Thursday, February 3, 2011

To Love A Pet

No, not like THAT you sick pervs.

I have done a lot of thinking over the last many years about the family pets we have had the honour of adopting/owning. I have had moments of such unexplainable, limitless joy with their adorable personalities and the love that they have brought into my life.

I have experienced months (okay, maybe more than that) of the deepest, saddest sorrow over losing such non-judgemental, loving, perfect little creatures.

I find that their eyes can be so expressive, their companionship unfailing, and their kisses uplifting even on the worst of days.

The adoption of this new puppy brings the question up to me again - is it really possible to love a kitty or puppy or other companion animal to your very core? To feel like you are an unstoppable duo together, and that their love is one of the sweetest, most unconditional and honest kinds of love out there?

My heart is just exploding with happiness when I am sitting between my two doggies, or when the new pup is sleeping on my legs or giving me kisses. I miss my Scooby, and I always will. At the same time, I am so happy to be able to have the companionship of these doggies.

To the pets that have gone:

Marnie - our childhood cat who was tormented by me and my sister, who was de-clawed and missing teeth and could still catch mice:

Marnie was around before I was old enough to walk.

You were a fighter, and one kick-ass kitty. I loved your unique markings and Elvis sideburns. I'm sorry for any of the unkind childhood things I did to you.

Casey - our first puppy was a learning experience and a sweet little thing. I hope you know that you were loved little fur ball. I am sorry for any mistakes we made with you, pup.

Clancy - our German Shepherd doggy who was gifted to us by my dying grandpa. You were a strong boy. We were fairly new to raising a dog, and Mom and Dad did everything they could to keep your cancer at bay. Everything that was done was done out of love. I remember playing fetch with you on your last day. You were a regal, smart dog.

Brandy - Our German Shepherd girl with her very own La-Z-Boy recliner. Even jumping into it once in the moving van when we were loading in our furniture:

Brandy on her La-Z-Boy. Such a sweet girl.
Those stinkin' hip issues would become too painful for you, even with Metacam pain medicine. You were so loved, and you helped train my Scoobers to be the wonderful pup she was. I love you and miss you, girl.

Murphy: The brown tabby who chose Dad, as opposed to us choosing him, when we went to the Brant County SPCA. Shortly after we lost Brandy, and just after I started volunteering there. You reached out with your claw and hooked into his jacket. He fell in love with you on the spot:

A beautiful brown tabby, Murph loved playing all along the basement stairs.
You were so pretty, and so playful. Ahem, I mean handsome. HANDSOME. You used to torment my blind Mr. Grey by hiding in high places he couldn't reach. You left us at only 4 years old when something went very wrong during a routine dental procedure. I know there's a hole in Dad's heart, whether he admits it or not. I miss you little guy.

Your ear hair was adorable. As was the way you would sip from running water in the sink, or try to jump across the toilet seat when the men of the house wouldn't latch the door. Wetness ensued.

Always an amusing kitty, our Murphy.
Love you guy.

Mr. Grey - I fell in love with you the moment I laid eyes on you in the sick room at the shelter. Your eyes were crusted up and you were wheezing, sick with upper respiratory infection. (It's rampant in shelters, even with strict protocol... they always did the best they could with what they had).

My sister read your name card on the bulletin board. Mr. Grey - so simple, so fitting, so YOU:

I loved your wide pink kitty nose, and your unending affection.
I remember having my sister take a photo of you and I together that I photoshopped, in the hopes we could guilt Mom and Dad into adopting you. I missed a weekend of volunteering (the same weekend BF told me he loved me for the first time), to come back and find you had been adopted out. My heart was sad, but I was happy you found a home.

A happy cat, blind and all.
Well, fate stepped in, and you were returned to the shelter for some lame reason. After observation by the shelter staff, I asked/offered to foster you at my house to see how you did. We figured out fairly quickly that you were blind. We also fell for you hard... adopted you, and never looked back.

You were always willing to snuggle, always happy to greet me at the door. You would meow if we had momentarily forgotten that Scooby was outside the back door waiting to be let in. How the hell you knew that, being blind and having the door closed, was beyond me.

