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Pet Bereavement

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44 Reviews

Losing a pet can be as traumatic as losing a family member, what are your experiences of the death of a beloved pet. Have you had to have a pet put to sleep? How did it affect you?

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    44 Reviews
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      07.07.2013 23:33
      Very helpful



      Fly strike is devastating - beware, especially in this heat!

      ===To Write or Not - Long Review Alert===

      I've thought long and hard about whether or not to write this review. If you're an animal lover you may be critical. If you're not you may be dismissive and feel I'm being sentimental. I won't be offended if you don't read it.

      Some reasons are: I've had real computer problems for a few weeks, which have meant I couldn't write reviews, and this has given me an opportunity to get back into it. A deeper reason is that I really hope that writing it will bring me some closure, as I'm still struggling to come to terms with what happened. Most important, though, is the hope that it might help someone who reads to avoid the same sad outcome.


      We haven't had a huge number of pets in our household. I've never owned a dog. Apart from cats, we've only had guinea pigs and a few hamsters. The cats we've owned before our last one were all from the farm of my husband's late parents, semi-feral and not terribly healthy. For various reasons they didn't live to great ages. Our last one was different. She came into our lives in 1999. My daughter, who was about to sit her 'A' levels at the time, came home from school to inform us that a friend had a cat who'd just had 5 kittens, and please could we have one, etc etc. It had been several years since we last had one and we weren't particularly looking to take on a cat, but somehow that's what we ended up doing. The first day I held her she fitted into the palm of my hand - her eyes only just opened - and licked me. She was the smallest and possibly the only female, with distinct tortoiseshell colouring. It was obvious she was going to be 'ours' and eventually she came home.

      Unfortunately she started to put on weight quite seriously not long after she'd been neutered. We tried diet food, persuading her to exercise more etc but it was a problem all of her life. Also in temperament she was pretty laid back, even lazy, and this certainly didn't help. It seemed that every time we changed something in the home it affected her activity levels, especially when we had double glazing installed as she seemed unable or unwilling to jump into the new window sills and was getting too fat to get through the cat flap. I have to admit feeling disillusioned with the lack of advice and support from the vets we were registered with and we moved to new vets in February this year.

      ===2013: New Start===

      I was impressed by the new vet's approach. I'd felt guilt about the cat's size for years, but this vet said it was worth trying a diet regime again as she looked generally pretty healthy for a 14 year old. He wanted her to lose weight slowly, and suggested we had a trial period of a couple of months or so, and took her back just after the first May Bank Holiday for a weigh-in which the vet nurse would do. They would measure her as well, because just as in humans sometimes the change in shape is as significant as the weight loss.
      The May check-up brought the good news that she had lost well over a kilo. She seemed so much brighter and more energetic, too, once again doing things she hadn't done for some time. We were delighted. We took home a weight chart with her weight loss clear for all to see. I was slightly puzzled that no measurements were taken but no problem; she'd done well to lose weight like that.

      ===Trouble Ahead===

      The next appointment was a month later with a different nurse who didn't know her history. There had been no weight loss at all, which surprised us as she hadn't seemed so bothered about eating the full amount. There was a lot of talk about how important it was to keep her moving and getting her to exercise more burn off the calories, and discussion about a new diet food which might suit her metabolism better. We were reluctant to try this yet as we'd just started a huge bag of the original diet food. Something to bear in mind for the future, though. We booked an appointment for another month's time so that we could have her checked over before our holiday in July.

      I became really concerned because her appetite seemed really poor and she was eating less and less. I knew that there was a serious, potentially fatal condition called fatty liver - I forget the medical term, possibly hepatic lipidosis. Here when weight loss happens too quickly the liver starts to self destruct, as I understand it. I called the surgery and spoke to the nurse. We decided to bring forward the appointment, in fact to that week, and try her on the new food as she was maybe simply fed up of the old one, having had it for several years. There was an alarm bell ringing in my brain saying 'this cat has never been faddy' but there was an advantage in that we could take in the old one & have credit towards the new. Also there was a wet food option if she needed a treat, so we gave it a try and it seemed to work. Unfortunately the progress was short lived and when I phoned to say she'd only eaten 14g one day as opposed to the 63 prescribed we decided the vet needed to see her to run some tests.

      ===The Final Week===

      That Thursday evening was really tense. She was taken into a back room for blood tests and we heard her protesting loudly. There was a wait of 30 minutes or so for the results, during which time the vet came out and told us that her veins were really tiny and they'd had serious problems getting a viable sample. They'd tried both front paws and her jugular vein. That was presumably why she'd screamed so much. The tiny veins were connected to whatever was wrong.

      When we did get the results it was a case of 'it's easier to tell you what's not wrong than what is'. Her liver and kidney functions were OK and she wasn't diabetic but her bilirubin was high and they hadn't had enough blood to run some tests, including red and white cell counts. He decided to treat her as though she had pancreatitis. This involved pain relief, a multi-vitamin shot and valium as an appetite stimulant. Some special high-calorie food was prescribed but really it was a case of get her eating anything. We had some pain relief to give at home & an appointment to come back next morning.

      When we got home she leapt out of her carrier, purring loudly. I offered her some of the special food as directed and was delighted when she ate it with relish. She also accepted a little tinned tuna, and kept going. I was so relieved and she seemed so much better. I was able to give the vet a good report the next morning; he checked her over and was satisfied that she was getting better, although he would have liked to have run more blood tests her decided to leave it for the time being. We left with more food and more pain relief with instructions to ring with a progresss report first thing on Monday morning or earlier if concerned. She did well over the weekend so I made the Monday call. We discussed moving her back gradually on to her diet food, and preferably the dry rather than the wet as it was better for her teeth and better overall. I ordered some extra cans of the wet food because our holiday was getting closer and I didn't want my daughter to be in difficulties if problems recurred in our absence. I picked it up on the Tuesday morning and I remember the nurse asking how she was and me responding that she'd got her bright eyed look, back, and seemed to love being outside in the sunshine to the point where I couldn't easily get her in. Also I was a bit puzzled that I'd seen her lying on her side in her litter tray when she had a bowel movement, but maybe this was just 'old lady' behaviour as we'd had a bit of that. What I haven't said is that she had a dense coat for a short-haired cat, and that, her size and limited movement meant it was impossible for her to clean herself properly if there was any faecal matter in her fur, so I cleaned her. If only our conversation had gone a bit further, if only she had warned me.

      On Wednesday the cat was basking outside in the sunshine when my neighbour came round. She has some major personal issues going on & visits run into the hours rather than minutes sometimes, so I checked on my cat before we started. We sat in the conservatory with the door open so the cat could come in if she wanted but she stayed on the patio within sight.

      ===Last 24 Hours===

      That night something wasn't right. She missed her tray, and then started straining to have bowel movements anywhere and everywhere, sometimes on her side. I followed her around cleaning up & wiping her. I noticed that her bottom looked sore so I bathed it with tepid water and cotton wool, which she seemed to appreciate. We confined her to one room overnight. I checked her early next morning - she had an appetite and seemed fairly comfortable. There was a bit more mess but to be honest I put it down to the several changes in diet she'd had recently, as it had had a similar effect before. We were due at the weight clinic that evening but I asked my husband to phone and ask whether she needed to see a vet as her bottom, although looking a little less sore, might need some treatment. It was the one day that week I had to be at work, and before the vet opened, but I knew he would be home at lunchtime so I wasn't too concerned.

      ===Saying Goodbye===

      I couldn't have been more wrong. What I found when I got home, just after 3.15, will haunt me for a long time. I went to stroke her and, to my horror, found a clump of maggots just above where her tail started. In revulsion and panic I started pulling them off, but the more I pulled out the more there seemed to be. I offered her some food, thinking in my panic that if they'd been taking her blood she might have a better chance if she fed. She did eat quite well, but then made it clear she wanted to go outside. I followed her, taking my I pad which I'd had at work. I googled what I'd seen and immediately realised it was unlikely that she could be saved, as she was expelling maggots when she strained to pass a motion - there was nothing else coming out now. I promised her aloud that one way or another we'd stop her pain. A text to my husband, a call to the surgery, and we were on our way. It wasn't long before a vet and a nurse were looking at her. Soon we had confirmation of what I already knew - she had fly strike, the maggots were coming from within her anus. The vet, who hadn't seen her before, commented that she was clearly a seriously unwell cat anyway - she should have put up some resistance to the things they were doing to her, but she just lay there passively. It was agreed that the kindest thing was to end her life. We signed the consent form, decided upon an individual rather than group cremation, she was brought in wrapped in her blanket with eyes that were wide - with fear or pain, I don't know. The canula was already in place to ease her discomfort, I suppose. She was placed on the table, we stroked her, and very soon she was gone. The vet tactfully left us alone with her to say our goodbyes and we left not much later.


