Sunday, 30 September 2012

The summer of pet funerals


Crash died back at the end of June.

He’d been sick for a few months. A lengthy vet visit, several tests and an expensive bill told us that he had either liver disease, cancer or both and unless we could afford to continue investigating through more lengthy visits and hefty bills, we needed to consider putting him down.

Turns out, we didn’t have to make the decision. He passed away one night, peacefully we hope, underneath our bed, while we were asleep.

He came to live with us six years ago after the vet had revived him from a near-fatal car accident. We’ve never known how old he was or even how many lives he might have had before he slowly won Shaune’s heart those few weeks he was in a crate, up for adoption after the vet had sewn him up. At the time, our dog’s diabetes had us at the clinic twice a week to pick up small vials of insulin.

We lost our dog several months later. He was 11. He’d been with me since he was eight weeks old.

I was grateful to have Crash close-by,  his rabbit-soft fur felt so good through my fingers those long grief-filled months after Judge died. I was inconsolable, could no longer even drive down the streets we’d walked him, watching episode after episode of The Dog Whisperer which I found strangely comforting. I was pregnant with Deaglan then, unaware of the change my life would take once a human baby came into it.

I think poor Crash never got the attention he deserved from me. I’ve been so busy these last five years, my lap hardly ever empty. I take comfort in knowing Shaune adored him, thought about his well-being constantly, lovingly, the way we had with Judge before children came and consumed all of our attention.

When he finally found the cat, that summer morning, Shaune ran downstairs to find me, sipping coffee, both kids on my lap. I saw something in his face, something he didn’t have to explain and made up an excuse as to why I had to run upstairs for a second with Daddy. Our king sized bed was pulled out from the wall, revealing missing toys, pacifiers, mismatched socks, and Crash amidst it all, laying on his side, his teeth exposed in a strange almost grisly way.

We’d been readying Deaglan for weeks of our cat's death, had explained that it could happen any time and that once it did, Crash would go immediately to heaven. And yet, nothing could really prepare him for it because when we told him, he cried for days. He began missing Judge too, who he’d actually never met – I was five months pregnant with him when we lost our dog.  For a few weeks he would recall stories of things he and Judge did together.

It was odd and endearing.

About a month ago, we noticed the cleaning fish, the one we got specifically to keep the tank that sits on the boys’ dresser clear of algae – we noticed he was dead. No one had even thought to name him. Shaune and I simply referred to him as The Cleaner even though we were convinced no one had ever explained this function to him, the proof being a tank that was constantly green and slimy, despite our attempts to clear it with different solutions the pet store recommended.

When we told Deaglan he was devastated. 

We took our places, consoling him, reminding him that he’d likely joined Crash and Judge and Grandma Mac and Uncle Matt up in heaven. And still, every few days he tells us how terribly he misses the fish – the one we can’t even refer to by name.

So, you can imagine how sick I am at the thought of telling our four year old of our latest casualties: that last Wednesday morning his Dad discovered his other two fish – the ones with names – Toopy and Binoo,  dead. They'd outlived all of our expectations: three full years, enormous, fluid and shiny. Imagine how grateful I am that the tank is murky enough from the Cleaner’s absence to not yet be noticed. 

Dread fills me every day we don't tell the kids. I know too well a four year old curiosity - the demand to see the dead bodies, ask a million times how it happened. 


This weekend I've been holed away studying for a final exam - I'm taking some industry related courses for work. Shaune took the kids to a bee farm yesterday and to an apple/pumpkin farm today. These pictures were taken this afternoon.


Sinister smiles


Eating apples yet unpaid for.


Finding just the right pumkin

8 comments:

  1. First of all, gorgeous photos!! I love pictures at the pumpkin patch.
    Second, SO sorry for all the animal deaths. Those animals are like one of the family, no matter if their only job is to be The Cleaner...love that 'name' by the way. It sounds like a mafia hit man or something ;)

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  2. I am so sorry to hear about Crash. I wish I could say it gets easier for the kids with time, but mine still haven't stopped talking about the cat we lost in June. Pierce learned about CPR at school and came home all excited, saying we should dig up Claude and restart his heart with CPR. Broke my heart to tell him it doesn't work that way. We did recently adopt 2 new cats through a rescue and that seems to be helping a lot. They just get so attached.

    Love love love those sweet pumpkin pics!

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  3. I would like to start by saying that the pictures are adorable. I'm so sorry about all of the losses. I can't even begin to imagine how a four year old would process this. It can't be easy. When my fish died, my mom just kept replacing them. I finally got old enough to realize that goldfish don't live 10 years.

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  4. That's a lot of pet family to lose in a short span. My daughter is also sensitive about animals. I had to give a snail a toilet burial to ease her grief and satisfy her curiosity about "what will happen to him next?" but I am constantly reminded that our kids are more resilient that we give them credit for

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  5. Looking very autumnal there.

    It's hard to lose a pet and harder still to deal with the kids' reactions - but also a natural part of life. Kids do better with it than we do, most of the time.

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  6. So sorry to hear about your losses, it's never easy dealing with loss and having to share this information with your kiddos...
    They are getting so BIG. Your beautiful little men...
    Hugs my friend!!

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  7. I am so sad to hear of your pet losses. It seems to have been a rough summer for pets joining their fellow pets in heaven. It's definitely touches our lives here, too.

    Our thoughts are with you guys and I take heart in the memories you have of them and these sweet amazingly cute boys you still have to hug and love.

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  8. Oh Kim, I'm sorry about Crash too! Losing pets is so hard!!

    I've been away from your blog for too long! I'm thinking of you guys:)

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