It is the issue that almost upended my marriage before it began.
I can picture you, Dear Reader, nodding your head in understanding. “Yes, it’s tough to agree on religion, money, politics, how to raise our daughter.”
Actually, for two people raised in very different backgrounds, my husband and I are remarkably compatible when it comes to traversing those potential mine fields.
Our issue was and can still be quite a tale. Make that a tail. And fur. Bottom line, we don’t share common values on animals.
My husband didn’t grow up with pets, has no interest in animals, does not get the attraction.
Me? I’m that crazy animal wacko who was well on her way to becoming the eccentric cat lady down the street. Let me add, I was quite content with the idea of that.
He sees shedding, mess, and fleas.
I see unconditional love.
How did this happen? I’ve shared in this column (July 11, 2013: How I Found A Husband) how meticulous I was about making lists of the qualities I was looking for in a man.
I do remember the day we were introduced by mutual friends, this new person said something about not renting a house because “dogs had been living there.”
“Oh, well, not my guy,” I thought to myself.
When he asked me out for coffee a few weeks later, I made sure to out myself. “I have a dog, a 3-legged cat and just last week adopted 4 chickens,” I shared.
He didn’t run for the hills, so I figured his aversion to animals wasn’t that strong. That he liked me for who I was.
That was a mistake.
After a couple years of dating and moving closer and closer to marriage, I could tell he was getting cold paws, er, feet.
“I just can’t imagine living in a house with animals,” he blurted during one emotional conversation. “I thought you had animals only as placeholders until you met, well, humans.”
I hear my fellow animal lovers laughing and shaking their heads.
Not wanting to give up on each other, stubborn like two dogs on a bone, we headed to pre-marital counseling where we came to some agreements. We will always at least have one dog, probably no more cats, as my husband does have a mild allergy.
My big give was no more animals in our bedroom. Our dog, Darla, now sleeps in our daughter’s room. Almost everyone is thrilled with this arrangement, including our daughter who feels secure having a nice-sized protective dog sleeping by the side of her bed. Even Darla is happy, looking so proud at bedtime, prancing in our daughter’s room like she’s one of the big girls. She has a purpose.
Then there is me, who misses the sound of a dog snoring and licking her chops in her sleep as she dreams of dancing cheeseburgers. Sounds that are as soothing to me as ocean waves crashing on a beach.
The sounds that give me joy these days? Eavesdropping on my husband. A year into our marriage, he’s taken to having conversations with the animals when he thinks I’m not listening. “D-Dog, you love Daddy more than Mommy, right?” “Good Morning, Cat, you look happy today,” are among the words I never thought he’d say.
Then there was the day a few weeks ago when a couple of my chickens had died. Not knowing how to grieve a chicken, my wonderful husband blurted out, “Honey, you need to go restock.”
Nothing says, “I love you,” to an animal lover like, “Time to go get more chickens.”
As I drove out to the country to pick out the new chicks I couldn’t help but smile. “I get to be the crazy animal lady AND have the husband and kid?” I thought.
Dreams really do come true.
Here’s one our new chickens, a little Polish Maran chick the kids have named, “Nugget,” though Facebook fans and friends think looks more like Phyllis Diller. Whoever she is, clearly loves to play and dig in the mud. What a face!