Are Pets A Recipe For Heartache?


Phyllis Gordon takes her pet cheetah shopping in London, 1939
(By Liza)

When I look back over the years there have always been animals in my life. The first pet I can remember was a lovely tabby cat called Sammy. My parents had been out to a party one Saturday night and ended up bringing him home, which may have been as a result of too much wine, but it was a lovely surprise for me as a little girl, waking up to find him there!

Our family has always had dogs as I do now, three of them in fact. They are the most loyal loving friends anyone could ask for and I wouldn’t be without them, but my question to myself and others is, why do we decide to have pets when we know that at some point we will lose them and cause ourselves such agony and pain?

I would go as far as saying that I was mentally scarred by the loss of our dog Pancho when I was twelve. Maybe it was because he died in an accident and the shock of it made the whole thing more traumatic. But I know to this day I still cannot listen to Albatross by Fleetwood Mac because it reminds me of him and would still cause me to burst into tears as if it happened yesterday.

This is all a bit morbid but very therapeutic! One of the hardest decisions of my life was the day I decided that I had to let our wonderful dog Marbles go. In the weeks beforehand she had been deteriorating physically  a little, but she was still eating and drinking normally and seemed pretty comfortable. So when we took her to the vets for a check up and he said that we should consider having her put to sleep there and then we were shocked, and selfish as it may have been, we just couldn’t do it, we needed a bit more time with her.

So for the next few days we watched her very closely, looking for signs that she was ready to go, but she was stoic and didn’t appear to be in any pain, until one day my daughter heard her groan when she thought no one was around. We knew the time had come to do the right thing for her.

Its such a difficult decision when you are so emotionally attached, because you want them to stay with you forever, and to be the one to agree to what is essentially killing them, is extremely hard.

It was lovely that we all had a chance to say goodbye properly and to give Marbles one last walk. It was incredibly difficult to take her to the vets  that day and even harder to stay and watch her life being taken away from her. But I didn’t want her to be alone and I didn’t want her to suffer so I know it was the right thing to do.

For me there are many reasons to keep pets, they can bring so much pleasure but I also believe that and as we get older and probably spend more time alone they can make that difference when we might be feeling a bit lonely or sad, a form of therapy.
My advice is don’t hesitate to take on a pet. The pleasure they give you when they are here far outweighs any fears about coping when its time for them to leave us.