Koda and Summer are very lucky to live their days side by side, snuggling, playing and growing up. Most puppy siblings are separated around eight weeks old, joining new forever families. Occasionally people bravely adopt two littermates like we did. Ignoring the online naysayers, we moved forward in our quest for raising two Aussiedoodles from the same litter. Sister and brother. Siblings. Littermates. The main drawback that we were warned about is that they would become too attached. We have taken measures to boost their self esteem as individuals and given them plenty of attention one on one. I think that so far their attachment to each other and to their human family is healthy and balanced. That said, seeing their sweet sibling love makes me feel confident we made the right decision in bringing home siblings.
I have three sisters and cannot imagine my life without those siblings. We are close in age, a couple of years between each of us. My mom dressed us in coordinating dresses and pantsuits at holidays. My favorite was a black and white Partridge family-like vest and long plaid skirt. We played together in the house, running circles around the second story through the bedrooms and the jack-and-jill bathroom. We slid down the stairs on sleeping bags. We made up dances in the living room. We played quiet games like library, and noisy games like hide n seek. Four girls meant always someone to play with. Then we hit the teenage years, sharing the bathroom with one oval mirror over the one sink in the jack-and-jill bathroom. There were lots of fights. We argued about time in the bathroom, borrowing clothes, hogging the telephone, and just plain picking on one another. Somehow we also learned to fight those battles and then make up and clear the air. The moments when we felt close to one another remain my fondest memories, making up songs and skits to perform for my parents on their anniversaries, confiding in one another and supporting each other through hardships, laughing together about silly stuff, and taking memorable vacations as a family. The summer I turned 13 my parents had the crazy idea to rent a Minnie Winnie RV and take us on a road trip through Oregon, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada. I’m not sure the exact route because I just remember arguing and being bored, and listening to the soundtrack of America (the horse with no name…). I’m glad my parents took us on those trips, my world expanded and my treasure trove of family memories got fuller.
Now that we are all grown up, we live far away from one another. One in Hawaii, one in San Diego, and one in San Francisco. Different zip codes and different time zones. We try to keep in touch often, even scheduling conference calls where we all chat together in the same virtual living room. There have been sister trips where we traveled to Mexico and Park City, but it could be anywhere and we’d find a way to laugh, talk, cry and just savor our sisterly time together.
My older sister visited me this past week, coming all the way from California to Virginia. The time we have spent together talking, laughing, and reminiscing feeds my soul. I have learned to live my life far from my parents and sisters because I had to. Two decades ago we moved across the country, and yet my heart still aches when I drive away from the airport after dropping them off. Time does not make the distance apart any easier. People who have their siblings nearby are very lucky. They should not take that for granted. My sister came to my sons’ football games. I envy the friends I have who have sisters can come every week to see their nephew play. Meeting for lunch, going to see a movie, shopping, taking walks, accompanying me to scary doctor appointments, being by my side in happy moments and sad times, these are all of what I miss out on in not having my siblings close-by.
Maybe somewhere inside my heart, I did not want that same longing inside Koda and Summer. I know that they say dogs forget. But just think of how much comfort they have given each other in this new setting. Look at how they love to play in the yard and on the sofa together. I see them resting on the floor with Summer resting her head on Koda’s legs and I think, “That is sibling love.”