I thought about calling this post “loss of a loved one”, but I knew people would say it’s not the same. And they would be correct. Losing a pet is unlike anything, not that it’s worse, or less painful, but it’s different.
If you are the kind of person blessed with having pets, and not just owning animals then you know what I am talking about. As my husband so eloquently put it, “Some people own animals, and some people have pets.” We often make the comparison to pets being like our children, or best friends, but it goes beyond that, at least for me.
Animals will never hurt you, they will never lie to you, tell you you are overreacting, or say they are too busy to hang out. They are always there, with their 100%, devoted and loyal until the end.
And if we share in that devotion, loyalty, and love with them, they will be by our sides through anything and everything life could ever throw at us. But the sad and bitter truth about any animal is they cannot stay with us forever.
Dogs especially, because of all of the love they hold in their hearts, the compassion, loyalty and undying devotion to their “people’s” well-being they cannot stay in this life for long. There is no way that their bodies could ever hold all of that light forever – or their hearts so much love – and eventually they have to leave us.
At the time I was originally writing this (February) it had been less than a week since we had to put our beloved Ben to sleep. He fell ill Tuesday the 5th of February in the evening, and after a trip to the vet, many phone calls, medication and finally a trip to the emergency, very early Saturday morning we found out he had a massive tumour and there was only one thing we could do to ease his suffering.
He was the most devoted dog I’ve ever known. He lived to protect me, and comfort me no matter what. I still to this day don’t know how, but he knew when I was crying. No matter why or where I was, he would find me, and whine and bump my arm until I would stop crying. As soon as I would so much as sniffle, he’d be there, and I am sure if he could have wiped away my tears he would have.
He was my literal shadow for nearly 10 years, never leaving my side. Losing him truly feels like a piece of me died with him. I feel sorry for anyone who thinks I am overreacting, saying “it’s just an animal”. Animals love unconditionally like no other being on this planet, so if you open your heart up to them you can feel love without reservation, without fear of rejection or betrayal.
But that incredible, undying and unconditional love comes at a price – a price that is worth it, but no less tragic – the cost of so much love, is loss. Loss of that kind of love takes a piece of our heart with it, and although we will learn to be whole again, and we can find that love in another animal’s heart, that small piece of our heart will be gone forever.
So to anyone feeling this pain as a freshly opened wound, just know it gets better, and the pain will ease. Our hearts are infinite, and as long as we don’t close ourselves off to love, we never run out of pieces of it to give away.