There's a simplicity to our relationships with pets
OUR MUCH-loved cat passed away during the week. Her name was Sydney - named by my wife, who got her soon after a trip to Australia, shortly before she met me. Trust me, I'd have never named her that.
Her passing has been horrible - a death in the family. But through our grieving, I've noticed this country is made up of those with pets who ''get it'', and those without pets who have no idea.
Fortunately, there are more here who ''get it''. According to various statistics, 62 per cent of all households have a pet, and in 2011 we spent $US51 billion on our friends … furry, fishy, feathery or lizardy.
Some reports claim we spend more money on animals than children - although I'm guessing college tuition ruins that fantasy. But it's clear, animals play a huge part in many peoples' lives. I know Sydney played a huge part in ours.
One of the remarkable things about working in the entertainment industry here is that there are many workplace norms that don't exist anywhere else. Bringing your dog to work is not only allowed - it's a sign of how important you are.
Anyone who's anyone in this business has an assistant - and most of those assistants spend a portion of their day walking dogs and scooping up poop. Bringing a puppy who isn't toilet trained is the ultimate status symbol. Oh yeah, my dog poops in the office … I'm that important. Imagine the public service with a dog friendly policy. What a zoo, literally.
Cats are not Hollywood pets. Cats are too smart, too quick to detect idiots and too choosy with their love. No, showbiz types need the unconditional slobbering only a puppy or an ambitious starlet can provide.
I never took Sydney to the office. She would've killed everyone - violently. Sydney was considered ''feisty'' by the vet, ''scary'' by people she didn't know, and ''smoochy'' by my wife. She miraculously survived a brush with kidney failure death two years ago, as my father was dying, and recovered enough to see us through the growth of our children. Her passing leaves a giant hole in our house, and our lives.
Animals give us something our relationships with other humans can't. A simplicity. Pets need food, love, and someone to empty the litter box, or pat them at 6am simply because they feel like it. Human relationships need a lot more of, well, everything.
I've had a pretty close relationship with death these past few years, and in my opinion, it sucks. It makes life seem like a cruel game with a sick ending.
I also realise taking on a pet means adopting a child you know you'll outlive, which is kinda stupid, unless you like pain.
But Sydney gave us 14 years of friendship, of companionship and of love. Her life had value and meaning, and gave us enormous joy. There's nothing stupid about that. Goodbye, Sydney. Thank you for everything. Tim is a writer, TV producer and proud former Canberra resident who has lived in Los Angeles since 1997. Twitter @timschildberger