Meow Mix, Milk Bones and the Cycle of Life
by Samantha Fyleris, Tofino
"And so we lay to rest our dearly departed... Muffin".
Muffin the Cocker Spaniel had a knack for being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. Her owner, my high school friend Debbie, suffered a broken arm by tripping over the dog, and Muffin met her demise when she was hit by a car--for the third time in her short, accident-prone life. Although we may sometimes chuckle at the untimely passing of Boots the cat or (insert a silly pet name, you know you've named one at some point), every pet lives its own story, and we can't deny their important role in our happiness. I especially try to remember this when the many dogs populating my block off Lone Cone seem to trigger each others' barking right as I'm about to fall asleep.
A tiny, grey Angora kitten was my 8th birthday gift.
I named her Sam (quite creatively), and the bliss lasted 2 months until our neighbour, the driver of a large black van, came to our front door one evening with the somber"Is your father home?"
Next was Hoppy the rabbit. I do have to say at this point that my lack of originality in pet names is a little embarrassing. We adopted Hoppy at the local mall during one of those Easter animal sales which I now know is wrong on a number of levels, but was very appealing to a ten year-old. Point in case, a friend of mine had purchased her own spring pets: three fluffy little chicks who very quickly matured to an unpettable, uncute rooster and two hens. Imagine what must have went through her parents' minds as they tended to these farm animals in their suburban basement. But back to Hoppy, who was quite the neighbourhood novelty, until I woke one morning to find her deluxe, homemade cage empty in our back- yard. The bratty kid down the street, feeding my paranoia, alluded to the fact that his grandmother owned a shotgun and knew how to use it. Drama ensued, and to this day our families exchange only civil nods.
The goldfish in my college dorm room lasted but two weeks, despite my best efforts to feed them in a timely manner. Van was the first to go, and Halen joined him shortly thereafter in what I'm hoping is the luxurious, castle- and mermaid-ladened aquarium of afterlife. A big thank-you goes out to the generous boy from the floor above mine who performed the "burial" duties in the girls' washroom.
Two years after the fact, I still can't elaborate about poor Lucky, our 18-year old cat who lived well beyond her nine allotted lives. Moving forward, I had waited one month after her passing to pitch the idea of a new puppy or another cat. After receiving a threat combo of being disowned and having this same family member suffer a cardiac arrest, I realized how we could develop a strong emotional attachment to pets. After all, they're with us when we're not necessarily at our best and do not pass any judgment--or at least, we don't understand them if they're thinking "Steak for you and canned food for me, that seems fair".
The list of stories goes on, and we all have personal vignettes of our beloved, departed pets. Some of us (and you know who you are) are fairly more...
preoccupied with our animal friends than others. It's so subjective, isn't it? At least, that's what I try to think when I pass a dog who seems to own more clothing than I do.
I love walking on Chesterman Beach, where dogs will run right up you, or the Common Loaf, where there's usually a dog or two waiting outside while that famous Peasant Bread is picked up. Did you know that Jamie's Whaling Station houses a kennel with framed photos on the wall and a potted plant?
Unquestionably, big animal lovers who understand the bond we can share. To all the dogs, cats, birds, hamsters (never got the appeal, but nevertheless...), rabbits and reptiles who have shared our lives and endured trips to the vet, thanks for the memories and laughter, and know that you're not forgotten!
Sam looks forward to petting her next dog
and to wondering what it's thinking.