Suffering the Loss of a Beloved Pet
Normally our blog posts are quite jovial in nature. However there are two sides to owning and caring for a pet, and unfortunately one of them is loss, and loss can take a serious toll on us and our families. Whether it is a dog or cat, rabbit or hamster, parrot or horse or even a fish; suffering the loss of a pet is a process of grief and hardship, because they so easily become part of the family.
I remember my first ever pet, back when I was only a young man. Bagpuss (named after the haggard looking pink and white cat from children’s TV). Bagpuss was found by my Grandmother and me when I was very young and when he was only a kitten. I begged and begged and begged my Mother to let us keep him, though I always suspected there was a little bit of persuasion coming from my Grandmother in my favour. It wasn’t long before she gave up and relented; we were now the proud owners of a black and white cat who had more in common with a shag rug than an animal. After giving him a brief tour of the house he was more than happy to settle in amongst the sheets of my bed for the night. At that time I never thought I would ever love something as much as I loved little Bagpuss.
So the years went on; I started growing up and Bagpuss grew alongside me, the only difference being that I didn’t shed all over the living room. He grew to become a big cat, able to take on a fully cooked chicken or my Brother’s lovingly made chicken and turkey roll (one Monday afternoon). He had slotted himself nicely into our little (mostly-functional) family with ease and even when he would do something as infuriating as ruin lunch for the day, you could only laugh and forgive his white-chinned little face. Even when we had a dog for a short time, Bagpuss and the new addition were able to put their species’ differences aside and get along like a house on fire! Overall we had some really great years with Bagpuss, though our time together would only be brief.
It was around this time that an old buck moved into the estate, like a grizzled war veteran returning to his former home. Bagpuss was a lover not a fighter and he soon started coming home with cuts and scrapes. It wasn’t long before we were making regular trips to the vets. The worst incident soon came where he featured a long open slash on his abdomen. This resulted in yet another vets visit and numerous stitches. Poor Bagpuss was slowly falling apart and with him rested all of my childhood hopes and dreams. He was then confined to the house. Though he was only six, he had suddenly taken on the visage of a much older pet.
In his final months he had become visibly tired, aching around the house, his every action carefully thought out. My Mother and Father knew what was coming next though I still held out hope. I may have been a young man though I was very much matured by the time Bagpuss’s end was nearing. It was clear now that he hadn’t long left. It was eventually ‘suggested’ that he be put to sleep forever which didn’t sit well with me at the time. A week of my denial went on before I finally gave in, seeing that he wasn’t going to get better. Bagpuss was clearly suffering and I had the power to decide what happened next.
It was Sunday night, with the vets open in the following morning for Bagpuss’s long rest. I brought him his favourite meal (someone else’s cooked chicken) and a bowl of cream (which was his absolute favourite poison of choice). After he lapped up the last few dregs of cream we cuddled. I held that black and white cat for the longest time, gently stroking his little head and chin, pouring all of my love and affection into him for the last time. My eyes got heavy and I drifted off before they suddenly shot open again and I was in my bed. We went about our normal morning routine though Bagpuss didn’t come out to greet us. As the three of us went out to investigate, it was clear he had quietly slipped off during the night, whether it was in my arms or just after I was lifted to bed. I didn’t feel a thing, I was just numb, my mind unable to process the death of my best friend, my best friend who I thought would live forever and ever and see me grow up... I even went to school that day.
It was only when I came home that I was finally able to process what had occurred and I was inconsolable.
There was no objection to Bagpuss’s funeral arrangements from my parents and even now when I look down to the back wall in our garden, to a tiny patch of grass which is greener than the rest, I am reminded of him and how he had affected me as a person, and how he still makes me smile though he is no longer with us. I have one printed picture of Bagpuss as he existed before a time when smartphones were affordable, but it still has its prominent place in my room, amongst my family and my friends and those I hold most dear to me.
Choosing the long sleep for any pet is a difficult task. It takes courage but also a lot of love for your pet, to be able to put them before yourself and how much you want them to still be a part of your life. Though even when they’re gone, they are still a part of your life! They remain with you, in your memories, and in there they live with you for all of time.
The loss of a pet is something that you do not have to go through on your own. Your family and friends are always there for you, to support you and help you through it, through what can be one of the most difficult times in our lives. Unfortunately for us, it is very easy to forget that a pet is a pet.
If someone you know has suffered or is currently suffering the loss of a pet; be there for them, offer them your support or time to talk and make sure they have no regrets with their pet. It can be just as devastating as losing a family member and there is a grieving process just like any other loss.
From all of us here at Equipet, we wish safety and happiness upon you and your pets and that those faithful pets that have gone before us knew happiness and love during their time with us.