Inspiring Pets Who Have Passed Away
Pets are our beloved companions, our safety blankets, and our loyal protectors. Even after they have passed from our sight, pets remain a memorable part of our lives, reminding us to stay focused on simple gifts such as love, loyalty, and gratitude. Here, Beliefnet honors those pets who are gone but who still remain a very present part in their owners' lives.
Click through this gallery to see the extraordinary pets.
This is my parakeet, Spirit. Spirit was exactly that to me--a spirit. He passed away in October 2006 in my hands. He was always with me, when I laughed and when I cried. He was almost human, eating from my dish and sleeping on me when I would sit or lay down. I miss him terribly, but whenever I am sad I think of him and my [own] spirit is lifted. I have six birds and someone gave me another parakeet recently that is so much like Spirit, I feel that Spirit sent him to me. [The new parakeet] is bringing me the joy that used to be from Spirit.
We got Cocoa when he was but a tiny puppy, only 5 weeks old. He became my protector and lifesaver. I raised four sons that were quite big. All of them played football. My oldest son would get rough with me on occasion, and Cocoa would come between us. In 1994 we lost our son Carl. The months that followed were very dark for me. Cocoa would sit on my lap at night as I sat in my room crying. He helped me to get through it. When my health started to fail, he never left my side.
I lost my beloved Cocoa four years ago on August 9. He had congestive heart failure, and it was my turn to comfort him. I know he is in Heaven with his buddy [Carl], romping and playing like they always did. He was my savior, and I know God made sure he had a great place in Heaven.
Pumpkin was with me for 11 years and was my sunshine through a divorce, a job loss, and every good and bad day of our lives. He stayed close to anyone in the house who was under the weather emotionally or physically. There was not a person or creature Pumpkin did not love. He was loved by all, even those who did not like dogs. I considered that the greatest compliment of all. If I was sitting down, he was on my lap. He was thankful for everything we gave him, and he had no idea of the solace and joy he brought me every single day--just seeing his little face and his wagging tail. I lost him to cancer. I only hope I gave him the comfort during his last days that he gave me every day of his life.
I found Maggie, or I should say she found me, on a trip out west 10 years ago. We were hiking at a campground near Gallup, N.M., when, seemingly out of nowhere, this beauty became our trail guide. It didn't take long for her to find her way to my heart.
We learned from an employee in the park's gift shop that Maggie had been abandoned and lived in the campground as a stray for several months. It was an early April day, and we were surprised as we came out of the shop to see it had begun to snow. Looking back now, I know that snow was a good omen: a sign that I would have this special white dog in my life.
We brought Maggie home to Wisconsin, and she was my best friend--smart, sweet, loyal, and the most intuitive dog I have ever known. She showed her gratitude to us every single day. After many healthy and vibrant years, her health began to decline, and we made the difficult decision to let her go. Maggie died in my arms on July 15, 2007. I will never forget my "mack-a-doo."
Cheni-Ruth was our first Cornish rex cat. We named her Ruth after the wonderful lady in the Bible. Cheni-Ruth literally saved [the lives of] my wife, my son, and myself.
It was on a Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m. when Cheni-Ruth jumped on the bed to pat my wife on the face until she finally awakened. She awakened me and said, "Honey, do you smell gas?" I immediately jumped up, ran to the back room where our hot-water heater was, and turned off the gas to the heater. I then called the gas company, and their first words were: "How lucky you are because in five more minutes you and everything in this house would have been totally destroyed."
We truly owe our lives to one great cat because of her persistence, love, and concern. When Cheni-Ruth passed from this life, I wrote a memorial to her which stated, "You saved our lives, we couldn't save yours." Cheni-Ruth was 24 years of age when she passed away. God rest her soul!
My pet, Autumn, is no longer with us, but she leaves a legacy behind. We learned of her cancer in June of this year and faced many decisions. Initially, we were told a simple operation would heal her. We prayed and learned faith. She came through the surgery well and seemed fine. We learned to be thankful. Two weeks later, the cancer came back with a vengeance, and we were faced with the hardest choice a person can make. We again prayed for guidance. We learned to keep our faith even through heartache and disappointment. She went home in July. We learned that everything that happens is part of God's plan, and you should accept that some things cannot be changed. We learned humility.
We have since adopted another homeless dog and are learning that while you cannot replace a loved one, you can heal with the love bestowed upon you by God.
