I swore to myself when I started this website that I wouldn’t post about personal things, because, well, it didn’t seem right. But my wife and I have lost two good friends in the last three weeks, our beloved cat Xander (age at least twenty) and the imp of the perverse, our youngest cat Spike, age 12. We still are blessed with the middle cat, Buffy, who’s about 16 or so, and of course, our devil dog, our Rottweiler baby Jenny, age 5. My wife is in tears as I type this, heartbroken over the sudden death of Spike from cancer and hyperthyroid only three weeks after his big brother, whose passing was slow and dignified as befits an old man. She swears, “No more pets. I can’t do this again.”
Yesterday, with the fear that Spike had only days or hours left, I dragged her to the pet store, where we adopted a 1-year-old male tabby, Mr. Giles. He’s now accustoming himself to our home, which is suddenly bereft of the little white cat Spike whom he met only the day before.
Why do we plunge into these relationships? We have children–five of them, ages 36-48, all wonderful–and grandchildren, six delightful and promising young people, ages 4 to 16. So it’s not scratching the parenting itch–we did that, with all its ups and downs, all of its aches, pains, and joys. It’s something else, I think–only pets can give us 100% unconditional love, 24/7, year-in, year-out. Only pets are there every minute, never talking back, always ready to be petted and stroked and hugged. Children move out. Grandchildren get older.
But of course there is a price. Pets’ lifespans are not human lifespans, and we have to say goodbye when the time comes. Jenny is our fourth dog, and you would think that we would know how to deal with the passings by now. But Xander was our first cat, and then there was Buffy, and then there was Spike, and it seemed like we’d have all of them–forever.
And so this month has been a painful reminder that things change. I know Mr. Giles will bring us much pleasure. He will never replace our other two guys. But–as I’ve said many times about my mother and father, who died more than 15 years ago–they are never gone. They will always be in our hearts.