You'd let me pick you up like a child, arms wrapped around my chest and back, legs on either side of me.

Giving me one of your special hugs that you only ever gave to ME. :-)

You were an awesome friend and I am so sad that I had to let you go. What started as a claw infection with Clavamox antibiotics quickly turned into you stopping eating within a day... then drinking. Force feeding at the vet, IV, and emergency visits ultimately resulted in an ultrasound and a diagnosis of stomach cancer. It breaks my heart that you couldn't/wouldn't eat at the end and were so tired. I cherish that last night that you slept in bed with us, and the few minutes of purring you shared with me. I'm sorry your ending was so sad and painful. I'll love you forever, little guy, and I miss you.

Scooby - My "Akita/Husky" cross "free-to-good-home" puppy that turned out to be Great Dane or Lab or some kind of awesome hybrid who was my very best friend in the world:

Scooby Doo - such an awesome, sweet and gentle girl.

She got me through high school, was with me for every high and every low until January of 2010. I made a video for you here, Baby Girl. I will always love you and always miss you.

Never underestimate how much companion pets can mean... how much love and joy they can bring into your life. Animal shelters are so full of pets who have so much love to give....

Back to funny next time....


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  1. :( it sucks losing pets. it's so hard because you totally fall in love and you KNOW that they won't be around forever. every time i lose a pet i wonder if i can do it again.
    ivan is my first dog (not totally true, we had 2 disastrous attempts at dog ownership when i was a kid. they didn't last long.) and he just turned 7. i have been crying about losing him since he turned 1. WHAT am i going to do? how will i get through it? i've lost a few cats, and it was hard. i am NOT saying i didn't love them, and that i wasn't sad for a long time, and i still miss them. but ivan is special. we're SO bonded. i just don't know how i'll get over it. and dashy? my sweet, dumb little dashy? HOW will i cope?
    not well, i'm sure.
    but i also know that i will have other dogs after their gone. because they are so awesome, that the sadness is worth it.
    that. is love.

  2. @jess - Thanks for such an honest, heartfelt comment.

    I mourned losing Scooby for at least 5 years before she was actually gone. I didn't think that I could cope without her, and it was at least a month of hell after she was gone.

    Slowly it gets better, but you never ever forget them, or ever stop missing them. It just gets less painful eventually.

    That being said, I'm sure you will have many more years with Ivan!! Try to enjoy them as much as you can. I cried a lot with Scoob. Wish I had played more.

  3. Your handsome Mr. Grey reminds me of my own little cat from some years ago, who died of an auto-immune disease (and was also blind, but only towards the end). My family was devastated.

    A friend (animal rights activist) managed to console me by telling me we should be proud of taking such good care of her. It didn't sound like much at first, but then I realized that we had indeed done everything we possibly could: we loved her immensely, she had a life in our house that only spoilt kitties ever get to experience, and she had the best vet care when she was sick. You don't get to have many relationships where you make so few mistakes and get back more love than you ever thought you would.

  4. @Chris - Your comment made me cry. I am sorry to hear you lost your little one to disease. It's so hard.

    What you said, the message from your friend, really hit home. I don't think anyone could have loved these guys more (Mr. G & Scoob, especially). Thanks for such a thoughtful comment.

  5. @middle child - Sorry to make you sad... Thanks for stopping in, I appreciate it. For real. :-)

  6. Beautiful post. I've always had pets, particularly cats.
    In 2009 we had to put our 8 year old calico down.
    One of the toughest moments of my life.
    They are truly our family, these pets of ours.
    Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  7. i might have to steal this idea and do a pet post.

    chris said that someone said instead of mourning, you should be proud of what great care you took of pets who've passed. i agree. when you rescue a pet, you're taking them from a horrible situation and giving them the best you have to offer. we had a dog that we rescued and had for only six or seven months who was around 7 years old when we rescued her. she ended having kidney failure and we did what we could.

    but when she first came to us, she walked with her tail between her legs and didn't know how to play - we'd throw a ball and she'd just look at it. be the time we had to have her put down, she ran and played and cuddled and fetched. it was an honor to have given her the months we gave her.

