Pets. Little bundles of fluff. Fur, feathers, scales. It doesn't matter. The first instinct is always to humanize them, to impart our own emotions, feelings, and behaviors on them. We always assume they love and appreciate us as much as we do them. Animals are not humans, they aren't us. Their thought process isn't ours, they don't formulate the same values, they can't relate. We do it for them.
The cliches are as old as time, my pet is like my child! My family! My best friend! People buy them clothes, dote on them like spoiled tweens, they don't seem to mind.
Deep down, we know, they aren't people. They don't process like we process, animals aren't people. Are you ready for the truth?
There's no compunction with an animal, no pretense or pretension, if an animal loves you, or at the very least shows you affection in its way of doing, you know it's very much a genuine thing (if only in that fleeting moment). More special is that bond between man and animal that seems unbreakable. A million stories have been written about the quintessential 'boy and his dog', but dogs don't have a monopoly. We bond with our animal companions, our furry familiars, those of us fortunate enough to have that special kind of unshakable bond. I had a cat for 18 years that would not leave my side, had to constantly be touching me, and made no secret of his affection for me, or rampant jealousy of anyone else, man or beast, whom I paid attention to. His behaviors weren't human at all, he knew my schedule better than I did, but goddamn, did he ever make me feel loved, appreciated, and never alone. He could read my emotional state, it was unnerving sometimes how empathetic he seemed.
When Sid finally went after 18 loyal years, it wasn't surprising, or unexpected, but it still stung.
Today I lost Chewie.
Chewie was a rabbit, a giant of a bun, with a heart to match. In my life I'd always thought of rabbits as 'cage critters', cute, but ultimately empty investments. Boy was I proven wrong. Every bit as intelligent and aware as a cat or a dog, and affectionate to the point of being pushy to get your attention. She really did an incredible job of making you feel appreciated, no, actually loved. She charged at you when you entered a room, ears flopping and legs going every which way. She demanded ALL of the petting (the side, in front of her ears, and the top of her head were her favorites) and she'd stay there all night, leaning all her weight on your hand if you let her. She was hilarious to watch on carpet, this giant goofball moving as fast as she could, doing what we'd call "zoomies". You could feel her excited energy. When she was left out for the night, she slept on the bed with us. Every time. She didn't trust everyone, but she was always at ease with us.
Chewie was 5, Bunbuns typically live to 12-15 years. Rabbits are prey animals. They dont show signs of weakness or illness until it's too late. She was fine when she went to her cage for the night on Wednesday. Yesterday, she wasn't. Today. She's gone.
We could have had so much more life together.
Hug your critters extra tight tonight folks. Give em a good squeeze, or a treat. Let them know you love them.
They probably don't get it, but it doesn't matter.
Animals, in spite of what doting furparents say, aren't like members of the family, or like surrogate children, they're something altogether different, but equally special; We imprint a piece of ourselves on the pets we love. A chunk of our soul is unconditionally split from within and gifted to them. A portion of our heart becomes theirs. It's not the same as the unconditional love of parenthood, it's something altogether different, it is the purest kind of inheritance of the soul. The animal selflessly, if unconsciously becomes an extension of your being by your own will. It is a piece of you, shaped by your psyche. It's precarious, it's fleeting, but that piece of you that you give, that you imprint, you will never, ever get back.
Devastated. Miss you already ChuChu.