Kimm and I have both talked about our family unit, but I would like to say a few words about each animal whom we share our lives with. When we left South Florida we had 3 animals in tow: My bichoodle Chloe, Kimm’s aging cat Mimi, and my rescued kitty GG. GG took the trip the hardest and it took her a long time to adapt to our new surroundings. Mimi’s health failed in late March 2014 and she died right here in our casita. When Kimm and I went to pick up her ashes at the local shelter, we took a look at the kittens up for adoption. Enter Dharma.

Moving to New Mexico was a huge change for all of us, and we each adapted to that change in our own time. Three big dogs lived on the ranch, and of course there were all the horses. Kimm and I were in Animal Heaven, but our 3 animals had to learn to negotiate this new space and all its inhabitants. Chloe, who up until then was not friendly to other dogs, had to learn to be part of the pack and get along. We decided to keep the cats indoors and they really do quite fine as inside cats, though recently we have started allowing Dharma to roam a bit outside during the day when we are outside. GG was used to going out at night, but with coyotes and other beasties out when it’s dark, we keep her in.

Dharma changed GG for the better in very profound ways. He was so tiny when we brought him home, and GG found the maternal in her and became his mother. She also became his playmate and partner in crime. GG, who had been so traumatized by our trip west, came out from under the bed covers and began to socialize. In the months since Dharmi’s arrival, GG has transformed. She asks for love, she hides so much less, and seems happy and content. It has been a wondrous thing to see.

Chloe runs and plays with the big dogs, which now numbers 4, and on walks with them is part of the gang. With so much space to run and play, she gets lots of exercise and has so much fun. We can let her roam by herself, knowing she will always come home. One of her favorite things to do is go into the horse corrals and get into the poop. All the dogs seem to enjoy this pastime. Chloe has no fear of the horses – which might not be such a good thing – and they ignore her as she runs between their legs. She has really become a ranch dog, and I have said more than once that the move would have been worth it just for what it has done for her.

Dharma is a scamp and bandit, and Kimm calls him “Rico Suave” because he is just the coolest dude. He is very lovey-dovey, curious about everything, and fun to watch. He also keeps us on our toes. He quickly endears himself to anyone who comes to visit us. He adores GG, and for him, Kimmie is his human. Recently his relationship with me has changed from a bit annoying to friends. He is fascinated with everything I do and now even sleeps on my bed. I LOVE it!

But the most wonderful thing about our animals is how they transform Kimm and me. I have written on my own blog, ajdowntherabbithole.com, how my animals kept me alive and taught me what unconditional love is. For me and Kimm, they complete our family. They give us far more than we could ever give them, and have increased our capacity for caring, our compassion, and they keep our hearts open and full of love. They are indeed our kids  and we enjoy thinking of them in those terms.  Our little family is quite whole and complete, and Kimm and I can rest in its comfort. It is a joy-filled thing.

I have always been a bit skeptical of people who say they don’t like animals. It seems a real rejection of nature, as well as a truncation of emotions. The Earth does not “belong” to humans. It is a solace for all living things. As part of the greater animal kingdom, it is our obligation to connect with the life around us. I feel sorry for those who cannot do that. In my mind. they live lives of terrible and unnecessary limitations. Kimm and I are so blessed to love and respect all life, and to think of our relationships with animals and nature in general as something sacred.

Faerie Andie