Sunday, 24 March 2013

In Memory

I couldn't live without animals. Literally. It would be a kind of death of the soul.
I suppose it's because I never have. Even though our family moved country every few years, we always had cats and dogs at home - pets that often, sadly - had to be given to new homes when we left, or had to spend time in kennels when we were 'on leave' in the UK.
But they were as much a part of the family as my brothers and sisters.
Just as my animals now are.

In fact, at the risk of sounding judgemental, I think that bringing children up without animals is a deprivation as bad as bringing them up without books, or clothes, or treats. I think they are an essential part of teaching children to love and share with someone outside themselves, of teaching them about caring for others, and becoming aware of the other occupants of our planet.

My biggest problem is in turning a needy animal away, and the In-Charge (also an animal lover) dreads me seeing orphaned kittens, or abandoned dogs, or anything else in distress, as he knows I won't be able to walk away. And things have only got worse in the time I've lived in Ireland, as I've always felt a moral obligation to share the  generous space we have with as many animals as possible.

But I don't think I'd make a good foster-mother, as I'd never want to part with any of the rescues that came through the gates. I wasn't very good at finding homes for the one set of kittens and one litter of puppies born on our property - I practically made any interested parties sit written exams proving how good a home they were offering.
Spanish Inquisition - eat your heart out!

I've often said that if there aren't any animals in heaven, I have no interest in going there.
      And it's true. I'd be completely lost.
      Happily, I think they'll all be lined up, waiting for me - the dogs, heads  cocked, wagging their tales fit to drop off; the cats pretending they just happened to be at the Pearly Gates by chance as I arrived. I expect even the hens will be there, busying themselves somewhere in the background.

It's been a bad year since Pet Remembrance Day last year.
We've lost so many in this twelve-month. The Little Empress died this very time last year,
     And then we lost Napoleon.
We have also lost Henrietta, and Popsicle and - a real blow - the tiny, gloriously beautiful Golden Princess, aka Mrs Smith.

But far and away the worst losses of all were my sweet boys, Top Dog and Under Dog who I still miss every single day.

 But thank goodness we had them at all. They have all, in their own  individual way, made our lives richer and better, more entertaining and more fulfilled. Pets want to be with you all the time, and don't care if you're wearing makeup or just a hessian sack, they hold nothing back, and hold nothing against you, they're sensitive, great company and entertaining and moreover, their love is absolutely unconditional.
How many people would fulfil those criteria?

Tonight I'll be lighting the candles and raising a glass (sadly, of cough mixture and night nurse) to them and all the animals we have loved and lost over the years. A toast in gratitude for ever having had them at all.
And I'll be raising another one to my fabulous Model Dog, and the TeenQueen, to Hobbes and Pushy and Pixie, to Wellington and all his girls - because I love them all and they make every day special.

I hope you'll join me in memory of all the animals you have held, or do hold dear.

It was my blog-friend, IsobelandCat who started this special Pet Remembrance Day, and she and many others all over the world - including Pix, will be saluting their animal friends today.

 Thank heaven for them all, past and present.


  1. Oh dear. This is is going to be an evening of tears. I remembered that just as Pet Remembrance day approached last year you lost The Little Empress. It has been a year of loss for you. I agree with you about heaven; a worthless ambition withou animals. Which reminds me, I forgot to link a cartoon my friend Sue sent me to the blog. I shall do that soon.
    I too have a cold, but I sahll eschew the cough mixture and grab a whisky. We are so lucky to share our lives with other species who respond to us and love us back. I am sure non-animal lovers will scoff at that, but I have no doubt that my pets have loved me, and with MasterB, one of the lovely things is his increasing affection. It is an every day miracle.

    1. Yes, people often say that cats only love themselves, but all of ours love us and show it in very different ways. I think that's one of the things about animals - they are each different and have just as much personality as people - sometimes more.

      It was a great idea of yours, Isobel, to start this day. I'm sure lots of other people have joined in celebrating it.

  2. Hi Lorely....I'm here at the suggestion of our friend Isobel. She thought I'd love your post and indeed I do. You said it all - this special bond of love we have with our animals - of all descriptions. I've had many in my 65 years (or have they had me?) and the special memories of each warm my heart and always will. You've had a lot of loss since last Remembrance Day. I'm so sorry for I know well that empty feeling. I just love all your photos - so much "personality" in them....yours and theirs. There's heartache in the loss of them in time but the absolutely joy while they're here - well - it's just priceless isn't it.

    Here's to all of us - a toast to those who await us over the Bridge.


    1. Pam - how nice to see you, and meet a kindred spirit! Yes, so much joy while they are with us. It makes everything worthwhile. Thank you for visiting.

