On Loving (and Losing) Pets

Cat and dog lovers give our hearts to our pets without reservations.

When we begin a new relationship with a person, experience has taught us to take care with our hearts. But with a new dog or cat, we don’t worry if they’ll like us back, if they are willing to commit, if they will ever cheat on us, or if we’ll outgrow each other. We know they’ll love us wholeheartedly.

My Tasha

My Tasha

We allow ourselves to be caught up—they’re so cute, sweet, and funny—that we can easily lose all sense of perspective. But we’re enjoying them too much to care if the anecdotes we tell about them have become tedious.

We overlook how annoying our pets are—the messes, the whining, the way they eat stuff they shouldn’t, wreck our things, chew/scratch/claw—it’s all OK, because we’re besotted.

We worry about their health, pay hundreds of dollars in vet bills, fuss over special foods, and adapt our schedules so we can take care of ailing pets.

Ultimately, we agonize over end-of-life decisions: Do we have the right to keep them going even when they’re sick and in pain, because we aren’t ready to lose them? How will we know when they’ve had enough? How can we bear to part with them?

Despite knowing we will likely outlive our pets, we willingly take on the cycle of loving/caretaking/loss, because our pets give us so much joy. Unreservedly.

For anyone who has lost a beloved pet recently—especially Beth, Pam, Margo, Becky, and me.

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11 thoughts on “On Loving (and Losing) Pets

  1. You once again manage to put it all out there and retain perspective at the same time, Ellen. If Rugby (feline, age 21) and Aldo (feline, age 14) hadn’t gone when they were ready, we may not have taken The Rambler (feline, age 2-3) inside last month to join our remaining menagerie. I had to consider losing him one day, too, that is if he doesn’t outlive me! It’s coincidental that The Rambler looks as if he could be the Love Child of Rugby and Aldo. Or is it? 😉

  2. I just want to send you a hug. I’m so sorry for your loss. Someone once told me that letting our pets go–facing the decision and being brave enough to release them from this life–is our greatest act of kindness, love, and compassion for them.

    • Thank you for your kind words, and I felt that hug! Tasha was in such tough shape, I knew I needed to let her go–it would be selfish not to. I miss her a lot, but it’s easier now that we’re at our new house.

  3. Ellen (and others), so sorry to hear about your heartache. Your Tasha was a beauty.
    My 11-yr.old Ruby and I are walking that final road right now. We take each day as it comes. She has liver cancer and the most we can do is make her comfortable and coax her to eat. Some days are good, and others, not so much. Still, that love makes the whole process bearable; it’s written into the contract.

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