Tuesday, April 03, 2012

How Do You Reconcile 16 Years

People have a right to set the rules in their own home. That is why they have a home. It represents their own place where they are the "king/queen of the castle".

I'm from a large family of five children.  Out of the five children, three are married with children of their own.  Oddly enough, four out of the five children own dogs.

While we had dogs growing up, it was not necessarily all the time and I would not categorize my family as particularly doggie-centric.

I would categorize myself as that, however. I am unmarried and do not have children. Leaving out all the history with that, suffice it to say that my lifestyle pretty much revolves around my dogs and the activities I have chosen to participate in with them.

We all make choices in life and mine was to be a dog owner and then become a dog owner who competes with their dog(s) at shows or sporting events with them.

I have received encouragement and support both from family and friends for that.  On occasion, a sibling has come to watch me play in dog agility just to see what it is about.

Our family is fortunate in that all of us have settled on living in the Chicago area.  We did not all originate from the area and all went to mostly different universities for our education. But down the line, we eventually found ourselves in Chicago.

The circle was complete when my parents finally moved in 1996 to join the rest of the gang.

Oddly enough, too, just about everyone is within a 25 mile radius of each other, in the far western suburbs of Chicago.  I would be the exception, living in a Near North suburb directly adjacent to the city of Chicago.

It translates to making a 40-45 mile one-way trip to visit family and if they want me to stay for awhile, it meant staying overnight.

The convenience of my parents was that they were okay with having me bring my dogs with me, knowing they would see me.  From that location, for whatever holiday or celebration took place, the dogs had a place to be (crated if we're out) that was conveniently close.

The tradeoff was to leave them at home, and limit my visit.  Commuting time was 2+ hours roundtrip. The most I would leave them without a dog walker would be 5-6 hours. It would be my last priority as I already leave them during the day, Monday through Friday, while I work.

I did not get my dogs to have a life without them in it. They are what makes into the person I am. Had I wanted something different, I would have purchased fish.

The trouble is, life changes. My second dog brings an extra complicating factor that, "Now you're bringing TWO over?" Add to the fact that within 15 months of that, my dad died at age 65 from cancer. That is a pain I will never forget and was not equaled when I lost my first dog. I value my family above my dogs.

Add to that the issue of falling into a lazy habit of not putting a chokehold on a situation with marking at my mom's and her tolerance of cleanups.

I stated early on that I do not consider my family doggie-centric. I stand by that.  My error was not really realizing just how much that is true.

When now faced with a completely redone kitchen (floors, cabinets, etc.) and potential new carpet in family area (not a marked zone, btw), the decree was recently issued that after all the investment made, no dogs are allowed in the home.

While I understand the reason and can acknowledge that I probably played a part in it with casual disregard of marking, how do you reconcile 16 years of visiting with a sudden and abrupt change?

Eventually, this was going to play out anyway as time moves on and parents are no longer part of your life here. But that is not the case yet.

I face the fact that living where I do, owning dogs and not having children seems to have served to isolate me from my family.

It has never been more clearly apparent than now and it hurts.


At May 02, 2012 7:34 PM , Blogger Gloria said...

So it's a month later. Has the situation mellowed a bit? Would using crates, gates, belly bands, or panties be enough to enable family visits?
Gloria Morris


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