Note to readers: This is a long and sad post, but I think it is time you knew.
The new normal is not normal, at least not yet. Going from 7 to 5 animals has taken us to many different places in the last month. We are adjusting, but it will take time. Losing both the lead cat and the lead dog within a week of each other has us in a bit of a tailspin. Actually, I think the zoo is adjusting better than I am.
Noel & Mini
I think Mini really has taken the loss of her brother, and mischief partner, Nine, the hardest. She was so attached to him and really needs another animal to play with. She always whined but now, OMCat, she is constantly needing attention. Noel, being 15 and never being a social cat, gives Mini a little sniff now and then, but basically, Noel wants to sleep and cuddle with me. Mini would love to play with Charles, but he wants nothing of it.
Stella, of course, who is constantly in motion (hence the blur), knows nothing of the loss of Nine and Sofie, so she just carries on being Stella. I think that Mini is talking to her under the door more because I am hearing a lot of hissing going on. Stella, as you may remember, lives in her own suite, and loves it. I wish she could be friends with the other animals, but she just ‘wants to be alone,’ (except for humans, of course). She actually did like Sofie coming to visit, but it wasn’t that often that it will affect her.
Louise & Charles
And then there is Louise and Charles. Though Louise had Sofie in her life for 11 years (Lulu is 12), I am not sensing a big change in her mood or routine. Lulu was always very quiet and self-contained at home and just goes about doing her thing. She mostly lives in her own world and just carries on, cancer and all (but that is another story). They may have been together all these years, but I think Sofie needed Louise more than the other way around. Louise leans on me and that is about it.
Charles, being the FOMO (fear of missing out) dog that he is, followed (and feared) Sofie, I guess because she was the loudest, but also because she was something to be feared when you are only 17lbs. At first, after she was gone, he looked for her, especially when they went out in the yard. He was not sure what was going on, ‘where’d she go?’ but now, several weeks later, he follows Louise instead.
It Is Very Different Now Without Sofie
The zoo is much quieter now without all Sofie’s endless barking, and sad but true, much safer for all the animals with her gone; all her anxiety and aggression no longer permeates the house. I did not blog much about her battle, for years, with mental illness, though I have many posts in draft that never were published.
With Sofie gone, Charles no longer has to eat with the kennel door closed to stay safe from Sofie’s food aggression and the cats no longer have to sneak past her, fearful they could be attacked at any moment. There is no more resource guarding, fear-biting, or constant nibbling on something for security. There is no more endless barking at every sound (she could hear a fox a mile away or a UPS truck), because she needed to make it go away or stop. There are no more sleepless nights trying to console her when thunderstorms rolled through or fireworks blasted. I don’t have to constantly make sure that Charles is at a safe distance from her, because his little-dog frenetic energy would freak her out and she would attack him. And, near the end, she started biting Louise at feeding time (in the mouth where Louise’s tumor is). She just could not control her anxiety and aggression and neither could I.
Sofie was taking 6, sometimes 7, different medications for anxiety, aggression, and pain, multiple times a day, so that schedule is now gone for me.
But, after years of Sofie being by my side, sometimes so close that I stepped on her; being so present and constant and needing so much care and attention from me, the void is huge. She made me laugh. She could be so silly. She smiled at me and loved me in a way no other dog ever had. She was my cuddle dog. Despite her fears and anxiety, she was my heart and I believe I was her’s. After you have taken care of a sick animal (or human) for years, especially if the care is around mental health issues, you feel guilty that you feel relieved when they die. You feel empty because every day for years, you took special care of that being, many days with an exhausting routine, but you did it because you loved them.
Nine was an easy cat. I think sometimes, the good child doesn’t get as much attention because the ‘problem children’ suck all the energy out of you. But there is also a big hole where his energy used to be in the zoo. We feel it every night when we sit in the living room and he is not there. We feel it in the laundry room, which was his favorite place, and he isn’t in his bed by the furnace; or climbing in the rafters.
Finding a new balance will take time.
But I know they are waiting for us on the rainbow bridge.
And now we are 5.
Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