Thursday, July 18, 2013

No Regrets

There's a lively debate going on on an FS social media group I belong to about the merits of owning pets in the Foreign Service.  Some people think it's not worth the hassle, some think it's great if it's easy, and some wouldn't dream of moving without their furry companions.  I fall into the latter category, which should come as no surprise to any of my readers.

Yes, I complain about the difficulty of moving pets from place to place, the paperwork hassles, the expense, the extra stress, and, of course, the moment it all went horribly wrong.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's all worth it the moment you let the pets out at the final destination and breathe a sigh of relief as you realize you're actually home.  Welcome kits may be inadequate, empty white walls may be sterile, but having pets in the house makes it a home. 

I must have internalized this debate more than I realized, because I had a dream last night that, while traveling to see friends, I adopted an orange cat and two ferrets with coats like cheetahs.  And since I am not a huge fan of ferrets, it's even more odd.  The furry cheetah coats were pretty cute though.  Anyway.  I woke up this morning with a slight panic at the thought of moving around five pets instead of two and only calmed down when I realized it was a dream.  It got me thinking, though, do I have any regrets about bringing pets overseas?

And you know?  I don't think I do.  I have guilt - guilt every time I put the cats on a plane, immense guilt over Hattie's death, guilt about leaving the cats when I go on vacation - but they're not regrets.  I don't regret bringing Hattie with me; I do regret that I wasn't more aggressive in getting her out of customs, but that was due to lack of experience and local knowledge.  She wouldn't have wanted to stay in NH without me.  My cats may not like flying, but neither do I.  And it is a small price to pay for several years of staying put and being  happy together. 

There's probably more poignant things I could say, but I would encourage any FS community member (or, really, any expat) to figure out how important pets are to you and proceed accordingly.  There's no right answer, and it could always go horribly wrong, but most of the time it goes wonderfully right.  And that makes it worth it to me.

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