A week ago my son lost his pet rat Harvey. Now many of you will be completely grossed out at the thought of having a pet rat, but for my 14 year old son, this funny, furry and remarkably clean little creature had been his friend for the past two and a half years.
It got me thinking how so many people underestimate the loss of a pet. For many of us they are constant companions where we may have none; they may be the only reason we may smile on a down day. They are perpetually loyal…often to those so undeserving of loyalty. They may be furry, scaly, two legged, 4 legged or even 8 legged. But one thing is certain; when they are gone we are always left a little heart-broken. So we mourned the loss of Harvey and buried him in our backyard, not far from our very first pet…a dog called Bundy. This blog is about our first baby (before we had children) and everyone who has lost a much-loved pet will understand…
For Our Bundy…
Just a dog. Anyone who has owned a dog would never use such a flippant phrase. To us, Bundy was so much more. We were new in our relationship when we chose her. She represented a commitment, a hint of an unspoken promise between us. Bundy was our first baby, she placated the mother within me.
She was loyal, always. Dogs have such forgiving natures. Bad moods, temper tantrums, neglect, they love you through it all. In time we had our own children. We worried. You hear horrific stories of jealous pets savaging children. Our Bundy embraced our babies with wet kisses, protectiveness and unrelenting affection.
Bundy was 11 years old when she let us know the end was coming. It was muscular degeneration, the cause unknown. It did not matter, it was incurable. The one small mercy was she felt no pain. Nothing, not even her limbs. The vet had been optimistic; Bundy will be with you at Christmas. Sadly, she knew otherwise. She held on until the night of our son’s birthday. Then she let us know. She howled. An awful, gut wrenching wail that could not be misunderstood. It was her time.
Morning dawned; the kids said their goodbyes, while my husband dug her grave. An arduous task, we were in a drought and the ground was like concrete. But Bundy was his first baby; he dug for two hours straight.
It was November 11, Remembrance Day, when we made the final journey to the vet clinic. I carried her limp form to the room, a room designed for death. It seemed so inappropriate for Bundy’s final moments. Everything was sterile and white; except the table. Cold stainless steel. I placed her gently on the slab. She had frequented this room many times; it was the first time she did not object.
In a prepared monologue the vet explained the procedure. Procedure. Such a ridiculous word when you considered the outcome. I held Bundy’s face in my hands and looked deep into those brown eyes, so trusting, and told her we loved her. I stroked her head and embraced her as the vet injected the “green dream” that stopped her beating heart and closed her eyes for the final time.
At 11 o’clock we exited the veterinary clinic; Bundy’s lifeless body slumped in my arms. Our sunglasses pulled down; a poor disguise for our swollen, bloodshot eyes. As we drove out of the car park, the poignant sounds of “The Last Post” haunted us from the stereo. It was a fitting end for Bundy, so much more to us than “just a dog”.
Never underestimate the loss of someone’s pet xoxo