One of the greatest things about a blog like this is the ability to share something very close to my heart… by someone close to my heart.
Marybeth Haines is a Whisperer in her own right. She’s a Pet Loss Whisperer. She is also a spectacular human being. Her website The Power of Pets is filled with stories, guidance and tools to help you heal from pet loss. Marybeth often appears in the videos and is such a healing force… and a hands-on coach. She also co-facilitates a group meeting once a month (on hiatus at that moment, but beginning again as soon as possible). My husband and I have been lucky and blessed enough to have been a part of her seminars, healing circles and pet memorials. For many of us who know of her and her work, she is the first person we’ve met who understands the loss of a pet can be (and often is) devastating.
I am a cat fanatic. Oh heck, I love all animals… but cats and dogs most of all. We don’t have room for dogs but we have two cats, Bette and Hannah.
I will be honest in saying that the last 15+ years have been a very different experience for me, as a pet-parent. Before that, I lived in So. California where it was sunny and warm almost all the time. Now, I live in Ontario, Canada, where it’s flipped… cold almost all the time. The California weather allowed us to keep the pets outside. It wasn’t until later in life that I realized cats belong inside where they’re safe from coyotes, cars and other cats… and they can stay toasty warm. You have a little more wiggle-room with dogs because most don’t jump over fences and roam the neighborhood… but some do. Plus, I worry that even the most active dog could get lonely outside all day. Don’t you think?
We had all our pets fixed and vaccinated, of course, but the usual lifespan for our cats was 5-7 years. Some didn’t make it that long. But now? My husband and I had our first cat, Tess, for fifteen years. She died from cancer… not a speeding car. All of our cats have been “indoor only“. And if we had a dog, it would be inside/ outside but would spend the winter and evenings in the house no matter what. I can’t imagine just leaving a dog outside like we used to. When you know better, you do better. Thanks Maya Angelou!
Now Tess, she was something special. She was my companion… a good listener and the keeper of secrets. She didn’t like to be held and she wasn’t a lap cat… but she held my heart, nonetheless. And she was in love with my husband. If he was anywhere around, I didn’t exist. It was so freaking cute!
When Tess died, there was a whole “thing” about it. She was misdiagnosed, went into a coma and we spent the better part of the last four months of her life prodding her with needles, dragging her back and forth to the vet and changing up her food. It breaks our hearts. We didn’t know she had cancer. We thought she was diabetic. So, we caused more suffering for her at a time when she was already suffering. It’s so upsetting… even now… two years after her death. Our newer cats… first Bette, then Missy, who was a true rescue (at nearly 10 – she died of kidney failure eleven months after she joined our family) and then our Hannah.
So, yes, we’ve invited new felines into our family… and love them to pieces… each for their unique and individual personalities.
There will never be another Tess. Nobody takes her place… and none are meant to. Each holds a special place in our hearts. And that’s something Marybeth would say.
If you are grieving the loss of a pet or are a pet lover and know you’ll need to go through it at some point, find this book. If you have family that’s grieving, find this book for them. You can buy it online or in bookstores. Also, there are companion pieces – so be sure to check out her website. Here it is again, in case you missed it: The Power of Pets.