Wednesday, February 04, 2009


I just heard from a friend that her big 14-year-old dog died this past weekend. I know he meant a lot to her and she is very distraught over his death. I know what that's like; I lost my big 14-year-old cat, Spike, this past December.

Spike was my buddy. He was always there, close at hand. He was not cuddly; he did not like to be held and did not like to lay on anyone's lap. But for the longest time he had what we called "the 10 o'clock purries": he came downstairs every night purring loudly and wanted lots of petting. And he would lay next to me when I worked on the computer so that I could reach out and touch him. He went to bed with me every night and came in to greet me every morning. He was a friend. I could talk to him. He was mouthy and opinionated. At the same time he respected us and we respected him, and we had a give and take that was a real friendship. I almost never had to yell at him; he knew the rules and when he decided to push the envelope a simple word would be enough to let him know if I disapproved.

Spike wanted to possess everything new that came into the house. It was just a reflection of how connected he was, how interested he was in everything.

I could call out to him whenever he was near, "Right, Spike?" And he would answer "eOW!" It was silly, but we liked it.

Spike was larger than life. I miss him so much.

When one of our animals dies, we hold a viewing for the benefit of the others. They do understand death, they do grieve, and it's important for them to have this last look at their companion. I think it would be cruel if the last thing they saw of Spike were to be him being put into a carrier for a trip to the vet.

And animals have a good outlook on life, too: Do what you can to be happy now. You can miss your old friend and still have fun with your friends that are still with you. For a month after Spike's death, all I wanted to do was hide from life. I'm so grateful to our kittens for prodding me to be happy again.

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