I knew it was a mistake.
I had things to do, after all.
I did it anyway.
The siren call of old photos is impossible to resist.
I tip a box labelled Clementine onto the dining room table. Clementine was our Golden Labrador. For a long while, she was my shadow. And here she is again, in glossy 4 x 6 format, a tumbling bundle of soft, golden fluff offset by dark, earnest eyes and teddy bear’s nose.
Oh, my darling Clementine.
Lost and gone forever.
Losing Clementine was unspeakably painful. Her death was unexpected. Cancer took Clemmie in her prime; it just wasn’t fair. What’s almost as bad is that I was blind to her symptoms. Oh, how I wish I’d understood that a change in behaviour was something to pay attention to.
Clementine tagged along beside me everywhere I went. She would be waiting at the door the moment she heard the rattle of car keys or saw a coat being put on. She liked to go with me, but more than that, she felt it was her job to be at my side. Keeping me safe – all of us safe – was her life’s purpose. She took her work seriously. She guarded me while I worked in the garden. She positioned herself at the laundry room door to fend off possible invaders. Like a trained bodyguard, she always got between me and the entrance. She was a sentry.
Anything that was coming for me would have to go through her first.
She was also just a large, plush toy animal. Kids could ride her, poke her, lie on her, dress her up – her tolerance was boundless.
Each night, Clementine did a circuit between all of our beds. Toward the end of her life, before I knew she was sick, she would stand beside my bed, her eyes fixed on the door. Normally, she would have curled up and gone to sleep, but not anymore.
She didn’t feel right. She knew something was wrong and she was watchful.
Whatever it was, she perceived it as a threat to us all. As she got sicker, her breathing became laboured and she was exhausted. I would force her to lie down on her bed in a corner of my room. She didn’t want to. She wanted to stand guard by my bed. I would take her to her bed and push her down on it. She would give it a few minutes and then return to my bedside.
And then I took her to the vet.
And then it was my turn to not leave her side.
She was gone in two months.
When you get a pet, heartbreak is part of the package. But against my better judgement, I want one. I want another dog. I want to tuck my feet up under a toasty dog while I write. I want a dog cocking his head, nodding in agreement when I expound on some theory. I want to dispense cheese and feel as though I’m dispensing doubloons. I want to surrender to 60 pounds of mutt across the foot of my bed, to hell with the bedspread. I want that unbridled four-legged joy to welcome me when I come through the door. I want the quiet companionship of a dog when the rain beats against the windows.
Here’s what I don’t want: the vacuum cleaner ever present in the foyer because, whaddya know? Dogs shed. Sticky rollers for getting dog hair off your clothes, because, whaddya know? Dogs shed. Apologizing to anyone who has the misfortune of sitting in the back seat of your car because, whaddya know? Dogs shed.
But here’s what I really don’t want.
What I really don’t want is to go through losing a dog again.
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.
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This week’s question for readers:
WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LOSING A PET? WOULD YOU GET ANOTHER PET?
Leave your Comments below!
Responses to last week’s question:
ANY STAYCATION VICTORIES TO SHARE? WHAT ABOUT NEW, LOCAL GEMS DISCOVERED COURTESY OF THE PANDEMIC?
One of our local “Payne Train” anti-Covid outings was to Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park this summer. The “train” variably consists of adults and young children aged one to13. It’s an excellent base camp for family hike’s, swimming and kayaking all with easy access. Several campsites are clean and have convenient facilities. Our activities included a 60-minute kid friendly hike out and back on a portion of the Trans Canada Trail right from the campground. The trail follows the Chilliwack River from the mouth and offers several viewpoints where salmon are spawning. The lake water is clean and cool for swimming and calm enough for simple kayaking/inflatable use. At the river mouth, it’s possible to safely wade in the shallows and do some rockhounding for unique collectibles such as rock crystals and agates. The area offers a non-wifi, easily accessible opportunity to play closer to true nature.John Payne
I live a life of staycation, so to speak, because I live in Hopkins Landing on the Sunshine Coast. This is perhaps the best place on earth to live because we have our own water supply leaving us able to sustain our veggie gardens through the hot dry summer. We have the most outstanding view of the ocean, islands and mountains with ferries to-ing and fro-ing throughout the day, and access to the best beach on the coast for swimming and strolling. However, I had the occasion the other day to collect a couple of other adults and a few kids and off we went from the government dock in nearby Gibsons for a magical day of a tiny boat ride to the Keats Camp landing dock, had a 2 km forest walk to Plumpers Cove marine campsite where we enjoyed a picnic, sat on the beach bathed in sunshine and dipped into the sea for a refreshing swim. The little foot ferry came to pick us up and we laughed and traded puns all the way back to Gibsons. Despite living in a similar situation in Hopkins the trip to Keats was like travelling to a foreign land or other planet during these pandemic times. What a treat!Mary Findlay
