Grieving again

Chris Clarke and Zeke in the Pleistocene

The fabulous picture above was done by Olduvai George a few years ago, portraying Chris Clarke and his dog Zeke in the Pleistocene Death Valley. (hat-tip, Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony)

A few days ago I found out through my blogfeed subscriptions that Zeke sadly had to be put down, after a long period of failing health. This was not a surprise: Chris blogged his heartbreak over Zeke’s decline just as he had blogged his loving companionship with Zeke for years, and his readers’ hearts broke with him.

I haven’t been able to comment over there since Zeke’s death, because I find myself reliving a trauma from not quite a year ago. Chris was able to hold Zeke while he was put down, so that the last face Zeke saw was his trusted human, and I so envy him the comfort of that. I am so envious that I am shaking, although most of that is continued rage.

My neighbour stole that comfort from me and my pet when my elderly cat Poco was dying. On the very day that I decided it was time for her to be taken to the vet and euthanised, I allowed her to climb the fence to see my neighbour one last time (she went to see her every day). She never came back.

My neighbour rang the RSPCA, told them that my cat was a stray, and they came and took her away and put her down. Strangers trapped her, took her away in a van, and injected her as part of a factory euthanasia setup. Her last hours would have been spent wondering why I wasn’t there.

I’m not speculating about this, because my neighbour told me herself that she had called them (in an attempt to shame me about not having had Poco put down earlier), although she didn’t tell me that she had lied to them: I found that out when I called them to clarify why they hadn’t spoken to me about euthanising my cat.

I still miss Poco dreadfully, and it’s a gnawing festering pain rather than a sweet nostalgia because of the way her life ended. I can’t see the fence she climbed every day, and that I let her go and climb the day she was taken to die alone, without feeling pain. I have planted shrubs along the fence line so that I don’t see my neighbour so much, but they’re still young and I still occasionally see glimpses of her. Whenever I do my fists clench and my teeth grind. I can’t forgive her betrayal of neighbourly trust, and I certainly can’t forget. She’s old, and I just want her to get on and die already.

Losing a companion animal is always awful. My heart goes out to Chris and Becky as they attempt to adjust to life without Zeke’s gorgeous ears to rub. At least he wasn’t stolen from them to meet his end.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, relationships

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11 replies

  1. What a cruel thing to do. I’ve always held my animals so they wouldn’t be frightened while the rest of the family usually sobbed in the car. Surely they could have brought her home to you, that’s heartless and now I’ll have to go and pat my geriatric pain in the butt cat for a minute then I’ll feel better.

  2. Such a sad story tig and a cruel, heartless thing to do as JahTeh said.

    I remember how bereft The Beloved was when she had to put down her dog just over a year ago. At least she was there for him when he had to go. She still misses him.

  3. I so relate to horrible, stupid neighbours and the loss of a beloved pet. And shitty comfort I know.. but Paco would have had a loving home with you,and many cats/dogs etc dont get that.

  4. Thanks, all. I do still have moments of happy memories of her, and our remaining much younger cat fills much of the Poco-shaped gap (a very different personality though).
    Most of the time my neighbour-hate is just reflexive: I catch a glimpse, I clench my teeth and mutter “bloody[name]”, then look away and get on. This week it’s made me angry and weepy at a deeper level again.

  5. And JahTeh: I don’t blame the RSPCA at all. They went on the information they had about a stray cat that was obviously deathly ill, and I didn’t call them until the next day after she’d told me what she’d done, by which time the bodies had been disposed of.
    They were very professional too: they wouldn’t tell me who’d called, all they did was confirm that they had been called out to collect an injured stray that day in my suburb, and that they’d only had one call from my suburb that day. If she had actually reported me for cruelty they would have contacted (interrogated?) me, but she just lied that my cat was a stray.
    They were horrified when I told them what had happened, and I presume my neighbour is now on a list of “problem” callers.

  6. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I read it last night. What a terrible thing to do. Neighbours can be hard.

  7. I’m so sorry, Tigtog.
    I haven’t been able to read Creek Running North without bursting into tears for some time now. Zeke touches me. Then I go and cuddle Maggie. She’s so young and beautiful, but one day she’ll be shaky and rheumy-eyed. I hate it that their lifespans are so much shorter.

  8. How dreadful for your old Poco to have been put through this by someone you and she trusted. No wonder it gnaws at your heart. I doubt that my eighteen year old cat will be with us for much longer, but I have been saying that for over two years as she becomes thinner and her coat grows duller. However, she still has a V8 purr and makes it quite clear to us and the vet that her quality of life for now is fine, thank you very much.
    Her ageing has been a process uncannily like the failing of parents which we went through some years ago. How unfortunate that your elderly neighbour is not wise enough to see the parallel; as I age I find myself increasingly reminded of my mortality and that I am also an animal. Now your foolish neighbour has lost you, someone who might have made her old age less painful.
    People can be bloody shockers, can’t they.

  9. They can indeed, aml. Thanks again to all of you for commenting. This post has been wonderfully cathartic for me.
    As an aside, if she’d been a couple of years younger she would have been microchipped when we got her desexed as a young’un, and the standard RSPCA procedure would have been to contact the person listed against the microchip details before euthanasing her. Which would have been me.
    Yet another reason to microchip your pets.

  10. Tigtog, you will probably have thought of this already — but if it’s even a tiny shred of comfort, I have never encountered a single person working for the RSPCA or the Animal Welfare League who wasn’t soothing, gentle and loving with all animals. I had to take a stray kitten to be put down last year — found it in the gutter, mangled by a car and then mauled by a dog, rained on, flea-infested and very near death, covered in blood and dog slobber — and they treated this filthy, dying scrap of stray felinity with great tenderness and respect. They will have spoken softly to Poco and handled her gently.

  11. Pav, that’s actually a great comfort. It’s what I hoped and wanted to believe, but your description made me see it, too. Thank you.

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