      I thought I was prepared to lose her. I'd said to myself 'You saw your aunt just a few hours before she died of cancer; you nursed your mother-in-law through some of the final stages of cancer; you can cope with losing the cat.' Well I suppose I have coped, but initially it was devastating, partly because of the guilt I felt and still feel. If only I hadn't left her outdoors; if only I'd managed her weight loss more successfully when she was younger; why didn't I phone the vet when I noticed the sore bottom? Etc etc. My husband went out for a meeting that night which was probably as well as I needed to be alone. To be honest I think I was slightly in shock. The next day - Friday - we were both walking around like zombies. By Monday I felt up to phoning the vet and asking about settling our bill, collecting her ashes etc. We agreed that if I take in all of her leftover food they will find a good use for it, either via RSPCA or Cats Protection. They sent me a card this week, which was a kind touch. Slowly I/we are getting there. On Wednesday I ordered a plant with her name, that I may plant where we scatter her ashes. I think 'bringing her home' will bring a fresh period of grief. I hope it will all be over before we go to Scotland on 19th. We had no idea when we booked it that she would be gone by then. It doesn't seem real and I still expect to see her cheeky face when I come downstairs and so on. At least some happier memories are returning, rather than the awful ones of a week last Thursday.

      ===Some Final Thoughts===

      As I come to terms with what happened I realise that in a strange way it may have been a blessing in disguise. If she really was so ill maybe it was her time anyway - the fly strike just made the decision a no-brainer. We might have tried to keep her going for longer, much longer, and looking back I can see that her life quality wasn't great, although she seemed happy enough until that last day.
      People keep asking if we will take on another cat. It's far too soon, but right now I don't think so. Her last few months have brought home to me the enormous responsibility we take on when we bring a pet into our lives. It's not just the cost, either, though that must be a serious consideration if the economic situation doesn't improve. Can we afford the treatment of an elderly cat when we are in our seventies? I know insurance would help, but there are lots of other aspects too - like who cares for them when you go on holiday? We'd never had a cat live to this age before, and 14 isn't all that old for a cat these days, so I hadn't really thought it through when we got her. Maybe one day in the future we'll decide that the companionship and other benefits outweigh the cons but I can't say right now. I still miss her too much.


      Above all, don't take on a pet unless you're committed to providing the best for them, and that's expensive in time and emotions as well as finance. The level and expense of available veterinary care has increased in the 14 years.

      Realise that losing a pet can be devastating. It seems worse because communication, if there is any, is limited at best. You can tell them how you feel, you may be able to tell how they feel, but it's not guaranteed.
      Allow yourself to grieve and don't listen to anyone who says 'it was only a cat/dog/ hamster/rabbit etc. If love was involved then so will be mourning. It may take longer than you think, maybe because our house pets are 'always there'.

      ===A Plea===

      I wasn't aware of the dangers of fly strike - I don't know why. I feel I should have. Any animal that's sick, wounded, frail etc may be vulnerable and it can happen within 24 hours, as it did with my cat and also a friend's rabbit, as I found out yesterday. Please be very careful about it, especially in the current hot weather when the flies have suddenly proliferated. I don't want anyone to have to go through that. If my review only raises someone's awareness it was worth writing and may even have saved a life.

      A special thank you if you've taken the time to read through this. I will probably post on other sites, if only to raise awareness.

      ©Verbena July 2013


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        15.08.2011 18:03
        Very helpful



        Pets are part of the family and its heartbreaking to lose them.

        I have always loved animals and since I was young we always had pets around the house. I would always cry when they died, wheter it was a bird, turtle or a hamster. But for me it was hardest when my cat died and then my dog.

        We got this cat when I was only 4 years and we were practically raised together. She always slept in my bed and she was really intelligent. She would try to protect me if I had a fight with my sister or if I was hurt, she would come beside and try to comfort me. She was also very protective when I first brought my first boyfriend home. She sat in front of us as a "guard" and if he even held my hand or moved close to me, she was ready to jump on him as she thought he would harm me or something.

        She was 16 and a half years old when we found a small lump on one of her breasts and we took her to the vet. The vet did some tests on her to see if he could remove the cancer, and while the cancer was curable, a lot of tests turned up badly; her kidneys and liver weren't working properly due to old age and the vet was amazed that she was still alive. The vet said we could bring her anytime to be put down since she wasn't going to live much longer. She lived for another month but in the meantime the cancer had worsened and she was really weak. She knew she was going to die so she spent the last 2 days on my bed and constantly by my side. It was the worst moment of my life to take her to the vet to be put down, but she died when he had only given her a sedation. She wouldn't have survived much longer even if we hadn't taken her to the vet.

        I think its really a traumatic experience to take your pet to be put down, even though you're doing it for the best but you always believe there is hope and you feel guilty you "killed" your pet. I also feel guilty for taking her to the vet because its not as 'peaceful' as it would have been if she died at home but at the same time she was suffering a lot so it was the right thing to put her down, after all I did put her down because I loved her so much that I wanted to end her suffering. Although 5 years have gone by, I still miss her so much.

        My second experience was when 2 years ago I adopted a dog from a dog's home. She was old and had a cancer but we took her to the vet for surgery and she was fine. Despite being old and sick we loved her and still adopted her, and she was really sad at the dog's home. Since she was a large dog (mixed breed) and was quite old, she had problems with her back legs and couldn't walk properly. She was too heavy for me to lift her on my own, so I would help her by lifting her from the waist backwards and she would walk on her front legs. We were vere patient with her because she was meant a lot of work for us, as she needed to be taken outside to do her needs very often and she was really heavy and sometimes she lost control and pooped in her bed or inside and made a mess so we were constantly cleaning up after her but I didn't mind because she seemed to appreciate everything we did for her and she knew what we were doing was to help her and she gave us back a lot of love. She died very suddenly a year after we brought her with a heart attack, it only lasted a second, and though it was painful for us, I'm very glad she had a quick death because she didn't feel any pain. I was not home when she died, my mother was with her. Before leaving home I had told her I'd be back soon so I would sit beside her while watching television, it was what I used to do on thursday nights and she would enjoy cuddling. I have no regrets that I adopted her, even though she meant a lot of work for me and I spent a lot of money at the vet, but I know I gave her the best last year of her life, as she had been so miserable at the dog's home and she gave us so much love in return. I really miss her too, I wish she could have spent her lifetime with us, but in a way I'm happy I gave her my best. Even though she had been with us for a year only, it felt like longer and I really became attached to her. She was the best dog anyone could have, she was so sweet.

        Nowadays we have 3 cats, one we adopted when my cat died; we found her as a stray outside our home, and the other 2 I adopted when my dog died last year. I love them very much, but I still love my lost pets just as much. In the end what makes you feel better when you lose a pet is that you know you gave them the best you could and as much love as you could, and by getting another pet, you're not forgetting them, but especially if you adopt strays, you are helping someone else, even though at first its too heart breaking to get another pet. In the end, with all the love they give you, its worth it to give another pet a chance at a good life with you.


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          02.06.2011 22:05
          Very helpful



          I still miss My Girl

          For TARA Feb 1993 - Apr 2005

          On the 21st Feb 1993 we walked up the road near our house to look at one of the cutest little puppy's you've ever seen. I know all puppies are cute but this one seemed just a little bit special. We were only going for a look since my son had wanted a dog for a while now.
          After knocking on the door and being invited in this puppy walked along the hallway looking eagerly at us as we walked. It was a cute puppy but I thought this one's not for us. Then from round the corner this tiny brown and black bitch hobbled round the corner. I could tell by the look on my wife's face that the decision had been made, this was the puppy that was coming home with us.

          Whilst walking down the road towards home we began to discuss names, my son had his heart set on Rosie but both my wife and I just didn't seen her as a Rosie. Anyway after much discussion we decided on Tara although from time to time my son still insisted on calling her Rosie.
          She marched into the house and had a good old sniff around while my wife got some milk in a bottle for her, she was only 8 weeks old and was just starting to go onto solids. We rustled up some kind of bed for her and played with her for the next few hours until my son's bedtime.

          The next day it was time to buy all the usual stuff a little puppy dog needed. Plus a lot of stuff it didn't.
          At this time we had a looped carpet and her tiny claws caused a click click click as she walk from place to place. You'd be luckily if she were seven of eight inches long. Our settee was perhaps 18 inches from the floor but this little puppy thought that comfort was up there and that she could easily cope with the small jump. Crash, how wrong she was face first into the front of the settee with all three of us laughing our heads of. She just turned at looked at us as if we were the stupid ones. This was to set the tone for her time with us. She has done many silly things through the years, given us lots of laughs, but most of all she's given us lots of love and pleasure. She loves her walks and we've often taken her a run in the car to somewhere different.
          There aren't many better feelings than when I've had a bit of a crappy day, than getting home and being welcomed enthusiastically. We then play for a bit while I drink my coffee. When I light my cigarette she knows it's time for a break so she just doddles off for a wee lie down.