We decided to check out all the places we usually just drive by. When was the last time you were up to the top of SFU? How many times have you wondered about the little community of Sea Island as you came and went from YVR? Turn right on the road you usually turn left on; the pandemic is our chance to take the path not taken.L. Anderson
With the city so quiet I have relished visiting local art galleries and museums. What a joy to have exhibition spaces practically to myself while supporting institutions which are struggling immensely amid budget cuts and layoffs. While visiting blockbuster shows are raking it in with sold out crowds, I have quietly been appreciating local gems such as the Museum of Anthropology, Polygon Gallery, Vancouver Art Gallery, and Audain Art Museum at Whistler. I encourage everyone to support local galleries and enjoy these wonderful spaces.Jeanette Johnstone
We had not travelled at all during Covid 19 but on July 22 of this year we decided to go to Centennial Beach. We set off from our home in Mission armed with directions, a picnic lunch, lawn chairs, sun hats and sunscreen. My husband does not like city traffic so he always has a plan to get around it. We travelled the back roads around Abbotsford heading west, finally reaching Zero Avenue, although he was not sure it was Zero Avenue. “We’re heading west, he said, we’ll end up somewhere on the coast.” Finally, we reached White Rock, then Crescent Beach. After stopping for directions and driving more kilometres around Boundary Bay, we found Centennial Beach. It only took three hours – this time!Bonnie Hamilton
After 4 German Shepherds you’d think enough was enough!? 11 years old seemed to be their average lifespan. All of them had a relatively stress free existence if you think being molested by children, having nail’s clipped & getting shots were fairly normal expectations. The emotional pain of euthanizing our best friends always seemed to fade fairly quickly as we always started all over again with another pup. It always helped that all my family were & have been dog lover’s right from the git go. So apart from the high price’s for vacuum bags, vet bills & dog food I’ll always have a dog or maybe some other kind of pet & face the realities that come with them.
Our wonderful West Highland Terrier came to us in all her Westitude at 8 weeks old and was with us for 9 glorious years. She was at my feet all the time and demanded attention for long walks, belly rubs and never ending ball chasing. She was there for me through the loss of my mother. She was my BFF. I also did not notice the change in her behaviour before her diagnosis of Westie Lung Disease. She stopped wanting long walks, panted badly and rested more. Our grief was alleviated greatly by the addition of our second Westie Molly.
Hi Jane! Can’t write this without tears, I also missed the signs with our last 2 dogs but prolonging their life with treatments would have been worse (for them) anyways. So take comfort in that. Who would it have better for? You or them? I kept a dog years ago for far longer than I should have so I could have more time with her- I learnt my lesson. I will not do that again. Anyhow, every pet owner (parent!) feels your pain. So, so sorry the sadness of losing them will always be there BUT…
I last about 3 weeks after our dogs have passed til the next pup arrives. The house isn’t the same and I know they have done their most important job, knowing another dog will find it’s place in our home. You’re not trying to replace them (impossible!) but creating another chance for a beautiful relationship to start, and you will feel that special bond again. And you will thank your last friend for reminding you of that!
Ps – and now I will have a good cry and have a perfect cuddle with our new dog!
When I married my wife 23 years ago, she told me we couldn’t have furry pets as she had problems with pet dander. Well kids came and as they got older the wanted pets. It went from fish to lizards. In 2009 a black cat started hanging around our house. One hot spring morning,the cat jumped thru our open bedroom window. The cat began to explore our room and found plankton pellets we used to feed bottom feeding fish. The cat started eating them, it was so hungry. My wife took pity on it and bought it a food dish and water bowl and cat food. It was so grateful and also terribly matted, being a long hair cat. We took her to the vet, got it shaved and the vet discovered a tattoo. The owner could not be found, so it became ours. We called it Mog, Scottish for cat, she loved us. One day my oldest child called me to tell me mog wasn’t right. She had been hit by a car but not killed. Broken she crawled home were the kids found her. We took mog to vet , to discover her body was terribly broken. I asked how much to fix. Price was high, we couldn’t afford. I asked about putting her down, much cheaper. I bawled my eyes out at this choice. Since then we had more cats and now have two cats and two dogs.
From no pets to four pets, that’s quite the evolution! Once you experience the love of an animal, it’s hard to not have it in your life, isn’t it?
I befriended a neighbours cat after moving into a new home recently. What started as casual visitations soon became a house guest situation. She had no collar but I knew she belonged to someone because of her health and breed so I took her to the vet for a chip check and discovered her owner lived one house away where upon I returned her home. She soon returned to me. Not that I minded, she was a beautiful auburn colour Bengal cat with commanding character traits.
