Most of the time, when I have to have The Conversation with a client it’s tough, and tears are not unusual. Yesterday, The Conversation took a…shall we say…unexpected turn.

A client is going out of the country for a week with her kids, and their hamster is very old in hamster years. Old as in surprised that it is still alive every morning. I asked what should be done with the poor guy if he passes while they away. My client hadn’t thought about that, but wasn’t pretty sure the kids would want a chance to bury the little guy when they returned.

Well, I worked for a vet years ago. And if you don’t want to know what they do with bodies while they await pickup by the crematorium, stop reading now. Bodies of deceased pets go into the freezer while awaiting pickup. So after talking with my client a couple minutes, I made the suggestion. I could always wrap up the hamster and put him in the freezer.  She thought for a moment and caught me by surprise: “My freezer or yours?” she said. We both had a laugh.

I am glad, however, that no one has to have The Conversation with me right now. Butterscotch has been really showing her age lately. She’s a 13 year-old dog with Cushings and arthritis, and none of those things improve as the days go by. Last night, for the first time, she couldn’t get herself up on the bed, and the bed is pretty low to the ground – maybe as high as my knees. It was one of those moments when I realized, yet again, that age is creeping up on her, and I’m not really ready for that. Are we ever?

One of my sisters calls her a sugar face…it’s an accurate description.

Butterscotch in 2010
Butterscotch in 2010


Butterscotch last week


That muzzle is getting pretty white these days, and she sleeps a lot more than she used to. Her walks are meanders now, and not the aerobic exercise we used to have.

She still has some juice in her, however, when she really wants something. Food is her first love and every single morning she finds the inner resources to jump up and land her legs on my lower back while I’m making breakfast.  Her arthritis goes out the window if food is involved. She can still climb the stairs to our bedroom, albeit slowly, but she can make it. She still loves her walks, and occasionally gets motivated to move at a good clip. She’s got lots of good days left in her still.

And I’m not going anywhere in the near future, so no one has to have The Conversation with me. I have it with myself occasionally, but I can’t really go there most of the time. Can’t imagine the house without her, or without any of our gang for that matter. I know stuff will happen, and over time, we will lose these creatures we love so much. But not today. And that’s enough for now.


As for the hamster, I’m to call Grandpa who will have instructions or have to figure out what to do if the poor guy passes. Works for me. I hope it works for Grandpa.


18 thoughts on “The Conversation

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was exactly Grandpa’s question! Hope I don’t have to find out.

  1. Timely post. Just today Jake, my 16-year-old diabetic cat was crying and crying. Since he doesn’t do that ever, I decided to check his blood sugar and yep, it was way down dangerously low. He lapped up 2 cans of cat food and 8 ounces of milk. That’s a lot for 2 hours after breakfast. Sometimes these critters know what’s going on and will help you help them. I was worried for a while because I am always expecting “the end.” It isn’t today. He’s slow and has no interest in chasing anything these days. When I remember how he was as a youngster, I want to cry. Getting old isn’t easy for any living thing. So glad your sugar face is still excited about food. When that passes, well, that won’t be good.

    1. Wow…Jake is lucky you’re on top of his condition. So glad you were able to help him. It is so hard to watch them grow old. I’m glad your kitties have someone who cares.

      1. Jake, like a typical male, does not hide his discomfort. Makes my life easier. I can even tell when he is going to pee. It’s such a hard decision for him — upstairs in the box, in the basement kitty room or outside.

  2. When the day finally comes, I’m pretty sure there is someone waiting at her Rainbow Bridge who will be very happy to see sweet Butterscotch. As for freezer pets. I once had to do that with two beloved goldfish who did not survive a broken pump in 100 degree weather. I placed them in the freezer in a silk-lined “casket.” To my surprise and horror…they were still there five years later!

    1. Yes, Dad will definitely be waiting to see sweet Butterscotch. She is such a dear dog. Hopefully he can be patient…I want her around a good while yet. And thanks for the laugh about the fish! Five years….wow!

  3. It’s always so hard, isn’t it. We will be facing that with our dog some time in the next few years. She is now 13 and she has been with us since we met her at a shelter. She has had some wonderful years with us to make up for her first six and that’s what we had hoped for, but I know it will be very hard when the time comes.

    1. It is always hard at the end, but what a blessing that you gave her a good life to make up for whatever came before. Good for you for adopting a dog who needed a good home.

  4. Oh always such an emotive subject…our boys are getting longer spry ..well they are then pay the price and pull up sore..i can’t imagine them not snoring in the lounge..lying on the porch or by the fire..but it will happen…Butterscotch indeed has a face as sweet as her name….and she looks quite content just to be 🙂 hugs Fozziemum xx

    1. Older dogs are both a blessing and a worry for the days to come, but what would we do without them?

  5. A month ago yesterday my best friend died in my arms. He just missed his 15th birthday, and he stayed as long as he could. He is buried in the back yard where I can see his grave. Wu gave all he had to me – he gave it joyfully and lovingly. I could see him slipping away that last week, and kept him hydrated, comfortable and loved. I had the conversation with him, and invited him to head for the Rainbow Bridge and to not worry about me; we will see each other again. But oh, the hole in my heart. I don’t think it will ever heal.

    1. I’m so sorry, Susan. It sounds like Wu had a very good life with you, and will be waiting for you at the bridge someday. Healing thoughts coming your way.

  6. i had a friend who faced this very dilemma when his wife was visiting family in England and their cat died. Wife came home to find Kitty in the freezer (well wrapped I hope) awaiting a proper burial!

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