If you have had pets, you most likely have experienced the loss of a pet. It’s excruciating pain for most that is much like losing a close friend or family member, most likely the latter. I think the hardest part is our pets are ALWAYS there with us during our daily lives. Whether it is when we come home from work and they come running or when we are sitting relaxing and they are cuddling with us or maybe they are on the floor on their comfy bed snoring…no matter where we are in our home, they are somehow, in their own way, with us.
Being a pet sitter, I connect with pets much like my own, especially those that I see on a regular basis. But, not necessarily. I can see a pet once every 6 months and we might have an instant connection 90% of the time. For instance, a client of mine right now has a cat that is a “stray” cat, that can mean many things to many people, to me, that usually means it is someone’s cat but they didn’t pay enough attention to him or her so it wandered to the next best person they could find – a neighbor or anywhere there might be food and shelter. This cat (still not sure if it’s a boy or girl but I call him a boy) has connected to my heart so fast and I just love him. Today, I actually got him into the sunroom for some MUCH NEEDED love and attention. He was on my lap and getting belly rubs. My clients haven’t been able to get this close to him yet and he’s been coming around for a month or so. It’s a connection with animals that I’m proud of and I’m happy that I have. It makes my heart skip a beat.
So, because of that special connection I have, when our clients lose a pet, I lose a pet. As a pet sitter, it’s truly a sadness similar to the loss we feel when we lose a pet. We don’t see them every day like we would our own but just knowing they are there and waiting for us, is a joy to us. We know the pain our clients are suffering and in our own way, we suffer as well but other than telling our clients we are so sorry and how wonderful their pets were and how much we loved them, we don’t always get to share our feelings of loss. We can tell our spouse or our family about the pet and how much they meant to us but the mourning of our 4 legged clients is truly an inside job, in our hearts, we are hurting. We think about them when we pass their house on our way to another client’s house, we come across other pets that remind us of them and we see pictures of them on our phones that we took when they were happy and enjoying our times together. We also may help their 4 legged brothers and sisters mourn the loss, sometimes left alone for the first time in their lives in the house while their pet parents are at work. It’s part of the responsibility we have as a professional, as their pet sitter, we are there for them always. The connection is real, we aren’t just a person that comes and lets them out to go potty. We are there with them through the good times and the bad, feeling the pain right along with them. We talk to them about it, at least I do. I know many pet sitters that struggle to find ways to deal with the pain and loss of losing a 4 legged client. I have found talking to the pets that are left behind helps. They understand the most, they are feeling the loss as well. They NEED us to comfort them, which in turn helps us. Just like when we lose a 2 legged friend or family member, going to their funeral and talking with others that knew them helps our pain. And, also, sending a card offering sympathy to them helps us both. When we lose a pet, we will always be connected to our 2 legged client by that pet, always. We take that very seriously. We let them know we are here for them and we are sorry. We hope we have made a difference in their lives by caring and loving their pet. We will carry the memories we have of them with us forever. For that, we can be proud.