To begin you must know this, I dismissed my mother's advice.
"Marry someone raised in a family like your own," she warned. "It'll save you struggle later when your marriage is challenged in ways you never imagined. The more you have in common the easier it'll be later."
She was right. Twenty-five years with Wes and I recognize now how our divergent views on the daily stuff of life often ignites the fight. In our case it's my perception of dog and cat hierarchy in the family. Mostly dog training, placement, feeding, discipline etc.
Here is the short short history of us:
Wes's parents immigrated from Brazil in the 60s, were fundamentalist Christians fleeing the threat of Communism, and possess a can-do work ethic. They landed in Santa Cruz to labor in the chicken houses and strawberry fields. Household pets were a foreign concept to a family living hand-to-mouth in apartment settings.
My mom is from a ship building family in Northeastern Canada and married a Naval officer from Iowa. My mother was a homemaker and raised five kids, while Dad spent 42 or their 50 years married at sea. Stray animals- ranging from dogs to snakes, rats to (briefly) a possum were welcome under our roof.
I told you it'd be brief.
Fast forward to 1994. Wes and I meet at California Hot Springs where he worked for HB Cattle as a ranchhand. (Possibly the only vegan with that job description.) His 1 year-old Australian Shepherd was Paje, Portuguese for shaman. Q, my 2 year-old black Labrador, thus named for Quan Yin, was a gift to myself after graduating from a Taoist Studies Program.
Wes and I merged families and eventually moved to Kauai in 2001. It wouldn't be until 2011 when we'd go from being a two dog family to a three dog family, and I am happy to report, it was Wes who invited the third.
Going from two dogs to three is where the unraveling of peace in our house began. Well, that and the fact that Wes's mother moved from Santa Ana, Calif. to live with us. I think this is a salient point because the Dog Wars began not long after her arrival.
But, I get ahead of myself.
Meet Javali, 15 year-old Chihuahua.
Wes and Java met while I was on a coffee break. Wes dropped by the Kauai Humane Society, where I worked as the Volunteer Coordinator. I wasn't there so he wandered into the kennels where he fell to one knee (I learned from a vet tech who witnessed the proposal) where he wooed this old gal through the bars.
"Hey there, you look so pretty in that sweater," he cooed.
Javali had been delivered to the shelter by her owner. Her intake card reported she was being surrendered because "she's old." It was February and she was missing a lot of hair so a volunteer brought her the infamous purple sweater.
Later that night, home from work, I'd tell him he'd been busted flirting with an older woman.
"That old girl, will she be adopted?" He asked.
I told him it's hard to rehome the seniors. Two weeks would pass and he'd ask about her again.
"She's still there," I answered. "Shall I bring her home?" (Okay, guilty.)
To which he said nothing.
In my book silence is acceptance.
And this is how the three dogness of our life began.
Ok. Not the end. The beginning. But I release you to go brew another cuppa and ponder his little nugget.
Until next time. Thanks so much for reading. And remember folks, spay and neuter your pets. Please.