This continued for quite some time, then she was no where to be seen. I first thought she may have been taken by coyotes or perhaps even stolen because of the breeds value so I had a look on Kijiji. There she was! For sale at a mere $300! I called the number and it was the original owner selling her because she wasn’t getting along with the child and other cat in the house. I agreed to buy her. Well I soon learned the nature of this particular breed and realized she owned me and read that they were not recommended for first time cat owners such as myself. After months of co-habitation I realized I couldn’t keep up with her and because of my need to travel and made the difficult decision to give her up for adoption. It was the most heart wrenching thing I’ve ever done. I’ve come to realize because of my deep affection I have for animals I could never own a pet again because the pain of loosing the animal will always stay with me and is too much to bear.
Bruce, that was a cat that got around! As long as someone loves the pet and cares for it, they can have pretty happy lives. And I understand all too well what you mean when you talk about the pain of losing a pet …
I have not lost a pet since I was a child but I am now dreading that someday my beloved 29 year old
Tennessee Walking Horse, Trigger (and yes, she is a descendant of Roy Rogers’ trick horse Trigger Jr.) will
leave me. She and I retired a couple of years ago as we are both a couple of old, arthritic gals and it was
time. I have made provisions for her care should I mosey into the sunset without her. Owning a pet, of
any size, is a lifetime commitment: the pet’s life, not yours. Love them and care for them while they’re
still with you.
I am on my third rescue dog. This is over a 15 year period.
The first 2 were euthanized because of old age/disease.
I was adopting a new pet within 2 weeks of losing the previous one.
What helped was having a crying stool handy to sit on as I got dressed for my daily walk and the sight of the harnesses and collars on the rack evoking powerful responses for a companion lost.
My next and last animal will be a German Shepherd puppy after this one passes. All my dogs have been large dogs. I am 75 years of age.
Kai Y. Tham
I had a German Shepherd – Jess – and she was the sweetest thing, Kai. I’m sure you’re going to love this next dog and it’s going to love you right back!!
Firstly, very sorry for your loss. We too lost our golden lab Lexi to cancer after 12 incredible years. As with your Clementine, Lexi took up a tremendous amount of emotional space in our household. Our home felt so empty without her. She was irreplaceable in our hearts. After waiting 6 months we did get another golden lab, this time a male named Henry. A very different dog than Lexi so say the least.
A year later, we love him just as much as Lexi, and highly recommend that you wait, heal and when ready, get another lab. You won’t regret it. Promise.
Aren’t Labs just the best? (But then again, have you met a dog you couldn’t love?)
I said farewell to Tilley, my sweet little Havanese girl, 3 weeks ago – because I couldn’t bear seeing her living in pain. She was arthritic, totally deaf, slept most of the day, and had lost most of her teeth. For over 15 years, she ran and jumped and we shared 3 different homes and many road trips. I’m a retired senior who has had and loved 7 different dogs from the time I was 6. I will get another one, but not right away. It’s too soon. I need time to grieve. Maybe next year I’ll start looking for another dog, but different – because Tilley can never be replaced.
I saw my Ragdoll Siamese being born upstairs. I named him “Bijin” which means beauty in Japanese. Little did I know that pancreatic cancer would take him 5 years later. He was my baby boy & worked alongside me every day here. More like a loyal & faithful puppy as he endeared everyone. I could carry him around like a baby as so trusting. He gave me so much love & devotion. I locked myself away for 3 whole days when he died & grieved horribly.. My heart was broken in two as my baby boy was gone. It took me 3 years until I looked for another furry baby.
Our dogs, our companions are our unconditional love mates. With memories of Dalmatian Chloe, ’88 – ’96, and Golden Sabu, ’02 – ’07, and Golden Lab Sadie, ’07 – ’17, we have known absolute unconditional love and we mourned each of their passings. Perhaps due to my age as a senior, losing our Sadie was almost more than I could bear. I just couldn’t do dog grief again, BUT I need a dog in my life! A wonderful solution for us is PADS: Pacific Assistance Dogs Society. Yes, we know that after perhaps a year or two we’ll have to give them back to PADS for their Advanced Training, but that’s OK because we know the dog we helped raise and train will be a tremendous companion to a person who needs them. We’re now enjoying our third PADS puppy!
Now, this could work for me!! I really can’t bear the idea of burying another dog ….
Moe was a beautiful lop-eared rabbit who fit into my hand when we got him at a local pet store. Our son was eight. At the time we didn’t know anything about how rabbits were inbred and prone to illness; we were just thrilled to finally have a pet other than a goldfish. (Allergies eliminated dogs and cats.) Moe was mainly an indoor rabbit, adorable and affectionate despite spending most of his time hiding under our beds. He led us on many a chase in the garden where he dug very good holes and hid from the shadow of planes overhead. He loved munching carrots from the tip to the last leaf and we taught him what to our eyes was a trick: searching for raisins and standing on his hind legs to get them. When he was scared (often) he sat in our laps to be stroked. He faithfully used his litter box until he became sick. When his appetite waned and he sought our laps more frequently we took him to the vet where we got the bad news. For the next few weeks we indulged him: mixing chocolate chips in with raisins and keeping him on one of our laps. The day we took him to be euthanized was very sad. The three of us held him and stroked his long silky ears until he stopped breathing. When we got home with the little box the vet gave us we were surprised and comforted to find our son’s friend waiting for us with the grave ready under the apple tree. We hugged and cried. We’ve never had another pet.
