Another day, coming home a little late, and she hears the car in the driveway…she perks up. There’s never any judgement, just unconditional love.
As the door creaks softly, there is that thumping sound of her tail smacking the wall in anticipation.
Why are we so blessed with our pets?
They are forgiving when the water bowl accidentally gets kicked and spills on the carpet. There is no question they sense our moods and want so desperately to please us, make us feel better and know they care. They comfort us and curl at our feet to help us find serenity. There are no expectations in return, no terms or conditions, nothing sinister…just love.
You might shout ‘Squirrel’ and they are ready to protect you from the vermin. And who would expect such a reaction to ‘Car ride?’, ‘Treat?’, ‘Wanna go for a walk?’
But when they leave us, we lose a piece of our soul.
These fur balls are family. Cats, dogs, hamsters, it doesn’t matter because we’ve grown up together. They are confidantes to our secrets and witnesses to our existence. They rely on our attention and become our shadows as we trundle along this mortal coil.
Surely, you have caught yourself chatting with them as they gaze into your veritable being, maybe even reminding them that you’ll be back in an hour when there is no one else in the house.
When they go, it is catastrophic, a wrenching feeling, a hole in our hearts. You know if they have been suffering it is a peaceful freedom from pain for them and yet a whole new pain for you. The next day you swing your feet out of bed and watch to see you don’t trip on their paw, but they aren’t there. You check the clock to see if it’s time to feed them, but the bowl sits empty on the kitchen floor. No sounds of padding around the hardwood floors or those nails you meant to clip next week clattering away. You realize they aren’t leaning over your shoulder from the back seat of the car sticking their nose out your window, an animal GPS thing. They are gone.
We grieve, we are angry, sad and would negotiate just another month or year if we could. The rest of the family feel the same. Friends and neighbours feel our pain and offer their condolences and comfort. It is a societal thing. Even the best professional animal caregivers are struck with sorrow on our behalf.
The pain will subside even though the memory will not.
I dedicate this article to Coco, our 11-year-old lab who suffers no more. And to the hundreds of other Coco’s whose families miss them terribly.
We want to thank Rick and Josie Mannen, Coco’s adopted parents, and the family they shared, Coco’s Mom Molly and her other dozen pups. Also Dr. Kevin Harkness and his incredible, empathetic staff at West Brant Animal Hospital that did give us most of that negotiated year we needed.
The porch light burns goodbye. Happy tears.