I actually wasn’t planning on taking mini-breaks from Buffy just yet, but life, she is a real bitch.
It turns out that I had to be there for my boyfriend during a difficult time, and I thought I’d take a page out of my friend Noel’s book and explain why putting a pet down sucks.
1. They trust you. A lot.
Pets are some of purest souls (for lack of a better word) that I’ve ever met. They don’t hate irrationally, they don’t kill for sport, they don’t judge, and when they love, they love completely. They think you’ve hung the moon and every single star in the heavens. I’m assuming, of course, that you’re a good pet owner and not one of those asshole scum of the earth types that think dog-fighting is a capital idea. Even then, I find, pets can be surprisingly loyal. You’re their god. They may not understand all the shit you do, but they trust you know exactly what you’re doing and that you’ll never steer them wrong. So, yeah, having to put your pet down pretty much gives you the guilt of the ages. It doesn’t matter if they’re in pain, and it’s pretty inevitable—you’re gonna feel like you’re betraying the little guy. And that sucks.
2. They’re family.
I don’t care how you feel about animals in general, you have to at least admit that the people who own pets love them as if they were family. Because they are. Most times, they’ve been around for a long time, as much a fixture as Grandpa X or Aunt Y. More so, actually, since you may not see Grandpa or Auntie every day, but you do see your dog or cat every day. So losing them is like losing a part of you, and knowing you’re the one that gave the okay to get them lost is even worse.
3. People assume you can get over it by just getting another.
It’s funny, but a lot of people don’t get the “they’re family” part and just assume that you can always just get another pet to replace the one you’ve lost. And by “funny,” I mean “douchey.” What kind of sick fuck would tell someone that just lost a family member to just pop by the store and get another one? No one? Well, mention that your family member is a dog. Suddenly it’s fine. But it’s not. It’s not cute.
4. You have to say goodbye knowing they have no idea what’s going on.
I mean, I guess you can just not say goodbye, but really? What part of “they’re family” are we not getting here. If you don’t say goodbye, then you’ll feel guilty when they’re gone, and if you do, you get to see their sad little eyes look at you with adoration and trust. Fuck, does that hurt.
This one’s kind of a special case for friends of the family:
5. You feel all of the hurt, but also the awkwardness, too.
As I said, I was there when my boyfriend said goodbye, and it broke my heart. Granted, I didn’t have nearly as much time with his dog as he did, but I loved the little guy. So I was pretty close to bawling my eyes out. But then there was the awkwardness; my mind trying to figure out what it was okay to do. Do I pet the dog? Do I hold my boyfriend’s hand? Am I allowed to cry? May I ask questions? Is it okay if I pet other dogs in front of my boyfriend? Where do I stand? It’s just really an uncomfortable situation.
Depending on what kind of pets we have, chances are we’re gonna outlive them. No matter how they go, it’s gonna suck beyond the telling of it. And if you’re like me, you have a #6:
6. Once they’re gone, it’s forever.
I don’t believe in heaven. I don’t believe we’re watched or guided by a higher being. I think dead’s dead and the rest is silence. And that works fine most of the time, but when someone you love dies, it gets tricky. I’d love for there to be someplace where we go to see everyone we’ve loved (people and animal) again, even if just for a few minutes before winking out of existence. But I know my wishing doesn’t make it so.
One thing I do fervently believe is this: If by any chance there is a heaven, then pets are the only ones truly worthy of it. And if there’s a fair deity anywhere in this universe, then that’s where my boyfriend’s dog will be. Because that little guy? He didn’t suck.