Being there for Cleo

While Cow and Bunny got trips out to the patio and Indy only occasionally because he is always up to mischief, Pole and Cleo were very contented inside Bunny’s Place. Pole was very happy in her condo with fresh towels and Cleo with her bed and apartment (a wooden shelf of baskets and cushions). Pole and Cleo were always very easily satisfied.

During the period of her illness, Pole asked to come out and we let her. I think perhaps she wanted to be nearer to us and to spend her final weeks with us. The surprising thing is that while Pole had never wanted to use the litter box before because she always preferred the sandpit and grass, when she came out, she automatically shared the litter boxes with Tabs and Ginger. She just knew what to do. Ginger gave up his basket for Pole too and Pole spent most of the time in the red basket where she could see all of us.

She would come and greet us at the foot of the stairs every morning or greet us at the front door whenever we came home.

When Jia-Wen, Sihui and Ryan visited, Pole would make her way to join everyone and let Ryan play with her. She wanted to be a part of everything that we did.

Even on Saturday, three days before her passing, we brought Ryan to our house to play, Pole made the effort to join in and let Ryan play with her. Ryan normally plays with Ginger because Ginger is very good with children while Tabs would run and hide. But Pole came to join in too. She was the perfect host.

Cleo has never asked to come out of Bunny’s Place as she has always felt safer inside.

But yesterday, Cleo did. I think she wanted to look for Pole. It’s also rather strange that when Pole was hospitalised for two days, Cleo did not look for her or behaved strangely (like not wanting to eat). But yesterday afternoon, Cleo refused to eat and she came out to sniff around and look in the kitchen.

Animals may not understand the concept of death, but when it happens, they know something is amiss. They grieve.

It took some coaxing to get Cleo to eat this morning.

Then, she seemed to want to come out again.

That’s Pole’s red basket where she sat most of the time during her final weeks.

This time, Cleo did not go looking in the kitchen and bathroom. She just sniffed at the basket and decided it was safer to go back inside.

In time, maybe she will accept that Pole is not around anymore. It’s sad that we cannot explain death to our surviving pets. We can only be there for them when they grieve.

Cleo used to share this bed with Pole too. Cleo would sleep on the pillow while Pole slept on one of the cushions. After Pole came out of the room, Cleo shared the bed with Cow.

We are here for you, Cleo. We will get through this together.

For the first time after weeks, I came downstairs this morning and Pole was not there to greet me. I miss her so much and I miss looking after her. Her empty red basket, her white water bowl, her small metal food bowl, her food syringes (I just made a new one for her two days ago), her small towel, her baby food, her subcut fluids, her special needles (I used a thinner one for Pole because she was so delicate). I miss caring for her.

I can only keep reminding myself that Pole had kidney failure and I wouldn’t have wanted her to go on fighting this losing battle. She made the decision to be so brave and strong throughout and I supported her in the best ways that I knew. But I also wanted her to let go and be released from all this earthly challenges. To be liberated.

I have witnessed and handled quite a number of pet deaths before. Some go gently, some endure a bit of a struggle. I am grateful and relieved that Pole’s passing was very peaceful, in her sleep, and her final day was also equally peaceful and serene where she slept comfortably for long hours. I must find solace in this.

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