Pet Sitting Involves Heartbreak

One of the things that I deal with as a pet sitter is getting very close to the animals I care for. It’s not hard to do when you focus all of your time and energy on the pets in your care. In fact, it’s so easy to do that I feel as if I’ve formed a relationship with a pet whenever I have the pleasure of being introduced to one during a Meet & Greet. I also believe that the relationship deepens every time I visit with my new furry friend when his/her parents aren’t home.

We all know that our pets don’t live forever just as we don’t. I’ve lost pets in the past. It’s very difficult and the grief is real. As pet sitters, you might not think we grieve for the pets we’ve cared for when they leave this world, but you’d be wrong if that’s the case because, as I’ve explained, I get attached to all of the animals I see as does my husband, Larry. I get so attached sometimes that I cry sometimes just because I know it’s my last visit with a pet until the next time his/her owners travel. Although that might sound strange to some of you, if you know me well enough, you’d know that for me it’s not strange at all.

This past summer, one of the dogs I watched on a regular basis passed away. During one of my last visits with Teal, I noticed something out of character for her – she refused to play and just wanted to go back into the garage to rest. It was very unlike her and I communicated all of this information to her owner. Initially, all of us thought it was just an off day for Teal, but she acted the same way when I visited her again the next day. Once more, Teal wanted to stay in the garage. Her gait was off, she was shaky and just wanted to lay down. This was not like the Teal I’d come to love at all.

I took her inside the house and just sat with her. I looked into her eyes and I knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what exactly. I had many conversations about my observations with her owner who was as concerned as I was. Unfortunately, Teal passed away a few weeks later as the result of bone cancer. Her passing was extremely difficult on Teal’s parents…and it broke my heart also. It was a strange thing to go back to their home and not see Teal. Tears came to my eyes before I even made it to the door. I missed Teal and still do. I miss the joy she gave me during each visit. Teal was the boss. She was a sweet Golden Retriever who’d become my friend.

This past week, a similar situation occurred. Puk, a senior cat I did not know very well, but was familiar with, needed a ride to see his vet. I picked Puk up at his owner’s place of business and drove him in the car to the Mishicot Vet Clinic. I knew he was sick, but the ride to the vet was unlike anything I’d ever encountered.

Puk wanted a hand on him. He must have known his time was limited and wanted physical human contact. Puk not only sought the touch of my hand, he also placed his head on my arm and rarely moved it. Every so often, he raised his head to look at me and meow, though. I had Puk bundled up in a light throw on top of a down-filled blanket. I normally only transport animals in kennels, but in this instance something told me not to and I now know why. That trip was Puk’s last car ride and consisted of some of his last minutes on earth. Puk passed on about an hour after I dropped him off at Mishicot Vet.

This is probably the hardest part of what I do because I mourn these losses along with their owners.

I just wanted to write this because my heart has been troubled about these instances for some time…ever since the passing of Teal. So maybe this is a tribute post to all the pets we’ve known who have passed on, including Maple and Buddy. I won’t forget them, either.