I first set eyes on Cody in a cage in a pet rescue shelter, in a town 10kms from my home.
After working for years in animal shelters and rescue, I have seen things I wish I could forget. Sometimes, we need to focus on the positive and learn from the negative. We MUST educate the public and tell the stories of those with no voice to ensure that future generations can make better choices.
Well, folks, we've expanded our family again. We have another boy in our midst. He came to us by way of a family whose cat had kittens and they couldn't keep the babies. It was a spur of the moment decision to bring him home, but once we made the decision and given him his name, it was all we could think about until the day we picked him up. In the true nature of our naming practices, my husband named the new baby. I wasn't quite sure about the name he chose at first, but once I met him, I knew it was perfect. My husband got the name from a radio host on a local station. Apparently, the man's last name is Brutus, and he got hooked on the name. Eventually, so did I.
I used to work at an animal shelter. I know what you’re thinking, “you’re so lucky, you get to play with puppies and kitties all day.” If by playing you mean cleaning litter boxes, spraying out kennels, and having kittens using you as a scratching post, then yes. It was a lot of work taking care of all the animals: making sure everyone has fresh food and water, changing litter boxes, letting all the dogs out, mopping all the floors, etc... but I loved it anyway.
I know, I know... am I crazy?! Support places that murder healthy animals? It sounds ridiculous when you say it like that, but hear me out. First off, we need to dive into what a "kill shelter" even is. The term "kill shelter" is given to places that euthanize healthy and adoptable dogs, cats, and everything in between. This means the animals can be completely adoptable. As in, they're not just healthy, but sweet, friendly, and playful; puppies and even kittens, too. Yes, the perfect family pet in a lot of cases, but why? Why would anyone do such a thing and how on earth could I support that? Well, we have to go even deeper into why euthanizing a healthy animal is even an accepted thing in the first place. It seems rather barbaric but is, in fact, a requirement for these organizations. They don't enjoy doing it and the workers are just as sad as you are, trust me.
One day while I was at work, I received a text from my fiancé. It was a picture of a dog. When I asked whose dog it was, he replied with, "I found her on the side of the road and spent an hour trying to coax her over to me." He snapped the picture before heading over to the police station so they could try to find her owners. He called the next day to check in on her and was directed to the local animal shelter since she had no chip. The shelter said she was quarantined for two weeks while they tried to locate her owners and make sure she had no illnesses.
Everyone scrolls through Facebook when they are bored or have nothing to do, and I am no different. I tend to scroll through Facebook to see what everyone is doing that I grew up with or to see what different family members are doing daily, because we can't always talk to each other.
In September of 2016, my fiancé and I welcomed our very first 'fur child.' We, at the time, were renting the basement apartment of my future in-laws and, like children, we begged and begged to have a pet of our own. More specifically, a dog—except, in this particular instance, I did not want a dog.
When I was 15 years old, my older sister decided to get a dog, while my childhood dog was 13 years old. My sisters and I needed a new companion to love when Clarabelle passes away. We begged my dad for a new puppy all night after coming home from Red Lobster. It was about 10 o’clock at night before he said “fine you can have a dog!” My sisters and I were so excited. We emailed and called the lady who was selling the puppies and we requested one. We asked for pictures so she asked for an interview and for us to put a deposit down to show that we were serious. When we made it to her house it was in a quiet town in southern Alabama. The lady had the cutest four-week-old Yorkshire Terriers. Their eyes weren’t even open because they were so small. Well, when we knocked on her door I was smiling from ear-to-ear. I just couldn’t believe we were actually getting a dog! Then the lady opened her door and invited us in. We walked in and sat on her couch in her living room while she went and grabbed the puppies. She brought two little puppies out, because we weren’t sure of which one would like our family and fit in the most. The one I held in my hands was named Jasmine after the Disney princess, and the one my older sister held was named Ariel. Jasmine snuggled with me, but after all this was for my sister. So we went with the other puppy named Ariel. Her fur coat was so silky. She had fleas at the time and it was so sad because they made her itch all over and she was so young she did not know how to itch yet because she was so young. When we got into the car she was so small and she didn’t know the smell or the look of the car. But boy, oh boy, was that the best decision we had ever made. When we brought her home we gave her a bath to try and get the fleas off with a special wash. And when that didn’t work we went to Petco to see if they had a stronger pet wash. We ended up getting a a flea oatmeal wash and a flea comb. When we ended up getting back home she started shivering so we turned up the heat. When she got warm we grabbed a puppy bottle and started to bottle feed her. She didn’t like her bottle at all so we transferred it to a syringe and we were able to get the milk into her mouth faster. She has brought so much joy into our lives. My older sister ended up getting a job and getting married, so Ariel stays at my house. I have to say that getting a dog was the best day of my life. She gets a toy pretty much everyday, and we feed her raw primal rabbit for her lunch and dinner. Ariel’s favorite toys are the ones that have loud squeakers. She also loves toys that have super stuffed inside so she can take out the fluff. Ariel recently got a one month old Pomeranian sister named Nala like from The Lion King. Ariel is still getting used to Nala but the long they are together they get use to each other and start to like each other. Every time we come home Ariel gets so excited to see us and she starts crying because she missed us so much. I used to not care too much for dogs, but ever since Ariel came into our lives I have become a huge dog person.
In the UK in 2017/18 45 percent of us owned a pet, half of those being dog owners. Animals are an important part of our lives and families, but when they die our grief is treated differently than if we had lost a human family member. In my experience the grief is no less and the impact no less great.