Image: Reddit (abherna3)
Ugh. It’s impossible to talk about that final trip to the vet without turning into a weeping, blubbering mess. Many who've actually experienced it understand that, although it's agonizing, a pet can make the overwhelming experience a little more bearable by offering their people one last beautiful gesture of love.
Such was the case for Reddit user “abherna3,” who posted a picture of his elderly cat Little Andrew “holding” his people’s hands as they drove to the vet, with the caption “Little Andrew was much stronger than his mom and I.”
“He was 15 and a half and loved everyone, but just got old and sick over the last year,” abherna3 wrote in the comments. “He purred everyday of his life and when he lost that, I knew it was time.”
In light of this story, USA TODAY reached out to Barbara J. King, emerita professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary and author of How Animals Grieve to ask if, in situations when a pet acts in a seemingly meaningful way while getting ready for that final trip to the vet, “are communicating with their owners on a deep level or are people struggling to find meaning in their loss?”
King states for the record that “both animals and humans can feel mutual love” and adds that “the attunement between both of them is real” but doubts that these animals are aware that their time is drawing to an end.
“I don’t think we have the scientific evidence to say that animals can anticipate their own death, but they are probably very aware that they feel bad,” King told TODAY. “They also know something is wrong, and can pick up on our worries when they reach out for love and comfort.”
Well one thing’s for sure: the love between a person and their pet is very, very real. Even if a pet isn’t aware that it’s their final trip to the vet, they are very aware that their person is hurting and want to do what they can to comfort their loved one.
Okay, now we’re weeping, blubbering messes all over again.