Thursday, October 13, 2016

Why I Gave our Dog Away

Kelly on Sanibel
It's true. I gave away our dog Kelly.

I did it knowing it's one of the worst things a parent can do to their young adult kids. College students often miss their pets more than parents or siblings. And who can blame them? Nothing means home more than a sweet warm pooch snuggling up with you on the sofa or dancing in spasms of delight when you walk in the door. And Kelly is the best dog!

But here's the thing:  Liam and I are terrible dog owners now that we're empty nesters. We travel all the time and are rarely home. Well, we are often home, but we have two homes now - one in Sioux City, IA where Liam works and our new condo in Chicago. We love our two different abodes (more on that in another post) but they are 500 miles apart and it's not easy to get a dog back and forth between them.

We made it work as best we could at first, but Kelly wasn't happy about it. She threw a few destructive temper tantrums to let us know she wasn't a fan of the new living arrangements. In January we rented a house on Sanibel Island near where my mother and her husband live - taking Kelly with us - and before we headed up north, we came up with a temporary solution.

We decided to have Kelly stay with Mom and Dan in Ft. Myers for the rest of the winter. They have an adorable Westie of their own (inspired by Kelly) and had plenty of time and affection for a second doggie. It all worked beautifully. Liam and I could travel for business and to see our kids in Ann Arbor and do our back and forth thing, while Kelly enjoyed warm weather and the best care of her life - a predictable schedule, frequent walks, regular grooming, and constant canine and human companionship. We thought it would just give us a break over the cold winter, but gradually, it made sense to make the pet-sitting situation permanent.

My kids were pretty devastated. I definitely felt like the worst mom ever. I hated letting them down and I felt like a failure for not being able to take good care of our beloved family dog. Also, I missed Kelly's cheerful presence in my life more than anyone. But I kept thinking about how she needs routine and affection and how she freaks out when she's left alone, especially in a new place. I thought of our expensive new rug.

So Kelly is staying in Florida, thanks to Jane and Dan, who have happily absorbed her into their little family. I tell them she's 100% returnable and we're definitely paying all the vet bills. But given the fact that they all sleep in the same bed together at night, I don't think it's likely she's coming back. Look at how cute Kelly and Shelby are together.

Shelby (left) with Kelly at Mom and Dan's house.

In a year of many changes this was a rough one, but now that it's decided I'm relieved. Kelly is happy. She makes my parents happy. My kids don't hate me. My rugs are undamaged. And, I gotta confess, after 24 years of pet ownership and parenting, it's pretty liberating to come and go as I please.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Happy New Year, Ripe Peach is Back

I've been gone for a while. All through the winter, spring and summer I haven't posted a damn thing. Now fall is here and I'm feeling drawn back to my Ripe Peach blog. I'm not Jewish, but Rosh Hashanah does seem the right time to celebrate the new year. Autumn has always called for new beginnings. The cooler temperatures and shorter days combined with my pent-up frustration and anticipation have got me itching to get some epic shit done.

It's not that the last ten months haven't been eventful. I've been experiencing some BIG changes as I figure out this empty nest/getting older thing. Changes like moving from our family home and beloved suburban town, settling into two very different new places, sending my son off to NYC and adulthood, dealing with hormones, rethinking my work, reconnecting with my husband, doing a ton of traveling, getting rid of all our belongings, even giving away our dog - all while trying to reassure my daughter that the world as she knows it isn't ending.

A lot of this hasn't felt fabulous or sexy or ripe peachy. It's confusing! It's weird! It's painful! It makes me wonder who I am!

But it's also exciting. And it's my life now, and writing and conversing with you, my friends, has always helped me make sense of it and enjoy it.

So, I'm back. I'm back to hash through all the Changes (yes, I really did give away my dog.) I want to compare notes with you so we can learn, laugh and grow through this new stage of life, which I remain convinced, will be just as full and delicious as any other.

So let's get this party started. Happy New Year!