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4-legged family members

Over the past couple of weeks, several friends have posted on Facebook about losing a longtime pet. Most if not all mentioned that they felt as if a family member had been lost.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of sharing your life with a beloved pet, it might be harder to comprehend the loss that is felt. From personal experience the hurt is very real and the loss is felt deep inside of you. In fact, it could even be said that your heart aches over the loss.

Not to take away from the terrible grief of losing a family member or comparing a pet’s life to human life, there is still a grieving process that one has to go through. It may take several days of coming home and looking for your friend to realize that they are no longer with you.

You may even catch yourself walking through the house looking for them in their favorite spot or thinking that you have to hurry home and let them outside. You sit in your chair and they are not there to get their head rubbed or – in my case – wait for a snack from whatever I might be eating.

Now I know this may not be healthy and all you veterinarians would fuss. But I have a hard time turning down those sad eyes wanting to share your food.

The eyes are probably what makes you fall in love with an animal in the beginning. The tail may wag or “their motor may run,” but their eyes seem to look into your soul. No matter what type of person you are, most animals are willing to love you back unconditionally. Even animals which are not treated very well by their owners seek to please. Even when you scold them for misbehaving, they still come back looking for your approval. They do not care what kind of house you live in, where you work or if your car is new. They offer their love anyway.

Many have said after losing a pet that they do not want to offer their home to another one. The loss hurts too much and they do not want to go through the same thing again. But maybe you can come to the realization that this spanned generations, “better to have loved and lost them than never to have loved at all.”

Keep your memories of the four-legged family members, but don’t be afraid to share that love with another one.

Even medical science suggests that people who have pets live longer.

Randy Garrison is the publisher of the Hartselle Enquirer.