The Pets Doc

Dr. Kevin Watkins, DVM

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Dealing With Loss – Death Of A Pet Can Take Time To Get Over

This article is going to be in a little different format this month, but is ultimately about behavior.

We humans share a commonality with primates, and the four-legged creatures upon this Earth. We are not so far removed from them when it comes to experiencing loss and sadness.

An issue I occasionally have to confront on both a professional and personal level is the loss of a pet. Grief is an emotion we pet lovers realize we will face from time to time. Yet, knowing the risk of inevitable heartache, we always seem to be surrounded by four-legged family.

Samuel Clemmons is credited with this lovely quote: “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault really.”

I agree. Several years ago, I found this wonderful poem by Irving Townsend that brings me solace when I am faced with this loss:

We who choose
to surround ourselves
with lives even more temporary
than our own,
Live within a fragile circle,
easily and often breached.
Yet, we still would live
no other way.

One of our kitty cats was killed by a car a couple of weeks ago, so I am still feeling kind of sad whenever I think about her. It’s that whole indoor vs. outdoor issue again. But Celeste insisted that she was going to go outside, so what are you going to do?

We cat lovers have all succumbed to the “Me-in” – “Me-owt” song. So you let them come and go as they please, you send a “be safe” blessing with them and hope they come back.

Celestial’s absence is felt every day, but I take solace in a recent memory of her. My husband, Kevin, and I were outside in our front yard talking about landscaping when we heard Celeste meowing over and over again. We looked up to see her running across the yard with a dead bird hanging from her mouth. Kind of gross, I know. She meowed until she reached us, dropped the poor bird at our feet and proceeded to rub figure-eights all around our ankles.

I didn’t have the heart to scold her. She was so excited … and proud.

From what I know of feline behavior, Kevin and I were bestowed a cat’s highest honor. She gave us her kill. I will always remember how we giggled at her that day as she ran across the yard meowing all the way, and how privileged we felt at her gift of love.

Margo Watkins, Pet Behavior Counselor

Pawsitive Pet Behavior Blog