snips nonfiction...  
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In Case You've Heard...
It is true. I did meet someone on the Internet then marry him exactly two months later. To anyone resistant to the concept of "soulmates," this may sound a little impulsive. Especially since this scenario includes moving myself and 23 assorted dogs and cats and one extremely opinionated macaw from rural Virginia to suburban Ohio, leaving behind all the friends and memories of 16 years of an extremely varied and interesting life in that incredibly beautiful part of the country.

    Yep, I'd say people were a little surprised when I broke the news.

    I've always done my own thing - usually the hard way. That's pretty much how I wound up with snips, an amazing experience where I did the exact opposite of what I thought I was going to do. Living with thirty or so animals can really give you a new perspective on life. Meeting people who have dedicated their lives to different aspects of animal welfare is both humbling and inspiring. Finding incredible, loving homes for animals who seemed to be destined for something entirely different is probably the most rewarding thing I will ever do. So even I was a little surprised at how easy it was to move on, at how natural a transition it was.

    Natural, even easy. We sold my place (after repairing a lot of the "character" that the critters had added over the past few years); found the perfect house that gives us some separation between animals and companion humans without being too far from my new stepson's school (mindful of the laws limiting the number of animals permitted per house in each of the different cities); and got both of our households packed up and ready to move (him 10 minutes across town; me eight hours across three states). All that fell into place, one piece right after the other.

    It did take three trips to get all the animals here. The first one, me and five dogs, three cats and a bunch of stuff crammed into the Kia, was amusing to me. We looked cute all squished into our little Sportage, and everybody made the trip without much fuss. I dropped the two greyhounds at my friends' greyhound farm in West Virginia so they'd be out of most of the upcoming excitement, and the rest of us went on to Lowell's apartment. We got married, and two days later I drove an empty van back to Virginia to finish the move. We thought, Wow! This is really easy. We're goooood! So you know what was bound to happen next.

    The following two weeks were absolute hell.

    You know how moving goes. It's not too bad until you reach "that point." You're tired of packing, everything else is just junk, whatever it is, and you don't want it. The movers come late. You decide you don't really want to leave your friends, after all. Then you have to clean. REALLY clean, clean so that the people who bought your house don't think you were a disgusting slob. Wipe out the inside of the washer. Scrub the tops of the cabinets and all the shelves in the entire house. Deslime the drain stoppers. I called Lowell and told him I changed my mind; I was staying in Virginia. Sorry. He reminded me that that wasn't really an option, beings as my house was sold. (Lowell read this and said that didn't sound very romantic. The truth is that when he got that phone call he loaded Miles up and they drove straight down to Virginia. They really did.)

    So I packed up the rental van with the rest of the gang: seven dogs, eight cats, and Duncan; and pressed on. It was to be the most harrowing trip of my life.

    When you have all those animals to pack into a Plymoth Voyager, it takes a lot of bungee cords. The back of the van was a spider's web of ropes holding crates of various sizes in a variety of precarious angles. The bird was the only one who rode in comfort, with by far the most space per body mass. The five dogs who rode free were pressed as far away from the cage as space allowed, a pretzel of dogness, after Duncan nailed Puck's nose for being inquisitive. When we stopped for gas, Duncan screeched "Hello! Help! Hel-leeoowgh!" The cats, well, the cats meowed the entire way, that really sad "I'm being tortured. Is anyone out there?" meow.

    The Plan was to stop at the halfway point to let the dogs stretch their legs. I reached the halfway point. Then I realized: The Plan had not taken into account how difficult it was going to be to get those dogs back into the van when it was time to go. So, since everybody seemed cautiously content, I decided not to risk it and to power move through the rest of the trip. It was only four more hours.

    Thirty minutes past the halfway point, it started to drizzle. It was hard to see. An hour past, it was getting dark. Two hours past, everybody started needing to pee. Including me. I will spare you the next two agonizing hours, and fast forward to my joyful reunion with my new husband in our new home.

    I pulled into the drive, everyone whining, me crying. The neighbors choose this moment to stop by to introduce themselves. My husband, not yet realizing the gravity of the situation, tries to make a favorable impression with these nice people. I stick my mascara-streaked face out the window and hiss "Not Now, Lowell." I'm sure he will never tell me the thoughts that ran through his mind at that moment, but I'd be willing to bet they had something to do with "I wonder if I can get my apartment back".

    We haven't seen those neighbors since.

    (The third round was a breeze, just back to Charlestown to gather up the greys, who fared much better than the rest of the clan during that dreadful period.) Our little country dogs have made a remarkable adjustment to life in suburbia. My incredible husband has taken all the changes in his life with gentle good humor. My stepson has fallen for the whippet and greyhounds, and not, as I had predicted, the cute, fuzzy, "kids love us" mutts.

This is definitely my "happily ever after."


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