I just felt the need to share how the hobby has helped me recently.
A little back ground. I've had aquariums since I was about 7 years old. I've always enjoyed watching the fish do their fishy thing and even enjoy the maintenance involved. I love the look of a well balance tank, lots of live plants, driftwood, rocks etc. I also have an ex husband. From that I got 2 wonderful dogs. Karma, a 6 year old female shepherd/retriever mix and Loki, a 9 1/2 year old huge yellow Lab. They were more than dogs, they were my "kids", my companions. Then I met my boyfriend and we became a family.
In the past year I have rekindled my love for the hobby. My boyfriend gave me a 29g for my birthday last year. Since then the tank has gone through many changes with fish and plants. I'm always moving things around to get just the right look. We've added 6 more tanks since then. The most recent is a 40g breeder we are setting up for Rams and Kribs.
Also last year we found out that my yellow lab Loki (aka Goober) needed surgery for a polyp. The vet took a biopsy and sent it in. The results were that it could turn cancerous. We were told to put him on a diet as he was 130 lbs. It made the vet nervous to put a dog that large under anesthesia. She said he was healthy but a bit large for his breed and at his age, 8 years old, she wanted him in prime condition.
Loki went on his diet. He dropped down to a lean 106. But other problems developed. He started have trouble pooping. We tried a different dog food and that seemed to help. Everything went back to normal until 4 weeks ago. He wasn't able to poop at all.
We tried another dog food, it didn't work. We took him back to the vet. The prognosis was grim. The surgery would do him no good now. The polyp had turned cancerous and was blocking him up. The vet gave him maybe a month or two before we would have to consider put him to rest. She had us put him on a diet that would make his poo softer and maybe easier for him to pass. Buying us a little time with him before his quality of life got worse.
Two Sundays ago we decided to try giving him all the things he hadn't had. Since he was a water loving dog (always in our koi pond or in his little kiddie pool) we took him to the mountains to let him play in the streams. He loved it, but it tired him out. He would splash around the water, tongue hanging out of his mouth, being a total Goober. He was happy. He was doing what he loved.
For the week after, he was lethargic. Barely able to get up, barely eating. Needing to got out every half hour but not able to do anything. My Goober was suffering.
Last Thursday my boyfriend and I made the decision that we couldn't let him suffer anymore. I could see in his big brown eyes how bad off he was. He still tried to greet me when I'd come home from work, but it was so much effort for him. At this same time we were working on the 40g set up. Friday my plant order came in. But considering what we had to do with Loki on Saturday it wasn't that joyous.
Saturday morning came. I cried the entire morning, I cried on the drive to the vet, I cried while I sat beside Loki and held his head in my lap. I cried while the vet gave him both shots, I cried while he passed away in my arms. The loss of such a sweet and loving companion tore at my heart. I'd had Loki for 6 years. My ex and I adopted him from the Humane Society. The first time we saw him he was bouncing on a trampoline with a Kong toy in his mouth and the most Gooberish look on his face. But through the look I could see that he was all heart. A big puppy that just wanted to love and be loved. Which he was, by everyone who got to know him. My boyfriend is more of a cat person than a dog person, but Loki grew on him.
After the upset of the morning we came home. The house quiet. Karma knew something was up. She saw us leave with Loki but didn't come home with him. I went to bed to lay down, Karma jumped up beside me, rested her head on my legs and let me cry. My boyfriend came in and joined us.
Later that night, trying to keep myself busy, I started planting the 40g. Finding therapy in planting half a square foot of micro swords and the various other plants I had ordered. Keeping myself busy over the next few days by spreading the plants in all the tanks seemed to have helped keep me from focusing on the loss of Loki. It didn't stop the pain, just gave me a way to channel it. Now I sit and look at the tanks, finding an inner peace knowing they helped me get through a rough point. I'm in no way over the loss of Loki. That pain is still fresh but I can watch the fish and find some calm.
Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.
George Eliot (1819 - 1880)