By: Anne Marie Holloway
Our kids started hammering us with requests for a new pet shortly after the loss of our beloved feline, Boru, this past winter. Every night, my husband and I were visited by one or multiple teary eyed children who would inform us that they could not sleep anymore in “this house” because there was no longer a pet (beside the Hermit Crab) to protect them from the unseen things that made them feel scared at night.
No matter how many flashlights, glow sticks, night-lights, or Dream Light stuffed animals we purchased, nothing could measure up to the solace my children had found in their favorite security blanket, our old cat.
Apparently, our deceased feline friend was the great deterrent from all things that went bump in the night. Our big fat cat had played a role in the lives of my children that I had greatly appreciated, one that I had not realized I, too, missed. For when the house creaked or when I had a hard time sleeping, Boru would knew the exact right time to curl up beside me. And, like the effects felt from a glass of warm milk, I would find myself dozing off to “La La Land” with a smile on my face.
So, I understood my children’s plea for a new pet. I myself grew up in a house with two of every kind of pet – it was like Noah’s ark! There were days during my childhood when one of two dogs, cats, rabbits or hamsters would provide me solace from an unfair and confusing world. I had directly experienced the healing power of pets on kids.
I remember my experience interning in the Recreational Therapy Department at a rehabilitation facility in Brighton, MA, where I worked with patients who had suffered traumatic brain injuries. As part of my internship experience, I worked alongside a pet facilitated therapist. I had to record my observations on the therapy’s effect on the patients. I remember intently watching the heart rate monitor of a patient in a coma as the therapist gently placed the hand of the patient on an amazing animal’s head. The results confirmed something I had already known – that a pet could play a huge role in the physiological and psychological health of a person.
I tried to convince my kiddos that we could enjoy our neighbors’ pets. We are surrounded by wonderful people in our neighborhood, all of them with a pet of some sort. One of our favorite and most frequent visitors is a small little white puppy named “Pebbles.” She is a unique little creature, and she loves my children as if they were her family. But, unfortunately my argument – even to me – fell short.
However, I have a busy world and the thought of having to fit some other small creature onto my plate seemed fairly impossible. My little house had undergone a lot of transition since the passing of our kitty. I had started back to work, which required us to make a lot of changes. Two of the four kiddos would be starting new schools in the fall, leaving familiar buildings and teachers behind. Life had been a blissful constant up until this year – and the kids were feeling it.
My little family had begun to join forces placing pictures of cats, dogs, rabbits and other small pets around the house – on bathroom mirrors, above the pillows on my bed, and in the car. The kids would loudly discuss their choice of names for a puppy they found on the internet, or a stray cat they had seen crossing our back yard. There were letters written to us full of promise and pleading. But, still, we were not sold.
That is, until we arrived at the counter of the automotive shop to have the brakes fixed on our mini-van. We had not intended to have the brakes repaired for another couple of weeks, but it just so happened that we happened to find a block of time that worked for us. I laugh now, and shake my head at the timing of it all. It’s funny how God has a way of solving these types of small trials and tribulations for you – just taking worry out of your hands and moving you forward.
As we walked into the automotive shop, a sign taped to the countertop read – in huge letters, “Free Kittens.” And the rest is history… We left the automotive shop with new brakes, rotors and a kitten.
And to answer the question that I know you are thinking of asking me, “Are the kids sleeping through the night?” Yes. However, I am not, since the 8-week-old, tiger-striped rascal likes to come into my bedroom at 3 a.m. to bite my toes and lick my earlobes (yes, I said “lick my earlobes”). But, it is all good.
These days, the kids and I cannot help but giggle as we watch my husband’s expression when the kitten climbs up the side of the couch to find a place on his shoulder to watch the history channel with him. And I’m convinced that – like a new kitten – giggling is good for the soul…