Sex Changes and Other Confusing Things About Moving

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Today was a traumatic day for the kids, which means it was a traumatic day for their parents, of which I’m told I am one half. 

We started the day with a cat we suspected was male and which we were calling Oliver. He showed up on our doorstep a month ago, and a week later we were feeding it. I think I was in the middle of reading about Hemingway’s cats when it happened, and I let me guard down a bit. 

Knowing we couldn’t take the cat with us to Chicago, we decided to price out the cost of getting a health certificate in order to fly the cat to Seattle to live with some friends there until we decide if we want to buy a place in Chicago. 

In order to facilitate the health certificate for the cat, we realized we’d need the same in order to transport Morris the leopard gecko with us across Canada and back into the United States. 

While at the veterinarian, and while digesting a $92 bill for a health certificate for an 8-inch gecko, the doctor informed us that our little Morris was actually a girl. He actually showed us the private parts and then apologized to Morris saying, “I know, it’s improper.” Something he said several times to what I’m now calling Alanis Morrisette.

Isn’t it ironic?

In order to assuage our disbelief that Morris wasn’t the manly killer of crickets in his terrarium that we once thought he was, the doctor told us a story of male cats that have bladder stones and which then must undergo a sex change operation in order to survive the surgery. 

Apparently the owners of these cats are frustrated at having to rename their cats after the surgery. 

After the shock of learning Alanis (The Gecko) Morrisette’s real identity, we decided to forego the health inspection on the cat and have it checked for a microchip that might reveal who the cat’s owner was. 

We went to Anchorage Animal Control, and the kind ladies at the front desk called a veterinary technician to perform a quick scan. 

It turns out that the little cat we’d been calling Oliver for a month was actually a trouble maker named Sam. 

We know from experience that Sam likes to jump into cars, and it seems that during a past move made by his owners in Eagle River, some 20-30 miles from Spenard, he must have become mixed up in a moving van and wound up on our doorstep, which is confusing for more reasons than just the obvious. I mean, how would you (Alaskan friends) like to wake up and find yourself on a doorstep in Spenard? 

The Animal Control folks called the owners who were shocked that their little hunter and troublemaker was alive and well and living in Spenard. Within a half hour, we had reunited our new little buddy with his family and his twin brother. 

But this was not without its problems. Cole was with us, while Carson and Gabrielle were with their grandparents. This meant that two of three would not get to say their proper goodbyes. 

There is no way to prepare children for the unexpected loss of a pet. So why even try? 

Cheryl broke the news to them, and Carson, as you might expect, was devastated. He couldn’t decide if he was more angry that he’d been calling Alanis (The Gecko) Morrisette Morris for more than two years or the fact that he didn’t get to say goodbye to Oliver/Sam. 

All I know is this. With all the problems in the world, when your cat has a literal sex change or your lizard undergoes metaphorical sex change, your children are not going to handle it well. Handle with care, and realize that in the grand scheme of things, these little detours in life are just new experiences that are free or inexpensive, and you get to play psychiatrist, which, although extremely dangerous, is really quite fun. 


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