A Tribute to Rascal

The world needs all kinds of kinds and I am the kind who has never not had a pet.

This is long but I need some written therapy so hang with me.

I was born into a family that owned a wonderful dog- my parents’ first baby, Bruno. When I was 10 we took in a stray cat. When Bruno died, we still had the cat and a year or two later my brother and I brought home a puppy (much to my mother’s chagrin). Since then, we’ve had lizards, hamsters, a bird, fish, some rabbits, and more cats and dogs pass through our door. The month I graduated college- five months before we got married- Kyle and I took in Lylee. (A few years prior to that we’d found an elderly stray dog that we took in and was living with K and his family at that time.) Obviously now, in our own house, we have Ly and Enzo. My brother has a rescue cat. And my parents have a dog, three cats, and a rabbit.

I’m not kidding- I have never been without a pet.

But the worst part about owning a pet is losing a pet. And last week I was reminded of that.

Like I said, when I was 10 my mom brought home a stray kitten. We think she was roughly 6 weeks old. My mom was a first grade teacher in the country and this scrawny little thing wandered up to her exterior door. The teachers all decided they’d take turns trying to “take her home.” The kindergarten teacher’s husband refused to adopt another cat so it was my mom’s turn. She thought Dad would send the little furball right back. Instead, he cuddled with her all night and named her Rascal.

Rascal grew to be a 19 lbs indoor cat. She’s always been jet black and a little mean, lol. She and K have never gotten along, although I think he loves her deep down. She was my cat- my responsibility to feed, drive to the vet, change the litter, play with, clean up after. She slept between my legs under the covers almost every night and she’d run to the door to greet me when I was home from college. Since Ly hates cats and Rascal was older and more settled with my parents, she stayed in the family home when I eventually moved out.

Last Wednesday I had to say goodbye to my childhood best friend.

I’ve had a few pets leave this world naturally, but I’ve also had to make the call twice. It sucks. Both times we made the choice those animals let us know that it was ok and they were ready. Rascal gave me that on Tuesday night. It’s a quiet sigh or a simple nod of the head, telling you that they are at peace with leaving the world and, while they know you are not, you eventually will be and they’ve appreciated every moment of love and affection and shelter you’ve provided.

But it doesn’t make the sadness any easier.

This is not meant to sound elitist, but if you’ve never owned a pet you probably don’t understand most of what I’m saying. (But maybe you do! I don’t know.) When you’ve loved and cared for something for 5 or 10 or 15 or 18 years you form a bond and a language. And the hardest thing that your pet will ever tell you is, “It’s time.”

I won’t lie- my head and my heart and my eyes hurt so, so much from crying. I was laying in bed last Tuesday night wondering if I’d ever be happy again and why the f*ck we even own pets when this is inevitable?

But it’s because those 10 or 18 years of pure love and joy and family are worth the decline.

So in honor of Rascal, if you’re a pet parent, love them extra hard today and give them a few more treats than normal. The most unfair thing in the world is the lifespan of a pet, but I doubt my heart could stand to love them any longer and lose them.

*This is just a PSA and my own opinion, but if you have to make the tough call to say goodbye to a furry family member, please don’t send them in alone. Sit with them and hold them until the end. It sucks and it’s terrible, but they need your love and your lap more than ever in that moment.*

21 thoughts on “A Tribute to Rascal

  1. My heart breaks for you. I literally had to write a similar post recently and I cried through the whole thing. As you know, pets are our family and are so special and what an amazing live you gave her. Sending you healing vibes as you navigate through the sadness of losing sweet Rascal. ❤️

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  2. Hi Audrey, this is incredibly touching. I’ve ALWAYS had a pet. I’ve had to put only 1 down…and I regret not holding her paw before she passed. I was young, and naïve, and the only thing I remember from that time was being so sad and fearful of her life that I couldn’t watch someone take it from her. I miss her incredibly, her name was Sandy. I am so sorry you had to lose a loved one. It’s amazing the bond we can form with our animals over time. Take care and hang in there.

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  3. Oh goodness, I’m about to cry. My dog is definitely getting old and slowing down. She doesn’t seem to be in pain, and she still eats and sleeps, so I think she’s okay for now, but we all know she won’t be around for terribly much longer. I hate the thought of saying goodbye as I’ve had her for more than half my life at this point. She’s family, and it’s heartbreaking to lose animals you love. I’m so sorry about your loss, Audrey. And I agree with your PSA- don’t let them go alone.

    -Lauren
    http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    • Sometimes I think watching animals age is more painful and heartbreaking than seeing humans age. I always wonder if they understand what’s happening to them. I tend to think they do. They’re very good at soaking in all the love throughout their lifetime. Thinking of you & your pup ❤ Enjoy the time you've got with her! ❤

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  4. I’m just all weepy after reading this. I love how your family raised you to love animals – all animals! Our fur babies are just precious. And I know that you can’t truly compare kids to pets because they are two very, very different creatures but people sometimes don’t realize how much an animal means to their owner. How much companionship they offer. How they always look at you as being the bestest … even if they are a little irritated that you woke them up from a nap to tell them that you love them. Or how good it feels to be loved by a cat, dog, bird, rabbit, hamster or whatever your pet of choice may be. It breaks out hearts when they leave us and yet we do it again and again over our lifetimes because that love of a pet enriches our lives so much. Rascal was gorgeous. I love that she slept between your legs. My Emeril used to do that too. He was also a terrible bed hog but that’s a story for another day. Rascal was lucky to be loved by you and your family and you were blessed to be loved by her.

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    • I still compare pets to kids 😉 You raise them, feed them, love them, keep them safe and healthy, worry about them… They take A LOT of effort and love. And they give a lot of love, too. The joy and privilege of having a pet is so special. I hope we always have fur babies in our lives- even though the ending is always the toughest thing ever.
      Man… she was a little hot box under the covers 😉 I’m glad our dogs don’t do that because of course I’d give in and let them and I’d suffer. Haha!

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  5. Nope… nope … nope…. never have I made it through a blog post on someone loosing a beloved pet where I didnt get choked up & cried. Add this one to the list.
    RIP sweet baby!!!!

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    • Thanks, friend ❤ Sorry to make you cry! It's funny how so many of the pets I've had have come to us as strays and make nice little homes inside our hearts for years and years.

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    • The mean ones just have the most personality 😉 She never liked Kyle- she HATED him when she was younger. She came around a little in her old age. He says it’s because she didn’t know it was him. Lol

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    • Thank you ❤ I think my dad and I especially get attached to the fur babes. They lost our big outside dog two years ago while we were all on vacation. That was tough but our family and friends took good care of her and buried her for us while we were gone. My parents were on vacation until Tuesday the week we lost Rascal and I think my dad was just really happy to have made it home to love on her before saying goodbye.

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  6. Girl, this post brought tears to my eyes… I can’t imagine life without my George now and I still think of my previous pets… I’m so sorry that Rascal is gone 😦 Hugs xx

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    • Thank you ❤ She was a good girl who lived up to her name. We miss her but we're very glad she's more comfortable now and probably napping in all the sunspots.

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