Over the past few weeks I have been privy to a number of beautiful things and although my job is undeniably difficult at times, it is those aspects which make it difficult that also take my breath away.
A number of my clients are facing Christmas alone for the first time in many, many, years. They have unexpectedly lost their furry companions down the road of life and they have been touched more deeply than either they or I could have anticipated.
We are a new hospital but we have moved in and been welcomed with open arms by an established community which has done without the services we offer for almost a decade, and my clients and their pets have quickly become fast friends and fixtures of my life. I couldn’t have asked for more and I have never felt more emotionally satisfied, but it has brought with it its own sorrow.
I have been let into these people’s lives and as such have been privy to the unbelievable selflessness, care and compassion they have for their pets. A relationship which is both extraordinarily substantive but which also carries with it some aspect of guilt. The relationship we are capable of developing with our pets is easy. And that’s what makes it so much less complicated than many of the relationships we form with our fellow human beings.
It is simple and uncompromised, our animals are nonjudgmental confidants and their manipulation is so overt as to be funny. Their anticipated presence, the things they have to offer; a warm soft head, a lick when you’re feeling down, even their mere presence, predictability and routine are all things which contribute to our sense of wellbeing, of comfort and of friendship.
Alas, to them we are immortal, we are there when they arrive, we never seem to age and we are present when they pass, and often their lives are so fleeting, a decade maybe two if we are lucky, but during that short time, they have so much to give that when they are gone we have lost what that relationship made us, we have lost a bit of ourselves, and undoubtedly, it was our better selves.
So in this time of family, of remembering and of good will, I would like to raise a glass of kindness to our furry companions past, present and future. May their lives be filled with warm beds, kind hands and soft words and may our hearts be the better for it. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
And ther’s a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie’s a hand o’ thine;
We’ll tak’ a right good willie-waught,
For auld lang syne.
(Auld lang Syne : Robbie Burns)