Being an animal lover is a very big part of my identity. There have ALWAYS been inimals in the house. The first pet I have memories of is Fluffy. Original name, I know. Fortunately I can't take credit. I was just a toddler when we got him.
Fluffy was a multi-coloured, long-haired, mixed-breed cat. I adored him. The first thing I would do when I would come home was look for him. He was generally easy to find. He was a bit on the lazy side and didn't wander far from the Lazy-boy recliner he was usually curled up on. He must have been very patient and tolerant because I'm sure I carried him around the house constantly.
I still remember the day Fluffy passed away. I was in grade one. Death was something I hadn't personally experienced yet. It was a very abstract concept.
I came gome from school and immediately began my search for Fluffy. I checked his usual retreat on the recliner and when he wasn't there I found my Dad and asked him if he knew where Fluffy was.
I'm sure my Dad had been dreading that moment. The moment when he had to try to explain to his baby girl that her beloved pet was gone forever. Apparantly he decided that the simple truth would be best. He matter-of-factly told me, "I'm sorry. Fluffy is dead."
Death at that point meant nothing to me. I simply responded, "No he's not. Where is he?" My Dad calmly repeated that Fluffy had been sick and he died.
Still unconvinced I searched the house. I distinctly remember checking the furnace room. That must have been another of Fluffy's favourite spots although aside from that particular day I don't remember looking for him there.
I am not sure how long I searched for Fluffy, refusing to accept that he could possibly be gone for my world. I'm sure it broke my Dad'd heart, watching his girl search in vain for the friend he knew was gone for good. He let me keep searching, somehow knowing that until I had looked everywhere I wouldn't be able to accept that Fluffy was gone.
I don't remember the tears, although I am sure I became inconsolable once the reality set in. I have had many pets since Fluffy. I have had cats, dogs, hamsters and fish (which my Mom says I should just flush right down the toilet rather than bother putting them in the tank because I kill them so fast) I have loved them all and grieved for them when their time has come.
So this posting is in loving memory of all the animals who have enriched my life: Fluffy, Penny, Wrecks, Betelguese, Zazzy, Missy and Dooftac (Catfood spelled backwards.....he was my first fish). Thanks for teaching me about loyalty, unconditional love and the fact that the bond of friendship lasts far beyond our existence in this world.