There’s nothing better than adopting a new animal. Getting to take them home, getting to know them, learning their personalities and quirks, their likes and dislikes, all so distinct — it’s like falling in love every day. It’s what we think about when we think about adoption.
Some days, it is easy to focus on how great a new pet can be, and how much love you have for them. It is harder as the years go by to realize that your animal may not be with you much longer. But as adopters, it is our responsibility to be there for the entire span of our pets’ lives, not just when they are young and spry. And sometimes, even when they are young and spry, you have to let them go.
As many of you may remember, Pawmetto Lifeline helped with a hoarding case in July 2010. A woman called and needed help vaccinating her animals, and when staff arrived, they were shocked to find more than seventy cats crammed into a 1200 square foot condo. Through dedication, hard work, and more hours than you could imagine, all the cats were processed, treated if they could be saved, and placed.
One such cat was Simon, a six year old Siamese I adopted. He was the oldest available for traditional adoption, and we thought he would have the hardest time finding a new home. My husband and I have the bad habit of going for the saddest story when given a choice.
We took Simon home, tried to give him time and space, but he just couldn’t trust us. Not yet. It took a month before we were allowed to pet him, and months before he would come to us for love. But we were patient, and the reward for that patience was his gratitude and more affection than we thought possible. He loved us and our other animals deeply, and developed an amazing bond with our other “senior” girl, Roulette, a ten-year old Tortie who was his constant companion, and tolerated our younger cat, Cash, with the patience of a saint.
We knew that Simon had been through more than any cat should have had to endure, and we knew it had taken its toll. He would never be a “normal” cat, but we loved him all the same.
Then one morning after we had had him about a year and a half, he couldn’t walk. Just like that, our playful boy was failing, and we couldn’t stop it. His years of neglect and abuse had finally caught up to him, and when we took him to the vet that afternoon, she confirmed that his organs were shutting down, and all we could do was make him comfortable as he left this world. Our vet asked if I wanted to stay with him, and as much as I wanted to run away, I knew that I had to be with him until the very end. We had worked so hard to get him to trust us, and to love us, and to leave him now just wasn’t an option.
It was one of the hardest days of my life, watching him fade away, but I wouldn’t take back a moment of it. I don’t regret adopting him; I don’t regret loving him; and I don’t regret seeing him over the rainbow bridge. He deserved nothing less.
And that’s why it breaks my heart when we see elderly or sick animals dumped by their families when they need them the most. How unfair to take an animal’s good times, their youth and vitality, but turn away when they start to age or become ill. Animals are for life. Not just your life, but theirs too, and the best way you can honor the love they so selflessly give you is by being there, even when – especially when – it is hard.
by Amanda Hamilton, Pawmetto Lifeline IT Manager