Sunday, March 08, 2009

Loss of a Pet and a Home for a New Friend

My wife and I recently lost our cat of 11 years. His passing was unexpected. As many of you pet lovers know firsthand, it is very hard to lose a feline or canine best friend. While a new pet can never replace one that has left, it does provide a way to channel your feelings of loss into a positive direction. I wanted to briefly share our story.

Sassy was a cat who was living on the street and being abused by neighborhood kids. A friend of ours took him in, but she needed someone to adopt Sassy because her daughters have asthma. The day we picked him up was sad and funny; our friend told her daughters that Sassy was going to a good home and they had to be happy, so they all had big smiles while tears rolled down their cheeks.

For over a decade we provided a good home for Sassy. His time on the street stuck with him; even though he was always safe and secure in our home, he'd run and hide whenever a friend came to visit. (Because Sassy never showed his face around strangers, our friends got to thinking we had an imaginary pet.)

One pleasant surprise was that despite Sassy's nervousness, he actually loved hopping in his pet stroller. We take him onto our balcony, and the pet stroller was perfect for keeping him safe--we never had to worry he'd jump off in pursuit of a bird! He'd sit in his stroller and watch traffic go by, stalk birds, and enjoy the sun. The photo at right is a shot of Sassy in his pet stroller.

One morning we woke up thinking we had a healthy cat, but a trip to the vet revealed he had a large tumor. Just as we were adjusting to this sad news, Sassy feel acutely ill (possibly due to the medication or as a result of the needle aspiration that was performed.) He passed away that night very peacefully in our arms.

It was hard to come home to an empty house, and we were very sad for days. In fact, we remain very sad and occasionally tear up thinking about Sassy. But we also knew we could provide a safe and loving home to another pet, so we visited a local animal shelter. (While we'd love to furnish a home for many pets, my allergies prevent more than one at a time. Heck, owning even one pet requires me to be on medication, but it's totally worth it!)

So now Turtle is a part of our home. He got that name because he's a tortoiseshell cat. Also, when he first got to the shelter, he was very shy but later "came out of his shell."

Turtle is more inquisitive and comfortable than Sassy was. He'll hide when people come to our home, but only for a minute; within 10 minutes he's sitting next to our guests and asking to be pet. We were surprised with how quickly Turtle came to feel comfortable in our home, and loving him has helped with our mourning for Sassy.

We haven't yet taken Turtle out on our balcony in his pet stroller because it'll be winter for another two months in our part of the country. Some people use pet strollers in winter for transportation (which keeps animals' paws safe from ice and salt), but we'll wait for the warmth of spring before Turtle gets his taste of the out of doors from the safety of his pet stroller.

Do you have room in your home for a Turtle or a Sassy? If so, please visit your local shelter or click here to visit

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