We love our pets – we do anything and everything for them. The best food, the best medical care, the best toys, the softest beds (even though they just end up on the couch) and all-around the best life possible. We embrace every pet with the same love and dedication as the one before them. And they love us right back. But every once-in-awhile, we form an incredible bond with one of our pets. One that’s unbreakable. A bond so strong that you rearrange your life for them.
I call these remarkable pets. They get the two-way camera installed so you can video chat with them in the middle of the day. They fill up our friends’ social media feeds with more pictures than they post of their kids! When you’re having a bad day, they sense it and can make you feel better just by licking your face or laying on top of you. They want to spend every minute with you! Bottom line, they become family and extensions of ourselves. I’ve been blessed to have one of those pets in my life, and chances are so have you if you are reading this!
Unfortunately, like all pets, they don’t live forever. The pain of losing a remarkable pet is a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching pain. I’ve experienced it myself, and it felt like the end of the world. I’m not exaggerating either, my life felt completely shattered. It’s hard enough to go through that type of pain, but it’s even harder when people don’t know how to support you. Society knows how hard it is to lose a special person, so they offer you empathy, understanding, and time to heal. However, when we lose a remarkable pet, the common response is a text message or Facebook comment, which are nice but fall short of the compassion you get when a special person dies.
Think about it though.
We see these animals every day and they’re constantly enriching our lives. Most of us get our pets when they are months old, and watch them grow up from a baby to an adult. These pets know us as well as anyone…better in some cases (remember they see things that no one else sees!). We open our hearts and homes to these amazing animals and make them part of our families. They return that generosity with absolute unconditional love. I once heard a joke saying, “Lock your wife and dog up in a trunk and come back in 30 minutes and see which one is still happy to see you!” You can be a millionaire living in a mansion or living in poverty and your animal will love you the absolute same. They are such an incredible force in our life, so when they’re gone, we want to do something special for them and find a way to continue to hold them close.
Let me tell you my story.
A few years ago, I lost my Boston Terrier, Miss Piggy. She was my ride or die, my partner in crime, and the most impactful pet I’ve ever had. She was much more than a pet to me, she was my best friend, and went everywhere with me including work.
Miss Piggy had a serious heart murmur that was detected in a standard check-up. My vet, Dr. Jennifer Martinson (the best vet I’ve ever had), told me that it was hard to pinpoint how long she’d live, but she’s never seen an animal live more than 10-12 months from the stage she was at. I completely lost it, I was crushed, I cried in my car for 30 minutes and just held her tight. I was committed to making her as comfortable as possible and doing whatever I needed to. At this time I was working for a startup at a reduced salary and didn’t even have health insurance. The medication to keep Miss Piggy comfortable and treat the illness was about $300 a month. I didn’t have disposable income at the time, but I made it work because she was everything to me.
She required checkups every month, and two months later, Dr. Martinson found a tumor unrelated to the heart issue and estimated she had two weeks to live. This might sound dramatic, but my life might as well have been over at that moment because she was so special to me. There was an option to try to surgically remove the tumor, but there was a risk of her not surviving the surgery due to the heart issue. My vet and I both decided against putting her through that. I just hoped for the best and wanted to spend every minute with her.
My boss let me work remotely so I could stay home with her and even came to my house for meetings. He knew what she meant to me. I didn’t go out with friends, I left the house only to go to the grocery store and to get her medication refills.
I’ve said multiple times how special Piggy was, but I haven’t mentioned how much of a fighter she was. Piggy ended up living past two weeks, past four weeks, past six months, past 12 months after being given two weeks to live. She went 15 months from being diagnosed with the heart murmur when Dr. Martinson had previously said she’d never seen an animal go longer than 12 months. She fought and fought until the end.
When it was finally her time to go, having to make the decision to put her down was the toughest thing I’ve gone through in my adult life. You’d think I’d be prepared for her passing after going through emotional devastation for 15 months, but when you lose a family member like Piggy, you’re never prepared and the pain is deep. I wanted to honor her in the best way I could and I ended up having her cremated and having her put in a small burgundy wood box along with an engraved nameplate, a paw print and a lock of her fur. I’ve since made a memory box to celebrate her life. Piggy was a once in a lifetime pet and I’m so lucky that she was in my life.
There are lots of things that people do to honor their pet’s memory. From urns to memory boxes, to statuettes, to taxidermy. These are all fine ways to honor your pet, but I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that I wish I could do more. I wanted to do something truly special for her.
Lucky for us, it’s 2018, and innovation is finally happening in the memorial space. We’re starting to see new, and exciting options to keep our pets spirits alive.
Cloning your special family member with ViaGen gives you the chance to make new memories with an identical twin. I still can’t believe this is possible – it’s truly miraculous. Getting to see your remarkable pet grow up all over again is beyond amazing. It gives me goosebumps when I think about the people getting to experience that. Their spirit lives on through this miracle!
Sadly, I was unaware of this option so I’ll never be able to have another Miss Piggy.