My best friend, Sadey, was put to rest on June 5, 2007. It was very unexpected, as she had just been in for her annual exam and all tests came back normal. Just two weeks later, we found out she had a tumor on her spleen that ruptured.
She was my best friend, shadow, shoulder and ear, co-worker/"office dog," and protector. Sadey was an amazing dog and so in tune with my moods. She had a wonderful 11 years and gave me the best yet. She taught me so much about love--[how to] enjoy the simple things and how fortunate I am to be here. Until we meet again, sweet Sadey, I love you always.
"Heavenly Father, creator of all things, thank you for having entrusted with us a loyal pet. Thank you for letting her teach us unselfish love. Thank you for the memories that we may recall to help brighten our days for the rest of our lives. Finally, in gratitude we return our pet to you. Amen."
Suki, my beloved akita, was the gentlest soul I've ever met...Even though this breed has a negative image when it comes to dealing with small animals, Suki loved them all--our cats, the neighborhood strays, the squirrels, the birds--it made no difference to her. She treated all of them with kindness.
She also taught me about perseverance and unconditional love. When I had a severe attack caused by multiple sclerosis, she found ways to cheer me up when I was down. On days that I was reduced to tears, she would come to my side and hug me until I cried myself to sleep. Then, she would remain at my side, watching me sleep until my husband came home from work. Suki had a huge part in my rehabilitation, gently prodding me to walk, but keeping an eye on me to make sure I wouldn't get too tired. Through every step, there she was--supporting me with her body to stabilize me while I walked.
She gave me courage when mine failed, she made me smile when I felt like crying, and she gave me so much love that I still carry it with me! Suki went to the Rainbow Bridge five years ago, but her love and the lessons she taught me will be with me the rest of my life.
Although my cockapoo was almost 7 when I met my husband, Terry, Hershey took to him almost immediately. A brittle diabetic for many years, Terry endured the rollercoaster of high and low blood sugars that has affected him since his late teens. Hershey made it his job to watch over Terry, in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
One night, Hershey, who shared our bed, starting digging at my legs, which he had never done before. I thought he might have to go outside, but he wouldn't budge from Terry's side; he just kept digging at my legs. Finally, he let out a big bark. I shushed him and looked over at Terry, but he didn't wake up, which was unusual. Feeling something was wrong, I tried to wake Terry to check on him, but he wouldn't wake up. I ran for his testing kit and tested his blood sugar; it was 28! I ran for orange juice, propped Terry into a half-sitting, half-lying position, and slowly trickled the juice down his throat. Gradually, Terry came around, and we were able to get him something to eat and some more juice. After I was satisfied that he was okay, we went back to bed.
In the morning, I told Terry what Hershey had done and how he had saved Terry's life by waking me. Terry never grumbled at Hershey again, and they became even closer, special buddies.
We lost our Hershey this past May; he was 14 1/2 years old. We miss him every single moment of the day. We buried him in our backyard and built a garden for him. It's hard to imagine our lives without him, but we know our lives were better because he was a part of our family.
In March 1991 I opened up a new business in New York City, a venture that I thought would be a life-changing experience. Little did I know that my real life-changing experience was due to arrive in August 1991 sporting a fur coat and four legs. Who could have known that a precious puppy who wandered alone on a dirt road in North Carolina would change the lives of many?
Dakota was such a sweet soul. She became a working girl and was the meeter and greeter at our office. Her calm demeanor put a smile on the faces of our clients. The years flew by with my cherished companion, and we shared nearly 15 years of an adventurous life together. In late December 2005, I got up and found her looking sick and panting terribly. Twelve hours later she looked into my eyes one final time and took her last breath at home. I was in shock, disbelief, and numb with pain. How did I not see that my baby was dying before my very eyes, how could the vet not know?
In my endeavor to feel better I started scouring the internet for answers, anything that could help me cope with this extreme pain I was feeling. It was then that I realized that there was not much help for pet owners that were grieving the loss of their four-legged family member. I decided to do something about this void. I became a Certified Pet Loss Grief Recovery Specialist, and I designed and launched www.petseverlasting.com, a pet loss comfort community online last year. Every time I receive an email thanking us for our help and friendship I realize the wonderful gift of love my sweet Dakota gave me and so many others.
--The Reverend Dee S.