As if grieving the loss of your own pet isn’t bad enough, sometimes, thanks to social media like Facebook, you’ll find yourself grieving the loss of an animal you’ve never even met. Such was the case with Pringles Gordon.
While I’ve no doubt that Facebook, and it’s predecessor, MySpace, were meant to connect people in a positive way, the fact is that it’s brought out the narcissist in all of us. I personally know several people on Facebook who feel compelled to share the minutiae of their everyday lives whether we want to know about it or not. Indeed, I’d like to take this opportunity to say no, I’m not interested in what you had for dinner, and the photo you posted along with it doesn’t change my mind about that. And you, there, posting that video about the books you just checked out of the library: I don’t care! Please stop!
But when you love/own/rescue animals, then you have my undivided attention, especially when you start a Facebook page devoted to that critter. Clucks and Ducks mascot Carol Hen? I loved those pictures of her riding shotgun as her owner drove to Starbucks for her coffee fix! And I was saddened to learn of Carol’s passing. It’s gut-wrenching to me that our critter friends live lives so much shorter than our own, and it never gets any easier when they die, no matter how many times you go through it.
Such was the case with Pringles Goose. I can’t say that Pringles was a close personal friend, but I really enjoyed his posts, particularly when pictures were included. Then, you not only learned what “goositude” was, but you got to see what it looked like, as well! And Pringles was the absolute master of goositude.
Pringles had a rough start in life, having been thrown, as a gosling, from a moving car (and I’d like to know: what kind of asshat throws an animal from a moving car? Perhaps I just answered my own question.). Fortunately, he was rescued and brought to the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue (www.carolinawaterfowlrescue.com), where he went on to become the head of his own goose gang. For the next ten years, he enjoyed the company of other geese, and, eventually, found a mate, Annabel, that he clearly loved with all his heart.
But Pringles enjoyed more than just a gang of geese. He relished watermelon with a level of enthusiasm that was equaled only by his love of tomatoes. Indeed, he made frequent pleas for tomato donations on Facebook and, judging by the pictures, a good many fans indulged his requests. It seemed as though everybody – including me – liked Pringles!
So it was with a large measure of dismay when I read that he was ill. It seemed that the vet was having trouble getting a handle on what, exactly, was wrong with Pringles, and then it seemed as though the cure was proving elusive. Many things were tried. Some helped. Others, not so much. Pringles’s owner Jennifer Gordon posted daily updates and videos, so that his fans might follow the saga, and I was grateful for that.
I had invested enough interest in the situation that I ultimately went looking for those updates, every time I was on Facebook. I cheered, and my quiet optimism surged, while watching the video of Pringles tucking into a bowl of fresh fruit and lettuce while he was still at the vet’s: every pet owner knows what a good sign an interest in food is! And when the vet sent him home, I naturally assumed that he was on the mend. How dangerous assumptions can be! You can imagine my sadness, then, when I read that after a rough day at home, Pringles passed away.
Having lost the critter love of my life, I had a pretty good idea what Jennifer Gordon was feeling, and it’s brutal. The world keeps revolving on its axis while your own little piece of it screeches to a halt. It’s hard to understand how people can keep moving forward with their lives when you are experiencing such blinding grief. Questions haunt you in the small hours of the night: how could this have happened? He was invincible! He was the greatest animal in the world! How can he be dead? But there are no answers.
Pringles will be missed. There will be many geese, and many stories to tell about them, but there will only ever be one Pringles. And while it may seem ridiculous to invest one’s emotions in an animal one has never met, I say this: animals provide us with community. That isolated person tucked away in a tiny flat dealing with depression or some other mental condition can still reach out into the world and commune with other like-minded fellows via social media. I, myself, have been that isolated person, and on days (weeks/months) when leaving my home proves impossible, I can still visit with various critters, and the people who love them. Such is the value of Facebook.