogs at a time. It wasn’t always easy to find homes for them, but we managed.
I had a riding school.
I started a riding school when we moved back to Texas in 1995, before we sold all the horses and went off to be missionaries. After working for Rocky Top Therapy Center in Keller, Texas, I turned my nine horses into a school where I taught both able and disabled kids to ride. My kids were invaluable to me as my “volunteers.” They helped to work with the disabled kids and sometimes trained horses or covered riding lessons.
Now we have dogs.
Right now, Jeff and I share his miniature pinscher, Mac, who is about eleven years old and turning grey. Our miniature Australian shepherd died of lymphoma last year. One of these days, I’m going to get another Corgi. Until then, there’s an empty spot in my heart that can’t be filled by anything else.