Prairie Wife Badge: The Circle of Life
Posted November 2, 2015 by Prairie Wife - 3 comments
Ever since The Cowboy moved me out onto the Wyoming Prairie I’ve had a lot of new experiences. Some have been fun like milking a cow for the first time, others got old pretty quick, and some are just heart breaking. Every time I’ve conquered a new skill or am still able to get up after being knocked down, I say I’ve earned a Prairie Wife Badge.
The circle of life badge is one that I wish I didn’t have to earn. It’s something that is not unique to life on the Prairie but, I’ve found that the Cowkids have had more experience with this topic than many of their friends.
This week I gathered up all our small pets (two 9-week-old kittens, two adult male cats, and our two Cowdogs) and took them to the vet for their yearly checkup and shots. Driving in a truck with all the pets was a little nerve-racking (I felt like a bad joke…One Prairie Wife, four cats and two dogs drive off in a truck…) but we made it to the vet without a problem, and we shuffled all the animals through. Thankfully, they were all pretty relaxed and well-behaved. You can see by the pic that they thoroughly enjoyed the fresh Fall air and sun as they waited for their turns! When it came time to check on our CowScottie I mentioned that she had recently lost a lot of weight. I wasn’t too concerned because she still had a great attitude, and besides spending a lot of time chasing rabbits, she had been snacking on cat food rather than dog food lately. As our vet felt her stomach, she looked up at me and I knew immediately that something was wrong.
Long diagnosis short CowScottie has a lump on her spleen, and the cancer has already moved into her heart. Our vet gave her 6-8 months to live. The Cowboy and I are firm believers in the quality of life regarding our pets, so she gave me a list of symptoms to watch for. We decided to keep in touch and decided together when the right time to put her down would be. I was upset and guilt-ridden. After all, our relationship with CowScottie has been a bit rocky. We’ve had her for 9 years, and in true Terrier style, she’s proven a bit stubborn and naughty. We’ve had our moments of frustration, but she has always been excellent with the Cowkids. As luck would have it, in the last few years, she has finally become a good dog in every way.
This wasn’t our first circle of life talk with The Cowkids. The new kittens are here because two of our other barn cats died this year. One didn’t look both ways before she crossed the highway, and the other one was bitten by a rattlesnake (or that’s our best guess). The Cowkids know that our job is to take care of our pets the best we can while they are with us. We’ve taught them that God decides the length of our lives and that all pets go to heaven…
The Cowboy and I sat them down and told them we had to have a family meeting. I believe that honesty is the best policy, while The Cowboy prefers to stick to what CowGranny did with him. Simply tell them that the pet “ran off with the Coyotes.” He sat quietly and let me do all the talking.
I shared with the Cowkids that CowScottie had cancer. That cancer is when part of your body grows in a way it shouldn’t. Sometimes, the cancer can be cut out, and then the person or animal is given medicine. After their body heals, they are fine. The Cowkids know all about this from when TexasTwoSteppin’ had cancer. I then explained that sometimes the cancer is in places where we can’t cut it out and that sometimes medicine won’t help. I talked about how while CowScottie seemed fine now, she would start to have trouble doing all the things she loved, like chasing rabbits and running around with them outside. I explained that while for people many things can be learned through suffering, it wasn’t the same for pets. When the time came, and she was hurting more than she was happy, it was up to us, out of love, to end her suffering.
Tears were streaming down Cowboy J and Cowgirl G’s faces, and at the age of 5, Cowboy W kind of understood what was happening but wasn’t as upset. Cowboy C was concerned about the tears and was walking around patting us on the leg. Cowgirl G asked what we could have done to stop it. If we had taken her in earlier, could we have fixed it? Cowboy J wanted to know how long CowScottie had left. I answered the questions the best I could and emphasized that our job was to take care of her while we had her. I encouraged them to spoil her and spend time with her.
It was a hard talk and a sad day here on the Prairie. This badge is one that never seems easier to earn. The only light is I know that this truth and honesty have helped their understanding when we’ve had friends and family members pass away. As hard as it is to lose a pet, we all know we will always have sweet memories. In time, while the pain never disappears, it will be easier to bear.
How do you deal with the death of a pet?
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