Oh my … ‘and she hid from the shadows of the planes’ …! I wish I’d met Moe!
Thanks for your note, Melanie!
My beloved cat “Smokey” was euthanized due to an incurable spinal ailment causing him enormous pain during his later years… and the vet, recognizing my pain and guilt in approving the procedure said “Think of it as your last good deed for Smokey.” I’ll never forget those words which provided a small degree of comfort through the years. Smokey gently purred as his pain subsided and he took his very last breath laying in my lap. He was “Daddy’s Big Boy” and he never left my side… so, I am forever grateful that he passed away comfortably in my lap.
After a long grieving period, I adopted another kitty, “Foxy” who has now become “Daddy’s Big Boy” and he follows me everywhere. It has truly been a wonderful experience. Today, we are both in our later years, and when Foxy eventually passes, I will not adopt another kitty… because I will surely pass before him and I wouldn’t want him to go through the daily pain of waiting for me to return… always looking to wake me up each morning… follow me around thru the day… and take him to bed every night.
A lovely story, Les. Thank you. I, too, once had a cat named Smokey – a Russian Blue and she was eventually released from a dreadful spiral of pain.
I’ve had to put 5 dogs down. It was heartbreaking each time. Would I get another pet – absolutely! My practice has been to get a young one when my other dog is aging. I now have an 11-month old Golden Doodle being mentored by a 13-year old Golden Doodle. My loving furry companions are smart, don’t shed, and give untold therapeutic benefits. The vet gave me a lovely verse called “The Rainbow Bridge” when I had to euthanize my last dog in January. It’s about reuniting with our animals when we leave the physical world. I once worked with a patient who was declared dead for several minutes. When he was revived, her told me about seeing his former dogs with their tails wagging, in the tunnel of light. It gives me great comfort.
Here is the Rainbow Bridge verse:
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….
That was just lovely, Vera! I especially appreciated the story from your revived patient. Comforting, indeed!
Riley was our little member of the family for thirteen years.
We travelled to see him and of course my daughter instantly fell in love with him and sat on her knee all the way home. Every year we celebrated Riley’s birthday day with his first birthday with neighbours and friends.Riley had his own dog cake he shares with Rosie (neighbours dog) They even shared hotdogs and burgers (dog bakery).
Riley was our family pet but as years went by he was a member of the local community.
We walked all neighbourhoods, parks, and Riley loved it. When my children were at elementary school we went to pick up and all the children knew our little dog. He dressed up for Halloween and had his little bell collar at Christmas.
As our children grew up and left our nest, Riley was there as our loyal companion.
Getting out of the shower to dry my legs with his affectionate tongue.
As years went by he slowed down and the last few months he was unable to walk due to bad health. In April I got back to the house and I knew Riley was dying he was waiting to say goodbye.
He was without doubt my best loyal friend and I miss him. He loved us and we truly loved him dearly.I don’t think we will ever be able to replace our boy but I’m sure we can love another dog again.
All the family miss him and next Spring we are hoping to get a new puppy as we know Riley was one of a kind but isn’t it great that we have such wonderful creatures in the world.
We had a rescue named Jack who was the best and we had him for 10 years before he had to be euthanized. I’ve lost both parents and friends and family over the years but i never cried as much as i did for that dumb dog. I can’t read the art of racing in the rain without bawling my eyes out. My wife wanted a companion for our other dog and i was dead set against it since i did not want to go through the trauma that inevitably would come. She won out. What is it about dogs that we attribute these human traits to that can cause us so much pain? My brain tells me it’s just a dog but my heart breaks anyways.
I’m a regular reader and this week’s question pulled at my heart strings.
Our first family dog, a Goldendoodle named Lily was my soul dog! We got her as a puppy and I trained her better than our children. At 4 years old she became certified as a St. John Ambulance Therapy dog and together we were a team visiting seniors and reading with children. She was my everything. I think she really understood me when I talked to her. Her eyes were soulful, her temperament was playful and gentle and sweet. Everybody loved Lily! Then the day came when I knew she was not well… at the vet I laid down on the cold tile floor with her. She was diagnosed with a cancerous tumour in her abdomen just days before her 13th birthday. We took her home and loved her for 3 more months, I hand fed her home cooked food that she probably wondered why I didn’t feed to her for her whole life. As a family, we chose to have a vet come to our house to put her to sleep…. forever. Hardest day ever! A loss like no other.
