Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sophie's Choice -- Agony if Faced with that Kind of Decision

Here I am (yup, it's really me) being loved to death (nearly) by my girls. Pinot and Kenya were licking my face so much, I had to hold my breath so I didn't inhale their, ahem, kisses (that's why my face is so red). And Elsie kept me still by resting her head on my knees so I couldn't escape (hehe)! Teamwork.

I love my girls. I love my boys, too... every one of them.

RR knows that if I had to pick a favorite from among gang, for years it would have been Baxter -- our big galoot of a gentle giant who is no longer ours, but now belongs heart and soul to DSD & DSSIL, serving as their companion and four-footed kid up in Maine (the best kind for newlyweds). He was my bud, the toothless wonder (remember when he lost his front teeth to tug-o-war with Kenya?), my Boos, my 110-pound lap dog.

But the Boos isn't here anymore, so he doesn't count in the "who's your favorite?" question.

In all honestly, I can't answer that question these days. I'm not partial to any one over the others - I truly love and and enjoy each for who he/she is.

Every one of our canine crew has managed to wriggle his/her way into my heart and stake a claim there. From Ridge to Rudy, and the four in between, they warm my soul and make me laugh and assure me that I'm needed and loved. How can I resist them?

So when the question comes up, "who's your favorite?", I can't say. I really don't have one.

I'd be hopelessly lost if I had to choose between them (Sophie's Choice with Meryl Streep was the most agonizing-choice-based drama I've ever seen, and that was 25 years ago -- it haunted me for weeks after I saw the movie). Having to choose between your children? How do you do that??

I've been thinking about this lately because of how life is unfolding here. Some of you have heard the broo-haw-haw on the news about pharmaceutical giant Phizer's hostile take-over attempt with Wyeth (both are pharmaceutical companies; Phizer is five times bigger than Wyeth; Phizer is in trouble financially, while Wyeth is sound; Phizer is looking for quick profits from Wyeth's products, etc... you get the picture). Well, guess who DH works for?

You got it: Wyeth. And if the take-over happens, Phizer will close and sell off Wyeth's research and development division of which DH is a part. In other words, at 52 yo, DH may well be out of a job (probably by September).

No job = no income = the need to look for a new job = the possible need to move.

Hmmm... we've been blessed with a wonderful, modest home and property sufficient on which to raise and keep our gang. What do we do if we can't stay here and can't find a place where we can house all six dogs?

Oh my. I get huge knots and near anxiety attacks when I think about it. My chest feels tight even as I write this.

These four-footed furry friends are like children to us. Their being able to go with or stay with us is non-negotiable as far as we're concerned (I don't care if I have to eat mac-n-cheese every night). They're family, for heaven's sake.

But the reality is, to many human-types out there, they're just dogs. And dogs can find new homes.

Maybe I'm just not cut out for raising Labs. Or maybe I'm just not hard-hearted or business-savvy enough. But I can't imagine giving any of these guys up because we can't afford him or because she has health issues or because we have to move to a smaller place.

Maybe someday we'll be forced to make that kind of decision, but for today we don't. No Sophie's Choices here yet (phew!). But DH's unsettled work situation has gotten us thinking about it.

On a side-note, we know, and empathize with, family after family who have had to make this choice during this economically challenged time. It's just not easy.

Truth be told, if it came down to it here, I don't think I could choose (someone else would have to). I love 'em all too much.

So is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I'm not sure.

It just is what it is.

At least, for now, I can enjoy six sloppy tongues of kisses, 12 adoring eyes, 24 paws scrambling for my lap, and over four-hundred pounds of Lab bodies keeping my feet warm.

I just hope it can stay that way.

'Til next time,


Mary said...

I certainly hope it doesn't come down to you have to make the decision. I can't imagine what you and your family are going through right now. I only have one Lab but she is my daughter. I was unable to have human kids so I look to my animals as my children. I will pray for all of you as you go through this transitional time and hope things work out in your favor. God has enriched your life with those dogs for a reason, I can't imagine him taking them away from you now. Hang in there and enjoy the love only a Lab can give.

Leslie Hanna said...

Wow, I sure hope you don't have to make any decisions like that! How about if you HAVE to move, you sell the house and move to some place less expensive, like Kansas. I've even heard they are giving away land if you will promise to build a house and live there. Betcha you'd have plenty of space for the furry kids. But let's hope it does not come to that.

L^2 said...

I hope you never have to make decision like this Joan, but I understand what you are going through.
Thanks to lack of work (and a bad landlord) I am downsizing from an 8 room house with a fenced in yard from my girls to play in to a cheaper, smaller 4 room apartment. The thought of living in such a small place with two big dogs is worrisome (to say the least), but I'm going to do it anyway.
Several people who are of that mind that "she's just a dog" have not-so-subtly suggested that I try to find a new home for Stella (since Willow, as my dog guide, must stay with me). However, for me, besides the fact that she's my family - probably the closest thing to a kid I'll ever have - Stella is, and always has been, my responsibility. I don't want to just pawn her off on someone else because times have gotten tougher.
Good thing I like mac-n-cheese! ;-)
Seriously though, I hope everything works out for your family. It's about time you had some really good luck, isn't it?

Ms. ~K said...

Well, the very idea of you having to make a choice, has me crying...So I'll go back and enjoy the happy pictures of your doggy love fest!
It will all work out, I have Faith!

Chester's Mom said...

These are definitely hard times we're facing. I can't imagine having to choose either. I will pray for DH's job and that you can stay in your home with all your kids. Keep leaning on God and His promises!

ps. Now you've made me want to re-watch Sopies Choice! Great movie!

polly's path said...

I don't know what I would do if I had to pick which one of my four rescued dogs and 3 cats get to stay, and who gets to go. Came close to it a couple of years ago when we felt that our rott/lab mix needed a new home, one with no other dogs and more space to run, and more "work" to do. I didn't blink for several nights. We drove to a friend's farm who had agreed to take her in, tears just streaming down my face. Our friend welcomed us, invited us to play on the farm for several hours, and then sent us home-all of us. He knew the best home for Princess was with us. I am glad we kept her, because shortly after the trip we ended up buying the farm next door to us. We still have to work on her behavior and find her things to do, but soon she will have a huge fenced in place to run and chase things in.
I hope you don't ever have to be faced with making the decision you so dread.

Lorraine Latorraca said...

Joan, I have faith that your whole family will be able to stay together, whatever happens. In these tough times, things are about to get even harder for pet owners in California if the Governor has his way. He wants to impose a NINE percent tax on veterinary services! There are going to be many people who have to make difficult choices about the health of their pets when that happens!

scargosun said...

I have a front row seat to your thoughts. I work for financial advisors here in SE PA and we are seeing clients shaking with the waiting to hear if they still have a job. I'll be thinking about you guys and hoping for the best!

JuliaR said...

Two posts from this one, you lifted my spirits again by saying gratitude is good for the soul.
Things do have a way of working out. But if you DO need to give a dog or two away, you could try what you did with Baxter and find people who would adore to have one of your dogs and maybe it would only be for a short while, maybe.