Joan and Tiger—Turning Heartache Into Friendship

Many of us have had the privilege of sharing our home with animals. We remember the day we first met them and the great joy and immense love they bring us. Unfortunately, animals don’t live as long as we want or need them to, and eventually we have to say goodbye.

But sometimes an animal outlives their human, and then what happens? Will a relative come forward and care for the dog, cat, rabbit . . .? That is probably the best scenario for the grieving animal—to be taken in by someone they already know.

However, that is not always the case and many animals end up shelters, waiting for another person or family to love again.

This difficult situation happened to Joan Almond back in 2017. She received one of those dreaded phone calls—her brother Brian was in the hospital. Sadly, Brian passed away, leaving behind his beloved cat Tiger. The family not only had to deal with their own loss, but also had to figure out what to do for Tiger.

Tiger

Joan shared her experience with me. Here is her story.

Joan has always loved animals, but like many others, held back from taking on a pet because of the costs and responsibilities. This all changed in 2017 when her brother Brian passed away, just nine months after Joan had lost her mother.

Brian’s celebration of life was packed with friends and family, but there was also someone else represented—a framed photograph of Tiger, Brian’s beloved cat.

Neighbours and friends chipped in and helped take care of Tiger for the first couple of weeks after Brian’s passing. But a more permanent solution was needed.  

“I’m taking him!” Joan said without thinking. 

“Cat hair!” an older sister said.

“I don’t care!” Joan said. “I want him!”

As Joan drove home with Tiger crying in the back seat, she thought, “What did I get myself into?”

That night, Tiger slept at the end of Joan’s bed, on his favourite blanket.

There were adjustments, like the 5am wake up time, lots of scratched furniture and the cost of taking on a pet—vet bills, grooming, boarding, litter, and food.

Regardless, Joan says Tiger is her Best Bud, even though, like most family members, he does frustrate her somedays.

Joan has learned so much from Tiger, including how to share space, how lovely it is to be greeted at the door when she comes home, and of course what it means to be loved unconditionally.  

Joan, like many of us who welcome animals into our homes, often wonder who adopted whom.

I asked Joan if there is one thing she could change about the world, what would it be? Joan’s answer—That we humans learn to love, like Tiger does- unconditionally – not caring what we look like or what the colour of our skin is – what we’re wearing, or how much money we have- or even how successful we are – forgiving each other when we step on each other’s tail (accidentally.) 

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