What is it about animals and people? What’s the big deal about having a pet? It’s just one more mouth to feed and a lot more mess and responsibility.
Why do we get so excited about welcoming someone into our family who will sometimes eat until he/she vomits (and then possibly consume the vomit), rip up our slippers, have little accidents on our favourite rugs and miaow or howl pitifully when they are banished from the bedroom?
They are going to cost us money in vet fees, beds, brushing aids, food, toys and various items of paraphenalia too numerous to mention. When we want to go on holiday we have to find a responsible person to look after them, or put them into a boarding kennel or cattery, where they will stare accusingly at us as we leave and completely ruin our carefree holiday moods.
They may scratch, bite or disdain our friends or other members of our family, and refuse to eat the delicious morsels placed in front of them in favour of an old smelly bone dug up after weeks and eaten with a look of total satisfaction on our clean floor.
They frequently ignore our wants or commands in favour of something or someone they find much more interesting e.g. a blade of grass, a lizard or bee, a gently waving piece of fern.
When they get old, they become slow and sometimes lose their keen sight or hearing. They put on weight and become more irritable. When they die we are devastated. I confess I have felt more prolonged grief at the death of some of my former pets (sheep, goat, cats, dogs, rabbits, ducks etc) than I have for some human acquaintances. Each grave is dug with a heavy heart and their absence is sorely missed. Over the years our backyard has become an animal burial ground, with lavender and other plants sometimes marking the spots where a dearly loved pet now lies.
I think that it is the loss of their spirit and life force that leaves such a hole in one’s heart. All the adventures you shared, all the funny moments, the happiness and sorrow, the irritations, the whole being.
They leave our lives enriched for being in them and a mountain of happy memories of good times shared without judgment and disappointment.
|Sarah and little Monza|
They give us permission to love unconditionally and teach us how to care for others.