          Every Sunday just she and I go for a walk at the local Country Park or other open space so we can play and just have fun, but last Sunday as it turns out was our last Sunday together.
          Tara was twelve and a half and yesterday after a few weeks of knowing it was coming we had to have our little dog put to sleep. She took a couple of bad turns during the evening, so I took her to emergency surgery at the vets with tears streaming down my face. Coming home without her, after telling her she would always be my girl and how much I loved her, was heart breaking.

          I don't know whether it was selfishness or false hope that stopped us getting her put to sleep a few weeks ago when things started to go wrong. One minute she's seem right as rain next she could hardly move.
          I just couldn't concentrate at all at work today and felt guilty as hell. I know I did the right thing but that knowledge isn't helping very much. So with a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye, and a space in my heart, I say farewell to a very special dog TARA


          We go for a walk on Sunday
          To the local country park
          Into the car at half past eight
          In an hour we're almost back

          We go and chase the rabbits
          The dickie birds as well
          We listen to the river
          As its banks begin to swell

          We fetch sticks and bits of wood
          And watch the deer at play
          That's what makes Sunday
          Our special day

          You run about and scamper
          Around the open space
          While I stand and watch you
          With a smile upon my face

          The weather doesn't matter
          We go thru' rain or shine
          I just love to go a walk
          With this little dog of mine.

          I couldn't bear to see you suffer
          I know it was for the best
          So I took you to the vet
          And you were put to rest.

          I've had butterflies all day
          And the tears still run
          But what am I gonna do?
          When Sunday comes

          I might still go that walk
          But with a tear in my eye
          And say a prayer for TARA
          and a very fond goodbye.


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            24.04.2011 14:01
            Very helpful



            Loosing Pets Is No Different To Loosing A Friend.

            I have never wrote about anything to do with personal experiences of grief on here before, but after reading other reviews on people's pet losses, I have decided I would like to share mine. It's about 2 cats that my Nan had but I grew incredibly close to. I'm sorry if it's long.

            Lucy. She was 20 going on 21 in our years and she was a gorgeous dark brown cat with long white whiskers and she had what looked like tiger stripes over her head which were light brown in color. Lucy and I were exactly the same. We could never wait to go out some where, always eating something, loved cuddles together and generally liked chilling out on the sofa. She used to bury her head under my hand and fall asleep when I stroked her. She hated sleeping with me at night, but she soon woke me up with a big nudge of her nose on mine in the morning and the sound of her purring very loudly! She was an amazingly snuggly bundle of joy. She was a massive baby. :)

            Gizmo. He was 16 or 17 in our years and he was a lovely black cat with a white fluffy belly and a little white fluff on his head. He was more laid back than Lucy and was a lot more quiet. His favorite spot in the house was the bottom of my grandparents bed, he'd curl up and sleep there for hours and would always jump off when they got into bed. He had a thing about rubbing his nose on my nans lottery ticket, and when he did she'd win £10 here and there. He would always sit beside my Nan in her arm chair of a night and lay on her lap and she would stroke him until he fell asleep.

            Gizmo stopped jumping off the bed when my grand parents came in to bed, he had no energy to even get up there.. He ran away from the sound of fire works outside, where he'd usually be very interested. He began ignoring any stroking to the tummy and began screeching if some one was to stroke him. He lost some fur and in the end, my grand parents took him to the vets. It was on a day, when my grand dad was picking me up from school. He regrets having to take me with him but they didn't want to wait any longer. When we arrived in the vets, there was a 15 minute wait and there was a lady beside us with her little cat..

            As my grand dad took Gizmo in I kissed him and told him he would be fine and I'd see him in a little while. His eyes were big and he was crying and whimpering. I began worrying when my grand dad came out after about 10 minutes. He came out with the box and blanket Gizmo was in ... I tried pulling the box out of his hand outside the Vets and he had to stand me by the gate and tell me... I fell and would not stop crying.. I was only about 10, and even though Gizmo and I were never that close I still felt immense pain of loosing him.

            He had a appendicitis, his appendix was bulging and he was dying... there was nothing they could do for him. They said he would last 2-3 more days if we wanted to take him home, but as I was staying the weekend, they decided it would be best to have him put down rather than bring him home. It would be too much heart ache for both me and my grand parents to bare and my Nan didn't want to find him - or even worse if Lucy (His Mum) found him..

            Lucy knew instantly when we came home.. She scratched and cried at the box.. she could still smell him on the blanket and she saw grand dad leave with him. I picked Lucy up and she slept with me that night. I just held her and cried.. Where we had lost such a loved pet, she had lost her son.

            Two weeks later, Lucy had stopped eating, or would barely eat anything. She turned her nose up to her favorite foods and wouldn't drink at all. Her fur fell out and she couldn't be picked up without screaming and scratching me. She didn't go out and we found it very very hard to make her purr to cheer her up. She was letting herself go... She was missing Gizmo. We begged and pleaded with her to eat something, but she was just bringing it back again if she did.. She was becoming blind and deaf and was loosing weight so fast.A few days before she was due to go to the vets, I think my Nan found her. She never told us where and when... but my grand parents have buried her under her favorite tree in the garden and planted beautiful flowers over the top.

            I was so so so close to Lucy, she was like a little sister in some ways. Always begging for my attention and found me comfortable to sleep on...

            I'm going to have to stop now... I'm getting a bit upset.

            R.I.P Lucy And Gizmo. At Least Now You're Together And You Will Never Have To Part Again. We All Miss You ! But We Will Always Have The Good Memories. x x x x

            I'm glad I could share this with you all and thank you for reading. Lucy's death was a massive blur for me as it hit me so hard, so I do apologize for being vague.


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              05.04.2011 16:50
              Very helpful



              The hardest part of owning a pet

              Some dooyoo'ers may have noticed from my previous reviews that I have quite the menagerie of pets in my household! I love animals and am passionate about my pets. I treat them as my babies and love them dearly. Over the years I have kept goldfish, tropical fish, a hamster, guinea pigs, rabbits and a cat. I adore each and every one in their own special way, and each pet / owner relationship has been different. It can be easier to bond with some animals than others, and as such I do tend to have favourites. I know you shouldn't really, but each animal has a different personality and just as you have different levels of friendship you can also have different levels of pet ownership. For example, my fish would be the equivalent of acquaintances - I care for them and we have brief encounters, but no close interactions. In a similar way, my bunnies would be the equivalent of my best friends - I feel incredibly close to them and value spending time in their company; we have a great deal of interaction and they are incredibly dear to me. Only a month ago I would have been able to list my pets as being 2 aquariums with various tropical fish, my elderly family cat Bob, my guinea pig Shinobi, and my 3 baby bunnies Locke, Sugar and Squeak. It is a terrible thing for an owner to have to experience the loss of a pet, and sadly for me I have had two such losses within the past few weeks. I will try and describe here the impact that this has had on me, my feelings, and how I am coming to terms with the changes.

              STAGE ONE
              My guinea pig, Shinobi, had been with me for around 5 years. I had two guinea pigs before her, Wane and Garth. When Wayne died my little Garth went into a state of depression caused by the loss of his companion. Garth became very subdued and refused to eat any food or even drink his water. This was looking quite serious, and I was incredibly worried about him as I could see that he was very distressed after the change in circumstances. I was also worried that I would lose Garth as well as Wayne, seeing as he was not intaking any food or water, and this could potentially lead to a quick downward spiral. After reading through a few of my guinea pig pet care books I found that this response can sometimes occur after a mate dies as guinea pigs are sociable creatures and the loss of a companion can affect them greatly. To me, the only solution at the time was to get another guinea pig to keep my Garth company and hope that this resolved the problem of his hunger strike. This is where Shinobi came in, I went and bought her from our local pet store and she came home with us so that my other guinea pig had a new little girl friend. They seemed to bond straight away and Shinobi took to following Garth around and they would snuggle up together in their cage.
              Things were a lot happier and they stayed this way until Garth died of old age after reaching the impressive age of 7. Shinobi obviously noticed the loss of her friend and it was upsetting to see her making her little chatty conversational noises without anyone to squeak back at her, but she did not have such a dramatic reaction as Garth had previously, and she continued to eat and drink normally and eventually adjusted to living alone. Funnily enough she always seemed to prefer male company, and never really bonded that well with me. She loved my boyfriend though, and would behave rather charmingly when he spent time with her, allowing him to pick her up, cuddle and pet her nicely. She always used to fuss and run away when I tried any of that!

