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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pet-Tribute: How I dealt with the loss of my furry family member.

Spooky in the garden

For many of us, our pets are like our children. They bring us joy, companionship, good times... and unfortunately, break our hearts when they leave us for a greater place. I just lost Spooky... aka Spooky Bear, Spookers, Fat Daddy, Spooky James this past Sunday. My heart is breaking, but I did make choices that are helping me cope with  my loss and heal, and as hard as it is to share my personal and precious last time with my little buddy, I thought it was worth sharing if it might help someone else deal with the pain of their loss.

Spooky was nearly 15 years old. This automatically makes some choices for you. Pretty much any required surgery is not an option because they aren't likely to make through a surgery, especially if they are already weak. Spooky probably weighed 25 pounds at his prime. He was a huge, fluffy long-haired boy. He died of chronic kidney failure. Organ transplant was out of the question, and as much as I loved him, I would never do that with an animal anyway. Over the past three or four years, he has dropped significant weight at times, but until this last time, always managed to make a come back. He truly had 5 or 6 lives. Once he disappeared for 5 days and we thought we lost him-turned out, he was hanging out underneath the neighbors bungalow. About 6 years ago, he lost a ton of weight in a short amount of time, started hiding and stopped eating. Luckily the vet was able to hydrate him and give him antinausea and he was back to the old Spook, eating everything in sight. This time was different and I knew it right away. So, I had to make a decision. Natural or euthanize. He never appeared to be in pain and the poor guy hated vets from the beginning. He would howl all the way...I didn't even know cats could make that sound. He would also pee in the car. I couldn't bear making his last moment in a loud vet office with barking and crying dogs and chaos going on, unless he was in pain. So I chose to let him go in his peaceful surroundings at home. For three weeks, I watched him barely eat but he continued to drink water and he also continued to appear to enjoy our time together. This was about a three week process. The last week, we had so many special times. One night we just hung out on the patio, one of his favorite places with the tiki torches lit. He sat on his chair and I sat one mine and we listened to music all night. One of Spooky's things was that he always had to have his paw on top of my hand. If I put my hand on his paw, he would always move his to the top-over and over again. The night he died, I held his paw and rubbed his head and he still insisted on putting that paw on top. It was bitter sweet and I did this until he took his last breath.

Spooky in his favorite chair on the patio.

One of the main things that is helping me deal with my loss, is that I prepared ahead of time for what I would do once he finally did pass. This is why people make their plans ahead of time, why not do the same for your furry family member? Being artistic, I decided to make him a Pet-Tribute. I realize some of you might think this is morbid, but for me, it was a beautiful way to pay tribute to a member of our family. Spooky had been with us since my daughter was 6. She is almost 21.

I made him the Pet-Tribute about two weeks before he died and I am so thankful that I had it ready and knew exactly what to do with him once he passed. This was the first animal I had ever had to deal with dying. I didn't want to have to handle this after the fact. I took some old boards and sanded them, stained them and bought a beautiful hinge and latch and built him his Pet-Tribute. I put pictures of our family inside and wrote him a letter with so many of my fond memories of him and put it inside a glass jar to preserve it. I made a copy of the letter so anytime I miss him, I can read it. And if in 50 or a hundred years someone happens to find his Pet-Tribute, they will know how dearly he was loved.

I am sorry for any of you out there that actually might need this post, but if you do, I hope it brings you some help in dealing with your loss.



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