I have a LOT of relatives on my flyball team and I know I have relations all over the place. Given the way things in the doggie world work, I'm sure I have relatives that I don't even have any inkling of. In fact, I think I just heard from my little sister, Mi Lou.
This all gets me to thinking about family. Is family who you live with? Who you love? Who you share a mom or a pop with? Does family include your people and your people's family? (Am I a grand-pet?) The people often refer to their friends as my "aunt so-and-so" or "uncle this-and-that"--are those aunts and uncles different from the ones who are "related" to my people (their brothers and sisters)? It's very confusing.
See, on my flyball team, we have:
Brock and Tip, who are littermates to each other and have the same mom and dad as my mom--that makes them my uncles.
We also have Simon and Tyler, who are littermates and have the same grandmother as my mom--which makes them my first cousins once removed (I think) on my mom's side, BUT, they have the same dad as my mom, which also makes them my uncles.
Then, we have Cap, who was born only one week before me, and is technically some kind of cousin to me, but I'm not sure exactly which (his mom is related to my mom somehow and his dad is my grandfather, Radar). He and I were at the Moy Hall Farm together.
Then, we have Hailey and Jack Jack, who are littermates and whose mom Casey is my half-sister and whose dad, Jed, is also my goofy little brother Hamish's dad. That makes them my neice and nephew.
Which brings us to Hamish, who is my half brother because he and I share the same mom, Ness.
See, how confusing it is? It's kind of like those old European royal families where everyone ends up being somehow interrelated. One thing is that we all play flyball and most of us are speedy and excellent (we won't say who among is isn't, but let's just say I'm making great progress).
This is a picture of me with Hamish the day my people brought him home--don't I look sisterly?
But see, there are the other kinds of family too. Like, when my people brought me home, that made me and my buddy Renzo into a "pack" (or a doggie group if you don't like the term "pack"). For a long time it was just us two and we were pretty much the doggie family.
Until Tansy came along. Once she joined us, then we were a bigger pack. And we kept getting bigger with Hamish and finally in June with Rafe.
Here we all are--Hamish, Rafe, Renzo, me and Tansy.
And in between Tansy and the boys came all the foster dogs. Are they part of my family too? I sure did like some of them. We played, spatted with each other, shared bones and toys. Isn't that kind of what it means to be a family?
Here's me and one of our first foster dogs, Scamp (his name is Dylan now). Don't we look sweet together? My people liked him so much that when they saw Hamish they were reminded of Dylan-Scamp and decided they would like to have a "red" border collie. Doesn't that kind of make Dylan family?
So, you see, family can be a tricky business. I guess in the end, family has to be what YOU decide it is. For me, my family is all those doggies I'm related to, sure--but more, it's those doggies I really share some experiences with. The more experiences I share with them, the tighter we are as family. And since I love my people, they must be part of my family too. And since there are lots of people that my people love, I guess those people are part of my family.
It's still pretty perplexing, but I think it's ultimately a really, really nice thing. It would sure be nice if we could all just agree to recognize each other's families and believe in our hearts that what matters is sharing our experiences and our love.
And that's my newest lesson of the day.