For All The Pet Lovers Out There…This One’s for You

April 7, 2013

A good friend of mine, Sheila Handley McDonald lost her beloved pet, Buffy last week and was devastated. Buffy was 16 years old and died in her sleep. Sheila knew Buffy’s health was deteriorating and had talked about having her put to sleep to relieve her pain but nature took its course before Sheila was forced to make this difficult choice. Even though Buffy went peacefully, it still did not dull the pain of her loss to her Master.

You see, Buffy was more than a pet…she was a loyal companion to the very end.  This sweet creature saw Sheila through some of the roughest times in her life, the most difficult ones were the loss of her mother to cancer, her father, who passed as a result of injuries from a fall,the death of a very special Aunt Joanne, and the tragic passing of her best friend, Carrie Smith. Sheila also lost her brother, Terry Handley some 30 years ago in an automobile accident. She was very close to him and has never quite recovered from this loss.

Sheila and Buffy formed a bond from first sight that only grew stronger over time. Buffy’s constant presence warmed Sheila’s heart and helped ease the pain she had endured through the heartbreaking losses in her life. “ I could hold her and talk to her and she seemed to listen” said Sheila.  Buffy went everywhere with Sheila and was always dressed to perfection.  She summed it up with “She was the child I never had”. Sheila’s love for animals showed everywhere she went. She never lets a pet pass her by without a kind word or a pat on the head. She even keeps dog treats under the counter at Young’s Drug Store, where she works for the customers in the drive-thru who have their pets with them.

Buffy’s health began to decline last year when she contracted a virus and had to stay at her veterinarian’s for over two weeks, because she could not keep anything down. Dr. Sanders was skeptical, but told Sheila not to give up hope on her furry friend. Dr. Sanders went above and beyond the call of duty with her care, and eventually Buffy finally began to get better. But age was taking its toll on her…

The day that Buffy passed, She and her husband, Roger laid her to rest in the corner of their back yard. Sheila called Pattye Sudduth, a beautiful, sweet lady and a fierce pet lover as well, who was by her side in mere minutes. Pattye is known for being the town caregiver to all pets, mostly the strays. Sheila and Pattye released pink balloons to serve as type of memorial in Buffy’s honor. Both shed tears for Sheila’s lifelong friend, but her heart seemed a little lighter as she watched the balloons rise and disappear into the skies.. Buffy’s resting place now has a headstone that reads “A Loving Companion” under her name with a beautiful little bouquet of pink flowers from her co-workers at Young’s.

My daughter, Angela, another huge pet lover, does not have children, but has many pets instead. All of her animals are rescue animals and she currently has 20 at this time. She loves them all and she chastises them much as one would a child. I often tease her by saying the only difference between her pets and children is that she can leave them alone during the day without going to jail. She recently lost Gertie, a beautiful long-haired Chihuahua, who she took in after she was brought to Dr. Sanders when she was found near death on the side of the road. Gertie was a spunky, loving little soul who gave as much love as she was shown. Gertie contracted cancer, and lived past her life expectancy due to tender, loving care she received from her master. Gertie lived a very rich life to the very end when she went peacefully in my daughter’s arms. She was buried underneath the very window she used to lay in everyday. Even though she has other pets, none will ever take the place of her dear, sweet Gertie. Losing Gertie was hard on me too… coming to her “Nana’s” was her favorite pastime.

Many people underestimate the power of a pet’s love and what it can bring into a person’s life. These are sweet creatures who love you unconditionally, that provide comfort and joy every day of their life. To see their little eyes light up and ears perk at the mere sound of your voice can sometimes make their day.  You can leave the room and come back back in five minutes later, and they will meet you with as much enthusiasm as if they had not seen you in ten years.These animals place you on a pedestal and nothing you do can ever knock you off of it in their eyes. A pet is a gift from God and should never be taken for granted. Pets fill a void in their owner’s life and when they are gone, they mourn just as they would a family member.

There are those who have never had children who view their pets as just that. Some people can never truly comprehend this bond, and until you live it, you will never fully understand. Pet lovers are ridiculed at times for their feelings, although I have never understood why. My opinion is this: if a person can love an animal with all that they have inside, their character is one to admired and respected. I feel these people are completely trustworthy, loving, and make the best loyal friends.

God Bless our furry little friends and their caregivers. Both rank in my category of “Angels Among Us” and they help make the world a better place


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