8 weeks later, we got another puppy, you never get the same dog twice… This one is ‘Crazy Maisy’! It took me over a year to bond with her, my grieving for Lily made it hard to do so.
I had to learn to let go of the sadness of loss in order to let my heart fill with love for our new dog.
Soul dog! How perfect is that! Thanks, Barb! I loved your story and related to it so very much.
I have shared my life with four wonderful West Highland Terriers. My number two boy Tommy was my heart and soul and took a piece of my heart with him when he passed almost two years ago. I wept as I held my sweet boy snugly in my arms as he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I still shed tears regularly when I think of him (even as I write this) and would give anything to give him one more kiss or hear his funny grrrs. But I always go back for more Westies as I would not give up the years of unbridled joy and love even though their little lives are so short and we know that “the day” is coming, sadly sooner rather than later.
When our border collie Bonnie had a fatal stroke at a boarding kennel 13 years ago, as ageing seniors we resolved not to get another dog. Within a month we were at the animal shelter to adopt Kai, a berner collie. Life without a dog was far too empty! When Kai was diagnosed with fatal cancer in 2016, we immediately arranged to rescue a failed cattle dog from the interior – a creative, laid back border collie named Murdoch. Over the next two months, Murdoch was a companion to Kai and learned much of yard and house lore from him. Kai’s passing was sad, but having Murdoch really eased our pain. Today, Murdoch is our treasured companion who cheers us up with a unique folded carpet design every evening.
We have lost 5 dogs over the years and are now guardians of our sixth. Our kids have also lost 3 and are now guardians of four more. Not once has any of us contemplated not getting another dog, in spite of the pain of loss and the certainty of it happening again.
The joy of dog ownership far outweighs the pain of loss, in my opinion.
When I was born, my family had a lovely collie named Treve (after a river in Scotland). Treve guarded my baby carriage. He walked beside my brother as he pushed the carriage around our neighbourhood. I was about 5 years old, when Mom, Dad and Robert took a motor trip through the Eastern States. We were away about 10 days. Treve stayed with my Grandfather. You guessed it:- during our absence Treve kept watch by the road in Brighton. He would not eat and yes, he died. The loss of so faithful a friend was over-whelmingly heartbreaking.
Thanks for you endearing column,
There really is nothing like a dog, is there, Judy?
Thanks so much!
As you can see “Thunder The Wonder Dawg” was not a trained attack dog. I had him for 14 years and was like my shadow.
I was a barber in New Westminster for a number of years and had a box for him in the waiting area with his name on it. One older lady came in every morning with a biscuit for him. (Never said anything to me just went for Thunder.)
I was also a professional musician and he’d wait every night in the van quietly till I was done.
When we first had a week-end place in Whistler he’d sleep in his box and when we went through Cayuse Canyon he’s be up to the dash as he seemed to know we were almost there.
After moving there my wife watched him track me in the snow to our neighbours’ house where I had just gone.
As the years went by his hearing & eyesight began to go. I did not notice him follow me out to the car one day and I ran over him. Jane, it was like running over one of my kids.
I’ve often thought of another dog but we get so attached to them it’s a hard decision. As my years are sliding by too quickly, I may find another as the animal will probably outlive me.
During the past fifty years, we have adopted at different times, seven dogs and three cats. Our first dog was diagnosed with cancer and the hardest thing I have ever had to do, was leaving her with the veterinarian to be euthanized.
Saying goodbye to subsequent pets, the veterinarian made a house calls. This was more peaceful and relaxing for all concerned. It does not nor does it get any easier to say goodbye. But in the end, the rewards of having that furry friend outweigh all the grief.
Two years later, we have now adopted our eighth dog.
In consecutive intervals during the past 20 years we have been privileged to “re-home” three wonderful retrievers. Subby, Luke and Murphy came to us as trained, middle aged dogs thanks to the thoughtfulness of their “first families”. Each of these boys had unique personalities, food preferences, and all loving, lovable and protective. Going for car trips and walks always a treat for all concerned, and for all three spelling walk & car was often needed before the outing.
Sadly we lost all three to different cancers, each sudden & painful. This past April’s loss of Murphy is still heart wrenching. Why did I not twig to his slowing lethargy and needed medical attention?
The subsequent diagnosis was fluid build up in the sack surrounding his heart, squeezing his energy & dulling his spirit.
My usual three walks a day are now just once a day, the fun & incentive is just not there without a four legged buddy. Yes, I hope we soon have another dog join us, fur on the carpet, the spill attendant under the dinning room table, and dog art nose prints on the windows make a house a home.
Yes, Bill, the suffer in silence, don’t they? It’s heartbreaking.