  8. This made me cry. However, know you are not alone in neither the love you give your furry children nor the grief you feel when it's time for them to go. We had to deal with cancer last year, and it was absolute hell. However, we realized that although we would always grieve for our cow kitty that we had room in our hearts for kitties in need. We are now owned by a couple of troublemakers from a no-kill shelter, and we wouldn't have it any other way. :-)

  9. I have been talking about getting a pet for years. I just get worried about being so connected to a pet and having it die. I watched Marley and Me and bawled thinking about my dad's dog. I don't even see him everyday but when that little guy has to leave us I know we're all going to be hit really hard.

  10. As I was raised I always had pets around me. Both cats a and dogs (and lots of other assorted pets like Guinea Pigs, Rabbits, etc) and they were constant companions from my first memories. I have lost lots of pets over the years and cried every times.

    The worst was "my" first kitten, Bennie. He was the first kitten that I got on my own when I got my first place after leaving home. I bought him from a local pet store. He was a cute little guy and when I brought him home loved to play. I noticed the next day he seemed a bit lethargic and didn't play as much. The day after we headed up to my parents and he was very lethargic. He died in my arms a few hours after arriving at my parents. (It turned out he had Parvo virus.) I never cried so hard for any loss in my life, even when my father died 15 years later.

    Enjoy them while you have them, there is nothing like the unconditional love and non-judgmental way they are.


  11. *wiping tears* gah. deep breath. one of the many thinks i love about betty white is how she is often quoted as saying she loves animals more than people. just unmitigated joy.

  12. Thanks for this post Steph.
    It is a touching, heartfelt tribute to our pets who have gone before us.....
    You are a remarkable person and I'm so glad you have found some new happiness with little puppy. XOXO

  13. @SarcasmInAction - I'm sorry about your Calico kitty. You nailed it - they ARE our family members. I'm happy people care enough to read my post - thank you for caring to leave a comment.

    @steph gas - That is so sad, but so sweet about your 7 year old rescue. What was her name? It's true that often people won't adopt the older pets because they know they have less time with them. I feel a little guilty adopting a pup, because I know the older ones have a harder time finding a home, but I wanted to raise the pup to be my suck.

    When they are older (like Schultz is), and they have issues, it can be hard to find the "sucky baby" kind of pet that my needy heart wanted.

    I hope you do post about pets - I'd love to read it.

    @On My Soapbox - Didn't mean to make you sad, just wanted to honour my babies. I feel your pain on the cancer with cow kitty. (Would also love to know the story behind the name). It's bullshit in people, and in pets. I am very happy to hear that you have been repossessed by new kitties! Lots of love to share.


  14. @theyoungwife - The joy that they bring is worth it. If a bleeding heart like me can tell you that the sorrow and sadness is worth it, then it HAS to be true, because I can get as low as they go.

    Only do it if you are ready, but honestly, I feel like this new puppy has changed my outlook on the world, at least a little. (For the better, just to be clear ;-)

    Thanks for commenting. I know it will be hard when the doggy passes, but hopefully it won't be for a long time.

    @Tom - I'm so sorry to hear about Bennie. One of my sister's cats passed in her arms, and it was awful. When Scooby passed in my arms, at least I was prepared for it. I can imagine the heartache you must have felt, but obviously you had no way of knowing Bennie was sick.

    Hopefully one day you can enjoy the company of another kitty. Even if you travel, they are fairly low maintenance for a friend to feed, pet and clean the litter for your occasional road trip. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing, Tom. I'm sorry to hear about your dad, too. {hugs}

    @pattypunker - Yet ANOTHER reason why Betty White kicks ass, takes names, and BRINGS it.

  15. @BettyBo (AKA My MOM) - I'm not remarkable. Moms just have to say these things. It's in the fine print of the birthing contract.

