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Thanks to hubby, empty-nester returns to class

The time has come to clear my basket of a couple of bits and pieces that somehow just never made it as a full column.

Jessica Bates of Lowell received the surprise of her life from husband Larry at their daughter Julia’s graduation party this past summer. Julia was the last of their three children to graduate from college. The couple worked hard to make sure their kids wouldn’t graduate with a pile of debt to pay off when they finished their educations.

“Jess not only worked two jobs over the last nine years but she put her own plans to finish college on hold when the kids were still in grade school so we could start saving,” Larry said. “I already had a graduate degree so, in many ways, her sacrifice was much greater than anything I had to give up.”

So when Larry gathered their guests during the summer festivities, Jessica thought it was some special surprise for her newly graduated daughter. When Larry handed his wife the brightly wrapped, flat package, she was curious.

“I thought it might be travel brochures,” Jessica noted. “We had talked about going on a cruise when we became empty-nesters.”

At first she was confused to see the course catalogues from Loyola and DePaul in Chicago. Those were two of the schools she had considered before putting the dreams of her children before her own. After a long, silent pause, she heard Larry whisper in her ear, “Now it’s your turn.”

“I bawled like a baby,” Jessica said. “Not many husbands would be willing to continue to make that kind of sacrifice for four more years. Lucky for me, I have three kids who can now help me with my homework.”

Patti Corbett of Merrillville emailed to remind me that Sept. 15 is both Responsible Dog Ownership Day and Puppy Mill Awareness Day. Patti and I agree that’s probably no coincidence.

“Dogs and cats are living, breathing creatures and need love, care and attention to thrive. They’re not fashion accessories,” Patti wrote. “Hundreds of thousands of pets in shelters are desperate to find loving homes. They might not be the latest in ‘designer’ pets, but I guarantee they won’t love you any less for it.”

Patti also noted that responsible breeders don’t allow their animals to be sold indiscriminately.

“Responsible breeders have a vetting process and you should feel like you need to pass the test.” Patti said. “If you’re standing in a store between the lawn supplies and backyard furniture, looking at puppies stacked in cages, chances are great they came from a puppy mill.”

If you’re still inclined to pay hundreds of dollars for what, despite the fancy faux-breed name, is the same as the wonderful mixed breeds sitting in a shelter, take a moment to look up puppy mills on the Internet. If you love animals, you’ll be sickened.

“Responsible pet ownership begins with how we pick our pets,” Patti said. “Check a breeder’s credentials. Ask if you can see the pup’s parent(s). Better yet, go to your local shelter. I guarantee they’ll have an animal that will steal your heart in a heartbeat.”



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