              Anyway, she was approaching the age of about 5 when I noticed that her behaviour had changed slightly. She was becoming less active and did not seem to run around and play as much as was normal for her. There was nothing obviously wrong with her and she did not appear ill so I thought there was no real cause for concern. I always go and check on my pets before I go to bed every night, and see that they have enough water to see them through to morning, as well as saying good night to them all! One night a few weeks back I noticed that Shinobi was looking very worse for wear, hardly moving at all and had not seemed to touch her food or water that I had put out earlier that day. I could sense that something was very wrong and I knew that her time was drawing to an end. Sadly things happened faster than I had imagined, and I found that she had passed away during the night when I went to check on her the next morning. It is awfully upsetting to see your pet in such a state and although I knew she had died a peaceful death it was still crushing to know that she was gone. The feeling of grief lasted for a day or two, and then I began to adjust to it quite quickly. This was not as intense as some of the other pet losses I have experienced, as I was not as close to her as some of my other pets, but I was very sad to see her go and things seem a lot different without her. She was always running around, squeaking and making a lot of noise, and now the place seems a lot quieter without her.

              STAGE TWO
              Some people go shopping for clothes or shoes when they need retail therapy - I decided to go shopping for pets instead! Around 4 years ago when my mum was seriously ill I wanted to have something positive to focus on and to give me some comfort when I was at home. I had moved out from my parents house and no longer had my cat Bob, as he stayed with them. After some deliberation I decided that I would like to have a house rabbit, and ended up with two beautiful boy bunnies, Locke and Sugar. For now I will talk about Sugar. He was an albino lop eared rabbit and I fell for him the moment I saw him. I love the look of that breed, and he had the most adorable ears, where one would stay upright and perky and the other one flopped down. I was drawn to him immediately and knew that he was to be my bunny! He is named Sugar thanks to his white appearance, and he was more feminine than a male bunny would usually behave. Various nicknames have included Sugar Lump (because he's chubby!), Sugar Plum (just for cuteness), and Princess (because he acted like one!). He was always a bit slower than Locke, and seemed to have trouble figuring out what was going on in life. He was playful and affectionate, and put up with me demanding cuddles and playtime on a regular basis. Sugar bunny was my absolute favourite pet, and I feel justified in saying I have a favourite as I had the closest bond to him. He was exactly what I wanted from a pet, he was gorgeous to look at and he had a gorgeous little personality as well.

              He was always a very good natured bunny and I spent a lot of time and attention looking after him. I had a huge shock this past weekend, as I got up on the morning of Mother's day and discovered that my beloved Sugar baby had passed away in his sleep. I was hugely shocked as he was not ill in any way, he seemed to be in perfect health and I had not detected any changes in his behaviour at all. He was still eating, drinking and active the last time that I had seen him. I was absolutely devastated and felt the same way as if I had lost a member of family. I bawled my eyes out for about 30 minutes straight, and after seeing his little body lying out in his bed I couldn't believe it had really happened. I kept wandering in and out of the room checking to see if it was all just a mistake, but after a short while I calmed down and realised that it had happened, and he had simply slipped away without warning. I miss him in a very intense way, and I am sure this will dull down after more time has passed, but I am still in a very emotional state. I try and take comfort in looking after my 2 other bunnies, Locke and Squeak, but I can't help comparing them and feeling like I just want my Sugar back. I don't know if the grief was made worse by having lost two pets within the space of only a few weeks, but it certainly didn't help matters.

              THE AFTERMATH
              The next step after discovering that a pet has died is the most gruesome, you actually have to do something about it. To be practical, you need to deal with this situation quickly, as it is inappropriate to delay this sort of task. I have never buried a pet before, but for Sugar bunny I thought he deserved special treatment, as he had meant so much to me. My boyfriend was incredibly good to me and helped deal with the more difficult parts. We decided to bury Sugar in the garden, so he prepared a suitable patch and dug a hole for the burial. As unpleasant as it is, you have to think about the realistic side of things, and for us this included digging a hole deep enough so that the neighbour's cats wouldn't be able to do any digging of their own and interfere. I was very upset and wanted things done as quickly as possible, so within a few hours of the discovery, Sugar had been wrapped in his favourite blanket, placed inside a biodegradable box, and buried out in the garden. I felt utterly heartbroken and couldn't stop myself from crying during all of this. I gave him a quick stroke and smoothed his fur down before we covered him in the blanket, and that was the last I will ever see of him. After the "funeral" was complete I moved my favourite potted plant (appropriately named, Bleeding Heart) over next to the area to mark it in the mean time. I do intend to purchase a special plant of some sort to officially act as a memorial spot, but I haven't had the urge to rush this just yet. After thinking things over I wish I hadn't been quite so hasty, as I would have liked to do something like take a small lock of his fur to keep as a memento, such as people did in centuries gone by to commemorate a lost loved one. However, there is no way I am going to exhume poor Sugar's grave and do such a thing now, so I will regret not thinking of it sooner, and bear it in mind for when the situation arises with my other bunnies.

              MOVING ON
              Everyone who I have discussed this with has been sympathetic, but there is only a limited comfort provided by others, as all I really want at this stage is to have my beloved bunny still with me. It is a painful experience to lose a treasured pet and this is the downside to the wonderful time that you have spent living with and looking after a precious pet during their lifetime. I feel a great loss, as each pet is different and you know that you will never be able to replace them in the same way. I could have easily gone out and bought another bunny, but this would not have made up for the fact that I have lost my special little guy. As far as I'm concerned each pet is an individual and there will never be another one like him. For the moment, I am going to concentrate my efforts on looking after my Squeak and Locke bunnies, and ensure that they are cared for and try to maintain a good relationship with them both. I do have a desire for another bunny but I don't think it is a sensible idea to get one now while I am still grieving for the loss of my Sugar. I decided after getting Shinobi that I would not have another guinea pig, as I did not want to become trapped into the cycle of taking on a new guinea pig each time one of them passed away, as this could be never ending. For now I am focusing my energies on caring for my other pets, but no matter how many pets you may have at one time, the fact that you have others remaining does not lessen the heartache of losing one of them.

              Losing a pet is a truly terrible experience, but it is the logical conclusion to owning a pet. Unless you decide to keep something like a parrot or a tortoise that has an exceptionally long life expectancy (which I find morally questionable - who is goin g to care for your pet if it outlives you?) then it is to be expected that you will have to see your pet(s) die. Unfortunately, no matter how many pets you may have owned, there is absolutely nothing that you can do to prepare for experiencing the loss of a pet and it will cause a great deal of pain in every circumstance when this happens. In any case of bereavement it helps to remember the good things and there are so many positives to owning a pet that even a sad occasion like this has not put me off. I treasure the memories of all of my pets, and give them as much love as possible while I can. Maybe one day I will get another bunny, but there will never be another Sugar bunny. He was the first bunny that I owned and it's thanks to his wonderful charms that I became such a dedicated bunny fan. I would sincerely recommend owning a pet, and particularly having a pet bunny as they have all given me a great deal of happiness.

              Pets are wonderful companions and true friends. It's a fact of nature that every living creature must die, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with when that time comes. As hard as it is to go through losing a pet, the times that you will have shared together will make it all worthwhile. Enjoy every day that you spend with your pet, and look back fondly once they're gone.


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                03.06.2010 16:23
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                When to get a dog after loss is a difficult thing to judge, sometimes you go with your heart

                I've always loved animals, so of course I've lost a few. The most recent was my Thor, this January. While I expected the grief - and swore I was never ever getting another dog, I wasnt quite prepared for how hard it hit the children. The older boy was just very quiet about it, and also swore he enver wanted another dog. But at only 16 months we didnt think it would have as much effect on the younger boy. He kept constantly searching and calling for the dog, running up to every dog he saw, asking for it and so on.

                We finally did everything you are meant not to do. Found another dog that looked almost identical ( although a different sex) only a month after the first one was lost. By this time my older son was willing to take a new dog. Although we did everything "wrong" by the books, getting a new dog so soon, and choosing one to look like another, it worked out very well. I realised as soon as we had Tora, how much having a new walking companion meant to me. I have difficulties with walking at times, but make sure i get the dog out, no matter what. Having her company helped alot with the grief too. The older boy adores having a young dog that can play ball ( my old companion had been well past that for years).
                The baby formed an immediate bond to the dog, but for weeks didnt like her out of his sight, we even had to have the dog in the room for him to go to sleep. As for the dog, she had been rehomed a few times before, either been hunted or fought but we are certain it was hunted, and was pretty chewed up. I'm sure she is better off that we decided on a dog when we did. She finally has a forever home.

                Sometimes its hard to know when the right time is, but in this case, I just went with my heart. I'm glad i did. I still miss Thor too much to talk about him too much, but Tora is a great comfort, and I'm glad my boys have a new friend.


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                  30.05.2010 12:15
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                  A terrible experience.

                  This is one of the worst things I have ever had to go through.

