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Keep animals, even the cuddly ones, in perspective
 
There are four little furry creatures running around my house, and they have been for five weeks now.

Yes, we have puppies from our Australian Shepherd female that was supposed to get spayed but, before we got the job done, she had a visit from the neighboring American Boxer. As a result, we have four little crossbreds tearing around our home.
I’ve never had to manage a litter of puppies. Much like for the mother to the puppies, Annabelle, it’s been a learn-as-we-go adventure for our family. When they were born, I thought there would be this huge mess – you know, a big old puddle of afterbirth, kind of like a cow, but there was none. Annabelle kept everything quite clean and trouble-free.

We didn’t have to pull them, we didn’t have to bottle-feed them, we didn’t have to clean up after them, nothing – Annabelle did it all. But they didn’t stay little and they aren’t as easy to contain now. They are a little more adventurous and a lot messier.

And frankly, it reminds me of taking care of toddlers. They have put themselves on a schedule. When they wake up, I take them outside to relieve themselves and then they can come in and eat and play for a while, then it’s naptime again. We do this process over maybe three or four times a day.

Just like when I had little kids running around, I know what sounds I need to be alarmed about. I know when they are running around the kitchen, I can hear them when they are tearing up newspaper and, when they are quiet – it’s time to check on them!

As I sat in my rocking chair one morning with one of the males falling asleep in my arms, I realized why we live in a world where it’s easy to elevate animals to human status. They are comforting and kind. They are fun and refreshing. They can brighten a bad day in two seconds flat.

But they are still animals, and can’t hold a candle to the days when I sat on the couch and read to my children or watched my 12-year-old hold an auction to sell stuff he no longer wanted to his younger siblings, or the feeling I had four times over when I held each one of my children for the first time.

These puppies have been a blast and a big learning experience for all of us, but when they go, there will be no tearful goodbyes and I won’t be praying for them every day or wondering when they will come back. Those tears and prayers are spent on the real treasures of my life – my children.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Those with questions or comments for Melissa Hart may write to her in care of this publication.
3/20/2013