Tribute to a Fallen Animal Angel

Writing the Pet Corner this week was very difficult for me. The Verde Valley Humane Society/”Adopt for Life” have experienced the terrible loss of one of our dear employees.

Our faithful little friend and dedicated co-worker Colleen Freeman passed away last weekend in her Camp Verde home.

Colleen didn’t show up for work on Saturday so my husband Al and I drove out to check on her. She would never miss work or even think about being late.

We found her fragile little body in her home where she loved to be. An angel had to be holding her as she headed to be with the Lord.

Are you asking which one of the employees was Colleen? She was the tiny little lady that you saw lovingly caring for the animals. I fondly called her “Peanut” and she loved it.

We always joked about shopping in the kids clothing to fit her petite little form. We had such fun joking and laughing about things.

Her tiny little body was just the opposite if you compared it to the size of her heart. She had room for everyone and everything inside her.

At our Empty Bowls event a cherished friend of ours on a cane had trouble waiting in the line (we will correct the waiting process for next year).

Since the crowd was huge our friend barely got in the door and was going to leave without even a bowl. His wait had been devastating and we understood why.

Our guest was so gracious, even making a generous donation after waiting for so long. He expected nothing after paying for a ticket.

I asked Colleen to scoot her tiny little self into the room that held the bowls and bring our friend a bowl before he had to leave.

I knew that being my size I was never going to be able to slide in without being noticed. She got the bowl as quick as she could and our special guest could head for home taking a little memory of the event.

Work at the shelters begins every morning at 7:15. Colleen refused to come in at that time, always being here at least 45 minutes early and ready to work.

Anyone without a ride was always picked up by here and not a dollar expected in return. She did favors such as that all of the time, always with a smile.

She never met a stranger and cared about everyone. Our animals loved her just as much as she loved them. It was so obvious to all that saw her working.

We have decided to take up donations in Colleen’s memory and plant a tree in her honor. We would like others that loved her to be here with us. I will share details as information is released.

If you would like to donate in Colleen’s memory, please send your donation to:

VVHS/Colleen Freemon Memorial

P.O. Box 1429

Cottonwood, AZ 86326

Why this column today? It was Colleen’s favorite and it always appropriate. We all lose people and animals we love

Hang on to those memories, they belong to only you! Colleen may you rest in eternal peace forever. We miss you and love you very much. It will never be the same without you.

Life can be so difficult at times, but it gets even tougher when you are going to lose one of your furry best friends.

Right at this moment I have two private cremations on my desk for friends of mine and I actually dread them coming in to get them.

The day they brought their sick animal in was very hard for all of us. These ashes mean the very end of it all. It is the closure and yet the hurt goes on.

Another dear man and his wife had to have two of their animals euthanized this year, both of them very loved and very well cared for.

It’s so sad to see all of this and feel their hurt right along with them. You feel absolutely helpless because you know that there is no way to make things better for them.

This column is the most requested column that has been in the Verde Independent.

I tried to put things as if they were coming from a sick animal to try and ease the pain for the human left behind.

I’m not just talking about the subject, I just like so many of you have had to deal with the death of my beloved pet.

The years pass and the pain and loss are with me every day, so you aren’t alone in this world.

Talking about it with friends that care seems to help me, how about you?

Dear Mom and Dad

Do you remember that cold November morning that you visited the Verde Valley Humane Society looking for your new best friend? I do!

You two stopped and look at me but I heard the man say “Yes Julie, she is beautiful, but she is seven weeks old.”

“Remember our life is changing dramatically in the next few months and we already decided that a puppy was going to be too much.”

I heard Julie say, “Yes I remember Peter but she is just so cute.”

You continued looking but came back and looked at me one more time before you left. I guess you didn’t like any of us.

 The next morning you both came back to look again. This time you took me out of my cage. You did like me and I surly liked you both.

I had to go back into my kennel, but I heard an announcement over the loudspeaker. 

“Would you please bring the little female in kennel two up front, she is ready to go home.”

At that moment my kennel door opened and the kennel tech picked me up. I was going home with Peter and Julie! 

I remember how I got to sit on mom’s lap all the way to my new house. Once we arrived, the three of us went out into my new back yard.

 It was so pretty lined with flower beds and even a pond with some fat orange fish in it. I could just feel the fun days ahead.

 I learned immediately that it was ok to bark a little at the fish from the side of the pond, but not ok to go in after them.

 Dad took me to an area off to the side of the yard which was my “potty area.” I sure hoped I could remember where it was.

 You and dad talked forever about my new name as we sat in the grass. You had a very hard time deciding.

 Finally I became Abbey. Oh how I loved my new name. I had my very own name. I was thrilled and I ran to you every time you called me, well almost every time.

 Next we went inside to investigate the house. I found my puppy food dish, water bowl and a nice bed right by the fireplace.

 As I entered the kitchen I remember a huge furry thing pouncing at me.

It was a gigantic black and white thing with long white whiskers. It hissed at me, lunged at me and swiped me across the face with its long nails.

Dad grabbed him off me very quickly thank heavens, as I am sure he was going to eat me.

 My nose was bleeding. What was this monster? Then I heard what it was. Dad said it was the “damn cat!”

