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I've said it before: I don't have kids, I have pets. And as I disassemble my marriage and the life I built, I'm holding on tightly to my dogs and cats (having already let go of my birds and fish). This is turning out to be more challenging than I expected.

As you might remember, I've planned to give up my house and move out of South Florida. But I might've known there would be a problem with the wonderfully affordable house in a big fenced yard I arranged to rent in a new part of the country.

The problem is the neighborhood. I joked with my mother that I might have to skip this year's family Thanksgiving at my brother's house to man a machine gun in defense of my rented home, but it may not have been all that much of an exaggeration.

Then there was the old farmhouse on five acres, taken before I even had a chance to respond to the listing. It needed TLC, said the ad, which also included what I'm coming to understand was a great anomaly: the phrase "all pets welcome."

It was my soon-to-be-ex Ed who taught me that there's almost always room, at least temporarily, for one more animal in trouble. That's all well and good when you're in your own home with terrazzo floors. But the landlords of the shiny hardwoods I so admire are somehow not crazy about my having so many critters.

Ed introduced four of my remaining six pets into the household. My mother suggested loading the cats into a carrier and leaving them at his office. (She's obviously not a cat person.)

I reminded her that the animals stayed with me when I put Ed out because Ed is a drunk. I never wanted three cats, but I allowed them to join the pack and now I am responsible for them. I have also, um, grown accustomed to their little kitty faces.

So I'm taking a few precious days to look around for a rental that can handle what's left of my menagerie. I'm worried, but I'm trying to keep the faith that somewhere there's a place for us all.

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