Living With Animals: Inevitable

Inevitable. When you spend your day at an animal shelter, falling in love is inevitable. Frequently, in fact. As one result, I often live with more animals than most people would think reasonable. Also inevitable, everyone dies, and not living long enough is one of our companion animals’ few faults. I always try to rationalize it like this: short lifespans, I figure, means I get to know a whole lot more dogs and cats than I would if they stuck around for 70 or 80 years. Like most rationalizations, that works for a bit and then fades. We love them, they die, and we mourn.

Despite that sometimes too full household, a combination of bad luck and bad timing and several years of caring for a bunch of aging, ailing animals, my family is down to one cat, Stinky Louise (who suffers a chronic although pain-free condition, and has outlived all predictions). But strike that “is down to one”. Now it’s “was down to one.” Please allow me to introduce you to Lola, the happy new addition to my family.

One of six, a litter born in a carefully selected but unusual setting: a cave formed underneath a pile of utility poles at an East Palo Alto PG&E substation. PHS Officers rescued the pups, eyes still closed and not much bigger than hamsters, and finally coaxed a frightened Chihuahua mother into their arms a few days later. She gladly took her babies back from the human foster parents and has been a wonderful parent. Over the weeks in our care, the originally extremely frightened mom has learned to trust us, and we know she has her own forever family coming soon (after spaying, of course!).

Our dogs have ranged from 9 to 120 pounds. We’ve adopted a 14-year-old, and the youngest was born in our livingroom. A coworker recently pointed out that we don’t have a “type”, although this time around we had decided no puppy and no Chihuahua. What can I say? We know better than to listen to ourselves: Lola is a 7-week-old Chihuahua-mix (perhaps poodle, maybe Bichon). Holding her feels like slipping into a sweet dream. Inevitable.

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