My Pet Is Family!
Gone are the days where dogs were bred and kept for hunting or guarding, and cats were kept around to keep the mice at bay. Owning a pet has become as synonymous with family life as the white picket fence and 2.5 children. More and more singletons and small families are also considering “pet friendly” a priority when shopping for a home to rent. In fact, it is becoming less and less rare to come across a home with a pet where the pet (especially cats and dogs) lives indoors with the rest of its inhabitants.
I was very fortunate to grow up with a family who loves animals and with an aunt who showed me that a pet can be loved, and spoiled, like a child. When my granny and grandpa came over for Saturday lunches we would snicker at my granny’s raised eyebrows when my aunt allowed her very large Great Dane to sit next to her on the sofa. My mother was never as fond of the idea of pets but she non-the-less allowed me to adopt a cat when I was 14 years old. I absolutely adored the cat, which was now named Tigger. She would welcome me home every day by storming the front door and slept by my feet at night.
Fast-forward quite a number of years and I (with my husband) now own four dachshunds a large tank full of fish and are thinking of adding a ball python to our family soon. Unfortunately, my dear Tigger developed kidney problems in her old age and it was time for her to join the rest of our departed pets on the other side of the rainbow. She was 15 years old and gave me years of joy and love.
When we took her to the good doctor to help her on her way, I was at first very ashamed of my tears as it was very difficult to say goodbye to her. But then I decided to be proud of them as it was proof that I had truly loved my pet whose life and care was entrusted to me. My husband and I often referred to our dogs and cat as “the kids” and it had truly become that.
Many of us who decide to own animals and keep them as loving pets develop a bond with them that can only be described as family. We would do anything for them and would see red if anybody threatened or harmed them. How do we then deal with the loss of a such a pet? I believe it is necessary for us to grieve their loss in a similar way we would a loved one. This is sometimes difficult because we feel a sense of guilt when we no longer can prolong their life due to illness or accident. Do we then set ourselves up for only future heartache and pain when adopting a pet?
Dealing with my own and my husband’s grief, we decided it is important to remember the good life we gave Tigger and the love we shared with her. And it is important not to deny ourselves future happiness, and serenity, by continuing life without the wonderful companionship of a pet.