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Facing the sweetness and sorrow of the bond
Saying goodbye reminds us of our love for the creatures that share our lives.
It's been a rough few months for cat owners in the Veterinary Economics offices. First, in December, technical editor Dr. Heather Lewellen lost Thumper, who was "a good old kitty." Also in December, art director Alison Fulton realized her elderly Amadeus, whom she'd been nursing along for weeks, had stopped eating and purring—and started hurting. She called her long-time veterinarian, took Amadeus in one last time, then took the rest of the morning off to hold a wake. And finally, in the middle of a January night, senior editor Brendan Howard awoke to his cat Cassie's screams of pain, rushed her to the emergency clinic, and learned there was nothing to be done but mercifully end her suffering.
So there have been tears, sympathy, and low spirits all around in these last weeks—as well as some beautiful reflections. (To see for yourself, visit our Community page, click on Blogs, then find the entries titled "Remembering Amadeus," "Last night was not a good night," and "He was just a good old kitty.") I hope the grim reaper of pets stays away from these parts for a while. We've had our share.
Not long ago Dr. Melody Heath had her share, too, and she also wrote about the experience—then sent the result to us. After we sniffled our way through the manuscript, we decided we had to publish it. The problem was, we had to keep reading it—many, many times, as per usual in the editorial process. And darn that Dr. Heath if I didn't bawl my eyes out every time I read the piece. Including yesterday, my final read. I'm sure when I read the print version (see "The last act"), I'll weep again.
But it has been cathartic—for me, anyway, and perhaps for Heather, as you'll see if you read her blog—to have that article circulating during these weeks when we've said goodbye to our own animal companions. Something about the death of a pet—looking into those eyes one last time, knowing he or she trusts us to do the right thing—brings the fiercest of our love to the surface. Even if we're experiencing it vicariously through reading.
So I hope Dr. Heath's article is a blessing to you, too: a reminder of your love for your own pets and your clients' love for theirs. Because we all need to be reminded once in a while of why we do what we do. And love is a pretty good reason.
Kristi Reimer, Editor