It was the type of friendship that reached across the species: a giant gorilla and a tiny kitten.
This viral video introduces Koko, a highly-intelligent female gorilla in the San Francisco Zoo who learned more than 1,000 words in American Sign Language. Although she was able to communicate effectively with humans, Koko bonded best with an animal that knew only the language of love.
The massive gorilla became cuddle buddies with a kitten, making them an adorable set of best friends. Koko named her new friend All Ball, because it looked like a cute little ball to her. The two were inseparable.
Unfortunately, All Ball was hit by a car on a nearby road. The zookeeper immediately told Koko, who was heartbroken. Signing the words sad and bad, and later crying on her own. The gorilla was emotional about the loss of her furry best friend.
When you lose a pet, the loss you feel is real. To the neighbors, your dog may be just another furry, smelly, barking annoyance, but to you, he can be your whole world. Pets provide comfort, love and constant support, when no one else can. In these precious moments, we bond with our pets. So when we are forced to say goodbye, it hurts in the deepest way.
I'm speaking from some painful personal experience here. In fourth grade, I adopted a black, shivering dog from the local humane society and named her Pepper. She quickly became my best friend in the world and stuck with me through first crushes, acne, high school drama and much more. Pepper even nervously said goodbye when I went away to college.
Recently, 12-year-old Pepper became very sick, we were forced to put her down. It was a difficult, tearful couple of days.
Why is it that when you lose a pet, you feel like a piece of you goes with her? This universal feeling was even felt by Koko, the tough gorilla. Whether you wear your emotions on your sleeve or are less likely to burst into tears, losing a pet is always a difficult experience. It can be especially confusing and painful for kids. Here are a few do's and don'ts on dealing with pet loss for yourself and your loved ones.
Look out for your little ones, because kids grieve differently than adults. If they mope for a few days or have a temper tantrum, try to be understanding. Explain to your child that his cat is in a better place.
Realize that feeling sad about the loss of your pet is completely natural. It doesn't matter if others think you're silly - what matters is helping yourself and your family heal.
Have a memorial service of some kind with your family. For some, this might be burying your pet in the backyard. Other families might share favorite memories of the pet. No matter what works for your family, this discussion will help everyone heal from losing a friend.
Run out to the pet store and immediately buy another pet. Let the healing process take hold of your family. When the time feels right, discuss the option of getting a new pet. Careful research is important before you commit to taking care of an animal.
Feel guilty for your animal's death. If you had to face the difficult choice of euthanizing your pet, don't ever think that your pet's death was your fault. HealingPetLoss.com gives tips about dealing with guilt during the loss of a pet.
Try to ignore your pain, or this will make it even worse. By talking about your feelings or writing them down, you can start to move past the grief.
Losing a pet hurts, but you and your family can recover emotionally while holding onto the precious memories of your little best friend.