Pondering the pain of losing a pet

Today was a day for enjoying the beauty of the natural world as I walked with my husband and dog around a small park in Houston.

There, we met a woman who volunteered with a group in maintaining the grounds. She asked me about our dog and not long afterwards she shared that her dog was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have long to live, in fact, somewhere between 9-45 days. All I could do was offer her an open heart to listen to her words of grief. Through her efforts to keep from crying, she stated that she is a strong person and couldn’t cry. Yet, her story of how the dog chose her several years ago out in the country and how she grew to absolutely love this dog and this dog’s devotion to her was very touching. I knew that her love for her dog was undeniable. Her grief will be expressed in some way when the time is right. Clearly, a brave front for strangers and a shared story was a start to realizing that her beloved dog will soon no longer follow her around or steadfastly be her protector. We shared that we knew how she felt. It’s so hard to acknowledge or accept that our furry children leave way too early, way before we are ready. If we are ever ready at all.

We lost Leo, our orange tabby, in a similar way. He had come into our lives bellowing his presence as a skinny fellow one day a few years ago. We fed him and he left immediately upon finishing his meal. He was around for a few days and then disappeared for a few weeks. One day, he made his presence known again with the same type of bellowing voice from before. This time when he ate, he stayed. We noticed that the tip of his ear was clipped. After a visit to the vet with additional tests, vaccinations and advice, we made a space in our home and in our hearts. He was my husband and dog’s companion. I called them “Los Tres”. They were never far from each other.

LEO
LEO

Losing Leo was incredibly painful. This vibrant, big handsome fellow faded quickly. In about 3 to 4 weeks he went from an large charming cat to a frail ghost of a cat. Heartbreaking. We took him to the Rainbow Bridge under the careful and loving care of our Vet. My husband and I cried terribly. Our grief seemed too much. Before the visit, I felt like I would be able to hold it together. Silly really. I couldn’t keep with that surface level bravado. My tears were not to be stopped as I kissed Leo goodbye.

Our volunteer acquaintance brought back these painful memories. Losing a pet is always a difficult passage of life and death. Their short lives fills us with immense infallible love. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m glad he came into our lives and filled our home with his gentle giant presence for as long as he did.