BigKath: Just in case you were wondering, "bigkath" is made up of the first part of my last and first names and has nothing to do with my size. :o)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Don't judge. We all have "tumors."

If you have never had a pet that you loved and cared for, stop reading now...You won't understand this.

My sweet little Raya died on December 11th, 2013. 

I only had her for a short 8 months. She was 8 years old and should have lived until she was at least 12.

Loosing a pet really is like loosing a family member. It felt like loosing a sibling.

It happened so quickly. That morning I heard her usual whine as I was getting ready. Only this morning, it was more of whimper. I went to get her and she was sprawled out outside of her bed. She was cold.  Something was wrong. I was worried, upset, and crying. It was 6 a.m. and I had to get to work. I was still new to pet ownership and didn't know what I should do. I woke up my brother, Joseph. He said he would take care of her. I thought I would take her in to the vet when I got home.

I went to work, worried. Joseph decided that she needed to get to the vet that morning. He couldn't get her warm. They did x-rays. She had a large lump in her abdomen. Joseph called me at work. I knew as soon as I answered his call that Raya was dying. Joseph couldn't even speak, he was so emotional. In tears, I left everything at work and went straight to the vet to say goodbye to my little friend and soul mate.

When I got there Joseph had her in his arms. He was in tears (Joseph has always has a sweet heart when is comes to animals). I was in tears. He said "She's kind of already gone." Raya wasn't responding to voices or to her name and she was twitching.

She was cold... so cold. It broke my heart. Nothing I could do would make her warm again. I hate being cold and so did she. Raya loved snuggling in blankets. We were perfect snuggles buddies because I love blankets too. I remembered that we were going to get her a heated bed to keep her warm for Christmas just a few weeks away. She would have loved that.

As I held her little body, I kissed her cold head and told her that I was sorry I couldn't fix her and that I loved her.  It was so painful to see her suffering. She was twitching and in a lot of pain. It was time to let her go. The vet came in. She said, "It goes pretty quickly." The vet gave her the shot. She jolted a few times. But within 30 seconds, Raya was gone. She was still and at peace.

The vet was very kind and carefully put Raya into a box. In tears, Joseph and I took her home to my parents house to bury her. My dad and brother dug a hole under the snow and my dad said a sweet prayer and we buried Raya with her little bell so that she will jingle in heaven.

I learned a lot from Raya. I opened my heart and learned to love something I didn't think I could love.  Her unconditional love kept my heart soft. Her excited squeals every time I came home melted my heart each day. It was so nice to come home to someone who was excited to see me and loved me no matter what. She was a brave little thing. Despite her tiny size, she had no problem chasing a dog 3 times her size half way down the block, or running over and barking at the creepy man walking by the house. She wasn't afraid. She conquered her fears. She was also extremely entertaining. Watching her try to eat a spaghetti noodle hanging from above was one of the funniest things I've even seen. She was also learning to sit and lay down (you CAN teach an old dog new tricks) but she wouldn't sit unless she was on carpet. :)

We liked to collect tennis balls on our walks in the park
(She was a little camera shy)
I was never a pet person before. I could never understand why people would want a stinky fur ball who leaves messes around your house or yard. Now I understand... It's because of LOVE. These sweet animals are so full of love. They fill the emptiness in our hearts. They give us a chance to practice serving and loving them.  Just a year ago I never would have understood what it is like for someone to loose a pet.  I would have thought..."oh that's sad your dog car died once." I knew loosing a pet was sad and frustrating. But I had no idea how emotionally attached you become to these cute little fur balls. I can now empathize better when other people experience death of a loved one -- animal or human.

Hindsight, I had been having problems with Raya the last several months of her life. She started leaving messes around the house and was barking more at night. She never did that before. I was frustrated with her and trying to discipline her. But now I know that she wasn't trying to be defiant. She was just sick and didn't know how to tell me.

I wish I had known she was sick. It wouldn't have prevented her from dying, but I would have treated her so much differently. I would have been more patient with her and would have kept her warm and more comfortable. I would have let her sleep in my room. She just wanted to be with me at night and didn't want to be alone. But I didn't let her.

I have learned not to judge. We don't always know what a person (or animal) is going through. Maybe they have a big tumor inside. It could be a physical ailment, or maybe an emotional or spiritual "tumor." We might be frustrated about people's actions, but if we understood what they were experiencing and the "pain" they were in, we would have compassion for them. Shouldn't we treat all people with compassion and understanding? We all have "tumors." We all have weaknesses and things we are trying to change and improve about ourselves. Let us all be a little more loving and understanding and give people the benefit of the doubt.

I miss my little Raya every day. I'm grateful for the time I got to spend with her and the things she taught me. Raya better be there in heaven to greet me with her happy squeals!