                  I had Abbie when I was 7. I remember the day I went to get her as if it was yesterday. She was a lovely Springer Spaniel, liver and white and had the prettiest face I had ever seen on a dog.

                  Her owners were giving her away free to a good home as their elderly dog was being disrupted by her playful nature and the owners wanted the other dog to have it's last days in peace.

                  She was a few months old when she came to us and became a part of the family immediately.

                  She loved to play and at times could be quite misheivous. She liked a lot of attention. If you were to sunbathe in the garden she would bring her ball, covered in dribble and drop it right in your lap. She would also steal things and run around the garden with them trying to get attention. On a number of occasions she stole my mothers cigarattes and took off with them because she felt she was being ignored.

                  She loved to go running, as most dogs do and would play for hours with her ball, bringing it back each time for you to throw it for her again. She also loved to play ball with her nose. I would sit opposite her and roll her ball in her direction, and she would roll it back with her nose.

                  She seemed to know when I was upset too. During those times she would come and sit next to me and rest her head on my shoulder or in my lap.

                  We spent a lot of time at my grandparents house and would visit, taking Abbie with us every day. My uncle would also visit with his dog Sadie but when Sadie would arive Abbie would hide behind the sofa because she was quite jealous that she wasn't getting all the attention and had to share her treats.

                  After a good few years, my step dad's dog Buster came to live with us. A cheeky little Jack Russel with a heart of gold. Of course they didn't get on at first but soon became inseperable.

                  Buster liked escaping and would very often take off over the garden wall, thankfully, we always found him. In his later years he suffered from epilepsy, and Abbie started to go blind with age. She was fit and healthy, she just couldn't see very well, Buster would guide her around the garden.

                  Towards the end, Buster became ill all of a sudden. It was on a Friday evening. He wouldn't eat and would just lie there. Two days later, on the Sunday, he died.

                  What was very odd was that 3 weeks later, to the day and almost to the hour, Abbie died in exactly the same way.

                  They are now burried together in the garden.

                  It was an absolute horrific experience. 7 years later, I am still trying to twist my mother's arm to get another dog but she just cannot go through it again. I can see why, it's heartbreaking but I would rather go through that again to make sure a dog has a good life.

                  In a way, it is nice not having a pet because I always dread that day when the end comes. I think it is worth it though for the years of enjoyment and companionship they give you.

                  **Also on Ciao under the same username**


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                    08.11.2009 17:02
                    Very helpful



                    How the love of one dog helped us all to rebuild our lives.

                    When my mother died aged 40 we were all left devastated. Not only was I grieving the loss of my best friend and mother, I was also worried sick about my dad. He took my mothers death really bad. They had been childhood sweethearts. I had left home by now, and I used to be so upset to find, when visiting my father, him sitting in the dark just crying. We were really worried about him, he lost interest in everything. The only place he would go is to work and my mothers grave. His old friends would be nagging him to go out but he had sunk into such a low state that he had almost given up. (he was a 44 year old man).
                    My aunty decided to take matters into task and appeared on his doorstep one evening with her king Charles spaniel in her hands. She told my dad that my uncle had developed an allergy to the dog and that if my father didn't take the dog in she was going to have to take him to a rspca centre. (she had no intention of doing this but just wanted my dad to feel he had no choice) My father told her that he would take the dog in as he couldn't see her upset and she could still see the dog if he had him.
                    Almost immediately my dad began to get mentally stronger. He had something that relied on him, something that would need walking, feeding,interaction. Hence he would take the dog for long walks in the countryside. I used to go with him sometimes and these walks were great for us to chat about our loss and how we were going to move forward.
                    Marnie saved my dad I have no doubt about that, He was so loving and cute and would snuggle up on your lap for a cuddle. I fell in love with Marnie too, which was a new experience for me, because I had never really been an animal lover. Never one to nag my parents for a pet because I had no interest what so ever. So to feel such love for this dog really shocked me. I must admit I did kind of start seeing it as a baby substitute. I would spoil it something rotten and ask my dad if I borrow him so I could spoil him rotten with big fat cuddles!! I used to bath him and then blow dry him with a hairdryer and my hubby (fiance at the time) was just as bad as me.
                    About 9 months after he had taken marnie in, my dad knocked the door one night in a hell of a state. He was sobbing and managed to explain that he had been walking the dog in nearby fields and the Marnie had seen a rabbit and had given chase, but had ran out into the road and been knocked down. My dad had cradled the dog in his arms and taken him straight to the vet but the vet had told dad there was nothing they could do and the best thing would be to put him to sleep.
                    My dad was in bits but was very sensible. I on the other hand was distraught. It brought my grief back instantly and I remember going to a nearby park in the night and sitting on the bench and crying my eyes out. I was completely devastated that this dog who had brought such light into our lives at such a dark time had been so cruelly snatched away. I truly loved that dog and he had taught me that animals can show such love and affection and not just be a pet but a companion and friend as well.
                    Reflecting back now I still get choked when I think of him wagging his tale and looking at me with those big chocolate brown eyes. I owe him such a lot he may have had a short life but the lives he touched and helped to rebuild was extraordinary.
                    Even though my dad was devastated when the dog died, he had been dragged out of that dark hole he had been in and thankfully continued to go out and get emotionally stronger but I have no doubt it was the dog that brought him back.
                    If I could just see that dog one more time I would say thank you for everything you did for my family. I love you and you will always have a huge place in my heart.


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                      02.09.2009 19:04
                      Very helpful



                      sorry for breaking the rules... didnt mean to

                      Ooops, It would appear I broke site rules. very very sorry. edited!!!

                      Inspired by the wonderful Goosey's review I wanted to share a poem with you that I often look at and is in a photo frame to think of my beautifully departed pets, and humans for that matter. I often have to search hard on the net to find this poem so I dont think it many of you will have seen it but it is certainly thought provoking. Whatever your belief it makes you feel that somewhere around you your loyal companion is still there.

                      When we lost our beloved Raph I felt on a whole number of occasions that he was still around us, little things he used to do that seemed to still happen. Little things like sneaking upstairs in the small hours of the morning and pushing the door open with his nose, on numerous occasions I woke to find our previously shut bedroom door open. When we were out walking his favourite walk I often thought I could see him from the corner of my eye. Sitting down at the computer one day I was looking at sites for "rainbow bridge". This is a mythical place that our deceased pets pass over to, at the end of a bridge that leads to heavens gates. There they wait for their human companions to pass and join them on the last leg of the journey. There are numerous poems about the bridge and intermingled with them was this stunner of a poem. I am a believer in the afterlife. I am a believer in the spirit world and get a lot of comfort from this. Reading this poem I had tears streaming down my cheeks but felt astoundingly happy at the same. It made so much sense and I felt that Raphie was still around us and was keeping us company and looking after us. I have had many pets throughout my life and when I think of one of them I also think of this poem. Smiling, I allow the memory to pass.

                      I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
                      I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.
                      I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
                      "It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."

                      I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,
                      You were thinking of the many times your hands reached out to me.

                      I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.
                      I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

                      I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.
                      I want to reassure you that I'm not lying there.

                      I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.
                      I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said "it's me."

                      You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.
                      I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.

                      It's possible for me to be so near you everyday.
                      To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."

                      You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew ...
                      In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

                      The day is almost over... I smile and watch you yawning
                      and say "goodnight, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."

                      And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
                      I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.

                      I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
                      Be patient, live your journey out ... then come home to be with me.

                      I hope you get some comfort from it to. xxx

                      I have checked and can't find any copyright so hopefully not breaking any rules for posting this here. If I am let me know and I shall hold a deletion. I would love to be able to credit the author here but sadly the author is unknown.


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                        28.07.2009 01:21
                        Very helpful
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                        Do not wish that it never happened. Remember the good times you spent.

                        I am a great believe of mourning loss. I have a mourning time over all relationships whether it be because of a break-up, a death or moving away.
                        When it comes to pet bereavement my pain lasts longer than all others, although having said that I am extremely lucky not to have lost too many people, and I should point out I prefere animals to humans, something more humane about them.

                        So now for the depressing side of this. Animals I have lost have been a few. Some have past quietly away in old age or rabbits that have run away. Others were more tramatic. The saddest cases I have dealt with are giving away an animal (yes I know they're not dead but you can't communicate with them anymore so it's sort of like they are), and illness.

                        I shall only talk about 3 illness cases and 2 giving away cases, so I won't take up too much of your time.

                        With illness I have had the unfourtunate position of a terminal disorder caused by too much inbreeding of King Charles Spaniels, Dropsy with a gold fish, and parallising of guniea pigs.

