I remember about 20 years ago I had a lovely dog called Ace, he was a little Sheltie and I'd had him from being about a year old. He was always nervous and yet loving and he liked his quiet corner of the house. We lived in a nice spot so there was always somewhere to walk to, as time moved on a stray cat adopted us, obviously a bit wild because he just wouldn't come into the house. He would wait whilst I opened the back door to let Ace into the garden and on passing by, the cat would tap the dog on his head as if to say, 'Hi there dude'. As soon as we stepped through the door for our walks the cat would follow at a suitable distance and walk for as far as we did, always well behind but still with us. When we stopped, he stopped and gradually follow us home again. I used to put food just outside the garage door so that in winter I would leave it slightly ajar for this old stray to spend his winters.
This went on for years, the pat on the head from cat to dog, the trailing behind us on our walks, the nights spent in the garage on a bed I made him and sometimes if we left the back door open he would venture into the kitchen but then dash out at signs that the door might be closed behind him.
Then one day he got ill, seemed in pain and wouldn't let me catch him to take him to the vet, wouldn't let me help him. To me it seemed as if he had been poisoned and he died a horrible death on his own with me watching from a distance. It was a relief when it was all over and for a long time I mourned that old cat without a history. Who had hurt him in his past? Why did he adopt Ace and us? Why did he follow us so faithfully but at the end when he needed help refused it. Believe me I so tried to coax him to come to me so that I could help him. He refused it by spitting and scratching.
I wonder as I write this story why it is so relevant to today, maybe there is some part of me in there, my helplessness at the time, my love of animals and the mystery of their lives. I have had dogs and cats since and still do have my little dog Lady who is getting older and more tired by the day and our cat Felix also an old fella now. I cannot bare to imagine what I will feel when she/they are gone but I know that the pain of loss will pass, indeed it always does.
However I do also recognise that whatever has happened in the past about my pets I will never be without one. Generally my pets have taught me something.
I know folks who say I cannot have another pet it was too devastating when the last one died. Pets are too tying and so on. I say that is Fear of attachment for fear of loss, it is a way of life but not one I second. The short time I have with my pets or indeed with people is worth what I get from it, so I would never say never again.
Pets are wonderful companions and give far more than they take.