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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.
It is with great sadness that I must tell you that Sofie Bear, my little Soda Pop, left this earthly plan on Friday, March 18, she was 11 years old. The pain is almost unbearable because she was my heart. We never expected to lose Nine, the cat, on March 10 to cancer and then lose Sofie ten days later. She had significant hip issues and could no longer get up the stairs or walk easily without pain. These issues only exacerbated her aggressive behavioral issues, where she was attacking Charles and the cats, and biting Louise in the neck and mouth.
Sofie was always my troubled furchild. She suffered from behavioral problems which started when she was about 2 or 3 years old. It has been so long that I can’t remember her without them. Her anxieties were off the charts most of the time. She had night terrors. She had noise and thunder anxiety. She had separation anxiety. She ate through 3 doors and the wall-to-wall carpet. She had to nibble on a lovey all the time and then protect it (resource guarding). Yet, I guess, I thought my love, commitment, training, and medication would help her. I had trainers, behaviorists, tons of vets, tons of meds, to the point she was taking 6 different medications and herbs at the end with every meal and in-between. I had several vets tell me that anyone else would have ‘put her down’ years ago. But, to me she was worth fighting for.
I know that she is out of pain now and not scared of anything. That is what I wanted for her. I hope she is chasing sheep in the meadow beyond the rainbow bridge waiting for me along the road with Nine and all the others. The back door picture above was taken on the day she left us. It looks to me like she was prepared to be out of pain and to be in a better place. The sun shine was perfect to show the warmth inside her when she could quiet for a moment or two.
I might not be able to blog for a while. This one-two punch has knocked me for a loop.
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep I am not there.
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush I am the swift uplifting rush Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry; I am not there.
I did not die.
Sofie has made it to the Top 5 in America’s Favorite Pet contest. She is currently 3rd. Voting for this round goes until March 10.
You get one free vote every day.
Help her win $5,000 to help with Louise’s vet bills.
Thank you thank you thank you thank you.
UPDATE: Sofie is currently in 2d place and made it to the top 15 round. Now she is in the race for Top 10. Then they do another week with Top 5. Then the win in April. This is so exciting. You can vote FREE every day.
Sofie is trying to win $5,000 to cover Louise and her medical bills. What a wonderful gift it would be if she won. You can vote through Facebook once a day for free. Currently, she is 3rd in the competition which closes in about 4 days.
Please Vote if you can: VOTE HERE
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!