Friday, December 19, 2008

The Gift That Gives Back

PAPER WOMAN, Suzanne Adair's debut historical suspense/mystery, won the Patrick D. Smith Literature Award from the Florida Historical Society. THE BLACKSMITH'S DAUGHTER and CAMP FOLLOWER continue her fictional ventures into the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War. For more information, visit her web site (www.suzanneadair.com) and blog (www.suzanneadair.typepad.com).

Every diva knows a version of that French kitchen wisdom: "The first crepe is for the cat." The assumption is that you, a diva, have a privileged puss (or pooch) that can benefit from your throwaway crepe.

If you have no such culinary mascot, and you're mulling over adding an animal friend to your life, consider purchasing from your local shelter instead of a breeder. Shelters are packed with cats and dogs, a great number of them purebred, giving the impression that pets have become as throwaway as first crepes. But this holiday season, the family pet has become another victim of the mortgage crisis. The bank takes the house, and Felix and Fido go to the pound.

Adopting a pet can be pricey, over $100 in some areas. Then you have to keep your pet safe and healthy, more money. It's almost as expensive as raising a human kid. But many shelters offer gift certificates. Drop some hints.

Or maybe all you need to do for that first step is put the energy out there, and your animal pal will come to you, because it turns out that someone you know must part with his or her pet. That's what happened to us.

Here's my purebred beagle, Annabelle, sprawled on my kitchen floor. Note that she isn't asleep. Anyone who lives with beagles knows that they never sleep while people are in the kitchen handling food. Instead, they bide their time, quietly. Annabelle's waiting for me to forget she's there and leave the kitchen a moment so she can steal food. (She especially likes crepes.) In March 2007, my first beagle, Calypso, was nearing the end of a long, productive career of food theft, and I wanted another beagle before she died. Almost as soon as I started talking about it with neighbors, the lady across the street told me of an acquaintance who had a beagle that needed a good home. Within a few days, Annabelle was enriching our lives. And reminding us to store food a good deal farther back on the counter.

We've added two more pups to our household after adopting Annabelle: Isabel, a foxhound mix, and Chester, a purebred rat terrier. In both cases, we happened to intercept an owner who was searching desperately for a home for the dog before heading to the shelter. (Snuggled against my older son from bottom to top in the picture: Annabelle, Isabel, Chester.) We're at maximum capacity for dogs now and count ourselves blessed with these three. And yes, Isabel and Chester hang out in the kitchen, too, expecting the crepe to fall.

Odds are that your special animal friend is waiting to connect with you this holiday season through an acquaintance or a shelter. Put the energy out there. Let the universe surprise and delight you.

Happy holidays to divas everywhere!

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