                        The King Charles Spaniels past quite suddenly. When our eldest was 5 years and 3 months he woke up very ill and could not move, we rushed him to the vet where he stayed for 3 days before finally passing away. The suddeness of this passing hit me, it was also dreadful to see him like that. Then 6 months later when his half brother was 5 years and 3 months he too woke up in the same state. We rushed him straight to the Vet's but knew what to expect. The saddest part of this experience was when he was lying on the vet table and he looked up at us wagging his tail in a slow methodical way as if he was saying it's ok. He didn't fight it like his brother he passed away in his sleep that night, which was also so sad as this dog was a fighter, during his life he had suffered one home in which he was mistreated and had survived an adder bite (which we are told is extremely rare, even unheard of for a dog of his size). The vet pieced the puzzel together and told us that it was a time bomb, these dogs were going to die that way no matter what. That surprisingly helped knowing that there were no mistakes which could be undone to bring them back. But like I said the saddest part of the whole experience was the younger one accepting his fate, and the older one struggeling on for days.

                        Another fatal illness is with a goldfish. I am very attatched to my goldfish, which come and say hello every morning. This one goldfish had been transported into a holiday tank and then back again a month later. When he was on holiday he developed what I now know is fin rot and fungi. At the time I just thought it was a blemish, then it quickly spread at his mouth to the point where his lip had rotted (if you know goldfish then they have a solid lips then a thin piece of flesh where there cheek is attatched to their lips -it is this thin piece of flesh which rotted). Once this happended I realised it was something serious and so treated immedically, but unfourtunatally it was too late and he developed Dropsy (which is where they puff out and their fins stand on end to give the appearance of a pinecone). At this stage he had internal organ failure. Then I started weighing up the options. I had never put an animal down with my own hand at that point and I agonised and researched for many hours. In the end the fact that he would still struggel to swim away decided it and I left him to battle on. Then he got weaker and the filter would suck him to the inlet pipe, which was horrible to see. So I turned that off. Then I read that he would have difficulty breathing and be sufficating, so I rigged up a platform, but he fell off that and sank to the bottom of the tank. Then he sat there breathing heavily, I went on researching what to do and one time when I turned around to check on him he had simply stopped breathing. Then i had to fish him out of the tank so the others didn't eat him. As i felt so much guilt for not noticing and treating the illness early I made my self fish him out with my hand, he felt horrible, and I can still feel his scales slightly sticking into me. Then I called my boyfriend in floods of tears as I knew it was all my fault for his suffering. You may think I'm odd for feeling this way over a fish, however fish have the same nervous system as us. So the feeling of sufficating and internal organ failiure is the same as it is for us.
                        The worst experiences from this episode was the guilt of not treating him early and the suffering he must have gone through because of my decisions and the fact that all I could do with him was put him in the bin as my house had no garden.

                        The Guniea Pig. I was working in a pet shop where kids could look at the rabbits and guniea pigs. What we did not realise though is that they could also just reach them. This just is an important point.
                        We had a batch of guniea pigs which were loosing their ability to use their back legs and then were slowly loosing all of their ability until they died. We assumed that it was due to inbreeding and so stopped buying from our supplier. Then it happened with the next batch, so we thought it might be a virus, after much cleaning we got in a new batch. And slowly one by one it started happening to them. I remember singelling out a healthy one which was quite cute and would eat out of my hand and thinking that if I took him home would he be saved? One morning I opened up and heard a guinea pig scream. So I went over and there was my favorite guniea pig lieing there was some straw in his eye, screaming. I realised that he was completly paralised apart from his breathing and vocal cord. I scooped him up and he was still warm so I carried him to the back cradelling him. In the back I took a cotton wool bud (one on a stick) soaked it and wipped the straw out of his eye and put him in a bot fully of shreaded newspaper. When my lunch break came I went back to check on him (I solely ran the shop), and he had died and gone stone cold. No other death at the shop had affected me (Pet shops get a lot of death due to stressed animals), but that day I cried and had nightmares for a week. It was only after we rearranged the cage that we realised kids must have been reaching in just being able to grab them and be injuring them into this state.

                        Giving up animals.
                        I have given up two animals a guide dog (we raised from a puppy) and a dog we inherited and couldn't keep due to our situation. The guide dog we knew about and we knew she was going on to do great things, but we had raised her from a puppy and we were the only family she knew. On the day we went to give her back the last memory was putting her in her cage at the center and just looking over my shoulder to see her peering out with a look of "where are you going?" Luckily I knew she was going on to do great things, but it was still upsetting. I would raise guide dogs again sometime in my future, most people seem to get over the loss by accepting a new puppy straight away.

                        The inherited dog. This is the first dog I have truly clicked with and she would follow me around. We only looked after her for a couple of months but in that time we bonded and were inseperatable. I had no choice about keeping her, or where she was going. I remember sitting at lunch in Uni on the phone to my mum when she told me they were getting rid of her. I just cried and didn't care who saw. The worst moments were the drive to give her away and the leaving her in a house especially when she tried to follow me out.

                        All in all, all loss sucks. Even when you had a choice over it. The hardest aspect is thinking what if. The next hardest is dealing with things which are out of your control. i know that my dog has a better life now then one I could have offered, but it doesn't mean that I'm happy about it, it is just the one positive I think about when I'm missing her. And I do miss her.

                        PS. Sorry about the aweful spelling which is sure to be in here. It all just rolled out (wow you've just read 1500+), and I don't want to read back through it. Please forgive me.


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                          22.10.2008 12:29
                          Very helpful



                          Losing a pet is a very major life event and we should never underestimate the grief we feel.

                          Losing a pet can be the hardest thing from the moment you realize you are seeing illness in your pet for the first time to the realization that maybe life is not forever.
                          One of the things that has really affected me in the last few years is seeing one of my daughters grow up from a little girl who adored and cared for her pets and animals into a vet. When you visit your vet next time try to remember them as the grown up child who a few years before was holding their beloved guinea pig in their arms for the last time, and view them with the eyes which can picture them in the same situation as you and your family members face now. They are trained to show great empathy but this is in them from birth and they will agonise about your loss more than you realize so see them as a friend as well as an expert.

                          I have lost many pets over the years and I have to say that it is in my mind a wonderful but sad time. Sometimes it is easier than others. Last year saw the passing of two of my dearest friends in totally different circumstances. The first one was the loss of my blue colourpoint Persian called Teddy. He was the first Persian I had and when I bought him I didn't know about the genetic disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease which is also called PKD for short. He was a beautiful cat and it was tragic to see him going downhill with kidney failure as a result of having this disease at the young age of 8. Losing a cat so young was totally unexpected and the shock was hard.
                          He was cared for at my local vets and because he had insurance through Petplan we were able to have him referred to the unit at the London vet school where he was treated twice. The vet who saw us there is someone I will never forget. She was very professional but when the sad end came we were treated not just with dignity and respect, but she also told us that it never gets easier and each time it transports her back to the days when she held her own rabbits when they were passing away.

                          The fact that we had insurance helped so much as we were able to give Teddy all the care we could and so we knew when the time came we couldn't save him. With more and more treatments for so many animal diseases becoming available I would urge anyone with a pet to consider insurance because if the disease is terminal the feeling you get is one of knowing that you did all you could and that is comforting. If the disease can be treated but the cost is too high you are left with feelings of guilt -these can be overwhelming. Petplan are very good as they insure the same condition year on year and there are others which do as well.

                          The second cat I lost was Arabella. She was 20 years of age and she died very quickly of kidney failure over a matter of days. This was easier in some ways as she was old but to have shared your life with something so precious for 20 years was very hard. She predated the birth of some of my children who were by the time she died adults.
                          So how did I cope with these losses and the passing of countless dear guinea pigs, hamsters and other precious family members and how did I help my children to face these events?

                          Firstly I would say whatever you do never suppress these feelings. Talk about your loss as much as you can. Get help if you need to. There is a feeling in Britain today that life is so fast moving that we should brush our feelings under the carpet and move on. This is I think a big mistake. A great sense of help came to me from three areas.

                          The first thing I did was to go the The Blue Cross website to their section on pet loss.
                          Here you can find numbers to call if you want to speak to a counsellor about your loss and also you can create a memorial to your pet online which is what I did. This is so precious especially to a child as they can see something each day to remind them of their pet.

                          The next thing I did was to purchase an inexpensive but beautiful plaque to put on a tree above the grave I planned to bury Teddy in. I have used this company many times and the plaques they make are superb.If you look on Ebay you will find some if you type in cat/dog memorials.

                          I bought one which said "Not just my cat but my best friend miss you."

                          The next thing I did was to purchase a box from the local market. You can get some really pretty ones there. I managed to find one with Teddies on and I also found a small cotton pillow and blanket.
                          You may think all of this is macabre or too upsetting but I feel that it was part of my grieving process to go through these little stages. When we brought Teddy home we placed him in the box with the pillow and covered him over. He looked so beautiful just like the days before he was ill. We popped the lid on to protect him and I placed a small air freshener in the box just in case there was any smell. This allows you to part with the pet when you are ready. I then wrote out the words of one of my favourite songs and I also wrote a special poem to him and placed these in the box. Then one sunny day in February we placed him to rest.

