The loss of a dog is sometimes harder than the loss of a person. Why? I believe it’s because the dog can never hurt you. The dog never gave you any reason to be less of a person and ‘act out’.
A dog can be your best friend, even while they are getting in trouble. Their whole purpose in life is to try to make you happy. They want to be with you every second they can, they want to make you feel better when you are sad, and they want you to know they can help clean up after dinner.
It’s always hard to lose a family member, furry or non-furry, it still hurts. No matter how they go, it doesn’t make it any easier. Which leads me to the reason of my post today; the loss of a family pet.
My mother’s dog just passed away on Saturday, after sixteen years of life. It wasn’t unexpected, just… you never really are prepared for it. For the last few years, I had been dreading this phone call. And Saturday, while I was driving to my training class, my mom called me and told me the news.
Shock. Sadness. Sorrow. Guilt. Loss. Denial. Acceptance.
All the feelings I had at once. When an animal is always in your family, you get used to them, and don’t expect they will ever leave you. You don’t expect it, and when it happens, you tell yourself this can’t be happening. But then almost immediately, reality sets in, and you tell yourself she was old, and her health had been declining.
My mom did an awesome job taking care of her the last few years. Handmaking her food, paying for her medicine every month, carrying her around the house, making sure she is tethered somewhere safe so she won’t fall down the stairs.
My heart was heavy and sad, but it wasn’t only because of the loss of a family dog. It was because this dog meant so much to my mom.
Just like any animal lover, you form an attachment with your animals that you can’t put into words, you can’t explain why you prefer your dog over your family sometimes, but you do. And this phone call was painful to me in that way because I know the same feeling. And the loss kind of feels like you have lost part of yourself.
I talked to my mom, I helped her handle the situation, and I was late to training. When I got there, it was hard to focus because this dog was also my dog for 10 years, and then I moved out and went to college. When you have a puppy, or a dog who is so full of life, you don’t think about the moment when they won’t be around anymore. But because of this incident, I have started thinking about this. This makes me treasure every moment I have with my own dog so much more.
As hard as this is, we knew it was coming. But again, it doesn’t make it any easier. It doesn’t make it bearable, or make the pain go away. It just means it wasn’t unexpected. My heart is with my mom, even though we are miles away. I’m sad about the death of a family pet, but I’m also sad for my mom. I want to be there and hug her and tell her it’s ok, and help her through this because I know the feeling she has right now. I know the feeling of complete vulnerability and sadness. No one can help, no one can do anything to make this feeling go away, and I know that all too well. However, I just want to be there.
So, in loving memory of Hershey, I am posting the Rainbow Bridge poem, because it helps. Even though I’m not religious, I do believe there is a special spiritual place where dogs can go. Their souls are innocent, and if there is a place like that – they all deserve to be there.
Rest in Peace, Hershey.