Father’s Day: reflection on marriage and our “fur family”
Our life as a fur family:
Every Father’s Day I write a blog post about my husband. He’s the Daddy in our household…and we love celebrating him. Bret and I are not an ordinary family. We wanted to be one of those ordinary families but life just didn’t turn out that way for us. What did “turn out” for us was a steady stream of homeless animals showing up at our door. Our life with animals works for us and we wouldn’t trade it for anything. I believe it takes time for each of us to realize and come to terms with what we were made for…and I believe we were all made for something special….some special journey. Bret and I were made for our life with animals. We are not fully ourselves without them.
Whenever I go to pick out a Father’s Day card for my husband…I get a little emotional. I am no dummy. I am perfectly aware that most men would never tolerate neither the volume of animals I have brought home…nor the degree of the challenges I have brought home. I am very well aware of how extraordinarily patient and compassionate my husband is.
When Bret and I first got married I brought home a feral cat..today we call him Catzilla. When this cat first moved in to our home none of us could get anywhere near Zilla…we had to drug this cat to get him to our vet. To keep our other animals safe we kept Catzilla in a separate room in our house…but not just any room…a bedroom that we made in to an “extreme cattery” for Zilla…it was so darn cool. Not only did Bret not scoff at the money we spent to build Zilla a cattery but he doubled down by making time to work with Zilla and win his trust (which anyone with feral cats knows this is a long-term commitment). Today Zilla lives in the house roaming happily with all of us.
Shortly after Zilla moved in I brought home our Lhasa..Lacey Mae. A few days after she moved in with us she tore up the side of Bret’s face…badly…not just bite wounds but enough damage to give him a black eye. He forgave her instantly, dug his heels in and remained committed to her. He saw her potential and today she is the love of our lives…and she is definitely daddy’s girl.
Some time after Lacey moved in with us my Rottweiler, Hercules, was diagnosed with cancer…it was a long and difficult ordeal which included a leg amputation. Since Hercules could no longer go on walks with the rest of the pack and I was not strong enough to carry Hercules, Bret took over giving him some special time each day. Bret would carry him to the car…drive him to the park…carry him to a grassy area and they would hang out and wrestle around…they would people watch…then the pair would go to Dairy Queen and split a cheeseburger. Every single day they did this…until Hercules died. Hercules wasn’t even Bret’s dog…he was mine before we married. In fact, Bret had to work very hard to get Hercules to like him. When we were first married Hercules wouldn’t even let Bret get in bed at night. Hercules would give in eventually, of course, but Bret got very little space in the bed. Bret loved him in a way no other person could.
It goes on…Kringles came when we already had four dogs…Kringles had no where to go and was in very poor health. Bret was happy to have him and Kringles took to him right away. Turnip…wanted nothing to do with Bret for so long when he first moved in…Bret won him over anyway. Buster…was like having a freight train move in the house…Bret loved Buster instantly.
I am no fool. I know what I have in Bret and I am grateful for him everyday. When Bret and I first met…I was finishing up a master’s degree at a Baptist seminary and Bret was an enthusiastic seeker at an Evangelical church. Two years after we were married…we were confirmed into and remarried in the Catholic church…an odd journey, I know, but a well thought out one. One of the many things that called us to the Catholic church was the Catholic understanding of the sacraments….the concept of marriage as a sacrament was very meaningful to us. Today we understand marriage as a sacrament more fully than ever…marriage has rubbed the “spiritual” edges off of both of us. Our life together has changed us and our time together is by far the most “grace-filled” time of our life. I believe that together we see more clearly…if that makes sense. And together we walk a path…albeit a non-traditional one…towards our Maker. We are blessed and grateful for each day with each other and our pets.
While my Bret isn’t the traditional version of a dad…in this household he means the world to a whole pack of very special creatures. Happy Father’s Day Bret!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dog dads and Rescue On!