I talked today with a friend of mine whose dog is ill. Ill to the point where the vet is marking time in months. It’s not impossible that the dog will pull through – they’re doing as much treatment as they can – but my friend and his wife are in the position of having to consider what sort of arrangements they will need to make when the all-but-inevitable happens. It’s a terrible thing to watch someone you love die, be they human or otherwise, and just in emailing back and forth I felt my chest tighten up to remember the pets I’ve lost. If it were within my power to make it not be so, I would do it.
Alas, omnipotence is still ever-so-slightly out of reach.
Of course, talking about this led me to thinking about my own pets, Milo and Cooper, and the fact that one day The Boyfriend and I are going to have to have to deal with the same thing. We have chosen to bring these two short-lived beings into our lives, and part of that responsibility is knowing that we will one day have to see them out. Milo is a pug, with all of the design flaws and general ridiculousness that goes with the breed and shortens its life. Cooper is a carrier of the feline coronavirus, the bug responsible for Feline infectious peritonitis, which is an incurably fatal disease that most recently robbed the internet of its beloved Nyancat.
Being a pet owner means accepting that you will likely outlive your pet. Knowing that, it is so very important to be thankful for the time you have with them.
Milo came first, before The Boyfriend and I moved in together, flown up from a breeder in Kyushu. He really was adorable, as all puppies are, even when he was chewing up every godsdamned thing that was within his reach. And as much as I was warned that pugs were “one-person dogs,” Milo really liked me and got all excited when I came over. We’d go out walking in the park, and the three of us would enjoy the time outside.
When I moved in, Milo was perfectly happy to split his attention between the two of us. I’m the Food Guy, and The Boyfriend is The Walking Guy. Milo loves us both with the wild enthusiasm that only a dog can have, and we’re lucky that he feels the same way about Cooper.
I was in the middle of recording a podcast when The Boyfriend called to tell me he’d met an adorable little black kitten while walking the dog. I came out and met him and the cat, who was sitting very calmly and comfortably nearby. The Boyfriend and I looked at each other and thought, “You know what we need? A cat.” I picked up the kitten, and he let me carry him all the way back home.
As you might expect from a stray cat, there were a whole host of exciting medical bills waiting for us. He had a persistent cold, sneezing constantly and watery-eyed. He was underweight, so we had to wait a while to get him neutered… And then there were the tapeworms.
Once we got all of those dealt with, though, Cooper became the lord of the house (as all cats do), and has grown into an affectionate, social, and fearless cat. He loves to “play” with Milo, which Milo might not always be aware of, and he knows the household schedule like clockwork.
Together, these two make the place just that much better. Sure, Milo makes funny noises and smells weird, and Cooper believes that 4:00 in the morning is a perfectly reasonable time for everyone to get up, but I truly cannot imagine what our home would be like without the two of them.
But I know that that time will come. Eventually we’ll have to see The Boys off, and those will be terribly sad days indeed.
When those days come, and I’m an absolute wreck – and I will be – I will take at least some solace in knowing that all of our lives, human and otherwise, were enriched by being with each other. Together, we had better lives than we would have had apart. They will join Weedle and Poe as companions who will live in my heart for the rest of my life, for whose time on this earth I will always be thankful.
Of course, there’s no reason thankfulness has to wait until then.