When a pet dies, it’s not simply the death of a pet or an animal, it’s the death of a beloved member of the family. When a pet crosses over to the rainbow bridge it’s not only the human members of the family who grieve but the pet siblings also grieve. But sometimes we forget this.
It’s now been a little over a week since our little girl, Lucky left us. Her pet dads, Kevin and myself (Steve), were needless to say devastated, and are still suffering from our loss. I am brought to tears when I do the laundry, as Lucky was always at my side whenever I washed our clothes. I always had breakfast with Lucky and shared my banana with her. Kevin no longer has Lucky at his side whenever he cooks. When our pool opens it will be particularly hard because Lucky was always the first one in the pool with Kevin. Cato never liked swimming though and never went into the pool. But this is not about Kevin and my grieving. This is about Cato.
Cato and Lucky were born on February 27, 2014, and they were never separated, until Lucky’s passing. When they were neutered and spayed the vet asked to keep Cato overnight with Lucky because they both put up such a fuss. When Kevin and I went on a week’s cruise we boarded them at a dog hotel, and once again the kennel owner had to put them in the same kennel so they wouldn’t bark and cry all night.
Cato and Lucky were nothing alike. Cato is very sensitive and laid back, yet protective of his little sister. Lucky, on the other hand, was very bossy and overly energetic. I don’t think Lucky thought she was a dog because she never liked to be with other dogs, other than Cato. She barked at everything and eventually got Cato to join in. We tried several times to walk them both together, but Lucky made this a major undertaking. We tried the dog park, but Lucky would have nothing to do with the whole experience. Cato was okay with the adventure, but he was a bit too nervous. We tried taking them both to CountryMax, but Lucky barked a the other animals and tried to steal the toys and treats. Once again, Cato was okay albeit nervous.
Even though Lucky was rambunctious she was extremely loving, always covering us, and other people she knew with tons of kisses. Cato has always liked to cuddle and kiss too and constantly craves attention. Whenever we bought toys for both dogs Lucky would end up hoarding them all for herself, barking and growling if Cato tried to take one. Even though Cato and Lucky would occasionally fight over a toy, they would end up going to bed and cuddling together.
The times when both Cato and Lucky would relax are when both Kevin and I would be together watching television in the living room. If Kevin was in his basement office working and I was in another room, Cato and Lucky would be unsettled and wouldn’t relax until Kevin and I were together with them. Just like good cattle dogs are supposed to do – herd!
When Kevin and I went out and left them in the house alone, Cato would go upstairs to the bedroom and lay on the bed looking out the window for our return, and Lucky would stay downstairs looking out the window for any sign of our car. If we just went next door to visit the neighbors, leaving them in the house, they would bark and howl until we returned. Lucky howled the most and occasionally peed on the floor to punish us for leaving.
Since Cato and Lucky had never been apart we were very worried about how Cato would react to Lucky not being here with us. When Kevin brought Lucky’s body to the pet crematorium it was the last time Cato and myself saw our little girl. When Kevin left, Cato went to the bedroom, where Lucky passed away, and began looking for her, smelling the spot where Lucky peacefully passed. He then went room to room looking for his little sister. When Kevin returned home, Cato was afraid to go near Kevin, probably thinking Kevin brought his sister away and she was not coming back. After a couple of hours, Cato seemed to lose his fear of Kevin and allowed him to approach him.
On the first day, Cato didn’t want to eat. He would go to his food bowl but look around for Lucky. He continued to look for Lucky before he started eating for a few days more. We moved his bowl to a new location to help him establish a new routine. He’s now back to eating normally. He gets his treats as usual and doesn’t look for Lucky trying to steal his treats. After a couple of hours, he was okay.
Lucky had a favorite toy, a stuffed monkey, which he wouldn’t let Cato play with. If Cato managed to get the toy away from Lucky, she would bully him until she got it back. Cato has not gone near that toy and refuses to take it if it is given to him. The toy is now in the bedroom, on the floor, where Lucky passed. Cato hasn’t really played with many of the toys they used to play with together, so we took Cato to CountryMax to pick out his own toy. He was very good on his walk throughout the store and paid no attention to any of the other dogs in the store. He ignored the treats and most of the toys and then finally picked out a big stuffed hedgehog, which he hasn’t let out of his sight.
Every day now Cato goes for a walk, something that was just about impossible, with his sister. When we go next door to visit our neighbors Cato comes with us and lays down, enjoying simply being with us. He acts like a completely different dog. He is not anxious and doesn’t whine to go home. When we leave he walks calmly to the gate and waits to go back into our house. When we are all in the house Cato doesn’t let either of us out of his sight, but he is quite calm. When it’s his bedtime he goes to bed and goes right to sleep. For a few days, he would lay on the bed and stare into space, as if he was looking at Lucky. He isn’t doing this much anymore. He still looks around for Lucky when he goes down to the basement, but as time goes on this is becoming less obvious.
Yesterday Kevin and I went to pick up Lucky’s ashes. Sadly this was on Kevin’s birthday. Instead of leaving Cato at home, we decided to take him with us for the half-hour drive. On the way to where we were to pick up Lucky’s ashes, Cato was nervous and excited, probably because he has never been on a car ride this long. When we picked up the urn and drove back home Cato was oddly much calmer and seemed to relax. Maybe he knew his sister was coming home. He was very happy when we all got back home and he was exhausted.
Kevin and I will still miss Lucky dearly, but we will cherish Cato even more now. We have these memorials to keep Lucky in our hearts forever, but the best tribute to Lucky is to give all of our love and attention to her brother Cato and care for him the best we know how. We are all still grieving, but Cato is showing us how to be brave. Lucky’s big brother is taking care of all of us now.
When Lucky suddenly passed I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with this blog, but Kevin convinced me to continue as a tribute to Cato. Even though Lucky is not physically with us she is still one of our Cattle Dog Kids.