No matter how big. No matter how small. Losing a pet is like saying goodbye to a member of the family.
Today, Laureen Teskey Harper, wife of former Canadian prime minister, Stephen Harper, shared her family’s devastating loss of Charlie the chinchilla.
“Loving an animal always means they break your heart. And today this little angle broke mine,” she posted on Twitter with of photo of her beloved Charlie.
Charlie was 10 — give or take.
Loving an animal always means they break your heart. And today this little angle broke mine. I would like to thank @ottawahumane for bringing Charlie into my family ten years ago this month. #AdoptDontShop pic.twitter.com/3K6WqfIlDS— Laureen Teskey Harper (@LaureenHarper) September 15, 2022
The Harpers were known for taking in foster pets — and adopting pets of their own — will residing at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa.
Cats Stanley and Gypsy, and Charlie, the most famous — all of whom made the trek back to Calgary when Harper’s time as prime minister was up.
The family has always been supportive of various humane societies.
Charlie even made a name for himself as the first chinchilla to be owned by a prime minister in J.D.M. Stewart’s book, Being Prime Minister.
The author tweeted his condolences to the family.
Sorry for your loss. Charlie had a major mention in my book. pic.twitter.com/o6upJs5gfz— J.D.M. Stewart (@jdmstewart1) September 15, 2022
Yes, Charlie did make the Christmas card cut.
This was the family’s holiday greeting in 2013.
And, he showed the Christmas spirit in other ways.
Charlie the Chinchilla gets into the Christmas spirit at 24 Sussex. http://t.co/8poyuUwt— Stephen Harper (@stephenharper) December 20, 2012
If you’re sensing a theme, Charlie was sometimes clad in costumery of the season.
Take this 2012 Thanksgiving photo posted by the former prime minister.
“Charlie the Chinchilla gets into the Thanksgiving spirit at 24 Sussex,” Harper posted on Flickr.
Well-wishes poured in from around the nation’s capital — and beyond.
Farewell, Charlie. pic.twitter.com/dFNmnBwPso— Stephen Taylor (@stephen_taylor) September 16, 2022
The responses came from journalists and politicians and people who just know the pain of losing a loved one.
He’s beautiful. I had a chinchilla named Marco. He was the sweetest little guy. I’m so sorry for your loss.— Leela Sharon Aheer (@LeelaAheer) September 16, 2022
I’m very sorry for the loss of your little angel Laureen.— Ted Opitz (@TedOpitz) September 16, 2022
Even in her grief, Harper shared a message for prospective pet owners.
Charlie was indeed loved.