Thanks for you note … and the comment about nose prints on the windows!
Harley was a wired hair fox terrier, attracting fans wherever he went with his dapper appearance and persona. A faithful companion to my husband during years of cancer therapy, he was the perfect dog. Harley’s traumatic death, after 2 years of perplexing symptoms, shook us to the core. Our grief and longing for his terrier antics still blindside us. Fortunately, our rascally Jack Russell grand dog provides temporary respite.
But if we were younger and faster – a new dog absolutely!
Thank heavens for grand dogs! I have two and I love it when then lay their heads in my lap.
Little Myrtle’s departure was the most dramatic. She was a badly neglected rescued Bichon Frise. She lived for less than two years. She passed away five months after my husband. The house was deadly quiet. It was a year before I found little Miah, a Bichon Frise/Poodle cross on Kijiji. She came with Tango, a Shitzhu. I applied. I was approved! I take a dog stroller on our twice daily walks for Tango to ease his arthritic legs. My life is controlled by dogs—and I love it!
I enjoyed your column and sorry for your loss. I’ve also had the painful experience three times now and it never gets easier.
I’ve had 5 dogs at different stages in my life. They have each brought a unique experience with their different personalities. I have felt love and loss. But most of all I know I can’t live without them.
So I’m sending in 100 words or less with regards to your question
What was your experience of losing a pet? Would you get another one?
In a heartbeat. The immeasurable loss is devastating but I choose love over loss. A new dog heals your heart and soul.
Oh my goodness, Judy. That is just perfect. Indeed. The wise choice – the only choice if one has any real sense – is love over loss. Thank you so much for sending that in.
We acquired Makita, a mixture of Rottie and Shepherd, at four years old, and loved her into her fifteenth year. She slowed down; we’d carry upstairs to our bedroom at night, and walks were shorter.
One night she failed to sleep, instead groaning and quietly whining.
The Vet confirmed our worst fear: she was dying, the Cancer unbeatable.
We were with her as she drifted into a new, painfree world. We cried.
Two years later, five years ago, we brought Rambo home, a rambunctious four month old Husky/Shepherd/Akita cross.
And love of a dog returned to our home.
Growing up on a busy country road, I learned a dog was something a kid had for a short time until it got hit by a car and then you got another one. Until we got a St. Bernard. It died of a heart attack while chasing rabbits. At least it didn’t get run over.
I’ve seen a few too many dead dogs on roads. Dogs used to roam freely so this happened a lot.
Thanks for your note!
I look forward to your column every week.
I have never been without a dog, except for time spent grieving and honoring the dog that went before, the grief is excruciating. However I believe each one is special in their own right and you will always have room in your heart to love another dog, and experience that companionship and unconditional love. It IS very hard to lose them but the right dog has always found me and I treasure them all.
Maureen, I still have framed photos of every dog I’ve ever loved. (Boyfriends and husbands? Not so much … 😉)
Thanks for your note.
The love affair began fifteen years ago when we adopted our first bunny, a grey Fuzzy Lop named Bobbi. In the following years, Susee, Foxy and Dobby hopped their way into our hearts. Only a “bunny person” truly appreciates the gentle sweetness paired with energetic mischief that a house rabbit brings into a home. Sadly, this past December, our last bunny, Dobby, developed a cases of intractable stasis. We had to face the heartbreaking decision to have her put to sleep. While our carpet no longer sports random strands of hay and our furniture legs no longer suffer fresh chew marks, an unexplainable void remains. No fuzzy lounger is stretched out on the floor beside me. No soft, warm tongue licks my hand when I reach out to caress that exquisitely soft coat. No happy little hopper bounds over to beg treats at the opening of the fridge door. Will we ever get another bunny? Can I face the inevitability of another “someday goodbye”? This old heart of mine is still pondering that question.
Let me start by saying that I look so forward to your weekly articles. I love your humanness, wittiness and utter zaniness. You spring from the pages like an old friend and soul sister; someone I would hang out with and quite possibly ride off a cliff together in a convertible …okay, maybe that’s stretching it lol.
Your loss of sweet Clementine compelled me to write. I have 4 small rescue dogs and I have fostered over 20 dogs over the years, having ‘foster failed’ and keeping a few along the way. I also run a doggy daycare and dog-boarding in our home. I love them all as if they are my own; they all hold a special place in my heart.
In January of 2011 we said good-bye to our family dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Scoop. She was 15 years old and lived her boisterous life with us all those years. I raised her with my 3 children. She was always at my side and a true companion and comfort when I found myself a single mom back in the late 90’s. The kids would go spend a weekend with my ex and I would make popcorn, drink white wine and cry on those Friday nights alone in front of an episode of Sex In The City. She would curl up beside me on the sofa, lift her head and lovingly gaze at my mascara-stained face with no judgement; a warm lick at my hand to let me know she was there.
