On the home front, Kipperkipp sent me an email link to the Atlanta Pet Rescue, which had pictures of all the doggies up for adoption. Well, they were awfully cute, and I love dogs. In fact, I love them so much, that I don't have one. It wouldn't be fair to the pooch to keep one with my lifestyle: I work late most days, only to turn around and go out many nights. A dog needs to be played with, and I would only have a couple of hours (on a good day) to play - I'm afraid a dog would feel ignored, and be lonely. Dogs needs kids to play with, or at least someone with the time and energy to devote to them.
I once had a cat for a while, but even an independent cat gets lonely with my lifestyle. Karma the cat came wandering into the zendo during the August 2003 sesshin, and I caught her as she scampered up the aisle between the sitting meditators. As I carried her out the door, I held her close and rubbed my bearded chin against her head, and when she started purring, I thought "Shit! Now I've got a cat... "
However, a feral kitten has a lot of energy, and she was so starved for attention when I got home, and so disappointed when I would just change my clothes and head back out the door. So, a week or two later, to give her some company during the day, I captured her brother playing outside of the zendo, which wasn't hard because he had a broken leg.
L. and I took the broken-leg brother (Joshu) to the vet, who put a pin in his leg and told us that he couldn't play with Karma, his sister, for at least six weeks while the leg mended. To make matters worse, he put a funnel collar on Joshu so he wouldn't pick at his stitches. Given the situation, L. kept Joshu at her place and I kept Karma, so the plan to have the two provide company for each other didn't quite work out. Instead of one attention-starved cat on our hands, we now had two to maintain.
Eventually, though, Joshu did recover, and the two were finally allowed to play together, but by this time, each had gotten territorial over their own homes. It was apparent that Karma was happiest at my house, and that Joshu was more comfortable at L.'s, so that at best they only got to visit one another when L. and I visited one another. It seemed we were always arriving at one another's house with a cat-carrier bag slung over our shoulders.
After the Christmas holiday, those visits became less and less frequent. Poor Karma had no one to play with all day, and I'd come home and see her staring out of the living room window, waiting for me to return. As soon as I walked in, she'd criss-cross my path meowing, wanting to be picked up and held, and would sit by the door pouting when I headed back out. Not a happy cat.
So, when L. and I finally separated, I decided to give Karma to her, so that Karma could play with her brother Joshu all day. Even though L. travelled more than I did, and was probably home even less, I felt it was more humane to the cats to let them play together all day than to keep them apart in typically unoccupied homes. Last summer, when my ex-g.f. L. briefly became my former ex- etc., the two cats seemed healthier and happier than they had been at any other time, so I think the decision was the right one.