Loss…. the four legged kind

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As a kid I LOVED animals.  I begged and begged and begged for a dog…for YEARS.  When I was around six we found some turtles visiting my great grand parents in southern Illinois, so I was finally allowed to have pets!  They lived in our basement in a kiddie pool.  They laid some eggs, they smelled, they weren’t that exciting. I guess they died or were let go…. It was uneventful to me.  We had some fish…they stank and died and snails grew and had more snails in the bowl… we tried more fish… they died…again, uneventful.  Finally when I was 10 I was moving up in the animal world. I got a pair of Lovebirds for Christmas.  If I took care of them MAYBE…just MAYBE I could get a dog.  Well there was something wrong with one of the Love birds so we took them back and got another pair… it was a bummer, but I moved on. I took care of those birds! They even had baby love birds.   They dad was picking on the first hatched love bird when it got its feathers and I begged to move it to its own cage.  We did in the morning, when I got home from school it was dead. It got stuck in between the food dish and like the metal grate on the bottom.  I was heart broken.  It was all my fault. I cried and I cried and I buried it under a tree in our front yard.  That started the burying of birds under this particular tree that grew out of the blue in one of our flower gardens.  We named it the Vanessa tree.

Birds came and went, and eventually when I was eleven or twelve I FINALLY got my dog.  My father named him Aloewishes.  He saw the name on a at a funeral home on a placard when we were there for my great grandfathers wake.  He was a cute puppy that was going to get big.  We knew this because his dad was my aunts dog.  He liked to roam the neighborhood and knock up the neighbors dogs…. They were just thrilled. As he got older he got meaner and meaner to anyone that would step foot on our property.  I loved Ali. He loved the family, but I definitely second guessed my “lets get a dog idea”.  When I walked him I would have to grip so tight to his leash and wrap it around my wrist a couple times.  If he saw a biker… omg it was a nightmare.  He was so strong.  I would have to try to make him sit and just brace myself.  If he saw a person walking a dog….forget it… it was all over. I had to just walk/ run him in the opposite direction just pulling him with all my might while he went ballistic.  He bit strangers. He bit my best friend at Halloween cause he didn’t know who she was with her costume on.  He finally bit me when my father was trying to “get him socialized” to the neighbors dog as he would just lose it when every the dog came out side. My father wanted to put him down, but I cried, sobbed and refused.  As much as he was a pain in the ass he was still our dog, part of the family.

When my dad went into our house when I was 16 to kill himself he locked Ali outside on his rope/ chain so he wouldn’t get hurt. He loved that dog just as much as I did.  After my dad died I went crazy nuts with animals.  I guess I did it to keep myself busy.  I started with rabbits.  At my peak I had over 300 at once. I would sell them as pets only.  None of mine would be used for snake food.  I loved those bunnies, but they were a lot of work.  Every day twice a day feeding, cleaning cages, dealing with new litters.  I saw a lot of loss.  A lot of newborn bunnies didn’t make it.  In the beginning they were buried under the tree, however, at the end they garbage would be their resting place. I guess I had just come desensitized to their deaths.  There were just too many.  It just happened. It was life.  Some times the mothers would even eat part of her babies if she wasn’t ready to be a mother.  It was horrific.  I tried to watch them and make sure this didn’t happen.  If a bunny wasn’t a good mother I would move the babies with another mother. I did the best I could….some times it just didn’t work out.

Around that time I acquired two pot bellied pigs, ducks, a couple dogs, a cat.  When raccoon’s killed my ducks I was devastated.  When I had to leave my pigs and remaining bunnies behind when I moved to California I was devastated and felt huge guilt. However, that was not the end of animals for me as by the time I moved to Montana I had 14 dogs, 2 horses, 3 miniature horses, and two miniature donkeys.  I felt it was my duty to save all the animals of the world.  Most of those dogs were from Kill shelters and were going to be killed the day I got them.  Walking down death row made me weak.  I had to do whatever I could.

The pack diminished in size when two of them killed my favorite dog, the mother of four of the puppies, Michelle.  They attacked her when I was seven months pregnant walking all the dogs down our driveway in Montana.  When she died something in me that felt that all these dogs were somehow people died.  I cried so much I was worried I would hurt the baby growing in me.  Seeing Michelle mutilated. Screaming and trying to pull they dogs off of her….. Just something I will never forget.  A part of my soul died that day and so did my love for the remaining dogs. I just could not love the ten dogs that remained that day as I had before.  They were now just dogs to me.  Now I cared for them and they still slept with me, but something was missing.

I still couldn’t handle all of those dogs, not with a baby.  When two of them started to pick on my eldest and most beloved Bailey I took two of them to the shelter.  I just couldn’t handle it.  One escaped minutes before I came back to get him because the other one was adopted and he wasn’t doing well alone. He was one of Michelles babies.  he was hit by a car trying to come back home.  I never forgave myself.  Again, I distanced myself more from the animals.

Now years later we are down to 3 dogs.  It is so weird after having so many for so long.  I now have to experience the kids pain as they lose the dogs they have had literally all of their lives.  It never gets easier when the next one dies and I wonder how they are mentally going to handle this.  In the past 12 months we have lost Daisey (Jett found her when he got home), Mini-Me, (I had to put down after he had a stroke and then broke his hip), Cody the horse (eye cancer; we had to put him down), and now this week a bear killed one of our mini donkeys, so we gave his brother to people we have given our mini horses to.

Three dogs…. we are down to three dogs and my daughters cat… and a bunny that roams free in our yard that I know could be killed any moment by “something”……

I think I am just plain done with animals….. I am done with the pee on the carpet, the poop, the puke, the barking.  I just need these three to live about 10 more years so my kids don’t have any more heart ache.  These three cant die until they go to college.  I have to make these three live to be 23…… impossible I know.  My son sleeps with his dog every night with his arms wrapped around him. I sleep with my dog Muffin every night in the same way.  My Muffin….. she is the one dog I have let my heart open up to….. somewhat, she is one of Michelle’s puppies.  I love her.  She is always by my side, but I know she will not live as long as I and that puts up a distance… a wall… even though I don’t want it to.

I am tired of death and heart ache. The third dog we have left has serious mental issues and paces every night in the middle of the night.  I have to get up with him for about an hour until he goes back to sleep.  I know I will I have end his life soon….. After all of these years and all the dogs I know the signs……. It sucks…..

There is no real end to this post.  Its really more of a rant…. for myself…so I don’t forget….animals…. what do they teach us?

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About Vanessa Bednar

I am an actor, a writer, a mom, an adventurer.

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