Thursday, March 19, 2009

The worst part

The other morning at work began with a dog that had been hit by a car. A van actually and it was a small older dog. As I was wiping the blood off the collar for the owner to take home as a keepsake of their beloved pet, I thought about how losing them was the worst part of sharing our lives with them. Some would consider that case a tramatic loss but I think all of them are traumatic. Who is to say an expected loss is less tramatic than losing a loved companion at any time? More shocking when unexpected yes, but no less traumatic. It is the end of a relationship which always seems sudden no matter how mentally prepared you think you might be for it.

Because I do not live in a permanant place yet I cremate my pets at present so I can have them close to me. If I had a bigger place with land I would bury them and have a memorial garden. Shimo, my female akita I lost at age 5 to a liver tumor is in the top blue urn made by my sister. To the right of her is Casco, a cat we lost at about age 7 to a spine injury. (in a sleek grey tin container inside a vase from Ireland) Bottom left in another urn made by my sister is Bridgette, my first cat. (as an adult) She was 14 when I lost her. Bottom right is Kuma, my first akita who was 12 when we lost him. He is in the original box they sent him back in because I haven't found just the right container yet. My sister no longer works for a potter so I have been searching for something that suits him to no avail. As you can see I also keep their collars and tags.
The only ones I don't have are: Penny, a cat that never came home one day. I hate not knowing what happened to her. I want my next cat to be inside only for that reason. That isn't going to happen without a move to a bigger place first however. The other one is Worf, a pitbull that wasn't technically mine but was a shelter dog I claim. I don't have his ashes but I have some photos I was lucky enough to have taken.
His story can be seen here: He is the beginning of why I heart pit bulls.
But I digress. Not everyone does the ashes bit or keeps things from previous pets. That is ok. There are no rules to grief as far as I am concerned. Some people prefer to keep their memories instead of objects. I just happen to be a person that likes touchstones. With Penny I have some great photos and a few ribbons she won at a TICA cat show. (HHP division) We had a bunch of pets growing up too and I have all of their photos as well. I have been blessed to have shared my life with some really great pets along the way.
Having this job where I deal with death regularly is an odd thing. In some cases it becomes routine, in others it hits you hard. The dog vs van was one of the hard hitters. With older pets I can't help but think about the long life the owners had together how that is now over. It made me teary. Something I try really hard to avoid in that setting. It can be a fine line to be compassionate and professional at the same time. It is difficult for me not to put myself in their shoes emotionally sometimes too. I guess I will need to work on that.

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