The Loss of a Pet: You're just never ready for it

Animals have been a part of my life since I can remember.

Let’s see, there’s Quillie, Elkie, Big Dude + Little Dude, lots of fish and a few snails, Belle, seamonkies, an ant farm, Duncan, Sophie, KoKo, Simon, Drennan, Dana, Ruby, Hairy

and Shellie.

Shellie died Sunday, August 30, 2009. It was unexpected and it still kind of stings when I think about it. Come to think of it, it still kind of stings when I think about when my other pets died, and those were years ago.

That’s the funny thing about a pet; in many ways, they become deeply knit into the fabric of our lives and it just stings when they die. In many ways, you lose a very special friend. You lose a part of your family. You lose something that no matter what, always thought you were about the best thing in the world.

How many of you are thinking of pets you’ve lost right now? Doesn’t it still bring a tear to your eye? I suppose death, whether of human or animal, is something we never truly get over. It’s the loss of that relationship; a relationship that can’t continue anymore, that hurts so much.

Shellie was a lovebird, and she did not think the ‘love’ in lovebird applied to her. She was a fierce little bird and thoroughly enjoyed biting anyone that dared poke an appendage into her cage. She did have a rough start in life though; she was an animal rescue. However, I managed to tame her a bit when I was about 11 or so. She would cling to my shirt or sit on my shoulder and bury her face in my long brown hair. Sometimes, I’d have her sit on my bed when I did homework and if I wasn’t careful, she’d get ahold of a piece of paper and punch little holes into it with her beak. We had a special relationship.

I happened to be at the library with Victor on Sunday morning when I got a call from my Mom. She was crying and let me know something was wrong with Shellie and that she thought she wasn’t going to make it much longer. We immediately left and drove up to my parents house. I no sooner sat next to my Mom who was holding Shellie in her hands that I pet her on the head a bit, nestled my finger into the soft, feathery part of her neck and said ‘it’s OK, Cheepie’ a few times. (Cheepie was a nickname I bestowed upon her when I was 9 or 10). She looked right at me; I knew she knew I was there, and she died.

In one instant, she was Shellie—and the next; well, she wasn’t.

We sat with her awhile outside in the sunshine. Birds are supposed to be outside, we reasoned. Victor pulled her little bird house out of her cage and Mom wrapped her up in some delicate grey chiffon my sister, Claire, purchased when she was living in France. I placed her inside of her bird house the way she always perched and Mom put her into a box. We then had a nice little backyard ceremony officiated by my Dad and we all cried.

Animals are special creatures. They’re always waiting for you at home and they always think you are wonderful. Make sure you let them know how much you love them because they deserve it. And never, ever, ever take them for granted because one day, they just won’t be there anymore.