It’s my fault I think.
Well, I’m not sure ‘fault’ is the right word. Fault gives one the impression that something wrong is involved, that the consequences of one’s actions are somehow responsible for less than desirable expectations.
This is not the case.
As Allen’s dad, it was my own early upbringing filled with constant memories of pets coming and going in the family that sealed my love for cats and dogs, and so by extension, his.
“Pets are a joy and a responsibility.”
Shep, a border collie entered my life when I was a pre-schooler. In hindsight, I see how he lived up to every description of how these intelligent, peaceful companions should be. (Yes, he was always waiting to greet us as we walked down the long path home after school).
Skipper, the black lab, was brought into the family when Shep was about 10 years old, with the intention of working him to become the best duck retriever ever… But alas, his career path was changed when playing with the kids was more his calling.
Cats, too, found a home inside while the dogs roamed free outside.
Who could forget the pair of felines who earned the names ‘Shittin’ Pete’ and ‘Screwy Louie’… for reasons I need not explain!
Ahh… Sweet memories!
So, it was no surprise to me that home didn’t feel like home if there was no interaction with loveable cats and canines.
Through Allen’s early childhood, the relatively quiet existence we enjoyed was punctuated with a series of challenges related to undisciplined and incorrigible pets.
Allen’s mom, raised in an Asian land where pets, especially cats, were rarely free from fleas and ticks, did her best to limit my focus to dogs who came to us house-broken, didn’t bark, and most important, didn’t shed.
For the most part, that wasn’t to be.
However, such was the description I gave to the animal shelter worker in a small town in Northern Ontario, Canada, where we were living. His reply, ‘Come on down, we have just the dog for you’. And so they did.
The 10-year-old Terr-poo was all and more than we asked for. This little fellow, Shadow, was the pet that Allen bonded with during his early teens and possibly paved the way to his current globe-trotting, house-sitting ways.
In his last year with us, Shadow went blind and needed to be led along carefully on a leash. We became, in fact, seeing-eye persons for our blind dog.
So there you have it. Allen’s love for animals is well founded on family values… But as for his digital-nomadic way of life… I’m not sure if the fact that his mom and I moved some 3000 km from Canada’s west coast, Vancouver, to northern Ontario on about a 3-year cycle over a 15 year period has anything to do with his fearless attitude toward meeting the challenges of long-distance travel and relocation.
I would like to conclude with an expression of appreciation to the animal owners around the world who take advantage of these house-sitting arrangements.
Pets are a joy and a responsibility. For the most part, the love these animals experience in their day to day life is reflected in their peaceful, trusting relationship with total strangers willing to step in to fill their daily needs.
Of Allen’s many experiences, we have had occasion to visit and meet a few, mostly those in the Vancouver area.
To the owner-care-givers of the dogs Lucy and Eisley, and the cats Bandymork and Rickett, thank you for allowing my wife and me to visit, both our nomadic son and your wonderful pets.
Special mention of Misha the outdoor cat, hidden away on the side of a small mountain in Yelapa, Mexico.
It was great!
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