Greenville, NC – You can tell from the head count at our house that somebody here loves animals. With six animals in all - three dogs and three cats - I understand how the biblical Adam felt when he was charged with caring for the animal kingdom. Like him, we give them names and assign them a place in the kingdom. Such as on the floor and not on the bed. We break up fights, give out bones - and supposedly have dominion
There are biblical implications for the animals, too. Most of them are rejected beasts of some kind, too old or sick to serve their former owners anymore. Living here for them is pretty much the Promised Land.
Ruling over our little Eden seems an awful lot like working as a farm hand. We wake about 6 a.m. to howls from our big dog, Mayberry. He's a genuine treeing Tennessee Walker Hound, a hunting dog rescued by an animal cruelty officer who found him starving in a pen.
He's fully recovered now. And then some. At 95 pounds, he's heavier than your average lingerie model.
Soon the cats are jumping from the floor to the counter and making enough noise to be mistaken for the Old Testament plague of locusts. Next our two beagles wake up and they're happy! Always happy! Then Dewey, our smaller dog, grabs a toy and Geppeto chases her. Around and around the couch they go.
We go outside, where we generally draw stares and even a crowd. That's because walking three dogs -- ranging in size from "football" to "wrecking ball" -- is a lot like juggling home appliances. The little dogs have a constant push-pull contest. Dewey runs ahead while Geppeto sniffs a bush. Dewey joins him at the bush, and he relieves himself on her head. Then, 95-pound Mayberry stops and won't move, and he's soon lying on the pavement in a position that looks a lot like a nap.
We finally get home, give them bones and watch for wagging tails. Soon everyone falls asleep in their sunny places like little angels.
Sure, our household is a money-losing enterprise, considering the food, vet care, collars and leashes.
But in the grand scheme of things the money we spend brings us a whole lot of unrestrained, and usually slobbery, love in return. And if for our animals living here is a sort of Eden, for us, it's downright heavenly.