    We loved 'em all, and today, looking at Puppaaaay, I just wanted to honour them all. I love them and I love you, too. XOXOX

  16. Steph, Thanks, but I have had several cats (and dogs) since then, and loved hem all. But there was something special about Bennie and when he died, something was lost forever; perhaps it was a bit of innocence. It was like his death changed me from a child to an adult.

  17. this was a very touching tribute post to your pets! i may have to copy your idea one of these days. pets are like babies - they crawl into your heart the minute they look at you. thanks for sharing this, steph!

  18. Thanks for sharing all of your pets. I wish I had picture (well digital ones that is) of all of my old dogs and cats. I should get my brother to scan them for me.

  19. @V-Tom - That makes me sad. I'm truly sorry about your baby Bennie.

    @carmar76 - Thank you! Thanks for reading. Feel free to do the same kind of post, and post your link back here when you do (same to you, @steph gas!)

    @Oilfield Trash - You totally should! I bet it would bring back a ton of great memories. At least good for a few smiles, I'm sure.

  20. bow-wow!

    i still suffer from allergies when i read stuff like this.

    on browndogs last day i did not even think about the possibility of having to put him down. with white dog, we knew for a couple weeks and had time to plan and get ready tho you never get ready...really...

    with busker, well i had to have him put down, after he bit a few people(some deserving)

    i feel kinda bad the rest of my pets have very little keepsakes ohter than the fading memory of the decades past. digital cameras have made the picture so easy that i don't ever even think about snapping off 40 shots to get one of awesomeness!

    the years have made it easier, but i still miss them. faded mental images and all..

    but alas...the TuckMonster has filled all the holes not as a replacement but as a new brother of a doggy mother!

    thanks for this post!

    and i got the pupppaaaay pics they so f*ing rock!

    tucker and i thank you muchly!!!

    Bruce Johnson JADIP
    Evil Twin
    stupid stuff I see and hear
    The Dreamodeling Guy
    The Guy Book
    The Guy Book

  21. We have two aging cats McG (15) and Mischief (13) and the thought of losing them hurts. It did not help that our ex Vet pronounced them effectively dead just before Christmas Its like Santa has come early only… . A change of diet (away from the dry rubbish which had been recommended by the very same vet) to good quality wet food and they have both perked up and started to put on weight. To the extent where McG, who had been on a diet since he hit a stone at six months old is probably going t have to go back on his diet….

  22. Thanks Steph, we are at that point with little Olive. We are so close to saying good bye,but love her so much. I don't know if I'm being selfish, Kel says I'll know when. We've been here so many times & it hurts so much. They take up so much space in your heart and leave huge holes when their gone ...D... So happy you have baby Grace

  23. This is one of the best posts I've seen in a long time. I absolutely love it. I rescued my boy nearly 5 years ago and he is my best friend. I can't wait to go home each night because he is there waiting for me and greets me as if we'd been apart for longer than a few hours. I never thought I could love a pet so much.

  24. @bruce - *Gently hands Bruce some allergy medicine*

    I knew about Browndog and Whitedog. I don't know the full details. If you want to/can, feel free to email me about them. That's a shame about Busker... what kind of dog was he? Did people get hurt badly?

    It's true that digital photos make it so much easier... I know my pre-digital memories are very hard to recall. But the pets are always in our hearts.

    I absolutely loved your line "the TuckMonster has filled all the holes not as a replacement but as a new brother of a doggy mother!" Couldn't have said it better myself!

    @BlackLOG - So glad to hear they are doing better. I've heard of some kitties going strong until 17 or 18. Also sounds like it is time to get a new vet. Good, knowledgeable, honest ones are hard to come by, it often seems.

    I hope you have many more happy years with McG and Mischief.

    @Anonymous (K&D) - I'm so sorry to hear about Olive. I know how much that little sweetheart means to you.

    I struggled with the decision with Scooby, too. I didn't want to do it prematurely, but I didn't want to be selfish and have her stick around unwell or hurting. Mom said I would know. I asked my family to let me know if I let it go too long.

    In the end, I think it was right. I will always second guess a little (because I like to torture myself like that) but you will know, D. You are so good with animals. Sending you, K, and Olive many hugs and much love.