As Scoop grew old it was heart-wrenching to watch her struggle in her final days, being unable to walk without her legs giving out. She refused all food, even my Italian nonna’s homemade chicken broth known to cure all ills known to mankind. When it was time to bring her to the vet’s as the suffering (for me) became unbearable, we were with her. My adult children had come home to gather in that room which would hold her last breaths. She knew what was happening, of that I am certain. As she laid on the soft blanket on the floor, she looked at each one of us, holding her gaze for a good 5-7 seconds, one at a time, until she laid her eyes last on me. She was saying good-bye and thanking us for her life and our love. We will never forget that sacred moment and we will never forget her.
Scoop’s ashes sit in a tiny bronze box at my bedside. They will be scattered with mine one day in a very special place we both shared. Someone once told me that the reason dogs only live a short time is so that we can love more than one of them during our lifetime. Saying good-bye to Scoop was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.
I have learned that we can go on to love another dog without feeling that we are somehow not being faithful to the one we have lost. It is different though; exactly how I cannot express.
I could not imagine my life without one at my side.
‘Foster fails’! So that’s what they’re called! We’ve now had three of them! That number could easily have doubled, or tripled if we ran boarded dogs. (My daughter has had to be discouraged from dog-napping dogs that she believes aren’t receiving adequate care.) I admire your restraint, Liana!
And thank you too, for your kind words. I’ve loved the connection that The Bookless Club has brought to my life. There are many readers whose personality just emanates from even an email – their warmth, wit, and their humanity – and you’re one of them. Makes this #@* pandemic a tad more tolerable.
My best to you,
I had cats since 1973 of my own. Sophie and Sasha ,sisters are number 9 and 10. I adopted them in June 2019 after losing Mika and Simone in 2018. There is great sadness and loss when you lose a pet. Some of my cats we knew they were old or ill others were unexpected. This last time is the only time I hesitated before adopting again. One reason was the 10-15 year commitment. I was 67 years old and we wanted to travel because finding a cat sitter hadn’t always been easy. But I’m very glad I did…COVID hit. They have been great company and entertainment. Even my husband agrees after some doubt. So YES the future grief is worth the years of happiness.
Hello again Jane!
As always, I loved your column on Saturday about pets. As you may recall, we recently lost our dear ginger cat Sam, so I thought I’d just write in briefly about our experience:
Sam was a ginger cat like no other. He was so full of fun and life, always up for a new adventure, always making us laugh with his endless antics. Along with his tabby brother Lester, he brought much light relief into out Covid- dominated lives over the last eighteen months.
But one morning in early August, Sam ventured out after breakfast, only to be hit and killed by a speeding car in the next road over from us, so close to home. We think Sam must have run out of his nine lives – he lived his short little life to the full, and this was one adventure too many.
To say we are heartbroken would be an understatement. The animal-lovers amongst us will know just what that feels like, but somehow, we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and do it all over again. As it is has been said “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all”.
We love our pets so much, but how incredibly hard it is when we have to say goodbye. We miss Sam deeply every single day.
Indeed: better to have loved and lost …
But it’s still so very hard, isn’t it?
When we lost our black lab, Haylee, we thought we would never get over the pain and decided no more dogs. But a month later in Mexico, where we winter, I stepped onto a beach in another area and discovered 4 dogs, tied up and starving. One was a Yellow Lab, and she was a skeleton, about a year and a half old and weighed 20 lbs. After getting all the help I could for those dogs, I finally paid the owner some money and took her back to the condo. My husband didn’t speak to me for a day, but then he fell in love. We named her Carmelita and she blossomed into a 85 lb beauty with a thick coat of yellow fur. Yes she sheds.
Its now 11 years and she is starting to go downhill, and we are aware of what we must face again.. But all the years of such a faithful dog who gave us so much love and joy everyday, its been worth it and we feel gratified for giving her a good life. Along the way we picked up a pug puppy, and if you’ve never had pug love, you are missing so much. Yes down the road will be another dog. They are part of our lives.
Our precious “Tinker” was 21 (human years) of age and had become quite frail and her appetite was gone. With heavy hearts we made the decision that the most humane thing would be to have her put to sleep. My husband offered to take her to the vet whilst I was at work. My feet dragged as I walked home, I dreaded going in the house and no Tinker to greet me. Imagine my elation when I arrived home to discover she was there, the vet thought her appetite may kick back in and her heart was strong.
That evening Tinkers back legs gave out and were of no use to her anymore. She dragged herself into the spare bedroom and hid under the bed. We were devastated but left her alone to rest. In the middle of the night I awoke to a sound, and there was Tinker dragging herself up to our bed. I proceeded to get out of bed and take her in my arms and go and lie down by the heater in the dining room ( one of her favorite places). We both fell asleep. In the morning my husband found us snuggled together on the floor, Tinker did not wake up.
