Together Forever

Who shares your home? Who shares your life? If the answer has four legs and a tail, or even two and a beak, my guess is you likely love that critter-person more than you love most human-people. Am I right? I speak from experience. Let’s face it, most animals are just nicer than most people.

There is just one problem with critter-people, and it’s a big one. Unless your critter-person happens to be a tortoise, he or she most likely won’t stick around for as long as you. They have this horrible tendency to leave us behind before we are ready to say goodbye, with a broken heart and a huge hole in our life.

I am trying right now, without success, to put back together my own broken pieces. I walked into Manchester Dogs’ Home 16 years ago, and an hour later walked back out leading a sweet friendly pup.

Here is my darling girl Holly, on holiday with us in Cornwall.

Kynance Cove – Version 2

I hope you won’t agree with the kid in the park that said, “That dog looks like a hyena.” I had to put my hands over Hols’ ears! No offence, hyenas. Of course you’re beautiful too in a hyena sort of way. Holpops’ vet did wonder if she would ever grow into those ears – and no, she never did.

Anyway the point is, from that day at the dogs’ home in 2001 until that heartbreaking Tuesday just 6 weeks ago, she and I spent every waking moment together. She would have slept in my bed too if the husband had allowed it. She did if he wasn’t around! There is nowhere I have been in those 16 years where she wasn’t by my side.

That Tuesday, as the final anaesthetic eased my beautiful baby into her journey over the rainbow bridge, I heard myself howling

“Don’t leave me!”

And so I joined the ranks of all of you who have gone through this searing grief.

 

p1030176
“Together Forever’ – the rose we planted in her memory

Did you know –  I didn’t until today – UK law permits us to make arrangements to have our darlings’ cremains included in our own burial? Or even, as in one Cornwall cemetery, have our loved ones interred and when our time comes, be laid to rest right alongside them. So it is possible for us to be together forever with our fur-&-feather babies.

Nothing could mark better the depth, the height, the strength of that bond we have with our beloved companions. How comforting it is to have that possibility.

Together in life. Together ever after.

“For many, the grieving process for a pet is no different to losing a member of the family”*

If you live in America, don’t fret. The U.S. is catching up. Just last month Governor Andrew Cuomo signed off on Bill SO2582 that allows New Yorkers to include companion animals with them in their burial. Great news.

“For many New Yorkers, their pets are members of the family,” said Governor Cuomo. Assemblyman James F Brennan agreed, “The pet/caregiver relationship is a very special one and I am happy that this relationship will finally be honored.”

And so am I. Isn’t it wonderful that something as hard and impersonal as the law can actually find a space for our deepest feelings?

That makes NY the fifth state after Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia to write this into the statute book. (But don’t worry if you live elsewhere in the States. It’s not unusual for funeral directors to sneak companion animals’ cremains into the casket with their carer.)

A law like this strikes me as momentous, and not just because it’s a comfort to us human-people. (Though that is huge.)

It’s significant because surely it must bring nonhuman animals a step closer to being recognised in law as persons. Anyone who has been close to an individual of another species knows that is what they are. This could take us a big step closer to recovering for all nonhuman animals, not just our companions, the rights that are innately theirs, just by virtue of their being a life.

As the good governor says, our companion animals are members of the family. And all members of a family have rights, even newborn babes. Even the unborn. So should, so must nonhuman family members too. And indeed all creatures – members equally with us of Earth’s great family.

If you agree, please sign the Declaration of Animal Rights here

And please share. It needs a lot more signatures.

*Vet Elaine Pendlebury

Sources

Owners pay to be buried with their pets – The Telegraph

New Yorkers can now be buried with their pets – Care2

 

12 thoughts on “Together Forever

  1. What a beautiful memorial that would be.
    We lost a cat of 12 years when we were teenagers. Nothing can prepare you for that feeling. There’s a cheesy meme out there that always feels like a sucker punch in which a deceased dog or cat writes it’s last will and testament, in which it offers up its bed, toys, and loving companionship to a new homeless animal. Things that make us cry forever.
    The bonds we share with animals are lifelong, but the feeling of taking in a new rescue reminds you why it’s worth it. There’s room in our lives for an endless line of furry friends (or in our case, an endless line of foster cats who range from hatred to lukewarm distaste of us)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no! We have been there too. Back when we lived with our parents, that is. They wouldn’t let us have more than just the one grumpy ol’ cat. They *claim* that when he passes (hopefully not any time soon!) They will never get a new one, but we do not believe them.
        Meanwhile there’s us, in our condo with (currently) 4 fosters. Not to brag or anything.
        On the bright side, you won’t have to pick up poop anymore? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Signed.

    I am so sorry your beautiful Holly is no longer with you here. I have also been a guardian, my life blessed with wonderful animals. Whenever one left for the spirit world, even the light on this earth seemed to grow dim without him or her. But I believe all beings have souls and I look forward to seeing them again.

    One thing that has helped is donating to shelters or sponsoring animals in sanctuaries in their memory, something I still do many years later. It helps the animals here and is a continuing gift for the ones who have gone before me.

    I know your Holly is grateful for all the love and care you gave her for 16 years and will wait for you too.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I have been thinking about you and your love for Holly and all animals. So I’m wondering if you have read the book “Mourning Animals,” edited by Margo DeMello. This is not a book about pets, per se, but about how human beings react to and feel about animal death. In our arrogance we have decided which animals are “grieveable” and which ones are not. Not surprisingly, how worthy they are of being mourned depends on their relationship with us and whether we assign them value because we care about them or whether they are valueless except as units of production or targets or clothes. Therefore the chapters on farm animal and wild animals (especially as tragic victims on the highways) are particularly interesting and poignant. Included are photographs of Emma Kisiel’s memorials of flowers and stones arranged around “roadkill.” If you have not seen the book, you might be interested. I recommend it to all animal activists.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I am definitely going to get hold of that book! I really appreciate your kind thought and suggestion. I do grieve for all the animals. If I find a dead shrew or rabbit, I lay them to rest in a secluded spot. I grieve daily for those poor creatures headed to the slaughterhouse. Wish the world would wake up to this cruel insanity. Thank you again. Vegan love x

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  5. It is heartbreaking to lose an animal companion. And yes animals are often nicer than people. It’s also much easier to love an animal and the loss can be devastating for many people. I still miss our rabbits and think fondly of them every day. I am so sorry to hear about Holly, cherish the fond memories of the life you had together.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Though it’s sad knowing others experience that same pain and loss, at the same time it’s a comfort. It brings us animal-lovers closer together. Thank you. And yes, I will cherish the time I had with my girl. Just a week before she left me we were out walking together with the sound of the wind in the trees and grasses, and I thought to myself, “This is happiness” x

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  7. I am so sorry for your loss. Yes, we “animal” people have all gone through this many times, and will probably go through this pain and sorrow many more times. It never gets better or hurts less. But life would not really be worth living without this bond. So treasure the moments you had with Holly, they will be with you forever and appreciate the tears you cry for her, they show how special you are.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Alexandra. You are right. Holly was such a blessing in my life, as I hope I was in hers. It really does mean a lot to me knowing that other “animal” people understand and experience the same feelings, and share the same passionate beliefs. We are in this together and you are all very precious ❤️

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