Saturday, June 5, 2010

June 6, 2010 - Lookin' Around, Movin' On


Losing a beloved pet changes things. Sometimes the changes are major; if you only have one pet and it dies, the devastation can be shattering. Your routines are altered, your whole day different. The silence where clicking claws used to echo hurts, and the sight of that one bowl, now washed and put on the shelf, can rip your heart out and shred it to hamburger every time you pass by.

When Petunia, our first pug, died, we did have one other dog, Freya, but not the pack we have now. It took so very little to bring the grief slamming back down, the memories rushing back. I was having a "good" day a few days after she left us, having only cried once or twice. I went to the kitchen, pulled a package of Poptarts (brown sugar/cinnamon, if anyone's interested) out of the cabinet, opened the package, and broke down sobbing. Petunia loved Poptarts, better than most any other treat. We had an agreement for most of her life - she got the corners, I got the rest. She could tell the crackle of a Poptart wrapper versus any other package in the world and would come running to make sure I didn't forget the deal. Even when the paralysis had taken much of her mobility, she'd burn carpet rushing down the hall, pulling herself with her elbows like a Navy Seal storming a beach under fire.

That's not to say that having a pack makes it much easier. The rest do not "replace" the missing member; they do, however, provide motivation and the comfort of routine. They still expect to be fed, watered, walked, petted and played with regardless. The daily schedule doesn't change much, though you may find yourself setting out one more bowl than you need for a while.

One thing that happens when you lose one of a pack is, at least for a while, you remember to appreciate the ones remaining a little more. My eyes may mist as I look around and don't see George, but I have to smile at what I do see. Spencer still naps comfortably atop my foot as I type. Sammie still give me his best smile when I come in the house or stop to talk to him. Archie still squirms with delight at the smell of dinner, and Sherman still stings my shin with his joyfully wagging tail. Freya's eyes still sparkle with intelligence and good humor as she teases Hawk, and Hawk still sneaks past her to run to me for an ear rub. Loki is, well, still Loki, cheerfully and unintentionally leaving a trail of chaos in his wake.

This may be, in part, why I'm not sure I could stand us being a one-dog family again. What would I do, without my "cushion" of my loving, encouraging, comforting pack? Without cats that don't mind having their fur cried into as I hold them, without pugs that make me smile by smiling at me first? No matter how much we might wish it so, they are not immortal. I know that the day will eventually come for each of them when I will take an urn in shaking hands, and look to the ones remaining to keep my heart from shattering completely.

So, for now, I pet each one a little more, spend a little more time talking to them, saying "good dog" and "I love you." For now. Human nature being what it is, time will heal the worst of the grief. You don't "get over" it, but you do get through it, and eventually habit and routine will reassert themselves. We'll all go about our lives, not thinking about it too much, until another day...and another urn...reminds us to appreciate the ones we love.

If you need some inspiration or comfort in a time of sorrow, I highly recommend You can post a memorial, read others, and join in the Monday Night Candle ceremony. Pain shared is pain diminished.

Ya'll take care now.


  1. Hi Ky,
    Such words of wisdom. I recently lost a member of my pack too, Maggie was my love. It's been nine months and feels like nine hours. My Molly laid at the gate and cried for day's. Jake tried to comfort her to no avail. It's amazing how many little things make you remember them.
    I run a rescue for English Mastiffs. It was nice to find you blog.

  2. Thanks, Tisha! I'm glad you found us. I'm sorry about Maggie. It's never easy and some dogs are even more painful than others. May she run fast and free until you meet her again.

  3. I think part of the reason we love our pets so fiercely is because we know, if only on a subconscious level, that we will most likely outlive them, and that our time with them is limited and therefore precious. It doesn't make the loss any easier to bear, though, so as an adaptive response it leaves something to be desired...
    - - - - - - -
    dog beds and more

  4. Some things are adaptive responses, some are, I think, just mysteries of the heart. Knowing our time is limited, knowing that of all the beings that care about us our pets make the fewest demands and judgments and conditions, a deeply innate desire to simply bond with another living, feeling creature because the world is a scary place, all factor in.