When Kendall and I decided abruptly to move from California to New Hampshire, it wasn’t a huge shock to our friends and family because we did it once before.
In June 2008, we visited the Bay Area for a week’s vacation (my college roommate and another dear friend lived in San Francisco and Oakland). We had such an amazing week, on the flight home we said, “Wow, if we could make it happen, let’s move there.”
Two months later, Kendall was on a plane back to San Francisco with two suitcases and a new job.I stayed in Missouri to pack our stuff, perform best man duties in a friend’s wedding and await the birth of my sister’s first child.
We decided that Kendall would fly back to Missouri and we’d drive our two dogs and two cats the 2,018 miles to our new home. He said it would be the worst experience of our lives. It wasn’t but it wasn’t a day at the beach, either.
Traveling with kids
We don’t have human children, just the furry kind. At this move, it was Zuni, an obnoxious Italian Greyhound; Phoebe, a sweet mini Dachshund and two black cats, Tootie and Mr. Bernie. The vet gave us some sedatives to keep the critters calm during the drive.
We gave some to Tootie, which made her moan like a drunkard for hours. She was crated alone while Bernie and the two dogs shared a crate/jail cell. When bored, Bernie would smack Zuni across the face.
We’d stop every few hours to let the dogs walk and do business. We pulled out a litter box and let the cats loose in the car to also TCB – with some privacy. Neither of them used the box once. But Tootie did climb under the backseat during one stop and it took 45 minutes to coax her out.
Motel 6 has a good pet policy but there was no way we’d tell them we had two dogs and two cats, so everyone got snuck in after dark under blankets, litter box, too. Not a very restful night.
Somehow, Tootie held it all in for about four days, including two at our new apartment in Walnut Creek, CA.
See ya’, STL
I flew back to St. Louis to tie loose ends. On Nov. 1, 2008, my pal got married. (And they still are!) On Nov. 7, my work friends hosted a goodbye party for me at Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air in Alton, Illinois. I woke the morning of the 8th to share a long hug and tears with my work wife, Georgia, and then it was off to the hospital as my sister was in labor.
I arrived, probably still stinking of beer and burgers, and my mom said there was plenty of time. So, I headed to Target to buy some jeans (most of my clothes were on the way to California in a pod) and to shower. My phone rang as soon as I turned on the water. “Come back. She’s coming.”
I got back to the hospital to greet Samantha as the nurse held her upside down and rinsed her in a sink.
Two days later, I said goodbye to the family, and hoped that this move wasn’t a mistake. It was important for me to be a presence in Sam’s life and not some weird uncle that she barely knew. (That’s not the case. We’re very close and she wants to guest on the podcast, too.)
Thinning and growing the herd
Tootie got lung cancer in 2011. Fortunately, she wasn’t in duress for long when we decided euthanasia was best. She was 13.
I went to work for a pet supply chain doing community outreach and marketing. This meant I was very close to a lot of rescues and shelters. In 2011, I co-created the Bay Area Pet Fair, where there were hundreds of adoptable dogs, cats, bunnies, rats and birds.
So, in 2013, at the third-annual pet fair, I saw Falco, a mini Dachshund mix strutting through the fairgrounds and I knew he belonged with us. Also in 2013, three kitten siblings got fostered at my office. We fell in love with brother and sister Hansel and Gretel, so they joined the pack.
In 2014, Kendall attended the fair and found his all-time favorite dog, Mr. Furley, formerly named Grenache, like the wine. Furley’s a Chihuahua/Papillon mix that some call Pappi-huahua.
Zuni a.k.a. Humpty Dumpty because of all the times we put her back together again, died in June 2016.
Soon after, Kendall’s co-worker asked him if he was interested in another mini Dachshund, as he knew we were fans. A friend of his ended up with this little ball of energy named Frank, but it wasn’t a good mix with her two giant Mastiffs. So, Frank came home with Kendall on the ferry from San Francisco. We were up to seven pets in the house.
Yes, we’re nuts.
Two years pass with no new pets
We met Kendall’s birth family in New England in October 2017, and decided to move to be near them. By December, Kendall was on his way and we found a rental house in Massachusetts for the rest of winter and spring.
We opted against a road trip with six critters in the dead of winter. So, fly they did. There was only one airline that had private cargo space for pets and only four per flight, so the dogs went one day and the cats the next.
The dogs were easy, though it was very sad leaving them in separate crates at the airport at 4:30 a.m.
The cats knew something was up. Where was Kendall (their favorite) and the dogs?
Pre-dawn, I was up with a plan to get Gretel crated first. I closed her in a room with the crate and attempted to put a towel over her to easily get her into the crate. The first time didn’t work and she started screaming and hiding. After 15 minutes, she was in the crate.
But Hansel was on high alert. He took one look at me and an empty crate and lost it. I tried the towel trick, but he got a paw and his mouth free and bit down hard on my hand and scratched with his free paw. Then, he kicked the crate down the stairs, so I held him with one arm while he bit and scratched me and loaded him into the crate.
Bernie strolled right into his crate. Once we were on the road, I noticed how much blood was running down my arm and was also on the crates. It looked like a horror movie. (My favorite kind, btw.)
Poor Hansel got sick, Kendall told me.
I had a scar from the bite for about a year.
Mr. Bernie has lived in five states so far, and he loves the adventure. The others are happy being with us, no matter where that is, though the dogs don’t love the snow and ice.
I’d be remiss to not mention Finney, a chihuahua who joined us as a pandemic puppy and Kendall’s 50th birthday present.
Saying goodbye to a pet is one of the hardest things any of us have to do, but I always tell people it’s easier when you have a spare and not an empty house. We have six spares.
For continuity’s sake, the current pack consists of:
- Cat Mr. Bernie,18 years
- Mini Dachshund Falco, 12-ish years
- Chihuahua mix Mr. Furley, 12-ish years
- Cat Hansel, 9 years
- Cat Gretel, 9 years
- Mini Dachshund Frank, 6 years
- Chihuahua Finney, 2 years