Today is a topic that I very recently had to deal with .. and still am. I realised that losing a pet doesn't always seem as important as losing a person in your life, and that statement could not be more wrong.
On June 2nd this year I lost my best friend and my soulmate. Chloe had a stroke on the Sunday in the afternoon, I was not home but Stephen was with her. She had peed on the couch which was not something she did. Stephen cleaned it up and texted me to let me know. When I got home she seemed fine but when she was eating her supper her back end fell to the left and then she slowly laid down and continued to eat her supper. Over the past few days leading up to Sunday Chloe didn't seem hungry and would not eat her dog food, so I had started making her eggs with cheese or chicken and rice so she would eat something. After her supper we placed her on the couch with us and I just petted her while we watched t.v. That night Stephen let her out for a pee and she walked outside on her own but her back end was taking little tiny baby steps. I put her and bed and I kept waking up to make sure she was okay, and she was. On Monday I made her breakfast which she ate about half and then laid back down. I brought her with me upstairs to the office where I work (my Mom has a home office and I work for her.) and kept an eye on her all day, she seemed very tired and had very little energy. I kept telling myself she was going to be okay and that she would come out of this. That night she wouldn't eat anything but still drank some water. When we went to bed I was playing with my pendulum and asking it different questions, I asked it if Chloe was going to be okay and it just vibrated. I laid in bed with her just petting and talking to her for most of the night, I managed to fall asleep and woke a couple of hours later. When I did Chloe wouldn't eat any breakfast, wouldn't drink any water and I knew that this was it. I brought her upstairs and laid her on the floor beside my desk, she had no energy and looked like she had given up. I called the vet and told them what had happened, I was still hoping that by some miracle she would be okay. But when Tracey told me that she would speak with Dr.Kathy I knew that there was nothing I or they could do. When Tracey called me back she told me I had an appointment for 11:45. I texted Stephen and asked him to call me as soon as he could. He did and I told him I had an appointment at 11:45 for Chloe to be put to sleep because we couldn't do anything. He said he would get off work to be there. At 10:30 Stephen was told he could not be off and so I called Tracey back and changed the appointment for a later time, I can't even remember now what time it was but she told me to keep an eye on her and that if her breathing got shallow to bring her in. I had Chloe out with me on the deck with her blanket and was just holding her and trying not to cry. I didn't want to upset her anymore then she needed because practically my whole life she had been there for me and now it was my turn. As I was looking at her I noticed her eyes looked different, almost like the light was gone. She started having one of her episodes with her stomach (she had been having these off and on for a year, we had her in to the vet and did a bunch of tests but she came back really healthy, they figured I would have to have her there while she had one so they could tell what it was. Her stomach would double in size and get super hard and the only way to help was to get her to walk around until she went for a poo, then it would go down and she would be fine.) I decided we needed to take her and that I couldn't sit here and do nothing. Stephen still wasn't done work yet so my Mom drove me to the vet. I felt like we couldn't get to the vet fast enough and when we pulled into the parking lot I felt like I couldn't move and didn't want to get out of the car. We walked in and I was a mess, Tracey took us into a room and left us there for a moment while Dr.Sandy came in and assessed Chloe. Her stomach was extended and her breathing was now shallow and she was very lethargic. One of the vey techs came in to take Chloe away to put in the IV they asked me if I wanted to be there and I said of course. Tracey came in with a bunch of papers and options of cremation or burial. We had decided a while ago we wanted her cremated and I signed the papers so they could put her to sleep. My Mom said to me before Tracey left that I should get her paw print because I had always said I wanted one, I didn't even realise that was an option ... I apparently wasn't very aware of my surroundings or hearing what anyone was saying. I decided to get her paw print with a pink background because when I was little I would paint her nails pink. They brought her back and I held her as Dr.Sandy administrated the anesthetic. She placed the stethoscope over her chest and told me when she was gone. She left us for a few minutes and the blanket she was wrapped in I unwrapped it, I was searching for a sign she was gone but nothing, she just was laying in my arms. It didn't feel real, that it would be that quick. We were in the room for a few minutes when we decided to leave, I couldn't just leave her in the room alone so I asked my Mom if she could go and get someone to get her. The same vet tech from before came in and I placed her in her arms. Walking away was so hard. The worst thing was 20 minutes after Stephen called and said "Jen I'm on my way, I'm on my way now." I had to tell him that she was already gone and that I was so sorry but I couldn't make her wait anymore as I felt she was suffering. He went silent and started to cry. I asked him if he was okay to drive home and he said yes.
