Sunday, September 8, 2013

Losing Fitzgerald Darcy

In Loving Memory of Fitzgerald Darcy  2013
Losing Fitzgerald Darcy.... one very special (often annoying), but none the less, seriously missed cat.

Today, as National Pet Memorial Day, I can publicize the feelings and emotions, and yes, memorialise pets whom have touched my soul, and I think of daily.  Today, we can write about our pets whom we have lost, but not forgotten.

As a vet, I, with my colleagues all over the world, deal with death. That does not make us experts in it, or how to deal with it.  Through observation and listening/reading the comments of colleagues, I often notice that there is always a particular death that tips them over the edge, and catches them unawares. And this is what can slip vets into career change, suicide or severe depression.  I hope I never get to this state, but there have been times where I have felt an understanding of this black hole of unending sadness.

Each loss takes its toll on me.... whether it be a family member, a family pet, or wild animal (we often seen injured wildlife, and have to make the decision to end their life), or any pet that I come into contact with.  I take deep breaths, and allow myself to feel sad.   And this may mean that I can't put a smile on my face five minutes later. I am envious of those vets who can.

I am so thankful that whenever I explain to clients why I can't be all jolly, they understand.  So, Thank you. Some don't understand, and that is OK.  I hope they do find a vet who do not show the sadness they feel (I only hope it is that they don't show, rather than they don't care).

Our Fitz, at more happier times! Fast Asleep, doing what
he does best!
But this is all about Fitzgerald Darcy... known to us as Fitzy or Fitz. We lost him earlier this year, in an accident - and we live in a quiet street, and we never knew him to go onto the road.  It was... a shock!

He came into Russell Vale vets as a stray cat.  He was a small grey kitten, and he had severe diarrhoea, was in a poor state, and really, not in a good way.  The Good Sams who brought him in already had three cats, and were unable to take in another.  He was not microchipped, and had no other identifying tags.

Our intention was to keep him until his diarrhoea settled, and then to rehome him.  We knew it was a death sentence to send him to the local pound, due to his medical condition. They were already overwhelmed with healthy kittens and cats looking for a home.  We couldn't, in all conscience, rehome an unwell animal ourselves.  That was 8 years ago.

Yes, he was a young cat.  Now that he is gone, the guilt we feel at his loss is still there...this is where the self- doubt, the self recriminations come in... if we could keep him indoors, if we kept him confined, if we installed a cat-backyard, with four walls and ceiling... he would still be alive today.

And he would be, but he wouldn't have experienced the life he did, if we had done all of that.  I am not saying you shouldn't take those precautions, but where we live, in a normally quiet street with a low speed limit of 50 km/hour, we back onto grassland, and we have neighbours (very lovely ones) on either side.... and we are on half an acre of backyard.  So, it is not your average street!  We did not think him at risk or at danger at all.

And the reality is, seeing, and knowing his injuries, whoever hit him, knew they had hit something... and they kept on moving.

Wow... this is reading like something I had not intended.  I hope that when you read this, you know it was written with grief in the heart, as losing a pet hurts. It just does.

Fitzy was a cat like we had never had before.  His diarrhoea meant that I could not rehome him until he was better... and by the time he was better we couldn't rehome him.  He got on so well with our cat Dash, that it wasn't a problem keeping him.  He wasn't in a cage recuperating, but part of our family at home, in our house.

Fitzy had a real walk on him - it was unlike any other cat I had seen.  It was like the "cat walk " of the models... he would walk along, and then, he would be down on the ground, lying like he is stretching out on a chaise lounge, with that "come hither" look in his eyes.  We called it the "Fitzy slump".   It is hard to describe.... except he would do it just in front of you, in the kitchen, just about as you are to walk through, so you have to step over him.

He had a charm about him...

But at 4 in the morning, when he is trying to wake you up...not charming ... he would claw on the wardrobe doors, or meowing in a "me - e- ow" which was his way of asking you to get out of bed, look at the food bowl, confirm that it is still full of food, rustle it with your fingers to make it fuller, so he could feel more comfortable eating it.

Teddy, our hero... who we lost in 2011
from Canine Lymphoma 
As I miss Teddy's wagging tail when I come home from work, even though he used to bark at 4 in the morning, so will I miss Fitz's re-arrangement of my TV cabinet or work desk in my bedroom, to ensure he got the attention he deserved.

I always talk to my kids about being kind to others, as you never know if that will be the last time you will see them. Sometimes, you just don't get to say good bye.

Fitzy... we can't imagine our life without you.   We are sorry that your last moments were in some pain, and we were not there to help you.   We re-traced your steps and can see that  love you had for us... you went down our front stairs through the gate, to the back door... as that was closed you went to the garage, and laid in your favourite warm spot... to enjoy the last of the sun's rays on your body.

Tegan found  you resting, as peacefully as you could possibly be, which meant that you died soon after your injuries. We wish we could've been holding you in our arms, telling you how much we love you, and how special you are.. I know that an Angel would've have been doing that, and it is with that thought, that lightens our heart.

Losing Fitzgerald Darcy... it is months since you have now left us, and the pain is as acute now as it was then.   Being a vet does not make the pain any easier to go through.  Any loving pet owner will understand

It hurts. Plain and simple. Not withstanding the psychobabble of the stages of grief, the funeral parlour speak of "celebration of life"... lets just face it... it hurts.

We may smile when we remember the little quirks, we may cry when we realise that when we talk to them, we are talking to air.

It hurts, and we hurt when others go through the loss also. " In Sympathy"  or "Our Condolences" is then real, not just a few token words on a card.

On this day, 8th of September 2013, we light a candle in memory of our pets who are on greener pastures.

I am Dr Liz, and today, my family and I pray for all pets and for you...  In Loving Memory.