Over the years I have lost some of my best friends. When I was young, I lost my first pet, a little black lab puppy called Candy. She had to be put to rest due to distemper. Then there was Bambi, she was a pure bred Pembroke Welch Corgi, she died in a fire that burned our house down. We could not get to her before the gas lines in the house exploded. We buried her in a local wooded park. Dini came next. She was given to me by a corgi breeder after Bambi died. Dini was a Cardigan Welsh Corgi and was with me for 16 years. She died a peaceful death at the age of 16.
After Dini, I could not bring myself to have another dog until years later. My daughter and I adopted a German Shepard. We lived 20 miles from the nearest town and the dog loved it there. We only had her a few days before someone murdered her with anti-freeze, and two days later that same someone broke into my home. That experience was so traumatic, I’ve not wanted another dog. These same robbers put my daughter’s cat in the refrigerator. Fortunately, we opened it sooner than later. She was ok. and had enjoyed a feast of lunch meat and a glass of milk my daughter had put in there.
I’ve always loved cats but had not had much experience with them. Prissy was the first cat I remember as a child. She was a beautiful black cat. She was an elder and lived with us for about six years before passing.
As an adult, I adopted one cat that was completely untamable. This was my first experience with a feral. She wanted nothing to do with being indoors and absolutely hated everyone. I took her because I felt sad for her. My thought at the time was that she had been abused. Back in those days we seldom took our pets to the vet. We were poor and vet bills were completely out of the question. I took this cat to the vet. I feared she had rabies or some other illness.
The vet gave me a diagnosis of feral and wanted me to put her down. He explained to me about feral cats and how to recognize one in the future. I refused to put her down, but did have her spayed, and took her back home. She became an outdoor cat. She stayed near the house and we took care of her but she would not come inside or let us near her. She slept and hunted in the barn and kept the mice at bay. One day four years after that, she just vanished. We lived in the country 3 miles down a dirt road where there might have been two cars a day and our house was two football fields from that road. We looked for her for days and even after we stopped looking we still put food out for her. Only the Raccoons and Possum came for dinner.
About a year after that we moved to New Jersey where we met Chop Suey. Choppy was the kitty love of my life. His story is here and the rest is cat history.
The thing about grief is that we experience the same feelings and reactions as we do when we lose a person in our lives whom we loved. If the loss is sudden and tragic, we find ourselves angry with no closure. Had I come across the evil that robbed my house and killed my dog, there is no doubt I’d have gone to jail for murder. It destroyed us emotionally and was made worse by the fact the previous owners dropped by unannounced one afternoon to see the dog. I had to tell them in front of their children what had happened. The death of that German Shepard affected seven lives and brought tears and grief to four children who loved her. There was no sense to it. It was just evil and even today when I think about it, I become angry. Ten years later I found out who was behind the death of the dog, the robbery, and who had put my cat in the refrigerator. And in as much as I try to have compassion for my fellow human beings, there are some things that cannot be forgiven.
I lost both Chop Suey and Dan to old age and cancer. I loved them both dearly. I was not there when Chop Suey went over the bridge. My husband and my daughter were there to see him off. My daughter held him until the end. Dan went to sleep wrapped in his favorite blanket in my husband’s arms (see Dan’s story). There are these times when we have the chance to be with them and grieve the way we were meant to grieve knowing we gave them the love and compassion they deserved and an ending that is peaceful and timely rather than painful and tragic.
There are so many people who can sit and say, “How can you be so dramatic about it?” “It’s just an animal.” It is because those animals gave us something precious, their trust, and their unconditional love.