For the longest time I couldn’t tell this story because I could never finish it. Now I know this was the best way for both of us to say goodbye.
Oh my …
Oh my …
What a perfect end.
Thank you so much for sending that in!
Oh Jane I remember Clementine, she was Shasa’s sister! I remember when we got Shasa and you sent Bruce to get Clementine…they were both of the BEST kind. So kind, so patient…our best friends. SO good with the kids! I remember Shasa going through the same thing, getting edgy, barking at nothing, wouldn’t leave our side. The boys were in California visiting their aunt just after school let out and we brought Shasa to the vet to be checked because she was painting…and I remember the vet just looking at us and us all bursting into tears. She lasted the whole summer, we let her run free at Bowen, swim and enjoy life to the fullest. Did you know fat is good for cancer? Steak, sausages, she enjoyed her food bowl those last months. We made an appointment with our vet just after school started, perfect timing. But the cat – 19 year old black and white Hobbes – beat her by two days. His bladder fell out of his intestines into his leg, she pushed them back and told us to take him home for the night, but then his intestines fell out into his leg. That was a lonely household that fall. I remember Marley and Me came out and the four of us sat down to watch it, knowing full well the effect it would have, silly us. Mowgli, my Bengal, came the next year and never filled Hobbes’ space but definitely carved one for himself. Ceilidh, another yellow lab, followed the next year and must have somehow been mentored by Shasa because she has the same lovely personality, although she extends it beyond the family to anyone who bends down to pats her. She is now 12 and her back end is going…sigh…
Thank heaven the sadness is balanced with the joy!
We inherited Misty after my parents passed. She was a 5 year-old Bichon/Poodle cross.
Well Misty became the loving pet that showed absolute joy when we returned home,curled up with us on the couch and slept on our bed.
Misty slowly lost her hearing and some of her eyesight when she was 15/16. We took her to the vet for a “quality of life” assessment and he said she was not suffering but a decision would come soon.
Two days later we took her to our cabin on Sakinaw Lake. We had a late dinner and then noticed she wasn’t in the cabin. A 30 minute frantic search resulted in finding her floating under our dock having drowned. We were absolutely devastated.
Our only consolation was that we were spared that traumatic decision to have her put down in the near future.
We have not yet acquired another dog but we will..
Tue, Sep 21, 8:52 PM (2 days ago)
The joy of being a pet parent far outweighs being an ‘ex- pet parent’.
Give yourself some time.
Or, jump right back in, and get another one, of a different breed , or colour or gender.
Never try to replace one with the other, or compare.
But you will find similarities with all of them, it’s quite uncanny.
I should talk..it’s been 4 years since our cat, Peanut passed.
Best cat ever!..ate anything, well behaved, good litterbox habits, and best of all..expressed no interest in going outside.
Having had multiple pets at a time all my life, this is the longest time in my life without one.
I don’t miss the litterbox..or the vacuuming..oh, the constant vacuuming when you are actually allergic to the pet’s dander!
But I miss that warm ball of fur, snuggled on the sofa with you as you watch TV or read. The endless games of string, or laser tag.
The look of disdain when the food bowl is slighty empty.
I thought it best to wait..let the allergies settle down.
Take a break from the constant worry if the cat has thrown up on the new carpet, and hubby stands there and says, “the cat just threw up”..
Yes I know. I heard it..I’d know that noise anywhere.
Then covid hit, and people started adopting “furry housemates”
There’s a long lineup to adopt now.
When you work in animal rescue as I have over the years, you know the patterns.
Adopt, have fun for a while, then the realization that pet ownership can be expensive and a huge commitment.
Once “normal” starts to settle around us again..expect a pet abandonment problem soon. As people return to workplaces and resume travelling, they might start surrendering their ‘pets’.
Keep your options open.
Your new furbaby is out there somewhere.
I’m writing about Fritz, my dog, a Shitzu/poodle mix. Given to me back in November 2002, when he was a year old and too much of a handful for his owners who happened to be my sons girlfriends parents who asked me to share the dog. Hahaha, I think they took him back twice when I was away on trips and asked me not to take him back again. He certainly was a handful, had terrible separation anxiety, but a most wonderful hiking companion who hiked all the North Shore mountains with me in all weather conditions. In fact he was even written up in a book called ‘Off the Beaten Path’ by Norm Watt who was my previous partner a number of years ago.
When he was almost 17, three years ago he got really sick with a bladder infection. The vet examined him but determined that he didn’t need X-rays, blood work or ultra sound as he was way past his ‘best before date’ and prescribed a course of antibiotics. Total cost 140.00. He’ll be 20 on December 6th, 2021.
Will I get another pet? Probably not, as I think this one may outlast me!!