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  1. #1
    Systematic chaos Cenomite's Avatar
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    Default Preemptively terrified/depressed thinking about losing your dog/cat/other-pet?

    WARNING: Sad, babbling internet rant ahead. If you don't care about my own situation with regards to this topic, skip to the end.

    My dog is just turning 12, and he's really starting to show his age (extreme hearing loss, movement problems, etc). He's been with me since I was in 5th grade (I'm a 4th year in college now), and I just can't imagine coming home during breaks and having him not being there waiting for me. The very thought scares the shit out of me. I have a closer emotional attachment to my dog than I do with most humans; I don't know what it is, but I really love the guy.

    I know that it will be a few years before I really need to worry, but it's been sticking in my mind for this entire year and then some. Every time my parents tell me about a new problem he has, I freak out in my head. I think that it's made worse by my situation; I can't see him except for short 1-2 week breaks in the middle of the year, so I feel that my time with him is really running out. I try to make those 1-2 week periods count as much as I can.

    Sorry, I felt like I had to type that out or tell someone. I don't feel like telling my "real life" friends, because that might just make things awkward, and I don't like dumping my personal issues on other people.

    I'm not looking for a barrage of sympathy (honestly, that would just make me feel awkward), I just wanted to get all that off my chest.

    Luckily, INTERNET TO THE RESCUE!

    End random sad internet rant.


    Am I the only one who gets like this when their pets start to get old? I can't imagine so, but I'm wondering how many people do. If so, any mental tricks to cope with it? I've just been trying to spend as much time with my dog as I can when I'm around him.

    Anyways, general discussion about this issue in-particular, related issues, pets in-general, etc!
    The probability that I was procrastinating when I was typing this post:

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    P(having big assignment due | posting on TypoC) = 0.7

    P(posting on TypoC | having big assignment due) = .......


    Eh, I'll finish it later.

  2. #2
    The Duchess of Oddity Queen Kat's Avatar
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    I do. My cat is turning 6 this year and she's actually just turning very nice. She used to be a total bitch when she was younger and now she's getting more friendly. So I start liking her more. But cats don't live forever and I'd be totally broken if she wasn't around anymore. I mean, I first met het when she was just a baby. She just openede her eyes for the first time, she could barely walk and believe it or not, we had an instant connection. I didn't have that with her brothers and sisters. I'd miss her a lot.
    I was sitting outside the classroom waiting to go in, and I saw an airplane hit the tower. The TV was obviously on. I used to fly myself and I said, "There's one terrible pilot."
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  3. #3
    Patron Saint Of Smileys Gloriana's Avatar
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    No, you're not the only one Cenomite, not at all.

    My mom and I adopted three kittens back in 2000. One of them has already passed on, she started getting seizures that increased in severity over about 8 months. She was mine, so after putting it off for weeks and seeing her experience yet another seizure, I made the decision I had to make back in March 2009.

    That was the first time I ever had to deal with that. I was in the middle of a divorce, my ex husband had left me for another girl not five months earlier and thinking of letting her go seemed like more than I could bear, but I had to do it for her. It was very painful, to say the least.

    Presently, one of the other two we adopted is starting to show signs of early senility. She used to be a very quiet kitty but in the past year or so she has just started this incessant meowing for apparently no reason (we made sure she's not in pain, she's fed, has fresh water, gets attention, etc., she just doesn't stop meowing) and she has started to pee in the wrong places every so often. Right now things are okay, she's still 'with it' and is still bright and responsive, but we're not sure how this is going to progress.

    It has been hard for me too. I've noticed they're not as muscular as they used to be, their skins are getting thinner and their fur is graying. They can still jump and play, just not the same as they used to. I hate it too, I have a massive sentimental side and I personally have a very acute awareness when things start to change and it's time for me to accept that things won't be the way they were ever again.

    I understand bonding with an animal really deeply, it has been said a million times but they really are amazing companions during good times and bad because they don't judge and they're content as long as you treat them right. Sometimes they seem so much more appreciative of the love and kindness you give than a lot of humans, for sure!

    I knew this day would come, when the cats would become old and we'd have to start preparing for the inevitable, but it doesn't make it easier when it happens. I know it's going to hurt, I know I'm going to cry my eyes out, I know it's going to stick with me for awhile. I accept that I will have a period of grief though, and that it's perfectly normal.

