I have read before and heard it said that the loss of a pet can be equated to the loss of a best friend or family member in terms of the grief felt by the pet owner. For the majority of my life, this this something I never really understood; but I had never had an inside pet either.
I grew up always having pets. My family had cats and dogs always. They were always outside. We fed them and took care of them but I, personally, never really had a bond with them. I remember losing them and my parents telling me they were gone but do not remember feeling any real true sense of loss.
Fast forward to around 10 years ago. When I met my wife to be she had a partner; a furry little family member by the name of Bijoux. Bijoux was Mary’s cat. What I mean by that is she really only liked Mary. She wasn’t fond of just about anyone else and especially did not like anyone of the male persuasion. So it was a big surprise to both Mary and her mom when, on the second or third day of knowing her, Bijoux was in my lap on the sofa letting me pet her. She never sat in anyone’s lap, not even Mary’s. So you can imagine their surprise.
This was the start of a beautiful little friendship. The funny thing is that I didn’t even realize how much she meant to me over the years. You just grow accustomed to them being here, to taking care of them, to protecting them and to loving them.
When Mary and I moved from Toronto to Houston it was her first trip, ever. On a plane to Houston and from the city to the country. From there to Galveston and a few months at the beach. Then on to Port Neches and an apartment, then a home. All in all she went through seven moves with us in as many years in her little adventurous life.
Exactly one year ago she abruptly went from her usual 15 lb chubby frame down to around 6 lbs and we knew something was amiss. Upon our visit to the vet we were informed that she had a hyper-thyroid condition as well as kidney disease. Since she had both, it was wise to not treat the thyroid as it could cause the kidney disease to quicken. This was the time for realization that time is going to throw in it’s ugly hand; but you block that out and don’t think about it. We changed her food, made sure she was eating and happy and she actually began gaining some weight and doing well; even more reason to block out the results from the previous vet visit.
Almost exactly one year later to the week our little Bijoux took a turn. It happened so fast that it was almost unfathomable. One day she is eating well and being her usual hardheaded self….3 days later she is gone. Her last 2 days were hard. She basically could barely walk, was weak, dehydrated and would barely eat or drink anything.
Mary and I slept in our living room the night before she passed so we could be with her (and I could be with Mary). With all of her weakness, Bijoux managed to bring herself from the other room and lay close to us sometime during the night. It was the farthest she had moved in the past 2 days and she did it to be with us. The next morning she couldn’t even get up. The time was close. I lifted her up and placed her on a blanket where Mary could be close. My love layed beside her and pet her and talked to her during her last few hours. I visited from time to time and went back to being with our son as well.
At 10:40AM I went over to the other side of Bijoux as Mary lay in front of her. Bijoux had been laying there looking straight at Mary, not even able to move much at all. I kneeled behind her and reached down to pet her. When I did she began struggling to breathe and leaned her head back and looked straight up at me as she took her last breath. It was as if she was waiting for us both to be there before she let go and at that moment, that is what she did.
I’ve witnessed death before, of animals, but not of a family member as she is. It is not possible to explain the feelings that follow a moment like this. Bijoux has been a source of comfort and solace, a best friend, to my wife for almost 18 years. Needless to say, she is devastated by our loss. I just didn’t realize how much it would hit me as well.
One thing is for sure; Our furry family members love us all unconditionally if we only take the time to realize it. And if you have any heart at all, you will not be able to help but love them in return, which is how it should be.
“A righteous man regards
the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.”
So I must say; I am in agreement that the loss of a pet can be as difficult as a family member or close friend. Friends and acquaintances do come and go throughout our lives. Our furry little family members stay with us. They love us. They depend on us and they never judge us. They are often the confidant relied upon during hard times more-so than even our closest friends. Most of all; they love us and deserve love in return.
Treat your animals well and they will return the favor. Life is too short not to.