Before moving to the farm, I always had dogs and cats, and usually a bird or two, pushing the legal limit for city dwellers. I planned my life around them: my apartments were pretty marginal, because those were the ones that allowed pets and the dogs needed a yard. I came straight home after work for our supper. My dogs walked me into a good sleep at night. I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t paying off a vet bill on a charge card and I can’t remember a time that sitting on the couch didn’t involve a pile of animals on top of me. Even as close as we all were, I never referred to myself as a pet mom or dad. If you do, that’s wonderful. For me, it always felt a bit like an insult. To them.
It was easy to plan my social life. If my dogs weren’t welcome, I didn’t go. Sure, it was a problem for some people–relatives mainly. Still, no regrets. Families shouldn’t be run like country clubs.
Once I moved to the farm and the horses were settled, more animals arrived pretty quickly. Llamas and goats and who can possibly survive without at least one donkey? When friends looked at the herd quizzically, I reminded them that I didn’t move to the country so I could read more. One day a friend shook her head and said, “What is it, Anna? Is it just that there’s no one here to tell you no?”
That’s when it dawned on me. Exactly. There was something about living here that gave me permission to just stop feeling the rub of judgement–that it was a waste of money and my meager resources. When I was younger, it came with the kid-guilt component–having animals was less worthy. Less respectable. Other times I was told I’d never have a relationship because animals made me unattractive. Ridiculous. It’s the exact opposite. Animals open doors to a better class of people who are open-minded, compassionate, and of course, required to have a sense of humor.
Here is the question: Is there some age-related moratorium on name-calling for life choices? Some arbitrary age when people give up the idea that animals are a silly pastime that we will eventually outgrow? During the gay marriage debate, one conservative pundit whined that soon we would be marrying our dogs. What rock has he been living under?
Society has names for people like us: a horse-crazy woman. A crazy cat lady. Or maybe it’s silent–that look you get for liking dogs just a little too much. And there’s a shaming that goes with the title, sometimes overt and sometimes subtle. You’re discounted. You’re playing for the wrong team. And you’re an inconvenience because of it.
One of my goals with this book was to maybe better define that “crazy” title a bit by putting words to the qualities we see in animal companions. For some of us, finding trust with animals the very best choice available. It’s not about avoidance; animals attract us to a place that feels inclusive and safe when we get lost. It’s why animal therapy is so effective. They offer us, both men and women, a bit of humanity on the path back to our own species. In the end, it doesn’t matter why we brought animals into the central place in our lives originally. We’re too busy basking in the richness of the multi-species experience to worry about what visitors think about a bowl of cats as a centerpiece on the table.
WEEKLY UPDATE: So far 288 paperbacks have sold in three weeks since the release, thank you very much. Not counting ebooks, because somehow they take 60-90 days to count. The book is finally available in foreign countries from your national Amazon without astronomical shipping costs or long wait times (ironically from a not-Amazon distributor). I have an upcoming media interview, if all goes well, and an invitation to speak about animal welfare (and the book) next month. The Book Talk in Denver is August 7th, please join us. I’m working on a local book talk if there’s interest. And I am still sending out signed Thank-you-bookmarks, if you’d like one. For more information on any of this, or if you have any PR ideas for me, use the contact link at the top of the page. And thank you.
Just between us, I find my new part-time marketing job a bit stressful and confusing but I won’t stop now. I still need your help. I fear I’m coming near the end of my reach and soon the book will sink like a rock, so I ask again… Please leave a review, even one word, to keep the book in the rankings. Please tell your friends, even those without fur family. If there is a group that you influence, consider suggesting Stable Relation there. If this story touched you, please keep it going. If you have been rescued by an animal, or misunderstood for loving them, this is one way to pay it forward.
Do you walk a tight rope because some members of your family have too much hair? Does your human family roll their eyes behind your back, wishing that you would do something normal–like join Scientology or at the very least, invest in a lint brush? Well, be patient with them because there truly is something we know that they don’t. Thankfully.
STABLE RELATION is available at all online books sources, including Amazon (here).