Our SPCR community has lost a few of our best friends lately. Our former employee Angie’s dog Colby passed away as did my parents’ 18 year old cat Filumena. We recently had to say goodbye to a long-time dog walking client, a sweet Labrador named Tuhk. While mourning, I’ve been thinking primarily about two things: 1) why do we put ourselves through it? and 2) what makes a well-lived life for a pet?
When we adopt our furry family members, we know that it’s likely they aren’t going to live as long as we will. We put our hearts and souls into caring for them. Your pet sitters do too. So when they leave us, we are distraught. We could easily avoid this pain if we chose not to create these connections. Nevertheless, as I look into the big eyes of my own cat Peanut, I know it’s worth it. As the cliche would have it, “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” I think sometimes about what the end of my own pets’ lives will be like. This is probably because we pet sitters are often called in at the end of a pet’s life when more services are needed. I know it will rip my heart out to lose my girls. The connection I share with them is arguably deeper than that I share with any human, even my fiancee. To have that connection so deep to another human being means the pain will be great, but for me at least, it’s worth it. Ask me again when I’m mourning one of my girls and I may not say that, but for now, I feel that way.
And how do we know that we’ve given them everything we can? The truth is we will probably always feel that we could have done more for them. But the 3 we lost recently made me think about the amazing things their parents did to go above and beyond for them.
Angie and her dog Sunny moved into an apartment with a roommate who traveled a lot and, as agreed upon, Colby became her responsibility when the roommate was traveling. When the roommate had to move away, Angie and her fiancee Chris and Sunny had developed such a strong bond with Colby that it was decided he should join the Nguyen-Brooks family. Colby wasn’t always an easy dog. He had an extremely strong prey drive so walks included a lot of pulling and whining. Angie took on the challenge with open arms. In the end, Colby learned how not to react to every other being he saw on walks and Angie rewarded him by taking him to barn hunts where he could be rewarded and praised for what he did best: find rodents!
Filumena came to my family as a kitten. We’d never had a cat before. We’d always been a dog family, but this spitfire little tuxedo cat won us over immediately. He had spunk. When he used to go outside, he ruled the neighborhood walking always with his tail high in the air and his toes spread to seem bigger. Toward the end, he got more demanding. My dad would get up with him multiple times every night to answer his cries. Sometimes he wanted food, sometimes he wanted his litter box scooped immediately after using it, and sometimes he just wanted to be brushed. My parents created a veritable old cats home in their house. They put off getting a new rug or having work done on the house so as not to upset the little prince. Fil wanted for nothing.
Finally, Tuhk. His parents Jesse and Rebecca spared absolutely nothing when it came to caring for their dogs. They made their own dog food and treats, booked midday walks whenever they had normal work days, and put up with all of Tuhk’s shenanigans. He liked to carry around their stuff and police his sister Magpie from playing and he often found ways to destroy things to express his discontent. But he was amazing! One of the best dogs I’ve ever known and a huge favorite of my staff (former employee Keyonte pictured here). We all built deep relationships with Tuhk and although we knew the end was coming for him, that was no help. It hurt when he left us.
It’s never easy at the end. We’re here for you. If we can provide any counsel, services, or just a hug, please don’t hesitate to reach out.