The Tragedy of Two Pets

In my life I have lost two pets. I don’t mean in death. I mean I lost them and have no idea where they went or what happened to them…

This is something for which I have carried much shame and much guilt. Not to mention the pain of wondering what happened.
When I was eighteen I adopted a cat from the vet clinic I worked at. His name was Howie (or Howard Stern when he misbehaved). I was working in the kennels and he chose me. He was black and white and I loved him.
Yet, I was selfish and was far more concerned about my “freedom” vs. his well-being. In the end he had become quite feral. I turned him off of humans. No one ever knew what happened to him. His collar was found in a field. I was told it was likely he had been attacked or eaten. I carried the shame, guilt, and grief of this for many years.
Around nine years ago, I received my Yorkie-Poo as a gift. I wanted her more than anything. I named her Kiska and spent a ridiculous amount of money getting her a crate, clothing, toys, and vet visits.
The person I was dating decided he also wanted a dog and shortly after I got Kiska, he dropped off a 4-week old pitbull puppy that we named Peru. Although it was “his” dog – I was the one responsible for the financial and emotional support, as well as the time it took to care for this dog. I had never owned a dog of my own prior to these two.
I was working two jobs at the time and had no concept of the time and energy they truly needed. It was difficult to juggle and in all honesty, I wasn’t always the best mom to my two fur-babies. But I did try.
Fast forward to when my babies turned two (they were only a month apart in age). Peru was a handful. He was a big baby but also ornery. He really needed someone who had time to work with him and honor his needs.
But he was always forgiving and loved to take up my entire bed and cuddle. He was a wonderful cuddle-buddy!
As he became bigger, he would eat and chew everything in sight. And I mean he would chew anything and everything. It shames me to admit I often neglected him. He became the dragon I couldn’t control and as time went on he became more aggressive. Not in a hurt anyone kind of way. He was always such a love. But more in a pay-attention-to-me kind of way…
But, truly, he became more than I could handle. At one point I gave him back to the boyfriend to whom he “belonged.” He was there for almost three months but when I learned of the neglect he received there (which was unbearable and broke my heart), I drove over two hours in the middle of the night to get him back.
Determined to renew my relationship with my baby, nurse him back to health, and pray for my absolution – Peru and I started over. He was healing and we were bonding. I loved him and had so much guilt and grief for what he had endured in the time we were apart.
One day I needed to go to the store. I had him on a leash in the backyard. He was not allowed to stay in the house, unsupervised, after eating the couch – yes, he quite literally ate our couch.
When I returned from the store (I was gone for less than 45 minutes) he was gone. I mean, vanished. I drove up and down the streets for hours, knocked door to door, called every shelter within a 100 mile radius and posted flyers everywhere…
Days passed. Then weeks. Months. Years. I never found him and I have no idea what happened to him. Did he run away? Was he stolen (the leash remained in my yard, intact)? Was he hurt? Did he die? Did he go to a happy family? Did they care for him and feed him well? Did they take care of him? Was he hit by a car? Euthanized?
Every day my mind went to the worst places and I would cry and cry. I loved him. Oh the guilt, grief, and shame for the previous months of neglect – why had I sent him away? Why didn’t I bring him with me to the store? I replayed that day – those 45 minutes in my head over and over again…
And my Kiska. If only she could talk. She would have told me what happened to her brother. To this day, she has never bonded with another dog…
A few years ago (literally five years from his disappearance) I was thinking of him and began to cry, to sob, and to really weep and grieve his loss. Over time, I had to learn to forgive myself. And it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I had to surrender and let go…It was eating me alive…All the guilt, shame, the what-if’s. I had to forgive myself for my shortcomings as a mom to both Howie and Peru…
And wherever they are – whatever happened to them, I pray they found peace and were happy…My fur-babies I hope, too, that they knew the love I carried for them in my heart…
“i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate,my sweet) i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” ~EE Cummings
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