Learning to Deal with Pet Loss

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 7, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

We will go first and demonstrate two of our Pet Loss Histories to show you how. We’ll begin by creating a Pet Loss History Graph (see slideshow), followed by a brief description of the entries on the graph.

Russell’s Pet Loss History

1948—Neighbor’s Dog, Lucky Buttons, Got Killed.

When I was five, living in Rochester, New York, my family took our neighbor’s dog on an outing in the country. On the way back we had the windows open in the car. Lucky Buttons jumped out and got hit by a car and died. My parents told me not to feel bad—it was an accident, but I did feel bad, and being told not to feel that way confused me.

1953—Our New Puppy, Pixie, Died. We had moved from an apartment building to a house in North Miami, Florida. Now we could have a dog. We got a Jack Russell mix. My sisters and I named her Pixie. At the time, my mother had loaded up our freezer with cuts of meat wrapped in aluminum foil. When she took the meat out of the packages, she’d let the dog lick the foil. The dog got aluminum poisoning and died. My mother felt terrible, of course, and I was really sad. This is when my mother said, “Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone.” We got a cat shortly after Pixie died, and it definitely came under the heading of replacing the loss.

1959—Free-Spirited Calico Got Killed. We had a cat named Calico, whom we got very soon after our dog Pixie died. Although Calico lived and dined with us, he was a nighttime prowler. He’d often come home with cuts and scratches, and even once with a piece of his ear missing. One day we found him dead near the street. He’d been shot. Although I’d never really had much of a relationship with him, I was affected by his death and by how he died. My family didn’t talk about it, so I thought I just had to cover up how I felt.

1971—Baby Mama and Thirty Pet Rats. My wife and I had done a favor for a neighbor in our apartment building. We agreed to look after her four pet rats while she went away for a long weekend. The long weekend turned out to be forever. We became the confused owners of three adult rats—two male and one female, and a very young female. We named them Papa, Mama, Uncle, and Baby Rat. Baby Rat became a personal pet. She would lick our feet dry when we came out of the shower. She would sit on our shoulders and groom our hair. Baby Rat didn’t stay a baby for long, and she soon became pregnant. We renamed her Baby Mama. Baby Mama got pregnant again and again, and our family got even bigger. At one point we had more than thirty rats, but only Baby Mama ever became a real pet. Eventually she developed an inner ear problem that rats are prone to and started turning around in endless circles. We took her to our chiropractor who actually gave her an adjustment. It worked, but only for a few days. When Baby Mama died, we were grief stricken. We didn’t realize what an incredible bond we had with her, and we didn’t know how to deal with our emotions.

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