Sadly, my lovely dog Dave died a few weeks ago after being ill for about a year. He was with us for nearly eleven years, which didn’t seem anywhere near long enough. He was a constant friend, a playmate and loving companion and we miss him very much.
Attachment to animals
As the first intensity of my grief is fading, I have been thinking about people and their attachment to animals. I can remember my uncle and his budgie; he would sit with it on his finger for hours talking to it, it would walk on his shoulder and then on to his head. As was growing up I nearly always had a pet: a gold fish, a budgie, then a dog. As I grew older and had my own place first I had cats, and now I have dogs. Animals have always been a huge part of my life and many people have similar experiences, where animals are a large part of their lives from childhood through to adult hood. I think that our relationship with our pets and animals is a very significant one. It offer us an experience of connection, contact and what it feels like to look after and care for another creature that is vulnerable and dependent on us.
Part of my grieving process has been to talk to friends and family and remember Dave. To talk about how much I miss him, how painful it has been that he has died and as I have talked about him people have shared their thoughts, feelings and experiences of their animals too.
A colleague talked about how dogs look at us, the warmth of their gaze as they stare into our eyes. Another shared her thoughts about how deeply we love and attach to our pets. She believes it is a relationship that is less complex than with another person, because with a person we may defend ourselves against being vulnerable in case of being hurt and may protect ourselves by being defensive. Not so with our animals. I think we love them as they love us – unconditionally.
What part have animals played in your life? Have you any stories of family pets or animals you have known that you want to share?