  3. I absolutely agree with what you say, especially the part with the children .... it should be compulsory if you rare kids you have to rare an animal along with them :). Often people ask me if I do regret having so many animals combined with those many daily duties. But if I think back a long long time I remember vaguely that my Dad used to bring me in my uncles cow shed and that there he often held me close to the cows. I m nearly sure that it was Elsie, a brown-white Simmental cow who blew her fermented breath into my developing brain ... and from that moment I was 'hooked' and as young as four I started telling everyone that I want to be a farmer .... I consider myself lucky to live my childhood dream .... with all its consequences .. sad and happy and thankful moments... .

    1. Hi Tina - your father knew what he was doing when he took you to meet the cows! All your animals are so contented, and your lovely calendar is a nice memory of them! Exactly the kind of atmosphere children should grow up in, and your boys will always love animals, just as mine will! Yes - lots of sad moments, but so many happy ones, it makes everything worthwhile.

  4. I don't want to pour cold water on any of this, and feel very much for those who have lost much-loved pets, or had to let them go to someone else. However, I lived and worked in one of the world's poorest countries for 20+ years, and would like to point out, as gently as possible, that I consider it a far worse deprivation for a child to grow up without enough food, a lack of clean water, no (or very litle) education, and no (or very little) basic healthcare.

    Please note that I'm talking about food, clean water, health and education - not material things. Many children (and adults) who are poor in these things are in fact very rich in human relationships and I as a westerner can learn a tremendous amount from them.

    1. Lorely I so enjoyed your words and pictures of the animals that have shared your life. It was nice yesterday to think of them and talk about them. Although I pretty much think of ours every day. It was a nice afternoon of sharing some stories and getting to know some new people and getting to know others better.

    2. Thanks for your comment Pix - I'm glad you were able to share the day with others. It seems right to me to give the animals who have been my constant companions their rightful recognition.

    3. Thanks for your very thoughtful comment Laura. I think everyone would agree with you that all children everywhere deserve all of those basic necessities - and more. And how right you are, that while being poor in many ways, many of the children you describe have more love and care than some western children who may be materially overloaded. I think it is also fair to say that most of the children you describe also grow up alongside all kinds of animals. Perhaps not pets as we in the west would understand them, but dogs,goats, cattle, chickens - in fact, they probably have a far greater understanding of the relationship between humans and animals than many their western counterparts reared in pristine isolation. And I'm sure that contact, as well as their plentiful human relationships, is a part of their emotional wealth which you mention.

  5. I can't begin to imagine the depths of loneliness I'd have lived in over the last year+ without our two cats.

    Each of them has held me down on the couch or hogged the bed where I sleep....

    Our old girl, Calpurrnia, who has struggled with her health for about 6 months, follows me from room to room.... Each evening she lies across my chest--book be damned, Monkey Girl!

    They have kept my spark of life going because I had to take care of them.... what greater gift?

    1. I'm so glad you have had them to help you through, Lauren. Animals really do know when those around them aren't well, and cats are particularly sensitive to that it seems. I hope your old girl - what a wonderful name for a cat, Calpurrnia! - will be ok.

    2. Lorely--I agree about cats being highly sensitive to us and bringing their purring as healing energy-fixers. Calpurrnia is stabilizing, but not doing well, if that makes sense. Heartbreaking to watch the changes... waaaaaah...!!

      When we met her in her metal jail-cage 13 years ago, we knew we needed a name to indicate our positions as slave. If she'd been male, we would have called her Caesar. We settled for the beyond-reproach wife. :-D

  6. You already know animals go in heaven : they are in paradise in the garden of the Old Rectory. I join you thinkong about all the animals that helped you in your life, some you live with for years ans some you just meet for a while. I didn't know Henrietta had passed away... Reading your article I understand it might be very hard for you all the lost you had to endure. This is the dark side of loving animals : as much as you enjoy being with them, as much you feel the pain when they leave. I fear the moment I'll have to say goodbye to my Titou but this thought make me enjoy enven more the great moments I share with him.

    With my kindest thouths,


    p.s : hope you will understand my message, I've been a long time not practissing English

    1. Hi Alicia - thanks for your message - it's really nice to hear from you, and your English is still really good! Yes, we were really sad to lose little Henrietta - she got sick and died. I suddenly realised we had had her for years and years - she had so much character she never seemed old!
      Yes, you are right to make the most of Titou and enjoy him!
      Take care of yourself.
      Hope we'll see you here again one day!

  7. A very moving post which has brought back memories of many much loved pets, dogs, cats, cows, and ponies. There were hens too but I only have the vaguest memory of them. They really do become part of our families and I agree that pets are a wonderful addition, especially when there are children. I too have fallen victim to this long cold winter, with yet another bout of 'sniffles'.

    1. Oh, poor you! Everyone seems to have it, or to be going down with it, or still recovering from it! Mine has turned into a mean cough.

      I'm glad you liked the post.
      As you say, they are just part of the family. Even our sheep were, when we had them. Feeling so sad for the farmers in the Isle of Man and elsewhere. So hope they are finding lots of them still alive under the snow.


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