Iroh was our first pet. We adopted him as a kitten and he was about 3 months old and had a cold but we adopted him anyway. We were totally smitten from the git-go with this one. He had the biggest personality for such a little kitten. We brought him home and he became the BEST pet I have ever owned. He played fetch, loved to cuddle and regularly slept on Ben's pillow or in between us. He regularly had colds and respiratory issues but was still fun loving and would just tire easily when playing. He would have to take frequent rests.
In about October of last year, after having him for a year and half, he developed a serious bladder issue. We took him to an emergency vet one night (where we learned about a heart condition he had all along), then to our regular vet the next. And then the next day he took a turn for the worse. Ben and I made the heart wrenching decision to put this little guy down because he was so so sick and would never really be able to lead a full life and wasn't much they could do for him. It was awful, terrible, I wouldn't wish that feeling on anyone. Together we had never experienced so much pain or sadness. I know my heart will always be a little broken because of it.
Luckily, we were able to adopt again and love another critter, Harley. She is very different than Iroh in every way possible and we adopted her when she was a little older than 1. So we're still getting used to her and she us, but she's a sweet cat and learning to love and slowly cuddle the way Iroh did.
With ALL of that said, I have never painted any of my own pets. With Iroh it felt too personal and too soon. But, I took the plunge this week to paint him, had a meltdown looking at all his sweet pictures and then gained my composure enough to finish this painting. It was a good healing step for me and I now more fully understand what pet portraits can mean to someone, especially once their critter is gone. I'm now painting Harley (so she won't be jealous ;) ) so hopefully that'll be up here soon too.