Sunday, October 30, 2011

Helping Kids Understand Pet Illness

This weekend I was convinced that we might have had to put to sleep our sweet, adorable, fuzzy 17-year-old, old lady, Sammy the cat. Having lost her sister Maggie before Sarah was born a few years ago was a time that's hard not to forget and one that was extremely painful. I just wasn't ready to feel that pain again. For a child I can only imagine what it would feel like and was also not sure how Sarah would react and the emotional upset that would come for all of us.

With Sammy's thyroid disease taking a toll on her she was not eating or drinking enough water and became dehydrated. She was not acting like herself. She was not responsive to her favorite foods and activities or even belly rubs. After a trip to the vet, Sammy was administered intravenous fluids and started to perk up again. Thankfully, she is okay for now but needs to get IV fluids from us at home and then go back to the vet next week for a follow-up visit.

The sad reality is that Sammy is an old kitty cat who has lived a very long and happy life with the occasional illness impacting her. She has been loved, cuddled, pulled at, petted and embraced for many, many years. She has impacted all of our lives, and especially Sarah.

Sarah has developed a special bond with Sammy. She kisses her, hugs her, pulls her tail on occasion, makes her arts and crafts projects, and shares her love for her on a regular basis.

This weekend I was not prepared for what might have happened to help her understand and accept the fate of her lovable kitty cat.

Watching the relationship that Sarah has developed with Sammy, and her appreciation for animals overall, I fear the day when Sammy will go up to Heaven and be with her sister and I will be left helping to mend Sarah's broken heart.

All we can do now is make the most of every day with Sammy and thank G-d for each day that we do have with her. It's a beautiful thing to watch the bond between a child and pet forge and foster over time. I know that the time will come when we will have to help Sarah understand that the people and animals in our lives do end and that they will always be in our hearts and minds forever.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a story on my blog called Sarah and The Green Balloon, to help teach Sarah that people and animals do go to Heaven and live in the sky after they have gone. And, while it's sad that those we love are no longer with us, they will forever be a part of us.

So, at this time, when I pray for Sammy to be around for many more years and for the bond between her and Sarah to continue to grow, here are some Haiku to remind us of the impact our pets have on us and our children and the place in our hearts they will forever hold.

To Sammy the cat
We all love you very much
To infinity

We are so lucky
To have you our sweet Sammy
Cute and lovable

Sarah and Sammy
A bond that is forever
Kisses, hugs and more

Our time with you
Sweet, adorable Sammy
Thanks for loving us

Pets capture your heart
Affect you more than you know
Constant love from them

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