A few days ago our beloved dog sadly passed away. We are still utterly devastated, she had been part of our family for 10 years, a rescue dog we adopted who at the time was almost 2 years old. She had suffered horrific abuse at the hands of her previous owners who beat her, starved her and kept her tied up all the time.
When she joined our family at first she didn’t know what it was to be taken care of, to have a nice warm bed inside, she was terrified all the time. She didn’t know what it was to be loved. It took a hell of a long time to gain her trust but when she did eventually start to trust us she transformed into a completely different dog.
How a dog that had been through so much pain and suffering at the hands of humans could go on to trust and love humans again I’ll never know. But she did, and we loved her dearly.
Our first son was only 2 years old when we adopted her and they have grown up together throughout the years. She has been there to welcome each new baby that has arrived, watched over them and protected them, loved them. And each and every one of them have grown to love and adore her. Now she is gone and it feels like there is a piece of our family missing.
She was not a young dog, at 12 years old and she was getting more and more feeble as each year passed. But in a way I think we thought she would be with us forever. Obviously that’s impossible, but when she started getting weaker and more fragile it was hard to admit that the end was in sight. We scheduled an appointment with our vet, who told us there wasn’t much they could do, her age was against her. We could only keep her comfortable, and we did that, the best we could. The medication could only do so much though. It was hard looking at her once marvellous body deteriorate and where once a strong animal stood now stands a shell of the dog she used to be.
The kids noticed too, all she wanted to do was sleep, she was refusing to eat. Then came the questions ‘is she sick’? ‘Will she die’? How do you tell a four year old child that, yes their dog will soon die? We contemplated trying to hide it from them at first, try to shield them from the heartache that was coming. But that wouldn’t have been fair on them and so we decided that the best thing we could do was to be honest with them, not try and hide it because when the day did finally come they would have been expecting it. It wouldn’t have been such a shock. It was still a shock and it hit hard.
They were still heart broken, but they too knew it was coming. They cried bitter tears. We cried bitter tears, it still hurts like a kick in the guts. We told them that she is gone to the special place in the sky called doggy heaven, they seemed to accept that. Of course about a million questions followed, but that was just their way of trying to understand it. For some children the first experience of death is often a family pet.
They drew pictures of her. We looked back at photographs of her taken over the years, remembered all the funny memories we have of her, like the day she escaped from the back yard and had everyone out driving the roads looking for her, only to discover she had bedded down in the dog house next door with the neighbours’ dog! It seemed to help them.
Things are still very raw, we all miss her terribly, but kids are more resilient than we are. At times I forget that she is gone until I see her empty bed and then i realise and it starts hurting all over again. That twisting feeling in your gut, a twisting nauseating pain. It is going to take time for the hurt and the pain to ease.
To the people that say ‘oh, it was just a dog’, you couldn’t be more wrong. She was so much more than just a dog. She was a playmate to our kids, she was a faithful companion to me on evenings i would have otherwise spent alone while my hubbie was working, she made me feel safe. Most of all she was one of us, one of the family.
She was an amazing dog who we were so lucky to have in our family. People say ‘oh she was lucky that you rescued her’ but we were the lucky ones to have her. Run free over the rainbow bridge our dear family pet. Your pain and suffering is now over. We will always miss you.