Our family has lost three dogs and three birds in the past six months. It has been difficult. The lifespan of most pets is not the same as the lifespan of human beings so it is expected that you may lose a pet or many pets at some point in your lifetime. Whether the death of a pet is expected or not, it is still hard when it happens.
Our most recent loss was our 15 year old papillon named Patches. She was the daughter of Cleo, who passed away last October at 17, and the sister of Pippin, who passed away in January – also at 15. Patches wouldn’t harm a flea. She had more fur and was much bigger than our other papillons. She was very easygoing, sweet, and a little jumpy. She preferred to sit or sleep close to us. She loved to cuddle with her mother Cleo on the dog bed. Recently, she would bark every night for me to come upstairs to go to bed. She liked me to be upstairs with her. She also enjoyed our daily walks until she could no longer keep up with us.
For the last six months, she had spent most of her time sleeping in my room upstairs. She was living like a recluse, coming downstairs only to eat and go outside. We knew there was something wrong. She started having difficulty breathing so we took her to the vet who discovered she had cancer. The cancer had filled her lungs and breathing was difficult. The vet thought it was time, so he put her in my arms while he gently put her to sleep.
Bernie the cockatiel and our white parakeet died unexpectedly during a power failure we had this winter. It was too much for the two birds. My husband was home alone. When the temperature went down to the fifties, he started a kerosene heater. He and the other pets were fine, but the birds are sensitive, and between the cold and the heater, they didn’t make it. We were all devastated by the loss of the birds, especially by the passing of Bernie the cockatiel who was so full of personality. Bernie became a real presence in our home. He would fly to you, and sit on your shoulder, or on your computer. When he was in a cage, he would get upset and chirp loudly if he could not see you. I learned from Bernie and my daughter that you can have as close a relationship with a bird as you can with a dog. She misses him dearly.
Fortunately, our green parakeet, who I call “Freddy” (after Freddy Mercury, the singer in Queen) made it through the power failure. Freddy didn’t like being alone though. He had been alone before this happened so my daughter brought home a beautiful yellow and blue-green parakeet from the SPCA (the local animal shelter) to be his friend. They were more than friends but the yellow and blue-green parakeet died shortly after she brought him home, probably from old age. We immediately bought the white parakeet so Freddy wouldn’t be alone. They became fast friends and were happily chirping everyday.
Then came the power failure and the white parakeet passed away from the cold. Freddy would spend his time looking in a mirror and singing songs to himself. I believe he thought his reflection was another bird. We knew we would have to find him another “real” friend. My husband and daughter found a baby blue parakeet for him. I call the parakeet “Frankie” after Frank Sinatra (since the color of the parakeet is the color of Frank Sinatra’s eyes and he’s a great singer). My daughter says she wants to name both the parakeets different names, not “Freddy” or “Frankie”. Until then, welcome to our family “Frankie”! “Freddy” and “Frankie” get along great and love to sing together.
Our pet count now was down to two dogs, a cat, two parakeets and some fish. That might sound like a lot to most people but to us it was not. The house was so quiet now and felt almost gloomy. I also forgot to mention that we had recently rushed our last remaining papillon, 12 year old Spot, to the emergency room because he fell down for no apparent reason. After the emergency vet visit, we found out Spot has a heart murmur that is severe. He is now on daily medication. He is still as playful as a puppy though. His best friend is 2 year old Nemo, who he plays with and goes on walks with everyday. Since we brought Nemo home almost two years ago, Spot’s ears have gone from one ear up and one ear down to both ears up.
Anyway, the quietness of our house and Spot’s looming medical diagnosis led us to do something crazy. We adopted another dog! He is a 6 month old Yorkie (short for Yorkshire terrier). We paid a woman a small rehoming fee for him. She said she wanted to keep him but her other “teacup” Yorkie was not nice to him. He was advertised as a “teacup” Yorkie, but he is five pounds so we are not sure if he technically is one or if he’s just a regular-sized Yorkie.
Whether he is a “teacup” Yorkie or not isn’t important to us. We were in the market for a small, quiet dog that our daughter could take with her to law school if she wanted. When we first met him, he seemed to be the perfect apartment dog. He was friendly and he didn’t bark or growl. She let a couple of her bigger dogs out of their crates and he played nicely with them. We had to make a quick decision because someone else was coming over to the house to look at him. We decided he was a “keeper” and took him home with us. Having this new puppy in the house helped us with our grief. He made our house happy again.
His name was Noah but our daughter changed it to Louis (pronounced Louie). I call him “Little Louis”. He is quiet and gets along with all of us, even the dogs. Louis is tiny and feisty. He plays with our dogs Nemo and Spot, loves to go outside, and most importantly he loves people. He should be a good apartment dog since he is small and doesn’t bark too much. Until then, Little Louis has fit right into our “zoo”. Welcome to our family Louis!
RIP – Cleo, Pippin, Patches, Bernie the cockatiel, the white parakeet, and the yellow and blue-green SPCA parakeet