The death of a pet can be one of the worst experiences in a person’s life. After all, pets quickly endear themselves to us. They become like family members… only, in a way, better than human family members! When you come home from work, your dog is always happy to see you. She’ll jump up on you, lick you, and make happy noises.
She will not complain that you are late, or tell you that you haven’t helped out around the house enough, or scowl at you when the dinner you give her is the same thing you gave her the night before. Your cat will curl up with you to watch TV, and never ask you to change the channel, or wonder why you don’t take him to exciting places more often, or scream in your face when you don’t give him permission to go to a party. Pets are just happy to have your company. No wonder we treasure them so much!
When a pet passes away, many people think they will never be ready to have another pet. They don’t want some random dog to replace the one who they lost. They want their dog! After all, if a family member dies, you don’t go to the store and buy a new uncle or cousin, do you?
When my beloved Chopper passed away, though, I felt the opposite way. There was something missing in the house. Something huge. I had a cat, but there was still an empty gap in my life. Even my cat seemed to feel it! He moped around, looking for his long lost friend.
At the time I lived with my parents. The chopper had been our dog, my childhood pet. Without her, I felt lost! I begged my parents to let me get another dog. I felt that only a dog, with its special canine energy, would help get rid of the sadness in the house.
My parents were against it, though. They brought up the old argument of not being able to replace a family member.
Of course, I didn’t want to replace Chopper! No dog could replace that special dog who had been my best friend for the past thirteen years. Still, I ached for the company of a dog. It was so weird to come home every day and not see a dog tearing through the kitchen to greet me. (My cat greeted me in his own way, but it was different.) On quiet mornings, I would think I heard the pitter-patter of four dog paws clicking across the floor, and I would turn to greet Chopper… only to realize, she was not there. Home didn’t seem like home!
My mom’s boss was a lady who was one of the head volunteers for a pet rescue organization. The organization took dogs and cats from high kill shelters, placed them in foster homes to be cared for and rehabilitated, and found permanent homes for them. They were always in need of new foster homes. My mom’s boss tried to convince her to take on a dog as a foster pet. It would not be for long. There were adoption shows every Saturday, and the chances were, a foster dog would only be with us for a week before finding a “forever” home. The woman emailed my mom with pictures of dogs with sad eyes, dogs who had been rescued from upcoming euthanasia, and needed places to stay.
Finally, my mom agreed to try it. She and I went on a Tuesday evening to pick up a dog. I was overjoyed! My mom explained to me that it would only be for a week. But even a week with a dog in the house would be wonderful, I figured. Besides, if we fostered one, my mom could probably be convinced to foster another after that, and another. We would be able to help so many dogs!
She was a skinny, scruffy nine-month-old dog. My mom’s boss told us she’d been found in the woods, somewhere in southern Illinois. Even though she was really just a puppy herself, she’d had a litter of puppies with her. The puppies had found homes quickly, but Trixie had outstayed her welcome at the high kill shelter she’d been taken to. If the organization hadn’t rescued her, she would have been put to sleep within days!
Trixie was dirty and stinky. In the pound, she’d gotten minimal care. She had a horrible skin condition that made her wince if we scratched her or petted her too hard. She cuddled with us anyway, happy for the attention! She had a severe ear infection, too. When we took her for a vet visit, the vet said that she could probably hear very little, because the infection was that bad. He gave us medicine to pour into her ear canal several times a day along with that we researched online on https://herb.co for a special diet for her treatment. Trixie hated that medicine, but she took it like a trooper. She’d sit quietly, looking at us forlornly, as we administered the medicine. As her ear infection cleared up, her hearing returned, and she seemed happier.
She made herself at home in our house. Every day when we came home, she greeted the members of my household as if she’d known us her whole life. She would run to greet us, jump on us, lick us, roll around on the ground and beg for belly rubs. “You’re home, hello, I’m so happy to belong with you!” she seemed to say.
In those first few days, Trixie endeared herself to my family. The adoption show was coming up… but how could we send her away? Every day I pointed out to my mom all of the reasons why Trixie should be allowed to stay permanently. To my relief, my dad was on my side. He loved Trixie already, too! By that Saturday, my dad and I had convinced my mom that we needed to adopt Trixie.
The rescue organization called us “foster failures”… a teasing title for people like us who started out fostering a pet and ended up keeping it. We didn’t care! We had Trixie now, and she had us.
I still miss Chopper. A lot. I cannot see a picture of her without getting that familiar, sinking feeling in the bottom of my stomach. And then Trixie comes up and licks my hand, and I feel better. She’s not Chopper’s replacement. She’s a completely different dog. But she has taken so much of the emptiness away.
When people tell me they will never get another pet, I try to explain this to them. A new pet is not a replacement for an old pet. It is just an additional pet to love, and a way of continuing the special relationship between humans and animals.