So, I’ve considered writing about pets on here before, like every other blogger seems to do. But I never really decided to do it.
The reason I’m finally bringing up this noncontroversial topic is that my grandma has lost both her dogs in this past week.
They were 15 years old, and since they were good sized dogs, that’s a ripe old age.
Plus until the last couple years, they weren’t in too bad shape. But they were falling apart and she finally had to put both of them down within days of each other.
You know, I’ve never seen her so down as the past few days.
My family had to put our dog down a few years back, he was a young dog, especially for his size, and should have lived a good 8 years or more, but he had a liver problem.
The truth of the matter was, we later suspected that he had had a problem when we got him. He always had a weak stomach, and at first we didn’t realize he was worse until he wouldn’t eat for days and only lay around. And turned yellow.
Not a pretty sight. He was so miserable we just couldn’t bear to keep him suffering any longer.
It still hurts to think about that.
I am not one of those people who has to live with an animal before I get really fond of it. I don’t go animal crazy or anything. Now that we have three cats, I like cats, but before I was never what you would call a cat person.
So I understand people who can just take or leave animals pretty well. But what I Think is more interesting is what having a pet can teach you about love.
You may never realize it of course, but some people do, and I wont’ be the first to remark on it.
My dad says, rather drily, that we were more broken up when our dog died than when a family member of ours died.
In a way that might be true, at least I know I cried more. For some reason I don’t tend to cry when people pass away. My personal thought is that it’s too close and too real, and I just don’t process it through tears. Not yet anyway.
But I don’t think that it means I loved a dog more than my family. If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick my family. (Though it would be heartbreaking.)
But I notice I’m not the only one who seems to express grief more freely over a pet passing than over family passing. Maybe you know people like that, or maybe you are that person too.
And I think the reason for it is pretty profound.
The truth is, we feel the death of an animal more, or more purely, because we see it with unclouded vision.
Pets rely on us completely. Especially if you’ve raised kittens like I have, and they can’t even go to the bathroom without help (at least people are born knowing that much.) And the reason we love them so thoroughly is because they can’t give us anything in return for our saving their lives. The don’t feed us, or clothe us, and some of them couldn’t even protect us in a pinch. They cost us a lot of money and they don’t pay it back. We can’t even hope that when they grow up they will help us in turn, as some parents do with their children.
And those of us who have cranky, bratty, or strange pets know that our love for them doesn’t change just because they aren’t always loving us back.
Why, our cats are downright ungrateful about us feeding them high quality food. They like junk food better. (The nerve!)
Now I wouldn’t do what some would and use all this as proof that pets are complete wastes of time. On the contrary, I think we should have pets for this very reason.
It’s important to the human soul to be able to love something unconditionally, and even more important to be able to love something that can’t return you anything tangible.
I believe the reason that people’s passing on leaves a different ache in our hearts is becuase we rely on people too much.
It’s not bad to need each other, but we all know that we often need each other in the wrong ways, in the wrong amounts, and that’s why we fight and fail and have to begin again (and that’s in a healthy relationship.)
When you lose something you rely on, part of the grief is, as C. S. Lewis observed, selfish. It’s not concerned with what was best for the person, but what was better for you. Or at least what you think was better.
But when you don’t rely on a creature and you lose it, you mourn it for being what it was. For its own sake, and so you have a purer, less selfish grief.
I do not mean at all to say grieving for people is bad. Nor that admitting you wanted them is bad. I only meant hat it’s a different kind of love.
The beautiful thing about loving our pets is that we don’t think about it. We just do it. We don’t expect credit for it. It’s not about our ego.
And if it were to be, most of us would agree that it wasn’t really the pets we were thinking of.
So those are my thoughts, until next time–Natasha.