Recently, friends across the country shared the sad news that they had lost their cat. Now, I’m not one for cats — I’m allergic — but I remembered visiting this one who seemed to say, “Take a Claritin” because she absolutely wanted my attention. So I share in their pain.
As we all do when we lose our fur babies. We all have our stories and memories of losing our favorite pets … our best friends. Losing my Golden Retriever, Wellington, to pancreatic cancer was particularly tough. That was more than 30 years ago, yet I remember it as if it was yesterday. Judy often speaks of the dog her kids grew up with, Max. Even now, years later, she can’t tell the story of losing him without crying.
I hear some of you saying, “Great, Greg. Thanks for bringing down the room. What does this have to do with gratitude and joy?” It’s this: The death of a loved one, particularly a fur baby who relied on you for EVERYTHING, is particularly hard BECAUSE of the great joy they brought to your life. And, after we grieve, we do it again. Despite the pain, we’re drawn to the puppy that licks your face, the cat who jumps on your lap and refuses to leave.
You put up with the house training, the toys seemingly strewn everywhere, the hair on EVERY piece of clothing. You put up with the expense of food, veterinary bills, and accessories. You stop everything you’re doing to throw the ball they keep placing at your feet.
You do this because the love of a pet is like no other. It’s unconditional. You get mad at them for spilling your wine, and two minutes later they’re looking at you with eyes that seem to say, “I’m sorry” in 10 different languages.
You do this because they’ll do something completely unexpected that makes you laugh uproariously, as Enzo did last night, stealing my covers to make a nest for himself and Judy.
You do this because in the middle of the day, they want nothing more than to take a nap with their head snuggled in your lap. There’s nothing quite like that feeling anywhere else.
I’m grateful for the many pet companions I’ve had throughout my life — yes, even some cats that have vexed me and my allergies but somehow still brought me joy. I’m particularly grateful for the little bundle of joy we brought into our lives nearly six months ago.
There’s a whole world out just there waiting to be explored. Pets are some of our greatest companions on this journey called life.
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