My pet just died, so what do I do?

Dear Dwonna:

Last week, I had to put my 10-year-old cat to sleep after the vet and I did everything we could to save her, and I grieve so deeply for her. She was my friend and my companion, and my apartment feels so empty without her. Yesterday, I went on the humane society’s website and saw a very cute kitten that I would like to adopt. My heart says he and I both need love. What do I do?

Signed,

Just Give Me a Reason

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Dear “Just Give Me a Reason”:

First, let me say just how sorry I am for your loss. I am an animal person, and now that two of my dogs are more than 10 years old, I worry about the day when I might have to make that decision for them. When I had to put my 12-year-old black lab Langston Hughes to sleep five years ago, I told my mom that if I did not have three other dogs that I would probably never get another dog. The pain was so great, and I deeply missed Langston. He was best friend who had helped get me through my PhD program at the University of Texas at Austin.

I have a friend who believes that our pets do not leave us until they know that we will be ok without them, and I’ve often thought this about Langston Hughes. He loved me even before I was in therapy, and he was with me when I moved to Clarksville and then to Nashville. When he died, I think he knew that I could get along without him especially since I had three other dogs at home to help take care of me. I’m certain your cat knows this about you, too.

Some people think that they should wait before they get another pet because they believe that they are being disloyal to their pet if they replace him too soon, or they think that they should fully grieve their lost pet before they bring another one into their lives. I would like to think that our pets want us to continue loving and that they don’t see a new pet as a replacement but rather a continuation of the love we had for them. We all have a reservation at some cemetery (or mausoleum or crematory) without benefit of cancelation, and before we die, we should love as many animals and as many people as we can. I imagine that you have a lot of love to give a new kitten, and adopting that kitten today will open up space for an animal tomorrow who might have otherwise been euthanized.

I’m going to end this with something I saw on Facebook this weekend, and although it was written about dogs, it can apply to the all animals we love.

 “God said I need somebody strong enough to pull sleds and find bombs, yet gentle enough to love babies and lead the blind. Somebody who will spend all day on a couch with a resting head and supportive eyes to lift the spirits of a broken heart, so God made a dog.”

 It’s never too soon to bring another cat into your home and into your life. Why miss an opportunity to love and be loved? 

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