Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Do The Best We Can

My cat, Bella.

     Today I'm prompted to write this, as my heart is broken for a dear friend. You see, he had to put his cat down yesterday after only having him for three years.
     Most of us pet lovers have had to deal with this sort of heartbreak at one time or another. Our fuzzy dogs, pretty cats, even the smallest of animals, birds, guinea pigs. Sweet pets who ask nothing of us but to be loved and give so much in return. Unconditional Love. They wait for us by the door, tails wagging, tongues lolling, a big doggy grin on their faces. Cats who rub in and out of our legs, crawl upon our laps, the soothing sound of purrs and the drip of their love juices from their mouths. The many nights, when we are alone, crying into our pillows as our furry partner sits nearby watching, waiting for mommy or daddy to be alright. The lick or nuzzle of a cold nose under our arm or on our faces, as they tell us "it will be okay."
     Sometimes we feel we haven't done enough for our pets. Maybe if we'd just have brought them to the vets sooner. Maybe if I didn't buy that brand of food. Maybe, maybe, maybe, the list goes on and on.
     I have a sweet story to share with you. Perhaps it will put in perspective for any of you who beat yourselves up to this sort of thinking:
     When my son was about eleven, we were walking on a beautiful spring day. There, in the middle of our quiet road, was a little bird flapping its wings, unable to move. Our hearts were moved to compassion. How could we leave that poor thing there to its fate? A car would surely come by at some point. We retrieved the little fellow, placing him into a shoe box with warm material and we tried dropping water into its little beak at different times. We talked kindly to it, petting its battered body with a gentle finger. Yet while we slept through the night, the bird passed away. I awoke that next day, wondering what would I tell my son. He'd felt so good, so proud of our kind deeds. And now I'd have to share this sad news with him.
     I made a small grave out in our yard, and later that day, my son spent his own quiet time there, reflecting and perhaps shedding his own tears. This bothered me and I spoke with someone wise about the situation. How could I make my son understand life and death a little better especially where it pertained to an animal?
     I was told this: We gave that bird a wonderful passing. We loved it enough to pick it up when it was hurt, nurse it best we could, give it shelter and warmth. It didn't have to die alone and abandoned in the street. It knew love in its last moments.
     Last year, my son had to put a cat down. I think he handled it with poise and grace. I think, though his heart was breaking, he understood what it meant to love an animal with his whole heart. And when the time was right, when all else was exhausted, the decision to not have a pet suffer, is the most difficult, but most correct decision we'll ever make.
     So dear friends, let's feel good as we do the best we can for our dear pets. Know in your heart, you've done well by them. You've rescued them perhaps from shelters, or back alleys, or God forbid, abuse. And even if you've only had them for a short time, like the little bird, you've given them food, shelter, warmth, and love. You've done your best.

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