If you’ve been following along (as much as is possible anyways!) You’ve read all about Why I Will Never Have Children; my pets are my babies.
(You’re probably thinking that this is the WEIRDEST way to start off a post about Christmas, I swear…it will make sense!)
In the fall of 2004 I was given a puppy (a pair of siblings really but one of them was “my sister’s”) and I was so excited! This was my first pet as an adult, and I could name her and train her however I wanted! She would be all mine. I wasn’t *technically* living alone, but my mom stayed between me and my sister’s place about 20 minutes away (I was living on Walnut Island in Grandy, and my sister was in Kitty Hawk at the time…), but I would get to do everything with these precious little girls! We were told that their mom was a Dalmatian and their dad was a Black Lab/Pitt Bull mix; they were all black on the tops. One was shaped more like a Dalmatian and had a full white tuxedo chest with black spots and she had white feet with alternating black and white toe nails; and the other was built more like a lab and had a smaller sort of Oreo’s looking stripe on her chest, and the tips of her toes were sort of grey freckled.
The puppy that was deemed mine (the more Dalmatian looking one) was a little spunky thing, you could see in her eyes that she was gonna be a handful! I named her Kassidy Ann, which means clever girl. (We had a baby name book, since the internet wasn’t like it is today, and there weren’t smart phones so we couldn’t just Google it!) My sister, being to total weirdo she is, wanted to name hers Arandie Breanan, but my mom can’t roll R’s, so we shortened it to Arie Breanan. (My kitten that I have that came from my sister is called Felicity Beatrice, if that’s any indicator of how she would name her children!! Not being able to bring myself to calling a tiny cat Felicity, we call her Fili [like from The Hobbit], or Fefe [“fee-fee”])
Kassidy would prove to live up to her name; she could get into or out of anything and everything. She even figured out how to open cabinet doors if there was something smelly behind it! She once managed to get out of a kennel crate, and she’d never stay where you wanted her to. She would listen, but unless you told her what to do all the time, she just did whatever she wanted to.
There was this one time I was sleeping and in my dream I realized suddenly that I was paralyzed. When I woke up, I still had that feeling; so I wiggled my toes, OK my feet are fine, then I wiggled my fingers and hands, OK so my arms are fine, I bent and knees and elbows, all good. So I go to sit up, and screamed (you know when you read in books and it says something like, ‘I heard screaming and didn’t realize it was me?’), it was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had in my life; instantly I’ve got tears all down my face and my head is killing me. I’ve been awake for maybe 30 seconds so I still can’t figure out what’s happening. My mom comes running in like I’m being murdered, I tell her that I’m hurt but I don’t know how and that I can’t get up. She doesn’t take me seriously and I try to roll over to sit up that way and scream out again. She realizes that I’m not being over-dramatic and that something is seriously wrong. She helps me out to the car and drives me to the Student Health on campus (this was while I was still at ECU). Long story short, the best we can understand, somehow I had sprained my neck in my sleep. The working theory is that Kassy (who always slept longways along my torso, she was 100lbs and would be almost as long as me when she stretched out!) didn’t move when I went to move in my sleep, and she prevented me from being able to roll over. Now, when you’re sleeping, you mostly will just push with your head to roll around then follow with your hips. So when I put pressure on my head and neck to turn then wasn’t able to move, I sprained my neck. I eneded up being out of work (you find that bus driving is impossible when you can’t move your head, or shoulders) for about 2-3 weeks, I was out of class for about 1.5 weeks, and I was on steroids for a little over a month.
All because I slept with my 100lbs dog, or rather, she slept with me; either way, I defy someone to tell me that having pets isn’t the same as having children. At least I don’t have to walk on Legos! (Also, Arie has seizures, so there’s another fun thing I live with because I have pets)
**Shit’s about to get really sad here, so grab your tear collector of choice (toilet paper, glass jar, shirt sleeve, tissues…if you’re fancy) while you’ve got a chance**
3 years ago, out of the blue, Kassidy got very sick. She would barely walk, she was hardly drinking or eating anything, and then one day she just quit walking altogether. We thought at first her hips were bothering her (she was a big dog and had just turned 11), but that didn’t explain why she wasn’t eating. We had to carry her out on a blanket to go to the bathroom and made her a makeshift bed in the living room with a bowl of water and her food bowl.
For the first day she would still eat and drink a little if we told her to, but gradually she would barely even be able to lift her head and would even drink if you dropped it in her mouth with a straw (which I did for an entire day). Within 3 days she went from my fun, spunky baby girl, to a vegetable. She wouldn’t respond at all when you’d say her name or pet her. I stayed up straight for her last 48 hours, I slept on the daybed to be with her in the living room and just binge watched movies on Netflix. (To this day I still haven’t ever rewatched Kingpin, that was the last movie I had watched that afternoon.)
