Your Pet Loss Stories

'Life's Precious Gifts to Me'

by Carol

Hershey and Biscuit, as babies: First day home

Hershey and Biscuit, as babies: First day home

I have been fortunate enough to have shared my life and love with many beautiful animals throughout childhood and adulthood.

These past seven years have been particularly tough. First the loss of three cats, Boo, Alex, and Chee-Chee (from heart disease/diabetes, and the last two from feline leukemia picked up from stray cats); and then when my oldest daughter was 11, she decided she wanted a pet rat for her birthday.

We got our first rat, a beautiful black and white hooded boy we named Buster, and a week later, a play mate for Buster, a wonderful brown and white rattie named Bart.

Well...I had no idea then how this would lead me to having, sharing love...and grieving...over 60 rats and mice as pets over the next seven years.

My other daughter loves little mice, so she adopted several of them. Some lived their full lives and others died younger.

Often, too many people don't understand how you can bond with small animals like rats and mice. Rats receive such terrible PR which they truly don't deserve. If you take the time to observe pet rats in any pet store (or better, if you seek out a specialized rat breeder) you'll discover how truly clean, intelligent, and affectionate these little creatures truly are.

They have the most adorable faces, like little chipmunks, and such deep, soulful eyes that look directly into yours. They love nothing more than to cuddle with you, often pausing in their grooming to give you tiny rattie kisses with their little pink tongues.

I lost my latest rattie two days ago, a beautiful brown agouti girl I'd named Hershey. Her nicknames were 'Kiss-Kiss' and 'Chipmunk' because she looked like a little brown chipmunk. She was just 21 months old, and her sweet sister, Biscuit, had just passed a month earlier. In fact, either due to old age or the dreaded respiratory infections that rats can succumb to (despite all the medicines that we use to try to help), I've lost four of my ratties since March 8th of this year.
Four deaths in five weeks is heart-rendering.

I've been through this level of grief so many times and I can honestly say that it does not get any easier with the more animals you share your life with, and I suppose it shouldn't because the grief reflects the great depths of love, respect, admiration, and devotion we have toward our pets.

Today is my 2nd day without her; she left to return to spirit on Monday afternoon. I'm still in 'unreal' mode where I find myself approaching the cage and still hoping to see her there. It still feels like a bad dream that I can't quite wake up from.

It feels the same way each time; first the shock and horrible, searing grief, followed by this deep, sad ache and sense of unreality. Finally, acceptance and the ability to move on with life by remembering how happy these pets were with us, and us with them.

All those memories of such good times, of the love shared, and knowing that we made their lives good ones helps carry this grief over to manageable levels.

I have eight other little ratties right now, and two spiny mice, as well as two cats, a dog, a ferret, two lizards, and a host of frogs and toads. I love them all very much and each one is unique and special.

I do know this, though -- and that's, despite the pain I always feel with each passing (I refuse to see it as a loss because I firmly believe that I'll be reunited with my pets one day) that the love I got to know and share with them makes the grief worth it. It is just very, very hard when you're going through it.

If someone were to ask me if I wish I'd never gotten my pets in order to avoid going through this level of grief, I'd firmly say 'No'. I'd do it all over again. I'm so glad to have known her, and all the others. Frankly, I can't imagine life without them.

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