A few weeks ago, I shared that we had lost three of our young chickens because of a predator (a weasel most likely but that’s not terribly relevant) and more recently, Tommy the cat crossed the rainbow bridge after a long, wonderful life. This wasn’t the first time we’ve lost animals in the neighborhood but it was still tough. I helped raise the chickens starting when they were two days old; I saw and took care of them almost every day for months. And Tommy was a wonderful cat who had a rough start in life but eventually came to a loving home.
To lose any animal, at least for me, is tough because the animals I care for mean just about everything to me. My day job is to take care of many different animals and because of that, I get incredibly attached to them. I’ve been so lucky that all the animals I’ve cared for are these wonderful animals that have taught me so much about the world. And I’ve been even luckier that their people are just as wonderful. Animals, especially dogs, have this way of bringing out the best in most people.
Odds are that we’ll all outlive most of the pets and animals we take care of. I wish I had something new or really meaningful to say about this but in reality, all I know for sure is that we can try and give the animals in our lives the best kind of life. We can’t stop death, can’t cure all disease. But we can give the dogs, cats, and many other animals a wonderful life filled with a whole lot of love. We can try to be the kind of person our dogs think we are, try and be the kind of love and warmth that many animals just are all the time.
There have been several animals that I’ve helped take care of who’ve died over the years – that’s one of the downsides to caring for several senior animals. And honestly, I think about all these animals regularly. There’s Casey, the standard poodle who taught me about joy; there’s Shadow the border collie who taught me about adventure and unconditional love; there’s Brady and Ella, the wheaten terrier and cat who taught me patience and that sometimes cats like to go on a walk too; and there’s Dusty Bones, my own cat who taught me to be fierce.
Saying goodbye to an animal is tough but unfortunately, it’s a part of life. As I’ve said time and time again, the best we can do for the animals in our lives is make sure they have a great life with a whole lot of love. Because of the animals that have been in my own life in one way or another, I’ve become a better person and try to live by the things that these animals have taught me.