Anyone who has a true, working farm knows how critical it is that every animal on the farm earn its keep. A farm just cannot sustain itself if the animals on it are all pets or companions. Sure, you can get an outside job, but that’s why I say the farm can’t sustain itself. That being said, it can get tough sometimes to not get attached to the animals. We have learned over the years that certain animals are designated as food–be it meat, milk, or eggs, some as service–such as breeding animals or work animals like the draft horses, some teach lessons to our children–such as a riding horses that has attached responsibilities, and a very, very few are allowed to have the role of “pet.” Around here, we call it “therapy at the end of a long day!” For those of you who have followed this blog over the years, you are familiar with our old dog, Will, and the older cat, Callie.
Will joined our family the year after S and I were married. He was assigned to us by Guide Dogs for the Blind, and we were to be his puppy raisers. Technically, he wasn’t ours. We were just responsible for raising him for 12 or so months, and then returning him to the school. Sadly, he didn’t quite make the cut for Guide Dog work, so he was offered back to us. Long story short, Will went on to be trained as my second Diabetes Alert Dog for about 4 years. He was also my companion at the barn and when I went trail riding. He traveled the country with us, and was like our first child. As a service dog, he was much more than a pet, and we had a close bond. After we had children, Will began to show signs of age, was eventually retired from service dog duty, and allowed to just be a pet. He got to finally eat crumbs off the floor, lay on the couch, and playfully chew on his best friend, Callie.
Callie was mine before marriage. She was actually brain damaged at birth, but the sweetest, most gentle, and dumbest cat you could ever meet! She never had any official job, other than just to love and be loved. She warmed many hearts–and laps.
In 2015, we knew both our beloved pets were getting up there in years. Will was almost 13, and Callie was 14 or 15. Will was experiencing some health issues, and Callie was still going strong and looked great, but spent most of her time just sleeping–as any old cat deserves to do. God was merciful to us, though, and we never had to make the call to euthanize. In the winter of late 2015, in an unfortunate, and somewhat mysterious accident, Will died. Just a month or so later, Callie passed away. We were all heartbroken, and really missed having a pet in the house. Those two were older than any of our children, and our kids had grown up with them. Despite all the farm animals that come and go around here, this was the first time our children had experienced the loss of a long-term family member.
Certainly a beloved pet can never be replaced, but an empty space can be filled again. I only lasted about a month or two before I started to crave something to cuddle up with at night, or during my daytime rest breaks. I wanted something to greet us at the door, with tail wagging. We had a barn cat, but she belonged in the barn. We also wanted to cut down on the hair in the house since N is mildly allergic to pets.
I began contacting our local pet agencies. Interestingly enough, as it turned out, I was shocked to find we did not qualify to adopt from most animal rescues. Between military positions and child adoption, we have probably had more background checks than anyone on the planet, yet we were refused time and again. Either we had too many children, too young of children, lacked a fence attached directly to the house, or whatever. It didn’t matter that I was an experienced dog trainer, prior vet tech, our vets would totally vouch for us as responsible pet owners, or that our children were good with animals. They wouldn’t give us a second thought! Finally, our local animal rescue, who is familiar with us, took in an owner-surrender pup that perfectly fit what we were looking for. She was a short-haired mutt with no undercoat to shed out. She was friendly and could keep up on the farm, despite her short legs. She was cuddly, totally trainable, eager to please, and an absolute doll! Her ears were too big for her head, her tail wagged non-stop, and she stole our hearts. We adopted her on the spot!
Rosa, who we believe to be around 2 now, has settled in well. We think she is possibly linked to dachshund and blue heeler, Based on her markings and behaviors. Whatever her genetics, though, she has filled that empty spot in our hearts and home perfectly. We hope we are blessed with many more years with her!