Death of a best friend

Charles Cowling

posted by Quokkagirl

I received a moving email the other day from a friend telling me that Archie, her beloved and faithful old Westie had finally lost his battle with cancer.

The last time I saw Archie was a couple of months ago – looking older but still the feisty little man he had always been – busily galloping around the smallholding all day, dealing with the ducks and hens, making sure his estate was all in order, then finally flopping down curled up by the Aga at night – so long as he was touching his mistress’s feet somehow.

My friend is pragmatic by nature and used to dealing with the death of animals – she rears all sorts, is devoted to them, never eats any of them and suffers losses frequently with courage and a philosphical approach.

However, this email was full of exactly the same words, the same emotions and the same pain that would be present when telling of the death of a beloved human.

And of course, those of us who have said goodbye to pets know what it’s like. They are not ‘just a dog, cat, rabbit, ferret or rat’. My brother lost his faithful old springer, Fern, some three years ago and still can’t bear to try and replace her. There seems to be no room in his heart for another yet. She lays beneath a beautiful stone in his garden with her name lovingly chiselled by his own hand. And he still has pictures of her on his phone that he will happily show around. She was the best friend he ever had and is unashamedly grieving for her still.

The love for a Best Friend is pure – like the love for a baby.
Nothings spoils that love because there are no bad memories. They never hurt you, never spoil your life like humans can – they only ever enhance.

I was shocked the other day to be told by a devout Anglican that animals do not have souls. I didn’t dignify their comment with a response. Tell that to those who have wept over the loss of their pets and whose pets practically joined souls with their owners in their lifetime.

In my local vets there is a little corner put aside to display a range of mini urns for amimals. It’s so good to see that the pain of losing our Best Friends is both openly and unashamedly acknowledged at last.

A poem for our Best Friends.

Four Feet

I have done mostly what most men do,
And pushed it out of my mind;
But I can’t forget, if I wanted to,
Four-Feet trotting behind.

Day after day, the whole day through —
Wherever my road inclined —
Four-feet said, “I am coming with you!”
And trotted along behind.

Now I must go by some other round,
Which I shall never find
Somewhere that does not carry the sound
Of Four-Feet trotting behind.

 Rudyard Kipling




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Richard Rawlinson
Richard Rawlinson
9 years ago

One can still love animals and nature and care about their welfare without believing they have souls, and that humankind alone is created in God’s image.

Jenny Uzzell
9 years ago

I don’t want to open the door to the whole ‘pet-soul’ thing. I’m not a Christian so it really isn’t my issue, and as far as I’m concerned, I’m not sure what ‘it’ is but whatever ‘it ‘ is, if humans have ‘it’ then so do animals. I have my ideas, but this isn’t the place. Some, however, may be interested to know that while the traditional theological position of the Christian Church is that only humans have souls, this is not universally the case and there is a movement within the Anglican Church (based at Oxford I think, but… Read more »

Belinda Forbes
9 years ago

I greatly appreciate this post. I have had a dog in my life for just a few months and already she is a dearly loved companion, so how people must feel when their dog or cat is their only companion…

Nick Gandon
9 years ago

Always a heart-sinking situation when it’s time for a beloved friend to move on….

I’ve experienced my fair share, I think.

Every time I convince myself that there will be no more – it’s just too painful – and every time “one door shuts, another door opens”……