Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Rhinestones in Waiting

In the fall of 2006 and into 2007, pet owners around the country were faced with their worst nightmare.  Poisoned pet food.  Cat owners and dog owners alike fed their pets their regular food only to have them become critically ill or, as was our case, they watched their beloved pet die a slow and painful death as the result of kidney failure.  Timber was our cat and Timber suffered for 14 hours before we could get him to the Vet and have his suffering ended.

Learning that the pet food had killed our Timber along with so many other dogs and cats was heartbreaking and infuriating.  We networked with other pet owners and joined the law suit against the pet food company responsible for this horrendous betrayal of consumer confidence.

During this time we were blessed to meet so many wonderful people, many suffering the same painful loss we had endured.  One person was an artist and while she had not lost a pet, she wanted to ease the pain of as many people as she could.  She saw pictures of the lost pets and used her talents to create paintings of many of them to be given for free to the families.  These works of love were so life like that they moved most to tears.

The Artist, inspired by the love of animals, worked for weeks on portrait after portrait.  She would send them to us and we would forward them to the families.  This good work in the midst of so much loss was a healing act and a silver lining in a long period of dark clouds.

The Artist surprised us in one of the last shipments of artwork with a painting of our own Timber.  We never expected it and when we saw him, we did as most did.  We wept.  She had captured the picture she had seen of Timber with such detail and clarity, as she had with all her paintings.  We understood how much what we had done for others by feeling and experiencing their same joy and appreciation.

One of the paintings she had sent was to a couple in a town not far from us.  Their dog Michou had been a victim of the pet food poisoning and had left them devastated and lost.  When Michou's painting arrived, we contacted them and arranged to meet them so that we could give the painting to them personally.  It as a good day and while the painting tugged at the pain that still filled their hearts, they appreciated the love with which Michou's image had been created.  I so wish The Artist could have been there that day.

That day, Michou's mom and dad presented us with several tokens of appreciation and love.  A beautiful silk scarf and many items that had belonged to Michou.  The beautiful rhinestone and black colored collar and several vests that had belonged to Michou were given to us to remind us of their love and loss, not that we could ever forget them or their beloved Michou.

Years passed, four to be exact and as with all reasons for grief, the pain eased and life continued on.  Michou's clothing was hung in my closet and her collar dangled from the nail on my bedroom wall.
They served as reminders to me of a time of great loss as I felt the loss of each of the more than 5,000 dogs and cats that died as a result of the tainted pet food.  I had seen so many of their pictures and emailed many of their owners with expressions of sympathy.   Anyone that lost a pet during that time felt the same way.  We lost more than our own pets, we felt the collective loss of all lost pets.

Yesterday, when Cayce arrived at our home after years of neglect and abuse at the hands of a calloused owner, we felt the same good feeling we had felt years ago.  Sometimes you just have to take the extra step and go the extra mile when its the right thing to do.

Having spent the last six years in a crate with little or no human interaction, no love, no clean environment, Cayce spent the day walking and receiving love from everyone.  We had purchased a harness and leash for her but she was too big for a small size and too small for a medium sized set.  Then Jamie spotted the collar hanging on the wall.  Michou's collar.  She said "I wonder if this will fit Cayce?". 

Carefully and with great love, she took the collar down from the wall and placed it around Cayce's neck.  It was a perfect fit.  It was as if it had been waiting for 4 years for this moment.  Once again, that beautiful collar would be worn by a dog that was loved and adored.  Once again, it would be seen every day and admired.  The collar had found a new home.  Patiently it had waited and now, finally, it could serve as that constant hug and symbol of adoration.  Michou had worn that collar and now Cayce wears it.  And it seems right and fitting.  It seems perfect. It seems just as it was meant to be.

So to Michou's mom, we thank you for the gift given with such love and sacrifice.  Please know that it is now worn with just as much love and serves as a constant reminder of your beloved baby. 

Kaleigh, Cayce and Ryan


  1. Really nice story, Carolyn. You are so great with the written word.

  2. Thank you Carolyn for this lovely story and your talented writing! I'd love to visit with you all when you come to town ? My number is 512-291-4940 (Saturday afternoon is usually the best time). Hugs