Our Jack loves animals. Jack loves animals the way I love Lutherans and serving Jesus and talking about God stuff. When I picture our oldest son as an adult I see him with an animal entourage. Jack McFarland will have his own pack someday. Jack’s pack will most certainly adore him – and the feelings will be mutual.
Jack plans to be a veterinarian. Serving and caring for animals is Jack’s calling in this life. Animals give Jack joy and a deep sense of purpose.
And Jack isn’t naive about what it means to answer the call to be a veterinarian. Jack knows it will take some serious work to achieve his career aspirations. (It is even harder to get into vet school than it is to get into medical school.)
Jack also knows his patients will bite him and snap at him and shed on him and get their bodily fluids all over him. He knows his patients will often be grumpy and stressed and not very happy to see him. He knows they will die. He knows their people will behave very badly. Sometimes shockingly badly. Jack knows ALL of this – because he has been working at the Jefferson Animal Hospital and Regional Emergency Center since last August and he loves it. Jack’s love of animals just grows and grows with exposure to the realities of life at a vet clinic rather than diminishing.
Jason and I have watched Jack’s calling to serve animals with pride and awe and joy. It is a seriously cool experience to watch your child discover his calling in life – his passion – what makes his heart sing – how he will serve his Lord and his neighbor. It is even better than watching his first steps or hearing him call you “Ma” for the first time!
Jack loves animals – but has lived in an animal-free home for years now.
When I started getting sick and my migraines got totally out of control – one of my doctors strongly advised us to become a “pet-free home.” It made us very sad – but at the time I had been living with a migraine for months. Yes – one long – unrelenting migraine for months. The pain was exhausting and nothing was helping.
So we tried being a pet-free household. Our gorgeous – sweet – golden retriever – Katherine went to live with Jason’s parents. (Have I mentioned how awesome my in-laws are? Seriously – AMAZING!) But being pet-free changed nothing. The migraine just went on and On and ON. What finally helped was a fancy new migraine maintenance medication – allergy shots – and learning that I have an autoimmune disease.
Jack is wise. Jack listens. Jack knows my health problems are NOT caused by furry friends and fluffy family members but by a dysfunctional immune system. So the petitioning began. Jack yearns for a dog. A goofy – sweet – walking – running – sidekick. And Jack reminds his parents – that we walk ALL OF THE TIME. Our walking and hiking family should definitely have a dog. All of those walks are wasted without a dog companion. We could be/should be sharing the joy. It might even be our moral obligation to be sharing the walking joy with a canine companion?!?!?!
Last week Jason told Jack to start looking. Jack/the McFarlands may have a dog. (But the dog must be a family/kid friendly breed. Nothing too exotic.)
Immediately the search began. Jack declared that he would be adopting from a shelter. Jack also wants his dog to be a dog. Not a puppy. And he wants to rescue his dog.
Jack and Jason began searching and seeking and scouring the local and local adjacent pet rescues and shelters. And this is where we hit a snag. This where we got into trouble. This was our downfall . . .
You see – when I was a kid – I wanted a cat. I really – Really – REALLY wanted a cat. But my parents absolutely – positively refused to get a cat. My parents always had dogs but refused to get a cat (until I was in college . . .) Dysfunctional much?
Anyway – I like dogs (especially big – goofy – dunderheads) – but I have a “thing” for cats. I particularly love tabbies and that sweet “M” they have on their foreheads. I am especially drawn to orange tabbies. And I have always wanted a FEMALE – orange tabby. But most orange tabbies are boys. Only 1 in 5 orange tabbies are girls. Not exactly as rare as male calico cats (1 in 3,000) – but still – most orange tabbies are boys.
Jason knows I long for a female orange tabby. Jason knows our household will one day have a least one female orange tabby cat. Jason accepts this the way he accepts the yarn – the embroidered jeans – the sass – the strong opinions on the ordination of women and the craft supplies (with grace and a knowing nod).
ANYWAY – while Jason looked for dogs – somehow – he got lost and wandered into the sad cat section of a shelter web-site. And there – well there – he found Gracie the sad orange tabby. Gracie is 5 or 6 years old and her owners died this winter leaving her all alone in the world.
Jason told me with a slightly reluctant sigh that he had a link to show me and then before you could say “Jack get the cat carrier!” – we had adopted a sad – lonely – grieving – orange tabby cat named Gracie.
Gracie needed people. Gracie needed love. Gracie needed a family. Gracie had been at the shelter for 2 long – sad months waiting for me/us (I mean – waiting to be adopted by a loving family).
And our Gracie is still sad. But she is getting a bit less sad each day. A week after coming to live with us she is slowly – slowly easing into life in her new home. But as Will told his 3rd grade teacher – “We have a new cat named Gracie who is recovering from a trauma. It will take time for her to trust us.” (I love Will’s perceptive description of our Gracie.)
For now Gracie walks like she is being stalked by a predator. (Okay – perhaps Ash the kitten – may be stalking her just a bit. Ash really – Really – REALLY wants to be friends!) Gracie hides in corners and sticks to the perimeter. BUT Gracie came out of Will’s closet which feels like huge progress.
Gracie doesn’t know it yet – but she is surrounded by people who love her so very much. Who will always love her. Who want to pet her and spoil her and chat with her and hang out with her and nap with her on rainy Saturday afternoons. Gracie has found her forever home. Gracie has found her people.
Gracie is home – she just doesn’t know it yet.
So welcome to the nutty family Gracie. We love you!