Friday, June 11, 2010


Frances and Honey
Nine years ago at the Washington Humane Society, I solemnly signed the adoption documents. Did we have any children? No. Allergies? No. Fenced yard? Yes. Can you afford the cost of pet ownership? Yes. Will you provide the animal with a "forever home?" Yes...
"Re-homing" is what the animal rescue people call it when you give your pet away to a good home, and over the next year we will re-home five times. It will be among the hardest things we do to prepare for boat life.

Honey was seven years old when we adopted her. An animal rescue guy who was checking on a dog our neighbor recently adopted told us about a great dog, middle aged, and well-trained. I don't think he actually said her time at the shelter was running low, but somehow it was obvious. The story was that she previously belonged to an enlisted man who was forced to give her up when he was deployed. We soon discovered she knew how to speak, roll over, and play dead. She knew the silent hand signals of advanced obedience training. We believed the military story. When "The Plan" was conceived Honey was twelve years old. She's a large dog and larger dogs tend to live shorter lives. This year she's sixteen.
Mit came from the New York Avenue shelter. We'd scanned the cards on each cage looking for old dates -- those next in line for euthanasia. But for Mike it was love at first sight. "Mittens" didn't have any, so Mit she was. Mit is a special cat. It took us some time to convince the girls that "you just don't do these things to animals," because they did, and Mit complied without complaint and seemed adore the girls even more with her kitty backpack on, and shades. Mit also has an affinity for large dogs, loud parties, and cereal with milk left unguarded on the dining room table.

Mit needed a friend (this was long before the girls were born) and we found Georgia at the Georgia Avenue shelter just down the road from our house. She was young but already had grown kittens in adjacent cages. Aloof and scrawny with humongous ears, Mike thought she was ugly. But there she was with a very compelling date on her card. She's still a bit mysterious, coming and going quietly and then unexpectedly settling into your lap. She's matured into a lovely cat, gentle and sleek with a loud motor.

Eleanor and Red
The chickens were a different story. We knew from the beginning that we would need to find them another home before long. Chickens are surprisingly cute and funny once you get to know them. As a chick, Mohawk resembled a punk-rocker and Georgia's markings resembled, well, Georgia the cat. They march into the coop at dusk without fail, and sleep until dawn when they awake quietly, or not, depending on who is laying, or not. They want to be inside, eating people food and sleeping on soft beds. They don't get to do this so they peer sideways longingly through the glass of the back door. Chickens are not a lot of work, but they do require diligent care and constant vigilance against predators (as we sadly experienced, R.I.P. Red). Re-homes for Mohawk and Georgia and their cute little wooden coop are a dime a dozen, but we'll need to be choosy to find a home where they are safe and well cared for. 
Re-homing ideas are brewing and over the next few months we'll start seriously weighing our options. We'll consider a timeline based on when we expect to put the house on the market, and especially, on impact on the girls and the animals. Generous offers have come from friends already. Placing our pets with people we know and trust -- people who can send pictures -- could help ease the transition for the girls, and simplify the vetting process. The plan is to include Eleanor and Frances as much as possible. I hope their sadness will be tempered a bit knowing we've all worked hard to find happy homes for our beloved pets. Finally, should she reach the ripe old age of seventeen, I've been scoping out a retirement home for Honey in a beautiful semi-rural location on Railroad Avenue, complete with enclosed yard and indoor-outdoor access though a doggie door just her size ; ).

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