On the loss of a friend...

As a referral and emergency hospital, we see a lot of loss. I wish that we had happy endings for all the cases that we see but unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the way it works. All of us can empathize with the losses we see, but some hit closer to home than others. Maybe it's that Jack Russell that you can relate to because you have a “terror” at home too. Maybe it's that grey cat that looks just like your first cat you had as a child. Maybe it's that biting dog that you could barely pet when it came to the clinic but you just couldn't help falling for because of her gumption and zest for life. Many of our patients are not just a cat or a dog, but a family member. We understand their loss because we've lost some of our own families too. Sometimes it's time for our friends to go and sometimes, it just doesn't make sense.

I remember when I lost my first cat –  my parents got me a book to help me understand and grieve. The book was called The Tenth Good Thing about Barney by Judith Voirst.

“Barney was brave, and smart, and funny, and clean;

also cuddly and handsome.  And he only once ate a bird. 

It was sweet to hear him purr in my ear. 

And sometimes he slept on my belly and kept it warm.”

I think about that book a lot. I don't remember all of it but I remember that it helped me cope with the loss of my Bruno. He was hit by a car – we lived on a busy street and he was an indoor/outdoor cat. It didn't seem fair that I lost my friend so soon (it still doesn't). I remember when we first got Bruno – we were told he was a girl and my mom had named him Maggie. That changed at the first vet visit. It's funny the way that pets shape your life – Bruno helped me perfect my cat wrangling techniques when I was only five. Thanks Bruno.

Whatever the reason (or lack thereof), pets must leave our lives at some point. I feel fortunate to have cared for the ones that I have had in my life – whether they belonged to me or not. I have learned something from all of them. Ella taught me that Jack Russells never give up – never. Kitty taught me that she was in charge and she could take care of it. Daisy taught me that a positive attitude is always the best outlook on life and you can never have enough friends – that's a golden for you. I've learned a lot from having pets in my life. I can't say I enjoy crying at work but I'm glad I'm at a place where I can be there to help someone when they've lost their own friend. I know it hurts, but we hurt with you. In time, I hope you remember all that your friend has given to you and what lessons you can learn from them. Here's to all our furry friends – may they rest in peace and watch over us from across the Rainbow Bridge.

submitted by Sarah Ignelzi