    I think the most important thing is taking control of the situation and not letting that grief send you tumbling into a depression. Like I said, I was dealing with a divorce right when I had to put my kitty down, and I wasn't sure for a couple of days if I could handle it all. I had to force myself to get out of the house, I had to accept the grief I felt and work through it, I had to reassure myself that it wouldn't hurt forever and that I had the power to push through and know there would be days ahead where it would not hurt as bad anymore.

    It's just acceptance, I think. I can understand being terrified of the thought of how it will feel when your pet passes on, it hurts so bad that it's hard not to feel scared of it coming over you. Right now, I don't know how long our older cats will be here, but I'm trying not to dwell on this every moment I'm with them. I'm endeavoring to take their age into consideration and make a point to give them lots of love and appreciate them, but I'm just not allowing myself to think they might be gone at any moment every time I pick them up, y'know? I don't want to shadow what time I have left with them by feeling like I want to cry about losing them any time I touch them.

    In my mind, I just accept the day will come. Whether I think about it every single day until it happens or don't think much about it at all, the loss and grief will be the same. I just know in my mind that I can handle it. I think once you reach a place in your mind where you KNOW you can and will handle it, it makes it easier. Just knowing you can get through it helps by leaps and bounds.

    No one likes thinking about the prospect about anyone they're close to passing on, but I personally feel it's one of those things that must be accepted consciously. It will come with pain and grief and a lot of tears, but those feelings won't last forever. I think it's an important thing to keep in mind. I just think 'It's going to hurt, but I will cope, it will ease off, and life will go on". I know it can be cold comfort, but it's true. Both the grief I experienced with my divorce and the death of my cat at the same time passed, and life has gone on with renewed happiness. I think it's important to remember. For me, keeping that in mind renders the prospect of their passing on much less troubling.

    If this is making you physically sick and you're walking on eggshells all the time about this prospect, I'd suggest really putting aside some time for yourself to find ways of accepting and calming your mind. It can be overkill and make things worse if you rush to see him and just feel sad the whole time thinking "I have to do this with you before you're not here, I have to do that with you before you're not here". That can be tantamount to ripping your own heart out.

    I would think what you really want more than anything is to make sure he knows you love him and meant a lot to you. With animals, obviously this can be trickier since they can't tell us they understand. They really do, though. I think it might help to put time aside to think about all the things you've already done with him/for him and take time to truly appreciate how important all of this is.

    Make up your mind to accept that what matters most is the big picture of the life he has spent. If he's a happy guy, he's had a good life. You've already given him the most important gift. I'm sure you can think of all sorts of thing you never got around to doing with him, or things you wish you'd done differently, things you want to scramble and 'make up for'. That's normal and I went through it too. I don't want to upset you by saying it, but when I put my other kitty down I realized all the things I never did with her didn't matter. She had a good life and all that mattered was all the little things I HAD done with her, you know? It allowed me to move forward without regrets.

    Right now, I'm dealing with the knowledge two of my cats are getting old and we don't know how much longer they'll be here. I'm not thinking about it every day though. I'm just enjoying them while they're here, just like I always have. I accept the day will come and I will handle the grief when it comes. I keep an eye on them for any signs of discomfort, but I try not to panic when something comes up.

    I hope some of this may have been helpful. You're not alone and I personally don't think you have to justify anything you feel on this. It's very understandable.
    "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you...amazing things will happen" --Conan O'Brien

  4. #4
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    My sis's dog (she has two, both small dogs) just was diagnosed with cancer. He's old, his health was failing, he hasn't been able to even take care of himself, so the diagnosis explains a lot.

    She's in this horrible bind right now of deciding whether to spend large sums of money for chemo, to maybe extend his life up to another year, or just to embrace the inevitable and try to make the last days count and meanwhile make sure he's not suffering. She keeps flipflopping between putting him to sleep and trying the chemo.

