Saturday, October 22, 2016

Meet Momo

Momo, assessing us at the Humane Society
Meet Momo, the kids' first ever pet. Besides the bullfrog tadpole I inadvertently helped kill, Ren and I managed to make it well into our tenure as parents without dealing with an animal. But, then we caved.

Given Pink's asthma and allergies, you are probably wondering what in the world we were thinking. Turns out, I wasn't thinking clearly at all when I suggested to Ren that the kids might like a cat. This was three days after Pink's survived her first sleepover at a friend's house. The friend had two cats, so I figured I'd get called to pick her up somewhere around 10 pm. But, not only did she make it through the night, she did it without needing any Benadryl. If that's not a sign that we should go out and get a cat, I don't know what is.

Stow's regression this summer was part of my thinking, too. In the midst of the multiple meltdowns he had, I often wondered whether a pet might help calm him. Lots of kids have pets and work out many of their socialization kinks by hanging out with animals. Plus, he's done so well with hippo-therapy (or as we call it, OT on a horse), that I thought he could transfer some of those interaction skills to a pet at home.

The kids and their various challenges weren't the only thing on my mind, though. To be honest, the other reason I started thinking about a pet is that I thought Ren could use some company now that Stow has started kindergarten.

Still, when I suggested a cat, I entirely expected Ren to say no. He has always been a dog person, and ever since that summer evening kickball game when I was 9--the one where I got jumped on by Joey, the neighbor's Great Dane that, I swear, was taller than a grown man, and ended up in the ER--I have been a cat person. I never imagined Ren would cross over to my side, but I was wrong. Like so many other times in our many years of marriage, he was not only not surprised when I suggested the cat, he was also thinking the exact same thing.

So, that very afternoon we started our quest for a pet.

First, we went to the Humane Society. There we learned that they were completely out of cats. Not willing to be discouraged, we drove to a different Humane Society 30 minutes away. That second place, awkwardly placed in the middle of a pet store, had plenty of kittens, so the kids played with several of them and picked out one that they promptly fell in love with and named Pingu. We left an application for Pingu and waited to hear from the director.

The following day, our application was resoundingly rejected. (Because on the application I suggested that the cat might go outside from time to time.) Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode with the Soup Nazi? That's what this Humane Society was like ("NO PET FOR YOU!!"). Not only would they not believe me when I told them I didn't know that our local ordinances forbade cats from going outside (which sounds the opposite of humane to me, by the way), they also told me I could never, ever adopt a pet from them again. I was forever blacklisted. Apparently, the brief application I filled out was more than enough to convince them that we were the worst possible pet family on the planet. (I could post a copy of the letter I sent them afterwards, pointing out that they were failing at every part of their mission to place pets in families and to educate people about the humane treatment of animals, but I figured you guys have probably had enough of my ranting. Plus, it turns out that I wasn't the only one to experience their soup-nazi-like rejection. Yelp and other websites were full of horror stories about them.)

Unfortunately, I didn't know any of this BEFORE taking the kids to fall in love with Pingu. And, while our failed attempt to get a kitten seemed like a sure sign from the universe that we should rethink our plan, especially since Stow, Sky, and Ren ALL left the second Humane Society sniffing and sneezing, and Pink's eye swelled during the car ride home, the kids were more determined than ever to get a pet.

So, we decided to try again the following weekend.

That's when we found Momo.


The day we brought Momo home, two lamps got broken and two cars got scratched. I can't imagine worse omens. But here, nearly 20 years into my relationship with Ren and more than 10 years after becoming special needs parents, I have finally learned that sometimes the most joy can be found when we ignore the signs.

To manage the allergies, we decided to restrict Momo to certain rooms and keep her off the furniture. Our gradual adjustment has shown us that no one is as allergic as we feared, and as long as Ren keeps up with his vacuuming habits and as long as the kids wash their hands and take their allergy meds, all goes pretty well.

Momo not staying off the furniture.
Of course, I didn't even come close to anticipating what the real problem of owning a pet would be. And, honestly, I can't begin to tell you why I didn't KNOW that having a kitten in the house would turn things on their ear. In another excellent example of my permanent naivete despite so very many opportunities for me to learn to know better, I had no idea that Stow would lose his ever-loving mind when the cat came to stay.  But he did, and it took weeks for us to be able to get through any kind of routine smoothly again. WEEKS!

Photo edited to make it publishable on my G-rated page.
He's very slowly adjusting to her, though we STILL can't get him to stop mixing her food into her water or to refrain from carrying her around when he's half-naked (which is most of the time) despite the fact he has a bit of a contact allergy to cats. And, he has NO idea how to interact with a cat that isn't completely terrifying for the cat.

Still, we're hopeful. We're hopeful that, one day, both Momo and Stow can look back and laugh about all the ways they learned how to make it in this world together.

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