Thursday, April 17, 2008

Family of Five

When Gary and I first merged our lives together and moved into the Happy Haus we became a family of five. Our other three family members were my two Siberian Huskies, Lincoln & Scarlett, and Gary's cat, Shubot. Our family of five felt like just the right size and made our home feel so cozy.

We had to divide our home into sections to keep Shubot away from the Huskies. I thought it was going to be really hard to make sure they were kept apart, but we developed a system which we were both quite vigilant about maintaining. Soon it was second nature to keep certain barriers closed and we never did have any clashes between the species.

In 2005 we lost little Shubot at the age of 16. Our home didn't feel the same without her. She had become my yoga partner and I missed her sweet presence on and off my yoga mat. I still often think of her gentle soul. Gary had gotten Shubot as a tiny kitten, so her passing was a big loss to him.

In 2006 we lost our precious Lincoln at the age of 14. At this point our home began to feel positively strange to me. Three beings was just not enough to make our home feel full. For a couple of months I thought about getting another dog, but at that point in time I thought our daughter would be coming home from China the following year. Knowing that Natalie would require a lot attention, I felt like it wouldn't be fair to have a puppy around that would also be very hungry for my affection and time.

As the months went by, the wait for our daughter began to increase each month instead of decreasing as logic would suggest. During the late summer of 2006 I was estimating that Natalie would come home around the summer of 2008. I couldn't stand the sparse population of our home any longer. I decided that due to the extended wait for our daughter I had plenty of time to acquire and train a puppy.

I began my search for a good breeder of Newfoundland Dogs. I was extremely fortunate to find great breeders just 35 minutes from our house. I didn't choose them because of their proximity (that was just a wonderful bonus). I chose them because of their dedication to improving the breed and because of the excellent care that they give their Newfies.

Our sweet Katie was born on October 29, 2006 and was ready to come home at the beginning of 2007. Suddenly, the Happy Haus felt quite a bit more full. It took a few months for Scarlett to accept Katie, but eventually they became good friends.

During 2007 the wait for our daughter continued to lengthen. I again readjusted my estimate for Natalie's homecoming - this time to the end of 2009. I began to think about getting another Newf puppy to keep Katie and the rest of us company. This puppy should be almost full grown and fairly mature by the time of Natalie's arrival.

We had to wait a while for another litter of Newfs, but finally our little Louie was born on January 24th. He came home at the end of March and for the first time in almost 2 years the Happy Haus had its original number of occupants. Again our home had quite a cozy feel with a little bit of crazy thrown in: we were faced with another animal separation challege. This time we had to keep Louie from jumping on Scarlett's old bones. We created a little fenced off corner in the kitchen for Scarlett so that she could be with us, but sheltered from the puppy's exhuberance. This arrangement worked very well.

Now that Miss Scarlett is no longer with us I find myself missing her little cream colored body with the cute red head along with her sweet & sassy attitude. Even though the time was right for her to go there is a void where Scar used to be.

I'm not sure why, but five just feels like the perfect number of bodies for our little cottage. I am doing my best to live in the present moment, and when I remember to do so, there is no choice except to feel happy and fufilled. This wait for our daughter has been my greatest teacher, so I actually feel grateful for its length.

When the time is right we will be a family of five again. Our house will be overflowing with laughter from 2 adult humans, deep barks of protection and satisfaction from 2 big Newfies, and the delicious sound of giggling coming from our precious daughter, Natalie.


The Zoo said...

Hi Charity,
I am so sorry to hear about Scarlett. I am just finding out now as I was on vacation in the Caribbean for the past week. I am so glad her passing was peaceful. It is a very, very difficult thing to handle as for so long they are such an important part of our lives. I lost my 11 year old Rottie girl, Sam, last January. I think I cried for two weeks straight. It helped ease the pain a bit by having Gabe around but I will tell you there is still a void in my heart that only my Sam can fill. Your memories of Scarlett will last forever and I hope in time the heaviness that's now in your heart will lighten. Louis is getting so big already! Look at those paws! He is a very handsome boy and sounds very smart too! Katie looks like such a great big sister. Very tolerant! She deserves extra treats for being such a patient girl!

Kathryn and Ari said...

Thank you for these beautiful posts. I've been a big fan of Scarlett's since first stumbling upon your blog, and I'm so sorry to hear about her death. My husband and I had a similar merging of creatures when we moved in together, and we couldn't believe how empty our house felt after Kinch, our beagle, died. Ours had always been a house of four--and no other number felt right.

My thoughts are with you!

Bonnie Schwartz said...

Hi Charity,
I feel very moved by your "perfect number" post. Since we adopted Waylon in the winter of 2003, it has always felt right for us to live with two dogs and we didn't understand why it took us so long to figure that out. When Juliette died last summer the house felt so unbalanced, as it did again when Annie died a few weeks ago. So I completely understand this sense of "the right number" and the feeling of a balanced (but perhaps hectic!) versus unbalanced household.