    Honestly, a lot of her indecision comes from fear of loss. She doesn't want to lose her doggie, she loves him, and now she's become very aware of the hole he will leave behind once he passes on. But some things in life are inevitable, and this is one that we have to prepare ourselves for, since one day each one of us will move on and those who come after us will wrestle with the same questions and sense of loss. Since he is not my dog, I feel a bit freer to look at things objectively, and right now I see an old, tired animal who has had a hard life (he had been a stray), and so at least in the last few years of his life, he has had a master who loved him, and now he can't really see well or walk around anymore, and the cancer (full lymphoma) must be painful... so in a way, as long as he passes on in a calm peaceful manner, with Sis with him, then that is more of a life than any dog can ask for. It's more merciful to accept death, sometimes, than fight it, based on age and probable outcome.

    So in the face of that, your feelings are very understandable, and the fear of loss can be incredible. There's no shame in admitting that you feel very strongly about your dog. At the same time, it doesn't change what you might or might not have to do in order to deal with your dog's eventual decline. Accepting loss, however painful, is a very healthy thing, and it helps us deal with our own decline as aging continues. I would just make sure that you invest time with your pet now, when you can, and make the most of the time you have together so that there are no regrets as time moves on.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

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  5. #5
    Another awesome member. Curator's Avatar
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    You're not alone in this... *huggles*
    You are not powerless, you just need to accept your power for what it is, a part of the whole, no one man can save the world, but you can be a light to those who envelope themselves in darkness, The candle that sparks the inferno.

  6. #6
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    I think it's more intense when it's your first pet, or this is your first time being the primary pet owner.

    Our dog will be my 3rd dog to die, so I'm better prepared for it this time. However, it's my wife's first dog, so I'm sure she will be a mess.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Chaotic Harmony's Avatar
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    Oh Lord no! I was a miserable wreck when my cat's healthy really started deteriorating. (Oh crap, thinking about it has me in tears again) To give you an idea of how attached to this cat I was.... This cat had been in my life longer than all my friends. I got her when I was 11....I was 29 when we finally had to put her down before she starved herself to death. (Oh yeah, more tears now) She was 22 years old when I had to put her to sleep.... I just have to keep into perspective that she lived a super long life for a kitty and that she was well cared for and loved.

    She is my 6th pet I've lost, and it has never gotten any easier for me... Actually, I think this one effected me worse than the others because she had been with me for so many years. Each pet I've had seems to live a little longer than the previous one, so I grow even more attached to them.

  8. #8
    Diabolical Kasper's Avatar
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    I'm with ya Cenomite, I have two 12 year old cats, whenever one of them isn't well get a bit freaked. I'm terrified of coming home and finding one of them dead one day.

  9. #9
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    It’s my experience that all the preemptive grieving done over pets actually cuts down on the time spent grieving them afterwards. I remember my first cat- my family got her when I was about 11 years old, and she finally passed when I was 32- but I started getting really upset about how she wasn’t going to last forever by the time I was 20. I actually got upset about it less and less as time went on. And on the day she passed, though I was upset- realizing it was ‘the day’- I also felt incredibly relieved for her. By that point, she could barely walk. It was more about my loss than it was hers- she’s had a very full life and couldn’t have been more loved. Since I’d already thoroughly grieved my loss, I was totally okay.

    On the other hand, I lost another cat a few years back to kidney problems. I noticed she was getting skinnier, but she’d always been skinnier than my other cats so I didn’t make it a priority to bring her in until I noticed she wasn’t feeling well (she’d stopped eating, and was feeling/acting weak). She died less than 24 hours later. She was only 10 years old. And I think because it snuck up and came without warning that I was an absolute mess. I was a mess for weeks. I still can’t think about her without getting upset.

    It sucks for us to lose someone we love, and grieving is an unavoidable part of it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with grieving preemptively. You’re going to sooner or later anyway, and you may as well do it while that pet is still there to console you. I can’t imagine a pet thinking “this person is a real downer”- the way that people do when you feel incredibly sad around them- they’re just happy to be feeling loved (regardless of whether or not you’re grieving while showing them that affection).
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  10. #10
    Systematic chaos Cenomite's Avatar
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    Sorry, really late reply (and incidental bump via proxy). Just wanted to post a late-thanks to people for their replies, they helped out.

    On the bright side, I see my dog in a few weeks. Pics will be provided =D. WARNING: Looking at him for too long may make your head implode from awesomeness.
    The probability that I was procrastinating when I was typing this post:

    P(have big assignment due) = 0.6
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    P(having big assignment due | posting on TypoC) = 0.7

    P(posting on TypoC | having big assignment due) = .......


    Eh, I'll finish it later.

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