If there is one thing that prevents me from being a nomad forever, it is my love for my pets. In fact, I would go as far as saying that most of the big decisions in my life have been made with my pets in mind, always considering my proximity to them and their well-being. Its not easy to enjoy your new found love of pho in Vietnam when your mind is back home, worrying about the simplest things like whether or not their caretakers have been providing your dogs and cats with fresh water twice a day.
As far as I can remember, I had been surrounded by pets ever since I was born. Both my mum & dad’s families kept a lot of dogs around. The Dachshund that we have now is directly descended from my grampa’s (dad side) pawed family, and so are my cousins’ Dachs as well. Then during uni I decided to adopt a cat from a local shelter and from him, my love for cats grew… into a house of 5 Siamese, 1 American Shorthair, and 5 adopted street cats. All of them have been spayed / neutered including the pedigrees as I have no intention of breeding them. We also adopted the mutt of our neighbour whom they abandoned after leaving their house.
Eleven cats and two dogs. Not to mention the street cats that come and visit our terrace. I’m grateful that we have a big compound where the pets and furry visitors can roam around and relax in the middle of the city.
The fact is that I shouldn’t be worrying much at all. Its just that the people whom I am supposed to trust whenever I leave aren’t quite trustworthy at all. They usually forget to fill water bowls, open cat passages when it rains, and they don’t even recognise our own cats even if they have been around for years. The 2 dogs get neglected and I usually catch them being infested with ticks whenever I get back from extended trips. There is just no interest at all from our househelp, family driver, and my own family. This is the root of my dilemma.
Because of this I make sure that I limit extended trips to 3 weeks at the maximum, which happens around 3 times a year on average. Short trips for business last around 3 to 5 days, once or twice a month. It is rare that a month would go by without a single trip. Most of the time I call every 3 days to check how the pets are doing whenever I am away.
PLANNING FOR A FUTURE WITH PETS
I have thought long and hard on solutions to ease my worry, and I suppose one of the sure ways to ensure the well-being of my pawed family is to get people who are just as concerned to join me in setting up a haven for them. Some ideas so far :
The Farm – Commune
Pets need space and some stimulation, and a farm environment can provide both as compared to a concrete space (think warehouse). The commune part is to allocate residential space for those who are part of the pet caring community. The farm will of course provide produce, and also make “waste management” a lot easier if there is a compost set up.
I must admit this is an ambitious project, and it sounds like a retirement plan, but if the farm can earn for itself the better.
The Petting Café
By the end of this month I will be heading to the most cat-obsessed country in the world – Japan. It is the land where cat cafés abound. Not only cat cafés but whole islands dedicated to cats. This will be for a future post. What I want to learn is how I would address my concerns such as animal stress in a very interactive environment. How would animals, especially cats, respond to daily interaction with strangers? Will I need a big yard hidden at the back of the cafe so that the cats can have some time off for exercise and personal space? Would pets really be happy in this environment? Are there only certain types of individuals cut out for a petting cafe environment?
If I can make sure that the animals in the petting café will be happy, then I’ll go for it. Not only would they be able to pay for their own caretaker and food, but the venue can also be a channel to spread awareness about pet adoption, care, grooming, and local shelters too. We may be able to sponsor a few neutering / spaying campaigns in some areas to lessen unneeded suffering by stray kittens and puppies that have been abandoned or don’t have a human family that could take care of them. If a few cups of coffee, some tasty cakes, and a reading nook can help achieve this, I would definitely pursue this idea.
… or perhaps a combination of both ideas above?
So there’s my plan on ending my dilemma once and for all. I should be able to be the free nomad half the time, but be able to find my way back to my happy furry family and let my inner crazy cat lady loose sometimes.