After it seemed like there was nothing else we could do for her, we called a mobile vet. I hadn’t worked in about a month and was applying for jobs, but we didn’t have the money to take her anywhere else, nor could we carry 100+lbs of immobile Kassy-puppy. Anyways, we asked if she could do a payment plan and she said that she could; she came and looked at her, got some blood and gave her a once over. She left to go run the tests and all that and would call us back the next day when she had the results. A few hours later we took her outside to go to the bathroom and were devastated by what happened. She was whimpering and when she went to the bathroom it was all bloody-mucus stool. We felt so hopeless, and when we called the vet back with pictures she confirmed our worst fears. The vet came back within an hour and let us say our goodbyes. At 11:10pm our Kassy-puppy drew her last breath and her heart stopped from the injection.
Now, I’ve only briefly mentioned my childhood situation before, but Christmas wasn’t always the best time for us. My dad would be off work for longer than the weekend, which meant there was more drinking and him being at home. We weren’t really used to him being home all the time, and it wasn’t usually a good thing. One particular Christmas I can remember we stayed up until the middle of the night to clean the house better because “Santa doesn’t visit dirty houses.” I remember being so tired, all I wanted to do was go to bed, and I couldn’t think straight and was telling him that I didn’t know where some stuff should go. I was holding one of those Fargo hats, that have the ear flaps that buckle under the chin; he took it out of my hand, yelled something at me about keeping things where they’re supposed to go, and threw it down in front of me. The metal snap on one of the straps hit my face and cut my lip and chin. The next day, while we were opening presents, he asked me what happened to my face. I was about 5 or 6 years old, I knew then that he never even knew that he had done any of the horrible things he had done; he was oblivious. That’s the earliest Christmas memory I have. Over the years I grew to hate the holiday. It was so fake, with people being happy and cheerful and gracious…for approximately 3 weeks; then they would go right back to their normal-ole-grouchy-rushed selves. It always felt like such a lie to me, and if there’s one thing I can’t stand for is people to be so fake and think that it’s meant to be that way.
I still hate that about the holidays, but I’m much less “Ebeneezer” about it now. It used to be that I would be a total Grinch all the way up till Christmas Eve. Don’t get me wrong, I loved sharing gifts, and spending time with the whole family (more than just with the 4 of us); still to this day I love getting things for people, I’ve even been accused of being the “greatest gift giver,” and I can’t say that I don’t love it when people cry when they get my gifts. I try for them to be as meaningful as possible. If it’s the thought that counts, then my gifts count 1 million times over.
Anyways, the next week I started a new job, the Christmas season was in full swing, and after Kassidy died, my mom left to go work out of town and I was left alone in a 1 dog apartment. It was a very dark time for me, and I guess in a way to make myself feel better, I clung to the hope that everyone seems to have during the season. Being an empath, it wasn’t very hard to do. It was the times that I was alone that I needed something to cling to. I bought all the Christmas décor I could afford with every paycheck I got until Christmas. I borrowed a tree a friend of mine wasn’t using anymore and scrounged for the few decorations we did actually have. I put a wreath on the door for the first time in my life, I had the tree in front of the window on a timer, and I had the inside of the door decorated and ready for the incoming cards. I wore red and green, and I didn’t get pissed when they incessantly played Christmas music. (I have to admit, I still draw the line at Christmas stuff BEFORE December, let alone Thanksgiving!) It was quite a Christmas Carol effect, a total 180º turn.
I now have a maybe-not-so-(un)healthy addiction to cheesy Christmas romcoms, a giant Dr. Seuss themed wreath that takes up my entire door, and planned out themed Christmases. Last year we did a Harry Potter Christmas, and this year it’s going to be a Disney Christmas. We each have our own color wrapping paper and the décor and ornaments are all in whatever the theme is. My sister and I have already talked about what we want to do for next year; Tolkien Christmas! We’re all fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbits.
(*I literally just hibernated my computer when I checked my Krispy Kreme app and my local Hot Now Sign was on, listened to my new Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas CD, and got myself a Santa Belly Chocolate Kreme filled doughnut; and it’s not even December yet!* On a somewhat related note, a heated up glazed doughnut, is NOT THE SAME as a Hot Now. This has been an unsolicited Public Service Announcement.)
It took me many, many years to get over all the bad memories, realize that I was being too critical and cynical of my fellow man and that even if people were faking it, at least they were being kinder and more hospitable to others, even if it was just because of a holiday, and not because they were actually becoming decent humans. In short, I was basically making myself miserable, and nobody else even really cared, so I quit, and now I do what I want. Which is to make a total spectacle of myself for no reason (as always), and to make other people as happy as I possibly can. (The resemblance between myself and Ebeneezer really is astonishing…)
(*ALSO, literally just now, the USPS just dropped off some Christmas gifts I ordered for a friend of mine and my sister!!* Christmas shopping is now complete, except for a few random stocking-stuffer things…)
Take care of yourselves this holiday season; love and miss you awesome nerds!