Pet parents are a different breed. Increasingly, I seem to know couples like us whose homes contain not Fisher Price farms - but a collection of squeaky toys of all descriptions - tigers and reindeers and monkeys, (oh my). We fuss over diet and exercise for our pooches - lose sleep when they are ill - spend a fortune on vet visits and grooming. We talk to them constantly as if they understand every word and read their response by the earnest looks they give us and the "sadness" of their eyes. We smugly believe our little ones are far superior to any others on the planet and point it out when we pass other pooches on the street - acknowledging grudgingly that they may have their attributes (cute face, shiny coat, happy gait) but they in no way compare to the adorable faces that greet us each morning with a "happy-to-know-you" kind of smile.
For the past three weeks - our longest separation ever - our dogs have been camped out at "Grandma" and "Grandpa's" house while our house has been on the market. It has been a fascinating, lonely and enlightening experience - as it is the first time they have had to actually leave our house when we were still in it. Under normal circumstances if we go away for a while, my parents have always moved right in and cared for them in the comforts of the dog's own home. So recently opening the door each day has meant for us walking into total silence - not the normal mad dash of eight little paws on the hardwood floor, coming to greet us. It has also meant that for Kirk and I - who spend an inordinate amount of time talking to, fussing over, walking, feeding and doting on them - and in between our conversations tend to focus on what cute thing they might be doing at any given moment...have had to entertain ourselves - communicate more and generally think of topics that are not dog-related. This is far more challenging than it appears and you realize just how much of your energy is expended - like any parents' - on something other than your relationship with your person and yourself - and if they aren't around to talk to - what exactly do you say? But today our little experiment comes to a close and on balance the dogs seem to have settled in far more readily than we imagined - trustingly following around their beloved grand-parents and making themselves at home. And we could not be more grateful or thankful that they have had two such loving substitutes to get them through.