You know, I grew up in a home where my mother emphatically imposed her ideas on us that pets were a nuisance and were grand contributors to chaos and dirt in a home. Therefore, we had limited experience with pets. We had a little bird named Penny, a budgie that drank from our cereal bowls and pooped in our hair and on the sheers in the living room. Penny escaped one day and took her liberty beyond our back screen door. She didn't roam far and reappeared in the willow tree about a week later. She flew from the tree at my father's call and landed on his shoulder, but was never herself again. She came back starving, depleted and seemingly brain damaged. She could no longer judge distances and flew into walls and eventually drowned in the dishwater. A sad day for the pet deprived kids at our house. That, and a "dog for one day" fiasco are the only personal experiences I had with pets as a child. As an adult, I had a budgie for a short time when my son was little and it met its demise by flying into a wall heater. My son and I cried for days over "Mickie." I understand how attached one can be to an animal.
Today, my good friends had to put their elderly cat to sleep. Sparing her of longsuffering from a number of ailments must have been no easy decision. That tiny little lady, Elfie, was over 16 years old. She showed up at their door when they lived on acreage in western Canada, seemingly out of nowhere and she became their constant companion. She was named after Mount Elphinstone, the mountain in the coastal range in the distant view from where they lived. Elfie was there to greet the birth of their baby son a year later and shortly after made the journey with the family to the Netherlands. She was a delicate, longhaired cat with unusual markings and a gentle way about her. She liked to curl up in a ball in the bowl on the table.
My friends will long remember the joy Elfie brought into their family over all these years. There are no words for this particular brand of loss. It's just plain sad. She may have been a little one, but her family presence was great.