                          The days which followed were hard. Each time it rained I thought of him but each day things got easier. I began to smile when I thought about him and gradually sadness has turned to peace and I feel privileged to have shared some of his life with him.

                          It just so happened that we wanted to bury him but if you would rather have your pet cremated you can choose an individual cremation and they will give you the ashes in a beautiful casket which my daughter has assured me is very very special and you can then do with them as you wish.

                          During and after the event there are some books which may help you.The first is called "Weep Not For Me" by Constance Jenkins
                          This book is a beautiful poem which concentrates on reminding you of the happy memories you had with your cat.
                          I also found great comfort in this book called "Goodbye dear friend" by Viginia Ironside which is still available and due to be reprinted next year.

                          The beauty of caring and losing your pet is that you see your own life speeded up. Most pets at best live only a quarter of a that of a human It makes you see that life isn't forever and it can make you feel you want to look at your own life and change things.
                          It also makes you feel privileged to have cared for and been there at the final stage of your animal's days. Children see it as part of life and not something to fear.

                          Each season now I place flowers on Teddy's grave and smile because he is still with me in spirit and lives on in who I am and what I love. My children smile when we mention him too.

                          The best thing you can do at the sad time if you are facing it is to feel as many feelings as you like at the time and don't suppress them. We are made up of who we are and what has gone before us. Through the love you have shown for the pet you have lost you can gain strength to carry on. In time children grow to see death as part of life and if you can make the time of an animal's passing a beautiful event they and you will be comforted beyond words.

                          I was on holiday passing through The Isle Of Skye in 2006 and I visited The Skye serpentarium there. This is a rescue centre for reptiles and I actually went inside which is brave for me as I don't like snakes. Still my eyes were drawn to some cards they had there about losing your pet and I purchased some. Later that year the place suffered a terrible fire and they lost 149 reptiles. I wondered then how they would cope and I still think of them sometimes and hope they are ok. My heart goes out to them

                          So I hope if anyone is reading this they will have some comfort in my words and above all they will not be afraid to express their sadness because there is so much joy in caring for pets and in sharing their final journey.


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                            25.03.2008 23:28
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                            Please be honest with your child

                            Pets, as well a human, grieve. In times of sadness, the pets that may be left in your life after a family member or fellow house-pet dies also need constant attention and reassurance.

                            A great many people I have spoken to have recommended the following concept for young children; this is good even for those families who are not religious, and for those who are, it can be incorporated into any religious concept as far as I am aware:

                            "Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

                            When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
                            There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
                            There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

                            All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
                            The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

                            They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

                            You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

                            Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

                            Author unknown..."

                            (quoted from site http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/rainbowb.htm on 24/3/08)

                            Many families find it helpful to have cermonies with poems and drawings created by the children. It must also be reiterated that even the death of a fish or a hamster must be treated tenderly when it belongs to a young child. Flushing it down the toilet may be a traumatic thing for a child to see.

                            Additionally, I would never suggest telling your children that their pet has 'gone to live on a farm'; honesty is always the best policy, and the death of a pet is a gentler way of confronting a very frightening and difficult issue with a child. Everyone has to experience the death of a loved one at some point, so perhaps confronting it sooner with a pet will prepare them for a more serious one later in life.


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                              22.03.2006 16:56
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                              A terrible sadness that affects the whole family

                              I had never really experienced the death of a pet head on before. That was until the morning of 04 Febuary 2003. My dog, Jazz, passed away. She had been a part of my life for some 12 years. It's a long time. And now she wasn't here. The place seems awfully quiet and empty without her. I missed hearing her breathing at night. I missed cuddling up to her and kissing her. I missed, and still do, miss everything about her. But, deep down, I know what I did for her was right.

                              I made the decision 3 days previously. I knew it was time to let her go. She didn't have that 'glow' in her face anymore - the sparkle in her eyes she once had. She had arthritis, which caused her pain.

                              I phoned the vet up and asked if they could come to my home and do it. They said they would come Tuesday morning, 04 Feb. As I was talking to the vet, I couldn't help but cry. Cry because I had finally made that choice. And cry because what had been going through my mind was finally a reality. I didn't want to loose her. I wanted her to be with me forever. How could I let her go like this? I just had to - for her. I couldn't let her suffer anymore. Her legs were getting bad, and there were other factors that made me decide it was time. From the time I phoned the vet 4 days previousy to the time they came I never left the house. I wanted to spend the remaining days with her. I never left my home. Only to take her for her walk.

                              She did whatever made her happy. Whether it was getting on my bed, the couch or wherever.

                              On the morning in question I woke up at 6:30am. I decided to lay on the floor with Jazz. I just wanted to cuddle up to her and let her know how much I loved her. I really do. I lay side by side with Jazz, with the duvet over both of us.

                              The vet came just after 11am. There were two of them. I signed the consent form. I was signing her life away. How could I do that? I felt so bad. I sat on the couch next to her. She put her head on me while the vet tried to find her vein. Damn. Why can't he find her vein? The worst thing was that when he was trying to find her vein she looked up at me. That made me feel even worse! He had to choose another leg. 5 minutes later she was gone. I can't remember the last time I cried so much. I had to go in my bedroom while they took her away.

                              The minute she was gone, I picked up her bedding, folded it up, and threw it in the bin. I just couldn't bare to look at it without her laying on it. Her toys have now gone to my neighbour who has 2 dogs. The only thing I've got of hers is her lead with her name tag on it, and her favourite ball. Also many, many photo's.

                              I don't need material things. Everything of Jazz is in my mind, heart and soul. I just miss wanting to cuddle her and stroke her. I so wish she was still here. However, I don't feel any guilt. In the long run, I feel I did what was best for her.

                              You see, it wasn't just me it affected. It affected the whole family. My mum, sister and Nanny were all rendered to tears. You really are loosing a very big part of your life. It affected everyone who knew and cared for Jazz.

                              I phoned mum up the previous night asking her if I was doing the right thing. Right up until the last minute, I was in two minds of phoning the vet and cancelling. But, then, Jazz was suffering. I couldn't let her suffer like that. I had to be strong for her.

                              We all grieve in different ways. You may do things differently to me. But, you've got to do whatever feels right. It doesn't matter what people think or say. In the long run you know what's best for you and your pet.

                              There's been a hell of a lot of happy times with her. I think of them. She's brought me a lot of laughs and smiles.

                              Thankyou Jazz.

                              This review is also written on Ciao under my username LOUISE90.


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                                22.03.2006 11:19



                                I miss my baby cat Murphy so much

                                I had to cope with the awful news yesterday that my beloved cat Murphy had died. He was knocked down by a car. He was not even one-years-old.
                                I am 28 years old and I can honestly say this is the worst pain and grief I have ever felt in my life. I miss him so much already. I was his mommy and he was my little baby.
                                I never understood people who got upset when pets died but now I do. My partner Darren is also devastated - he was his best mate and they used to playfight together for hours on end. Everyone who met Murphy (Smurf) instantly fell in love with him. He was a real character.
                                I feel cheated and I feel that Murphy was cheated. He was only a baby - why did he have to die?
                                And I feel so guilty - our road out the front is very busy and I knew I was taking a risk when letting him out. But I just hoped he would play at the back of our house where there are lots of fields. But I couldnt stop him - he was happy roaming about. It would have been cruel to keep him in. But that doesnt stop the pain of guilt. I am his mommy and I let him down.
                                I cried myself to sleep last night - I couldnt stop picturing his little face - every room in the house reminds me of him: when I go to sleep I miss him lying at the end of our bed, playing with our toes; when I wake up, I miss him kissing me and purring like a lion; when I go to the bathroom I miss him playing with the water in the sink; when I watch tv I miss him lying on the rug and looking at me with "love eyes". He used to pop round to my sisters house (next door) all the time and play with their dog, Sammy. They will miss him too.
                                He was a beautiful moggy - grey and white with huge eyes and a little grey spot on his nose. He was very vocal and talked to me all the time. He loved being outside - he would climb to the top of our wooden archway in the garden and stand on it like he was King of the Cats. But he equally loved being at home - he had a favourite furry cushion which he used to kneed with his little paws - I think it reminded him of his real Mommy!
                                We got him from an advert in the local paper - I was brought up with dogs so it was a bit of a shock at first to have a mischievous little bundle of fluff in our house! I will never forget the first day he clawed his way up my jeans and onto my shoulder - he was only a few months old! I soon fell in love with him and all of his cheeky ways.
                                I miss my baby so much. Murphy, I am so sorry your life was cut so short. It is not fair. But I know you enjoyed your life with us and we feel so privileged to have had you - even if it was for a very short time. You will be in my heart and my memory always.
                                Love Mommy xx


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                                  26.02.2005 17:25
                                  Very helpful



                                  On the 10th of December 2002, Shadow had her breakfast, and sat a while with Paul on the settee. She then climbed the stairs to her favourite spot on the landing and lay down alongside the bathroom door. Philip came out of his room and alerted us with cries that Shadow was ‘not right’. Her eyes had lost focus, and her breathing grown very shallow. I rushed him out the door to school, trying to deny the inevitable as Paul scooped her up in his arms and cradled her. We stroked and talked to her as she faded away.

