The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

July 1, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Even in breakups, pets still part of family

JOPLIN, Mo. — Last Sunday, I took a road trip to Kansas City to pick up my dog. After taking a vacation that consisted of a long road trip and a job switch, I was ready to have Cami come home. After what seemed like the longest month in recorded history, that was finally happening.

I knew about my trip several months in advance, so I had time to weigh my options on what to do with her while I was gone. The thought of her sitting in a long-term kennel was not one that sat well with me and neither did the idea of having someone check in on her while I was away. Pets need socializing, so I didn't think either of those choices were good ones.

I finally bit the bullet: I contacted my ex-wife and asked if she wanted to spend some time with the dog. Cami was adopted when we were together, and after we split up we traded her off because we lived in close proximity to each other. After I moved here, that stopped because it just wasn't logistically possible.

When she agreed to watch the dog, she gave me one condition: that I come spend some time with the two cats we also owned. While this request was made in jest, I started to really look forward to it when it came time to pick up Cami. I have had minimal time with them over the past two years, which, admittedly, I feel bad about.

We took those two amazing cats out of a litter from my mom's outdoor cat. Albie is a huge, gray fluffball who acts more like a dog than a cat, demanding belly rubs while running through the house all day. Riley is a dark, striped snuggler who takes some time to warm up to new people.

When I worked out of my home office years ago, Riley would plop down on top of the couch while Albie would be in my lap. They would always find their way into the cabinets, leading to a lot of fun scares. They had the best, squeaky meows and were genuinely good pets.

While I have absolutely no issues about the human element of that relationship ending, I do miss the heck out of those cats -- as I'm sure that my ex misses Cami.

I've had friends go through a similar situation, and a lot of times their shared pets end up at a shelter or given away to some remote family member or friend. I'm proud of the fact that both of us stepped up to take responsibility for the pets we adopted. While it isn't the best situation, we made an adult decision to make sure that the pets were taken care of.

While I was handing out belly rubs and ear scratches Sunday, I realized that I had made the right decision leaving them with her. Those cats are happy to have a good home and I'm lucky to have a friend that knows my dog.

Much of what I write about has come to me through serious trial and error, and the living situation with our pets was no exception. If you are going through a breakup, take some time to consider where your pets are going to end up. I promise that they will appreciate your continued care for them.

As I have come to find out with my dog, your time together will be one of those things that you will appreciate regardless of the outcome of anything else.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at rrichardson@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7363.

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