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Sunday, July 13, 2014

To lose a beloved pet.

Why is this cat laughing?

To lose your pet is no laughing matter. It is the one thing that is the common denominator that brings down people from across the board. There are as many variations of this story as there are types of pets and owners. I am not writing this for the benefit of anyone who has ever had to part with that special member of the family, but rather, I write this in the hope of bringing understanding to those people who have never been responsible for a pet.

I am motivated to write this now because I was an observer to another person's recent loss. That story turned out happily as the pet was found, unharmed and that family unit is now intact. However, I have personally suffered losses over the years that left me vowing I would never again have another pet. The problem is that the animals just simply turn up on my doorstep.

Presently we have an all-white female cat whom we call Blanca. She is the world's most anti-social cat who came to us because a friend thought she was so horrible and passed her along to us. I sometime think that if Blanca simply disappeared we would not miss her at all. There have been times when she does go off for a few days at a time, during which I find myself wondering where is she? I keep looking out for her expecting to hear that familiar meow. A couple of years ago a fire swept over our house forcing us to run for our lives.Blanca was nowhere to be seen, but two days later, when we were allowed back to our homes, there she was, practically screeching at us, where have you been? I'm hungry! She has never been pure white since, because of the ash,  more like all fifty shades of grey, and more.

When a pet goes missing, intense worry takes over. What is the state of its health; is it eating, has it been stolen, is it injured, or worse, is it still alive. The whole family is organised into a search party, and the posters are placed in prominent places. The situation is made all the more difficult if the real owner is a child. This is a situation that places the same kind of weight upon the family as the death of one of the humans.

As for the emotional toll it is simply gut wrenching. No-one seems to be able to escape the harsh reality of coming to terms with losing your best friend. My own experience with this involved the decision that I had to make to put down my long-term friend and companion, Lady, a cross between a Sheperd and a Collie, because her hind quarters became paralysed. She was seventeen chronological years of age, and making that decision would probably have been the same as making it for my grandmother. As a mature man I cried my heart out, even to the extent that I terribly upset everybody in the vet's office. So, when I see a person obsessing over their pet bird, or rabbit, or mouse, or whatever, I think I fully understand what they are going through.

That's the point  of this essay: to understand and to sympathize, no matter how silly you might personally think the person is being. I guarantee you, they are not being silly, they are bound up in as important an emotional drama in their life as the loss of a next of kin. They need your love and comfort to help them get through a very difficult time. If you can help them when they need you, they will never forget it. Fail to do so and they won't forget that either.

Copyright (c) 2014   Eugene Carmichael