  25. @Jumble Mash - Awww, thanks Jumble. :-D

    I know EXACTLY what you mean! Coming home is usually the best part of the day! Schultz brings a stuffed animal to greet me at the door, and Puppy whines all shrill and excited and we run outside to pee (her, not me) then we snuggle.

    Congrats on adopting! I hope your boy brings you joy for many many many many years!

  26. yeah that busker...he was a lab/shepard mix rescue that was seriously mentally impaired. he looked very similar to the tuckmonster...

    busker never really hurt anyone but he had abondonment issues and was a one person dog. when rox and i got married i knew it was just a matter of time.

    i miss him as he was my constant companion during my van and travel days. but as hard as it was it was for ht ebest to put him down, before he really hurt someone!

    you rock!

    i have posts about both brown and white that i am going to repost this month some time...

  27. @bruce - It's hard when they are rescues with issues. It's hard to know what they have been through and how (and if) they can be helped. All you can do is try, and love them, and be a good pet owner.

    Thanks for sharing so much, I really do enjoy the conversations (though it is a sad topic).

    I'm bad at navigating blogs, but will try to search out info on yer pups.

    Have a great day, Bruce & Tuck!

  28. Wonderful post. You made me all weepy, and now I have that big knot in my throat. (Damnit!)

    I am going to love the shit out of my two shelter pups tonight when I get home. Well, even more than I usually do.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It's always touching to read such personal posts.

  29. i was already a fucking TRAINWRECK when i had to give my kosmo pup away- and that was just going to a new home (which was actually way fucking nicer than i could have ever given him, lucky dog), i can't imagine what it will be like to lose biscuit. ugh. i don't even want to think about it.

    i am totally with you on the shelter pet issue. i think breeding should be illegal as there are already so many animals needing homes who are sweet and loving and just as deserving as those fancypants "purebred" pets.

    a bit extreme? so what.


  30. i had to put down my dog that i had since i was 6...i still miss my baby....

  31. @Tom G. - I didn't realize you had shelter pups. Good on ya! Sorry to put a knot in your throat. That can lead to choking, and I'd hate to injure anyone reading this post. ;-)

    Thank you.

    @You're Lucky I Don't Have a Gun... - You've got lotsa time with Biscuit... and if Kosmo had a better home and you had no choice than to give a way, that is actually pretty selfless.

    And yes, SO MANY shelter animals in need of a good home.

    @Paige - :-( That truly sucks. Especially when they are with us for so long. It's weird living without them. I still miss my babies so much, even after several years.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  32. wow, you have no idea how the timing of this post affected me... my dog Nellie, my little 10 year old beagle (who we consider our daughter in every way) was diagnosed two months ago with terminal nasal cancer...she was given 2-3 months to live and she is still going strong, still happy, still making us laugh and giving us every bit of love that she can...
    I have shed more tears in the last 2 months than I have in my entire life knowing that we're going to lose her soon, but she never lets it get her down... I am just cherishing every day with her now...

  33. @Organic Meatbag - I am thinking of you guys and Nellie. It is so hard. So heartbreaking. So unfair. Keep smiling through the sadness if you can, and love her to bits.


  34. I love your blog, but am a lazy commenter. Today, I decided to break my silence. It revives so much sadness that I thought I'd stuffed away. :(

    Our 16 year old canine companion died a few months ago...we were devastated and cried for ages. We wanted another pet, but couldn't stand the thought of ever getting that attached again. It was like losing a human friend.

    I had pet rats as a kid (I know, many think it's gross...), but I don't recall being that emotionally attached to them, so they felt like safe pets to bring into our home. But, we have become shockingly attached to them as well, and they have pretty short life spans. So, I don't know...after these little dudes are gone, I'm not sure I can do this again. Hurts way too much.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to learn of your sadness and the loss of so many little loved ones through the years. This has revived all those old emotions in me, but as much as it hurts, I don't regret even a second of it all. Hope this can cheer you up, just a little:

    After all, how many rats can play a tuba?


I get far too excited when new comments come in here...