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Tue, Jan. 28

Pets end up being like your children

I did not own my own home until I was in my late 40s. I was married, and we purchased the house together. Just my husband, myself and our two beloved basset hounds.

It was an old two-story with lots of character. The neighborhood was nice, without any schools nearby. (At our age that is considered a buyer bonus!) It had a nice, big, fenced backyard for the dogs.

Our bedroom, as well as a guest bedroom, was on the first level. Since our dogs could not go up the stairs due to their age and to avoid back problems. The top floor was empty, but a good place to make improvements. In fact, during the years we owned the house, my then husband made many improvements. He added a deck onto the back of the house and completely finished the upper level with a dormer and full bathroom.

There came a time while owning this house, that my husband and I would have a parting of the ways. Because I would be keeping the boys (dogs) with me, I also needed to keep the house. I made the mortgage payment, which was $850 a month, by myself.

Shortly after this new arrangement began, I decided to just sleep on the couch instead of using the bedroom. That way I could be there with the dogs, who insisted that the love seat belonged to them. If you have ever raised a basset hound you know that they are notorious couch potatoes and are not considered high energy dogs. Each morning when I left for work, I felt confident that the dogs were safe and sound. They had a dog door to enter and exit the house into the fenced back yard. I did not worry about leaving the house empty all day. If you have ever heard the bark of a basset, it sounds a lot like a 100-pound Rottweiler. No one was going to rob that house!

After a while, I realized I had not used the upstairs at all. In fact I really had no reason to even go up there. So, why did I keep the house? For the dogs, of course. It had basically become an $850 a month DOG HOUSE!

At the time I was a property manager. The owner of the property I worked at had offered me a FREE two bedroom apartment, and even offered to have a small fence built around back so the boys would have a yard. The apartment would have been plenty big enough, and it was also walking distance to a major grocery store, as well.

I could have saved myself from taking two buses to work every day by moving onto the property. But alas, I did what I thought was best for the boys.

I am sure there were many who thought I was crazy. Why would I keep that big house and continue to pay a mortgage payment when I could live free? I could even rent the house out or sell it. Looking back now, I guess it didn't make a lot of sense, except to me. My dogs were like my children, and I wanted what was best for them. I could always make changes to my lifestyle, but I did not want to make things difficult for the dogs.

The upstairs did not always remain empty. It seemed that someone in the family was often needing a temporary place to stay, and I was happy to share the house. It reminded me of growing up in the two story with all the aunts and uncles around. Now I was the aunt.

There was that one time that I went out of town and left a family member to stay in the house to feed and care for the dogs. He accidentally locked himself out and decided the doggie door was his only option to get inside. Keep in mind that although the dogs are short in stature, they are very wide. The way he told the story, he had squeezed himself inside about halfway through the doggie door when the dogs spotted him. They gave him such a face licking while he was struggling to get inside, he could not stop laughing at them. He finally managed to wiggle himself through the door and continued as the house sitter/dog sitter.

I have many great memories of holidays and even having Sister's 50th birthday in that house. I find myself still smiling when I think about the $850 a month doghouse.

There are many wonderful dogs in our local shelter, just waiting for a forever home. Please consider adopting before shopping for one.

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