 The two of you soothed me and wiped away my blood. I learned all too soon that the monster lived with us and was called Cole. 

 Cole and I did become friends over the years and sometimes he even left me treats in his litter box if mom didn’t snatch them up first.

 Remember the housebreaking process? Time after time we would go outside to my potty area.

We’d stay for what seemed like hours in the freezing cold. Mom and dad just never understood that when you can’t go, you just can’t go.

 Sometimes I just had to hold it until you finally took me back in where it was warm.

It wasn’t too much longer before I learned the outside concept. You were both very patient.

 I remember getting into trouble when Cole showed me the Christmas tree. I had a grand time unwrapping those presents for you mom.

 Cole swatted the bulbs and I unwrapped. We quickly learned that the tree was the forbidden zone unless we were totally supervised.

 I remember really getting in trouble for chewing up dad’s TV remote. I must have done something especially horrible that time.

 When spring came, do you remember you took me fishing? I quickly understood when dad was casting, I was not to fetch. Eating or playing with the bait wasn’t a good idea either.

 We went everywhere together. When we went to grandma and grandpa’s house, I really behaved since they didn’t have animals their own.

They didn’t understand anything about dogs. I stayed on my special bed during those visits and not once did I sniff their crotches.

 Oh how I remember you making me special biscuits mom. I helped you do everything and waited impatiently for them to cool.

 I remember the many vet visits. You’d hook me to my harness, put the window down and off we’d go. 

I didn’t want to go and I even tried puking in the car. That didn’t work either. We still went.

We walked, hiked, camped and played together. I was even given permission to sleep at the foot of your bed.

I remember late one night the two of you quickly got out of bed. Where were you going, wasn’t I going, what’s going on?

 Dad came home the next morning long enough to shower and make arrangements for mine and Cole’s care. Where was my mom?

 Early the next day everyone came over to our house. Were we having a party without mom and dad? 

 Everyone gathered in the house. Grandma put me outside in the yard and closed my doggie door. Cole was shut in the laundry room. 

 I heard voices entering the house. I heard mom and dad talking, but I couldn’t get in.

 Finally dad let me in. I was so happy to see you both. 

 Next I saw something wrapped in a blanket on your lap mom. It was screaming and wiggling around. 

 I went over to sniff it and grandma had a pure fit. “Get that dog away from the baby!”

The only safe area was to hide behind dad. But at least I knew that thing in the blanket was called a baby.

 After everyone left, mom and dad let me sniff the blanket and even showed me what was in it.

It didn’t have any hair anywhere except on the top of its head, so thank heavens it wasn’t another cat.

 It had two legs, not four so I decided it had to be a miniature human. One thing was for sure, it was red and really ugly. 

 There was something new that I had to accept, it was obvious the human was staying. Now there were five of us.

The human came with a name, she was Sarah. I must have been much more important, it took you guys way longer to name me.

 Sarah also slept in the bedroom with us. She had to stay in her bassinet and I still got to jump up and sleep at the foot of the bed.

Sarah got to come in the bed sometimes when mom had to feed her, but I was allowed to stay on the bed all night.

I was even allowed to smell her crotch, but after a few times I decided it wasn’t something I wanted to do anymore.

 All I could think was that you guys needed to show Sarah the potty area because she was always having accidents.

She even pulled the puking thing and wasn’t even going to the vet. What an attention seeker she was.

 In time little Sarah grew and became someone to play with. I let her tug at my ears and pull my tail.

Sometimes we shared my dog food, even though mom didn’t like that much. She loved to play in my water bowl and then fix her hair.

I even helped her learn to walk by her hanging on to my fur. We just went very slowly until she had it mastered. Eventually as Sarah got older, she got to walk me.

Many years passed, we all grew and learned to have a wonderful time together. We did everything as a family.

As you know many months ago I got very sick. You took me to the vet and found out that I have what they call cancer. I saw how you both cried.

Do you understand that I have tried to get better? You know that I took my medicine and treatments, ate the special foods as long as I could. I did everything that my vet said to do.

I’m not getting better mom and dad. I’m worse and I’m very tired.

I can no longer do any of the activities that we once did. I can’t even jump on your bed anymore.

I can’t eat your special biscuits mom and dad I can’t go fishing with you anymore.

Sarah tries so hard to play with me, but I just want to sleep. I don’t even enjoy Cole’s litter box treats anymore.

What I am asking you to do is let me go, please mom and dad. Please listen to the vet as she tells you nothing more can be done.

I can’t eat, I constantly have accidents and you even have to bathe me to keep me clean.

I don’t want my water, I don’t want anything. It’s time for me to stop fighting and be at peace.

Please, I beg you to let me go to the Rainbow Bridge. I’ll wait for you both there.

Thank you for all of the wonderful years we had together. Thank you for all of your unconditional love and understanding.

I will never forget any of you. I have my memories to get me through the days ahead and so do you.

Please understand that I will be in a better place and will never suffer again.

All my love,

Abbey

This week you don’t see a picture of the “Pet of the Week.” In memory of Colleen Freemon all of our animals will be discounted by $20.00 through May 29.

Please go to vvhs.net for a complete listing of all our available animals. You can also find them on Petfinder.com.

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