I've been thinking about our pets a lot today. This is probably because last night we discovered that one more of our original ten 4-H chickens died. We have only one hen from our original flock remaining. It is hardly surprising, given that it has been over 10 years since the little box of furry peeps arrived for us in the mail. When we finally gave in to our daughters' endless pleas to raise poultry, we decided as a family that our chickens would die of natural causes. None of us wanted to raise chickens for food. We do, however, savor their big, brown eggs. We gave them names and a nice place to live. Over time, our hens became pets, as much as chickens can become pets. We discovered that chickens do have personalities, and while they don't garner the affection that dogs and cats do, we've felt sad at the loss of every one of them.
In the past seven months we have also lost a dog, Cruz, and Ozzie, my beloved Siamese cat who graced our home for 16 years. Cruz could be a grumpy old fellow, and some people were afraid of him as he was big and slow to warm up to strangers. To us he was a big baby and a big part of the family. No one misses him more than our second dog, Toby. Without Cruz as company, Toby does not see why he should have to stay outside in the pen. (We have been considering changing Toby's name to Houdini because he quickly escapes from his pen every day. He never does it while we are secretly watching, and we have yet to figure out how he is getting out.) Toby has decided he much prefers being in the house with us and his two cat buddies.
I have grieved for our cat Ozzie more than I ever could have imagined. While there are many people in my life that love me very much, none of them have spent the day curled up next to me when I was sick, regularly appeared out of nowhere to snuggle with me when I settled on to the couch for the evening, or begged me for canned cat food promptly at 9:00 every night. After 16 years of unconditional love and affection, well, let's just say you really, really miss it.
Our family really loves our pets and I wouldn't have it any other way. As sad as it is when they leave us for the rainbow bridge, the fun and joy pets bring to us during their short lives makes for wonderful memories that will be treasured forever.