Independence Day and Letting Go

It had been 5 weeks since the rescue. The helpless baby had been pried from the mouth of a dog by my son. He had wrapped it in a blanket of grass, cuddled it into an empty planter and frantically driven home for advice.

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We made calls to wildlife rehabilitators because we had been through this before and it had not ended well. Unfortunately, no one answered the phone so we did some quick research online and then drove to Petsmart. It was my day off of work and I was not expecting such drama. However, I knew how important this was to my son and I committed myself to the rescue efforts.

He attempted to feed the injured bunny with a rubber nipple and formula designed for orphaned kittens. Only a few sips were taken so when he wrapped the bunny in a dish towel and placed a space heater near the planter to keep the bunny warm for the night, I did not believe she would see the light of day.

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Shockingly, the next morning the bunny was not in the trough! We searched every nook and cranny of my living/dining rooms and finally found her huddled in a corner under the sofa. Amazingly, the crucial 24 hours passed and extended into days and weeks. My living room showed signs of stray hay on the floor and milk stains on the coffee table. The game of hide-and-seek continued throughout the 5-week period as the bunny was slowly nourished back to health. The containment vessel became larger and deeper with more obstacles to prevent escape until we finally used a 40 gallon blue utility bin with a mesh screen over the top.

My son took his rehabilitation responsibilities seriously. Every morning before school he got up early to feed it carefully warmed formula. Gradually a few sips became 10ml at a time. He supplemented her diet with tender lettuce greens from our garden. It turned out she had a voracious appetite for those and the supply could not keep up with the demand.

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As the bunny grew, she became more intent on escaping and foraging on her own. Finally, my son realized it was time to set her free. He knew he had done everything he could to prepare her for the real world. Now it was up to her to follow her instincts.

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So that evening, we walked down the wooded path along the power lines and released her in an area where we frequently spotted other cottontails. As we watched her hop away, we felt a little regret; but mostly relief that she had made it this far and that all of our efforts had been a success.

I recognized the emotions my son was feeling all too well. I will feel the same way this fall when he leaves home to pursue his interests in college.I know he is looking forward to his freedom and his right to choose his own path. I have gotten him this far (high school graduation was a week ago); now it is up to him.

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Top Reasons (Not) to Get a Dog

As I was walking out of the pool complex this afternoon, I overheard a mom talking to her child about all the reasons not to get a dog. “First of all, they are messy. They pee and poop alot. They bark and make alot of noise. And we have to walk them every day….”  I smiled to myself as I walked away. This certainly brought back memories of when my own kids tried go convince me we should get a dog.
Should I have interrupted this mom’s lecture and told her how ridiculous those excuses sound to a  child? I should know. I probably used the same rationale way back when. First of all, does she seriously think a child is going to consider cleaning up messes his or her duty? Obviously, that is more on the shoulders of the parent. Even when you think your children are old enough to assume responsibility,  don’t believe for an instant that they will do it.
What about the barking and such? Why would a  child care? As long as there is a dog to snuggle with, why does it matter if it barks at others? Again, it is up to the parent to train the dog.
Lastly, there are the economics of dog ownership: medications, check ups, food, kennels- all these add up but, again,  are not of concern to the kids so I am glad the mom did not bring those up.
I can picture this mom a year or so from now, having been unable to  convince the  children that dogs are not good pets, and being worn down by constant pleas to get a dog- feeling guilted into agreeing because the kids know how to manipulate her emotions. At the same time, I am sure she will  come to appreciate how wonderful it is to have a dog who follows her around the house, is excited when  she walks in the door, relies on her for walks or treats and gives her unconditional love. Sometimes that is just what a busy mom needs to remind her that she is the center of the world to someone, maybe just not her kids.

While composing this post, I had fun exploring old family photos of our new pets. The excitement and joy that each one brought to the family, made all the other hassles of pet ownership worth it.

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How could I say no to this face? Look how happy it made her. No more mommy guilt.

 

Welcoming a new member to the family…  familydog0951

guinea3469  Of course, I didn’t agree to get a dog for years. I thought guinea pigs would be easier to deal with (see Guinea Pig Years) .

 

 

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After a few years, one dog was no longer enough and we agreed to adopt a second one. Again, notice the smiles and happy faces.

mom3017    This is where the unconditional love part comes in , and how I envision the mom at the pool in a few years.

As a final word of advice to her, I would warn her that once you let pets into your home, you never know how many more you will get. Fortunately, by this age, my kids are fully able and willing to assume the responsibilities.

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