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Pets as Family

I had looked for homes for my dogs on and off for three years, seeing this coming. Although I never thought “this” would include living in my car. I figured I’d end up in a low-rent studio, hopefully one that would take dogs. Short of finding my dogs a good home with someone I could trust to deal with their various eccentricities compassionately and yet firmly, as I do, I would not let them go. I refused and refuse to take my dogs to an animal shelter.

I believe that adopting a pet means making a commitment to care for it for its life. Not until it becomes inconvenient. Not until you can no longer afford it. Not until you want to move somewhere that does not take pets. For life.

A mammalian animal is a sentient being who makes emotional attachments as strong as those of humans. I refused to cause Dwyn and Carlos trauma. God knows I have survived enough trauma in my lifetime without inflicting it on others. I will not put them through the grief of being abandoned and shunted to a cage among other freaked out animals in shelters.

Dwyn came from a rescue organization. Carlos had had two homes before mine. They trust me. I will not betray that trust.

dog breeds Carlos

Carlos is a mix of hound, Blue Heeler and Rottweiler. He has the best traits of all three breeds: He is goofy and lovable like a hound, smart as a whip like a blue heeler, and just scary enough to be a good protector.


Dwyn is the name of the Celtic god of love and mischief, and it fits him well. He is an over-sized 35-pound version of an Affenpinscher, German for “monkey terrier.” Other than size, Dwyn has all of the characteristics of this breed, which was bred as a lap dog. Check out these photos to see his uncanny appearance with pure breeds.

Besides, my pets are my family. That is different than saying my pets are family. I have no human family who care about me, share their life passages, or inquire about my well-being. My pets are all I have. Between December of 2009 and April of 2011 we lost another canine companion, Thor, and the cat who had moved out from upstate New York with me, Peek-A-Boo. I could not deal with losing more; nor did I want to make my surviving pets Dwyn and Carlos do so.

As for how my dogs are doing, they love this new lifestyle. They get to run and explore new smells much more than before. Instead of guarding me on a fenced-in three acre property in a very safe neighborhood, Carlos and Dwyn have the real job of protecting me in the wilds of southern Arizona — and dogs need jobs. Yes, they spend a fair amount of time in my car, but always either in air conditioning and with water, or with open windows and water, and with leashed walk breaks as needed. When we get “home” (and sometimes in the morning if it’s not yet too hot), they get to chase my car up and down the four-wheel-drive road and then wander around waiting for more excitement.

My dogs are handling car living better than I am.


RIP Thor. Thor was depressed and ignored the toys I brought him for about six weeks after I adopted him. I got him from a New Mexico woman who had taken him from her son, who had taken him from a brother, who adopted Thor as a puppy and had to get rid of him when the puppy outgrew the city apartment. This was the first week I saw Thor play.


RIP Peek-A-Boo. Peek-A-Boo was named Precious when I adopted her from a household of three cats who bullied her and two well-meaning men who were just too loud for her delicate sensibilities. She hid from me for a month, during which time I renamed her. While she remained a master of finding hiding places, she eventually warmed to me and even semi-tolerated the dogs.


I so MISS sleeping with a cat. I’ve had a cat all my life. But when Peek-A-Boo died I knew my housing situation was precarious. I have refrained from adopting another feline companion because it would have been irresponsible.

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