                                  Paul handed her to me and I wrapped her in my blouse desperately trying to keep her warm, desperately hoping that I was wrong, and she wasn’t dead, simply resting deeply to regain some strength. But I couldn’t stop the warmth from her body ebbing away. She really was gone. I would have held her all day if I could, but my distress, and Shadow’s parting from this world, was taking its toll on her 8 strong feline family. I kissed her and put her down in her basket in the spare bedroom.

                                  Whilst the world outside carried on as normal with families setting off for school and work and the bin men making the usual Tuesday morning collection, my world for a moment stopped. I felt cheated, angry, guilty and overwhelmingly distraught that Shadow had been taken from us after such as short time. She was just 18 months old, far too young to simply lie down and give up on life.

                                  What hit me, all the family in fact, hardest was that Shadow’s death was so unexpected. We didn’t have any time to come to terms with the fact she was gonna leave us, and I felt awful that I hadn’t spent more time with her in the days before her death. I felt angry that perhaps I’d missed a vital tell tale sign, guilty that I’d been so helpless in her last few minutes of need. I wanted answers and explanations, yet there were none that I could find.

                                  Paul contacted our local vet and told her of what had happened. She said there was little way of being 100% certain of the cause of death without carry out some kind of post mortem. But, from what Paul told her about Shadow, it was likely to have been heart failure and she wouldn’t have suffered. I couldn’t bare the thought of Shadow being poked and prodded, going through such an undignified procedure that after all would not and could not change the fact that she had died. So, she remained in the spare room. Paul went to work. I sat at my computer and poured my heart on Ciao.

                                  Through out the day, I kept going in to see Shadow. I felt so bad about her being all alone. I didn’t want her to think she was no longer loved or remembered. I hunted around the house to find her favourite toy mouse, a little yellow thing it was, tailless as Shadow had bitten it off many moons ago. I tucked it in with her.

                                  I cried, and cried. I hated myself for all the times I’d told Shadow off for getting under my feet when I was doing the housework I cried harder and hated myself harder as I walked around the house and she wasn’t under my feet anymore.

                                  The night before Shadow died, she hadn’t come down for her dinner when the tin was opened. I went to look for her and she was curled up fast asleep under my bed. I got her out and carried her down the stairs to her food bowl – she didn’t struggle to be let down as she normally would. I felt so very bitter that I hadn’t held on to her that little bit longer, so very angry that her tiredness hadn’t rung alarm bells in my head. I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying, nor be able to forgive myself for her death.

                                  I was dreading the moment when Philip came home from school, and his first words of course were “Shadow! Shadow? Mum, where’s Shadow?” He had to do no more than to look at my tear stained face to answer his own question. No further words were needed. We cried together then he went to his room and cried alone.

                                  When Paul came home from work I wept in his arms as he held me tight. I felt almost angry that he’d gone to work and left me alone though I said nothing. We found a box and went upstairs to get Shadow. We gave her a kiss and cuddle then lay her down, still wrapped in my blouse and with her little yellow friend. As Paul carried her down the stairs and out to the garden a tear rolled down his cheek and the anger I thought I was feeling toward him just dissolved away.

                                  It rained as we stood and said our final goodbyes to Shadow. I felt helpless as I walked in doors leaving her behind. I felt angry that I was going to lay in a warm comfy bed whilst she was braving the winter night. I felt cheated and most of all totally gutted that I was never gonna see her again.

                                  As I lay in bed that night, I didn’t know where to start making sense of and coming to terms with the day. It played on my mind about Shadow’s sleepiness the previous night, and I thought back to the times she’d race around the house like a loony, then sleep for hours after. Why hadn’t I realised, why hadn’t I done something. WHY?

                                  In the morning, just for a brief moment, everything was okay. 9 demanding cats were jumping all over the bed wanting their breakfast. Nope, no longer 9 but just 8. Needless to say that started the tears for that day. After feeding time the cats settled quickly. They knew that something was amiss obviously by the absence of Shadow but if they knew then or not that she wasn’t coming back, I’ll never know. They weren’t themselves though.

                                  As the hours passed, the ability to think rationally and calmly returned bit by bit. I took a step back, away from the anger and hate that welled inside, and tried to think only of the positives. Whilst Shadow had been with us for just a short time that truly was better than never having had her at all. And although I’d wished I had some time to prepare, to say goodbye properly, Shadow hadn’t suffered a long or painful path to death. She’d simply slipped away peacefully and that was best for her. As the days passed I forgave myself for not looking into and acting upon her sleepiness. Shadow would have hated being followed around and molly-coddled, which I no doubt would have done if I’d known that her heart was weak and getting ready to give up. She’d lived and died in dignity, and that was a good thing.

                                  In the weeks after Shadow died each day brought in it’s own way a little more peace – a happy memory springing to mind or a funny story. But some events still saddened me. When it snowed before Christmas that was quite painful for both myself and Paul as we’d promised Shadow she could go out and play if it did snow – she would have loved it. Still, she was out there somewhere, with snowflakes glistening on her whiskers, making paw prints in the vast white blanket that covered the ground, I’m sure.

                                  So, where do you start with advice in getting over the death of a beloved family pet? Do you ever get over it, or do you just learn to live with it? For each person the grieving will be different. You have to go with the barrage of emotions until you’re ready to work with them, and through them. It’s hard to make sense of death however the circumstances arise, be it expected or as in Shadow’s case very sudden.

                                  Don’t be surprised to feel anger and guilt as well as sadness and distress, and never ever be afraid of showing your emotions. Pet death is as cruel and unfair as any taking of life, and an event that is hard to rationalize and accept. Don’t expect to be on top of it straight away. Allow yourself time.

                                  Ultimately the pain does lessen and the memories grow fonder. I’m not ashamed to say that I, even after all the time that has passed, shed a fair few tears while writing this op and I still have to wipe the odd tear from my eye when it snows. But the difference now is that the tears are accompanied by a smile.

                                  This is Shadow’s story…

                                  Shadow came to be a part of our family through sheer chance and luck. My hubby had gone to a remote farm to look at a classic car stored in an old barn. On the dashboard curled up next to her mum who had sadly died was this little bundle of black and brown fluff. As far as the car owner knew, they were long term strays, maybe wild/feral, un-homed, unprivileged, and alone in the world. It was too late to do anything about the mum, but the little bundle of fluff was alive and in need. So hubby brought her home to me. We named her Shadow and that was the start of the 18 somewhat lively months we shared with her.

                                  If you’re a cat lover you’ll know how cute kittens are but also how boisterous and mischievous they are in the first few months. In the case of Shadow you could times the average ‘severity’ of kittenhood by 10 and still not be close to what a monster she was. Felines that live primarily apart from human contact can become extremely hard to handle, so their kittens need to be put into the home environment as early as is possible to stand a good chance of taming or even simply calming them. Even at the estimated 6-8 week age group we put Shadow into she was on her way to being out of control.

                                  Sleepless nights were abundant for several weeks, we considered giving her up for re-homing as we had doubts we could give her what she needed considering we had 5 other cats at that time to think about too. Thankfully, she did calm down, overcame her urges to act like a she-devil 24/7 and became a fulltime member of the family.

                                  Shadow retained a wild streak though. She didn’t like being picked up much, and a playful rub on her belly would most often turn into a game of rough and tumble. Despite that, she wasn’t an aggressive cat - never did I feel scared or even remotely unnerved by her. She was just highly strung and over excitable. We bought some catnip mice toys one day, 9 in total to be shared amongst the 6 cats - Shadow took them all, and sat in a corner growling at them. She was a character all right.

                                  She had my postman in hysterics on several occasions, as she’d dart out the door in the morning, causing me to run down the road after her in less than suitable outdoor attire. Shadow also had the whole family in tears of laughter many many times as she used to sit on the windowsill chatting to the birds in a high pitched mew, then all of a sudden out of nowhere would come this big booming ‘bong’. Some times you’d turn round and look at her and she’d have her tongue sticking out, and that just looked so cute and funny.

                                  The rest of the time she was just there, just being, just Shadow, a beautiful cat with a big heart and playful spirit and a little bit of devil in her.

                                  Gone but never forgotten, rest in peace Shadow


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