29 feet

The night before I got married, we had a reception for family and friends. I don’t recall many of the details of that event (so enamored was I with my soon to be bride), but I do remember a friend of my soon to be father-in-law wandering up and offering me a gin and tonic, along with some advice. “David,” he said, “if you want your marriage to last, then never have more than 29 feet.”

I wasn’t exactly sure what he was talking about, so I asked my fiance what it was about. She told me that this long-time friend of the family had a wife who loved animals. Apparently, she was in the habit of always bringing a new animal home. So he made a rule: they could not have more than 29 feet in the house.

I had no idea at that time what good advice this was. It turns out that my bride-to-be would eventually become a veterinarian. And there was a time, about 8 years into our marriage, when we had 2 children, 2 horses, a pony, 3 dogs, and 6 cats. Including the two of us, that added up to 56 feet (well, feet and paws and hooves, etc.). Too many.

Eventually, we got rid of the horses and the pony. Over time, the number of dogs and cats diminished. We still have 2 kids, but one is in Japan and the other is about to leave for college. Once he’s out of the house, we’ll be down to 1 dog and 3 cats. Including the two of us, that makes for a total of 20 feet. Seems manageable.

rush and shelbty 2
Rush and Shelby, chillin’ with the monkey.
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