Fortunately, the boys still get in some animal time thanks to Aunt Elspeth who owns a little Scotty dog, Ms. Molly. Ms. Molly has been an honorary part of our family for approximately two years, since Aunt Heather acquired her in a sordid backroom deal involving Craigslist and a hastily scheduled road trip some 40 miles away to arrange for pickup. Now, whenever Aunt Elspeth travels (whether to visit the parents for the holidays or to backpack through South America with her bearded gentleman friend, Nord), Ms. Molly stays with us.
All in all, we think Ms. Molly has a good time. Certainly, the boys enjoy playing with her. They both jockey to be the ones to feed her, beg to take her on walks, and rush to be the first to let her out and back in for outdoor breaks. In a nod to the "shortest child chases the chicken" role that some children have on farms, Hesperos regularly leverages his short, stocky stature to terrorize the only creature in the house smaller than he is. Luckily, Ms. Molly is young but should her fur turn grey, it'll be difficult to ascertain whether it's fear of a burly 3-year-old or old age that's done it to her.
Eventually, we'll probably get a pet of our very own (i.e. hermit crab, painted rock, or lady bug) for the boys to care for full-time. In the meanwhile, we enjoy part-time responsibility for Ms. Molly if for no other reason than because it reminds us of the care-free days when we were just an aunt an uncle, before parenthood: all the fun, none of the responsibility, and the convenience of handing the lifeform back whenever it starts to misbehave.