Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Pets We Loved

As I was wondering what to post about today, my eye fell on a cartoon I have printed out and taped to my desk wall. It has the image of St. Peter welcoming a new person to heaven- who looks to be in his 50s or 60s. Beside St. Peter is a very, very happy looking dog. The line below it says, "So, you're little Bobbie; well, Rex here has been going on and on about your for the past 50 years."

Rox, my heart dog, waiting at the window
I love that comic and I also like the Rainbow Bridge poem. I like to believe that such a place exists, where our loved animals wait for us after they've died. I want to believe it because I loved my pets so much and the loss was so profound when they left this this earth.

Animals can play such a strong role in the mental and physical health of humans. They bring comfort to people who are ill and/or who are dying. They are companion animals who help humans live a fuller life.

Pets can help lower blood pressure (as long as they're not destroying the furniture in the home!) and help ease the pain of anxiety and depression. A pet loves you for you. Not what you do, not who you are, but you.

Our Oscar, doing what he did best
For a while, I was a volunteer dog walker at the Montreal SPCA. I loved it. The dogs were so happy to get out and walk about. I got my exercise and I got to feel like I was doing something important. Some of these dogs were very sad cases, from sad backgrounds. Others were victims of circumstances beyond anyone's control. But for a few minutes, while I walked them, I could give them the love and attention that they needed and I got something back that doesn't even have a name. It was just "something."

Not everyone loves animals and pets. Some pet lovers say that this is the sign of someone that they couldn't be with. But I don't think it's so black and white. I think that as long as the person is kind and would never hurt an animal, either by doing something or not doing something, then whether they would love to have a pet isn't important. What is important is their respect for the animal's life and well being.

I live with and love someone like that. He doesn't care to have pets in the house. But when we did, he did everything that ever needed to be done to be sure that they were happy, safe, and healthy. And when the time came that they had to leave us, he mourned them as well.

Chance, a foster between Oscar and Dee
Rox was our golden retriever, my heart dog. We all loved him so much. He came to us when he was two years old - his family was "getting rid of him." What a wonderful dog he was. He left us way, way too soon, at the age of 7, from advanced stomach cancer. I still hear him, I still feel him. His soul will always be with us.

Oscar was my first greyhound. He came to us, also at two years old, straight off a racetrack in Massachusetts. He wasn't a successful racer, but he was a successful couch potato. He was so special. I wrote a book about him after he was taken from us all too early, at the age of five. Also from cancer.

Brood mom and brat, Dee
Oscar was followed by Dee. She was a nine-year-old greyhound who had been a brood mom. She had never really lived in a home. She lived with us for nine months and 17 days before she died. Not that I was counting.

No dogs followed these three. I would love to have another one. But as much as I do want another dog, part of me - a small part - kind of appreciates that my husband doesn't. Because I don't know if I can lose another one. I've lost dogs and cats as a child and then these three, along with a number of guinea pigs. It just hurts so much. I know that this pain appears because we love them so much, because they give us so much joy - but sometimes, the memory of the pain makes me wonder if I could ever do that again.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown... 


Julie Farrar said...

I've never seen that poem. I hope it's like that, too. As much as I have loved and miss my dear departed furry babies, I'm considering not getting one when my Skyler passes on. My husband and I now have the freedom to travel and it's so much stress for me making plans for the dog on these extended trips. But when I come home, there is nothing that says home like a dog at the front door.

Marijke, I mentioned you in my post today.

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

Thanks for stopping by Julie. I do understand what you mean about the freedom that comes from not having to worry about being away from the house for too long or making plans if you go away. But, as you say, there's something about being greeted every time you come back into the house - even if you were bringing the garbage to the curb!

Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

oh, and I'll check out your blog post.

Victoria Musgrave said...

Thanks for writing this post. I recently lost Zoey, my cat of 15 years. My heartache has been enormous. It will take some time before I'm ready to adopt another cat.