Friday, August 03, 2012

Grieving a Pet

I'm generally not keen on sharing personal or sad news online, but I currently have a very sick canary.
My experience with these creatures leads me to believe he'll die sometime quite soon, though he is scheduled to see the vet.

Hilts - on blog Pictures, Images and Photos

This crappy situation has recalled in my mind previous pet bird deaths, and I'm going to tell you a story about one.

A person I know, likely not meaning to do harm or be viscous, once responded to "my canary's just died and we're very sad about it", with "well, it's just a bird".
I suppose comparatively one could say it's easier to bond with a dog or cat. But grieving over a pet seems to have an awful lot more to do with the human than the animal.

I'm not on some campaign to end flippancy to unconventional pet owners' grief and love for their animals; just ruminating on how people decide to draw the line, culturally, on
1) what animals are acceptable "pets"
2) what animals are high-level "companions"
2) what animals are low-level "furniture", and don't require or induce dear feelings from their owners

Another one of my favourite stories:
I was at the vet, in the waiting room. Just arrived, holding my bird's cage. A woman with a cat in her arms comes right up to me. She coos to her cat "look kitty, lunch!"
I kid you not, folks.

Of course, the bird's already in a high-stress situation. They're easily stressed animals. Putting a predator right in its face is not going to help. At least, it's not going to help the bird, but I suppose the bird doesn't matter.

End rant masquerading as rumination.

If anyone's interested, I'll keep you updated on my poor little guy's progress. It's Hilts, by the way. He's made more than one appearance on the blog.

18 comments:

Orli said...

Regardless of how much other people think your pet is "worth," obviously Hilts is a very important part of your life. Your love for him is evident in the photos you've shown on the blog, and his personality (so much bigger than his actual size) shines through.

I'm so sorry that he is sick. My best wishes are with you and him, and may you both find peace.

Bridget said...

Oh I feel for you - we had two canaries at different times, and growing up we had parakeets (as well as dogs and cats). They are FAMILY, and they are a LIFE. And as long as they are loved, it shouldn't matter "what" they are.

When a friend of mine said something to the effect of "Well, it's only an animal, you can always get another," I asked her what she would say if one of her children died, and I said that oh well, she could always have another. She stopped speaking to me. I don't miss her.

Please try to be OK for yourself, Hilts, and the other sweethearts. Everyone at our house (human and otherwise) will be keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

God bless you.

ekittie said...

Some people just don't get it.
(huge hugs)
I'm so sorry Hilts isn't doing well. I, too, wish both of you peace in this difficult time.

Bonnie said...

I wrote a blog entry mourning my GOLDFISH. I'm sorry sometimes people don't understand how important pets are. I hope Hilt gets better very soon.

handmadebytracie said...

I am so sad to hear that your canary isn't doing so well. :( I hope he pulls through.

I have a 19 year old cockatiel named Bird and about 14 years ago I almost lost him because he was having seizures. He had to be given shots every day for a while (a few weeks I think), but eventually he recovered.

You never know, hopefully Hilts will have a good outcome after his trip to the vet.

Hunny Bunny said...

It makes me sad that people can be so callous. My experience teaches me that people like that just are... no matter the situation. I had birds when I was little and adored them to bits.
Now I have three cats, a dog and twelve chickens. Ten are laying hens and the other two ended up being roosters. I need to rehome one of the roosters for safety, before it starts fighting the other one. You know what, it breaks my heart. Seriously, they all have such personality and I adore them.
Some people are cruel for fun and then there are the rest of us. The only consolation is that people like that are rarely happy, about anything, ever.

Debbie said...

So sorry about your canary. I am someone who mourns each loss of one of my chickens...as they are all my sweet pets. Even spent last Thanksgiving at the vet trying to save one that my daughter's dog had attacked. The irony of the day wasn't lost on me. I would much rather be like you - heartbroken with each loss and know that my heart has a place for all animals equally than be one of the clods who doesn't appreciate every life. Hope he pulls through.

kingshearte said...

One of my close friends keeps amphibians of various sorts, and is *very* attached to them. She lost one of them a while ago, and it was kind of mind-boggling how callous some people were about it.

I'm sorry to hear that your little guy is sick. And a hearty "fuck you" to anyone who tells you "it's just a bird."

Seni said...

So sorry to hear that your sweet bird is unwell, I had a bird before and suffered terribly with his death, I still miss him a lot! I had cats and dogs too and their loss was equally painful, I really don't draw a line. No comments to human stupidity and unkindness shown on the situation you described.
Lots of love on your way :-)

Nanakat said...

How sad for people who don't understand what it's like to love a pet.

Any time we give, whether it's food or attention or time or all of them together, we grow love in our hearts for what/whom we give those things to. And the more we give, the more love grows.

When we give to another living creature, and our giving is received, a bond develops between us, and the creature that receives manages to give back to us in some way, small as it may be.

Again, how sad the people are who do not experience and understand this.

And how blessed you are to have Hilts. May you enjoy each other's company for a long time yet.

flossieKNITS said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. My boyfriend and his mother had a bird that was at least 40 years old (older than my boyfriend); when he passed, it was devastating. I dont care what kind of animal it is—family is family. If it brings you comfort and happiness, and you do the same for it, then who can question or quantify that bond.

Julie said...

i agree wih the previous comments, a pett is a pet, and just because it doesn't have fur doesn't mean it's less valuable or less loved. I completely understand how you feel, and I hope that the vet can help Hilts.

Meredith MC said...

People can be so insensitive- and I agree with you that bonding with a pet has a lot more to do with the person than the pet. Animals are how they are, and they respond based on the treatment they receive from their human companions. My brother keeps fish and there are a few that he truly loves and they have a relationship despite the lack of physical contact. When it comes to pets, I don't think there can be a "lesser pet." Just because most people prefer dogs or cats doesn't mean that they are inherently better pets. Everyone is different, and by that I mean humans and animals too.
I have a dog and cat (I object to thinking of them as my possessions and I don't think one animal (humans) can really own another, but I digress). People understand grief over these animals more easily, but there is still that feeling of "it's just a . . ."
Sometimes people can really be assholes.
I'm sorry about Hilts, and I hope he recovers. Hugs for you

Amy said...

I'm so sorry to hear your loved pet is unwell. Any animal can be a beloved companion and frankly many are more generous of spirit than people. Please do tell us how he gets on.

Natalie Servant said...

Sorry to hear Hilts isn't doing well.

The "lunch" lady was an insensitive idiot.

Mel said...

I'm heartened to see that I can add to the list of voices already here - having a good heart and a loving nature is a GOOD thing. Yes, folks like us tend to suffer a bit more, but I'd take that any day over being a jackass and totally insensitive. Hilts, I hope you start feeling better, buddy, because having you sick is no good. You, and all of your birdie family members, will be in my thoughts 'til you share more news.

Anonymous said...

I had a canary who kept getting eggbound. Even had surgery once to remove the egg. She finially died from it. I was heart sick. She just wanted to be a mom. Something very special about canaries. Grief isn't about the size of the animal, it's about the size of your heart.

Rachel said...

So sorry about your pet's ill health :( When I was a kid we had two canaries, and they were such cheerful pets to have and were so special! I hope his prognosis is good. (((hugs)))