Anyone who has had a pet has also had to experience the heart-wrenching sadness that comes with losing that pet.
When I was just a little girl, my family took in a stray cat, and we named him Buddy. He never scratched or hissed, and he loved us unconditionally. Buddy was an outdoor cat, and one day he never came home.
As a child, I didn't quite understand what happened to Buddy, but I just knew that I missed him. I still miss him to this day.
A few years later, my mom took me and my sister to get our own gerbils. I named mine Princess, and I loved putting her in a hamster ball and watching her run around. Years later Princess passed away in her sleep on Easter. My mom told me and asked if I was sad. I said "no" before I started crying.
In high school, and then again in college, I came home to pet my childhood dogs for the last time before my parents took them to get put down.
They each provided me with about 16 years of love on my saddest and happiest days. We knew we had to help them pass when they couldn't walk outside to go to the bathroom anymore.
A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I made the decision to adopt a cat after months of consideration. Of course, we went to the shelter and immediately fell in love with a beautiful gray and white boy who did nothing but purr and rub against everyone. The volunteer informed us that he was FIV+, which basically meant he had a weak immune system. She assured us that as long as we kept him inside, he should live a long and happy life.
We knew we would do anything for such a sweet, loving cat, so we adopted him and named him Leon on the drive home. Almost a week after taking him home, Leon suddenly wouldn't move, and he refused to eat or drink.
We rushed him to the vet where they gave him fluids to re-hydrate him and a steroid to reduce his fever. He was also prescribed medicine that was supposed to make him feel better.
Two days later, we rushed him back to the vet with the same symptoms he had just exhibited days before. He was given more fluids, more steroids, and more prescribed medicine that was also supposed to make him feel better. At this point, Leon had refused to drink water with us for four days, and he would only eat his dry food.
We searched and searched for ways we could help Leon. We Googled constantly, we asked friends, we called vets, but Leon refused any liquids we put in front of him. After days of crying and begging Leon to please drink anything, we ended up having to make one of the hardest decisions we've ever made.
The shelter had great veterinarians that could constantly monitor his health and give him all the fluids he needed to kick his respiratory infection. We could not risk keeping him and having his temperature spike once again especially since I had school and my boyfriend had work. We brought Leon back to the shelter.
I cannot describe the physical pain of having to willfully give up a pet that you have already fallen madly in love with, but I would never wish that feeling on any other person on this planet. We had Leon for 10 days, and he was a part of our family.
All that our animals want is to make us happy. Their hearts are fully pure, and the love they provide us is immense and indescribable. The loss of a pet, however that loss may come, is truly one of the greatest losses we can ever experience.
Please, hold your pets a little tighter tonight. Give them an extra treat and an extra head scratch, and make sure to tell them how much you love them because once they're gone, the grieving will never end.