That night was really hard and I went with my Mom to my Grandparents next door. Being anywhere but home was easier and I actually ended up taking a sleeping pill of my Mom's that night before going downstairs to bed. The next few days were hard and I was lucky enough to have a couple of days off work. I couldn't function properly anyways.
The reason I wanted to tell you this story was because no matter if it's a cat, dog, horse, etc. they still are a person to you. I am lucky to have a family that has been really supportive of my grieving process and not judgmental at all. I know I have spoken to a few people that were like "Well at least it wasn't a person you lost." or something of that nature. I did not get upset with those people, I just understand that they have never had a love like that in their life, and I feel that they are missing out on one of the best things in this world. Unconditional love. I always referred to Chloe as my soul mate because well she was. She never judged me and was always there when I needed her. When I moved to Alabama she was the only person I told everything to and could cuddle and console me when I was crying because I was so homesick and missed my Grandparents. She was there when I had no friends, when I came home and felt like I didn't fit in anymore, when I had sleepovers with my new friends, when I went to high school, when I met Stephen, when he moved in, when we got engaged, bought our lot and any other memory I have, she was there. Everyone deals with grief in a different way and that's okay and I'm telling you that no matter how prepared you are, you aren't. With Chloe being 15 every time anything went wrong I thought okay I can handle this, I know it's coming because she is older now. But all the "preparing" did me no good. I didn't expect to hate being alone, hate being in my house alone while I cleaned or watched t.v. and Stephen was at work. Because even though all those years I had been with no one I had been with Chloe and she was my person. I worried about where she was and if she was scared or lonely. So I seemed help from a professional. Now I know not everyone believes in the same things but I believe that when you are no longer here that doesn't mean you are gone forever. I contacted someone I know personally and asked if she knew of anyone who could speak to animals who have passed on from here. She gave me the name of Karen Harkness. I had a reading with her the day after I contacted her and she told me so many things that were bang on that she would have no way of knowing. The first thing she said that blew me away was that Chloe said her stomach doesn't hurt anymore and that she can breathe fine again. She told me specific memories that I had with Chloe and said that she was okay and that she was with a couple of other animals. The one she described was one of our cats we had years ago, and the other was a budgie. Now I told Karen I had no idea where this budgie was coming from because we have never had birds. She told me that sometimes the animals get excited and want to speak so they will pop in but she would tell him to move along. We finished the reading and that made me feel 100 times better. I spoke to my parents about it and my Mom and Dad looked at me and said oh my god about the budgie. My parents got Chloe when I was 7 so I didn't go and pick her up, they told my brother and I that they were bringing home a present while we waited at my Grandparents. That present was Chloe, but the lady they bought her from was very old and had bought her from the breeder. She was selling her because she had come to the realisation that she would not be able to care for her her entire life, and yes you guessed it. This lady had a budgie. I immediately went off to email Karen and let her know.
We got Chloe back on June 10th. That day we all gathered on the deck and cried holding her tiny urn in our hands. I held the paw print in my hands for a long time and am very thankful for my Mom suggesting I get it because it is very special and important to me and when I'm feeling lonely and sad I go and touch her urn and hold her paw.
I wanted to write this blog post because I feel like losing an animal isn't always seen as important and blown out of proportion when you are upset. I want you to feel free to express your emotions when you need to because holding them up inside is not going to do you any good. Grieving is a funny thing and you never know when it's going to hit you. I was driving home one day and started crying when I say someone walking their dog. The night before last I cried myself to sleep because I miss having her in bed with me. The night we got her back I decided to go for a walk at shortly after 8 at night. I just needed to be outside and saw the clouds, bright pink the same colour as her paw print which made me feel she was with me. There is no "proper" way or time to grieve and yes even about a pet. Don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. To me Chloe was much more important then some humans in my life. She was with me every day and slept with me every night from the time I was 7 until I was 22. That's a long time and then for you not to be able to hold them anymore is hard. Deciding when you get another pet is completely personal as well. We have gotten a puppy since it just felt weird not having a dog, and no it isn't a replacement and I was really worked people would feel like thats what we were doing. Stephen looked at me one night and said "Why are you worried what other people think? Who cares. We are getting a puppy for our reasons and if they have an opinion let them, that doesn't make it true." Poppy has helped a lot because it has given me something to focus on when I'm at home so I'm not just lost in my head.
So if there is someone giving you a hard time about your grief over a pet just remember that they were not nearly as lucky as you because you experienced one of the best things this world has to offer and they haven't yet.
If anyone would like to contact Karen Harkness please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you her information.
Thanks for reading,