PDD – Pet Distraction Disorder
One of the things I struggled with was wanting to see my son happy….duh…and as a result, I “spoiled” him….shoot me…. I would have done anything to make him feel better for one minute. Any minor interest became a pursuit. Any hint of enthusiasm resulted in buying “something.” Many of these “somethings” were pets.
Let’s see…..there was Pete the fish; Burrough, the Russian hamster thing; Flipper, a squirrelish rodent; Ham and Cheese and Turn Around, the hamsters… (Turn Around earned his name because he was a biter and we just “turned around” and returned him.) There was Arthur, the tortoise who was absurdly high maintenance and ruled our lives, and Dude, the bunny, who just ate, sat and pooped. There was Spitzer, the snake, who grew to be at least 6 feet long and was so strong he could open his cage. I became convinced that he would either constrict my son out of love or eat Shirley, the cat (who was the portal of evil…….she was also a biter and just mean!).
We had lizards who, after they died, had a proper burial at which we said the Pledge of Allegiance. I didn’t realize that my son and his friend were digging them up everyday to see if they had gone to heaven.
When my son won 100 bucks on a scratch ticket…..another one of my indulgences…..and announced he could afford a ferret, I knew it was time to cut to the chase and get a dog! The only requirements I demanded were, small and non-shedding. So of course my husband and son came home with a Golden Retriever, the biggest shedding dog they could find. Digger, when fully grown, was nothing short of having a big furry couch following me around.
As time-consuming as they were, our pets created a world where we focused on who needed to be fed and who got loose….we actually lost the tortoise once…almost an impossibility. Have you ever seen a tortoise move?
But, when we wanted school to go away or were wishing for alternatives or hoping things with friends got better…..there were our pain-in-the-ass pets……a safe place to communicate and divert ourselves from everything else.
I can still hear my son’s voice after a long day, free of everything, “Hey Digger!”
A split second change to happiness.
Seriously, I’m starting to think you’ve been stalking me for 20 years. Or we were separated at birth. You keep taking the words right out of my diary. Oh, wait, it’s not an actual diary because who had time to journal?! Lol! Here comes a longish, strange story: Our dog was a shelter special I got when The Boy was in 8th grade. Boy had one good friend at the time, but I thought he just needed a solid source of regular, unconditional love. She was an amazing, amazing dog — my first, by the way. And we had the same experience that you did — as soon as he saw her, the pain of the day just disappeared and all was good. Magic things, dogs are! Well, she was with us for about two months when The Boy’s one friend died in his sleep one night. Unbelievable sorrow, and Princess Peach (the dog) had wet fur on more than one occasion after tear-filled remembrances. When The Boy’s uncle died the next spring, all the sorrow came flooding back. So we thought it might be good to arrange for a therapist for him to talk to. It was good, too — they bonded immediately, and The Boy was enjoying having that non-judgemental, supportive person to talk to. About six weeks into it, the therapist developed septicemia and died. I couldn’t even tell The Boy for a long time — I just told him that Dr. was not well (an understatement? Chuckling at this is the reason I’m going to hell! But you can’t make this stuff up!), and couldn’t see patients at the moment. It was the truth, after all. Finally, I was able to tell him, and he was okay. I marvel at his resilience. So, the sad end of the story is that Princess Peach, who was past middle age when we got her, developed lymphoma two summers ago, when we had had her not quite four years. She died on The Boy’s 18th birthday. You really can’t make this stuff up, and that’s another reason why The Boy is a hero in my book.
Oh. My. God. Other Martha, your comment made me cry and then laugh and then cry again.
You may see him as a hero, but we see YOU as a hero!!! You BOTH are heroes. In fact, we all are, baby!!!
Yes, we are. That’s a true fact (which took a long time to accept). Can’t wait to read your next posts!
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