Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The death of a child's pet...

It was a sad day in our home yesterday.  Our pet rat Flash died in the early afternoon before the kids got home from school.  This didn't come as a shock to me.  He had been sick for months.  Several days before Christmas of last year I thought he was going to die that day and rushed him to the vet to find out he had pneumonia and a lung disease common in rats.

After writing a check for over $100 to the vet and then shelling out another $85 for two antibiotics, I nursed him back to health cramming a medicine syringe into his mouth twice a day. (I got some skills people!  It aint easy getting .4mls of medicine down the throat of a tiny rat twice a day.)  But persevere I did and religiously jammed that liquid gold down his throat for 4 weeks straight.  All the time knowing that the lung disease he had was chronic and would eventually cause his death.

He gifted us with his presence for another few months.   He was having more breathing problems but stopped responding to the antibiotics.  The vet said to watch him closely and as long as he was eating and drinking and free of pain, just let him live his life.  I continued to watch him and I prepared the kids for what I knew was eventually going to happen.  I just didn't know when.

Over time he stopped wanting to be held.  Even though he continued to eat and drink normally, he started losing a lot of weight.  Day by day I could count new bones poking out from under his soft white skin.  I questioned if I was doing the right thing.  I worried about the impending sadness my children would experience.

I did the only thing I thought best.  I continued to care for him the way I always had.  I checked on him in the morning and at night.  I watched for any sign of suffering because I am a firm believer that no animal should ever have to suffer and as pet owner you must do the responsible and loving thing and end any unnecessary suffering no matter how big or small of an animal.

Yesterday morning though something was different.  After the kids left for school I bent down and opened the cage to feed both rats.  He didn't come out of his house.  I held my breath and bent down peaking into his little house and there he was looking at me but not moving.  Every so often he would lift his head but he wouldn't come out.  I knew it was time.  I had the coach help me get him out of the cage and we gently placed him in a shoe box with a soft cuddly towel.  I checked on him hourly and he just kept getting worse.  I vowed to take him to the vets later that night after work if he was still with us but something told me he wasn't going to last that long.

Somewhere between noon and 1pm, he died.  I was sad, but I was relieved.  Relieved that his short amount of suffering was over.  Relieved that I would have some time to prepare telling my children that their pet had died.  Relieved that neither of them would have to find him dead in his cage one day.

The coach took both children upstairs alone later that afternoon and he was the one to break the news.  The athlete with his keen intuition knew before the coach even got the words out and I heard the princess burst in to tears from downstairs even with the door shut.

It broke my heart.  As a mom, it's our job to protect our children but the death of a pet is not something you can protect them from.  It's a pain that comes with the territory of choosing to own a pet.  No matter how
big or how small, a child will love that pet unconditionally and will be sad when it's life ends.  It's a painful life lesson to learn.

The athlete shed some tears initially and much to my surprise not another drop.  He has been very quiet and VERY cranky.  Not sure if it is his way of handling the whole thing or not.  All I know is I don't like it and of course it makes me worry and over analyze the whole situation wondering if he's holding everything inside.  Do I push or do I just let it be?  How do you know what the right thing to do is when you've never been in this situation before?

The princess however is not holding anything in.  She lets go at the drop of a hat, crying huge crocodile tears and barely able to catch her breath in between huge sobs.  I feel so bad for her.  She is such an animal lover and truly believes that Flash was her friend.  (That thought makes me smile!)    She finally passed out some time after 10pm last night still sobbing in her sleep.  It continued this morning but was more mild.  Hopefully she'll make it through the day at school ok.

I can only hope we did a good job of preparing them for the inevitable, comforting them when they were sad, and leading by example with how to love and care for a pet right up until the very end.  

I know some people are probably reading this and thinking, "My God, this woman is ridiculous.  It was a pet rat for God sakes!"   And, I get that.  Maybe I am overly sensitive.  Maybe this wouldn't bother some people.  But I guess in instances such as the death of a pet I am very much like my little princess and I have a hard time with it.  I was this way as a child and I suppose I still am.

I can now officially cross this off my list of firsts to deal with as a mom and raising children and I believe in my heart that the coach and I handled it with grace.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's Baseball season baby!

I mentioned in an earlier post that we were making the athlete take a break from his beloved sport of choice, soccer.  This spring he is focusing only on baseball, a much needed change of pace in our household.

Along with a new sport came a new league, new coaches and teammates,  AND a new team name.  He is no longer a Pirate, he is now a Cardinal.

He is having a lot of fun and really learning a lot from the older boys on the team.  Going from AAA to the Majors is a big step up, but he is a natural athlete and he will pick it up.  My main concern is that he is having fun and putting in 100% effort.  That is something the coach and I always preach to our children.  It doesn't matter if your the best at everything you do as long as you give it your best effort.  That's what's important.

Another major plus to this season...

The pictures!!
Majors 2012 1
Majors 2012 3 Pitching
Majors 2012 13 Pitching
Majors 2012 4 Hitting
Majors 2012 5 In the dugout

A special thank you to Kelly Gallagher for her amazing photography and giving me permission to use her photos here on my blog.  You rock!