Outside of the HAWS shelter is a large plaque that is dedicated to the husband of one of our founders. It speaks of the Rainbow Valley and Rainbow Bridge - giving comfort to those who have lost a beloved pet, reminding them they will be reunited one day "across the Bridge."
Contrary to what some may think, even though we confront it daily, working here at HAWS doesn't have a desensitizing effect when it comes to pet loss. Since all of us here have pets - some of us probably more than we should - inevitably we will have personal experience with the death of one of those best friends.
We're going through just that right now in my household. Our feisty little cat, Pepper, who is a stray we took in at Christmas in '97, is in sudden liver failure due most likely to a very aggressive and rapid-spreading cancer. She is fighting the good fight, but we know that within a few days this six-pound diva who ruled our household will no longer be with us. As difficult a little being as she was (she was the queen of unprintable nicknames because of her antics), we will all miss her terribly - especially our 70 pound greyhound who was completely afraid of her but adored her anyway.
Despite our emotional pain as her caretakers (we're told she isn't in pain herself, thankfully), we would not give up a minute of the 12+ years we've had with her. We have pets because of the joy they bring to our lives, because of what they teach us, because of how our lives change for the better with them along for the ride. We're comforted by the knowledge that she chose us - she jumped into our arms from wandering outside way back when, and we were meant to be together for however long it lasted.
I wish you peace, Little Missy/Princess/Diva Pepper. I hope you like the Rainbow Valley - you deserve a great place to rest.