When he was 10 years old, my first dog Oliver died, and it made me realize how quickly a decade passes. That dog was such a big part of my life and in so many ways, his unassuming entrance into my life put me on a course change that I couldn’t have imagined. I wondered, do other dog owners feel the same way? Our dogs are much more than just pets, they are beloved members of our family that leave a void when they are gone. They come into our lives at different times for different reasons. They help us experience joy, youthfulness and happiness. If we pay attention, they can teach us something about ourselves that humans cannot or will not. And, they help us cope with the difficulties of life by becoming loyal companions, friends and protectors.
Our life is full when a dog enters. We raise them and survive puppyhood. We make it through the adolescent phase (and sometimes destructive phase) where they need so much guidance and protection. We work hard to learn how to communicate and/or train them. Around the age of 3 they are maturing nicely and develop manners and the relationship between dog and owner intensifies. Physically and mentally they can do more with us and maybe even for us. They are a part of our everyday life and an integral part of the family. They are in their prime and it never even crosses our mind that we will have to say goodbye someday, because we are having a great time. At the end of our dog’s life it feels like it went so fast.
As the years pass and the time comes to say goodbye, it rocks our world. So many feelings come over us and no matter what other people say, it truly is a very private journey of emotions. There is no right way or one specific way to handle it. But, for anyone who has or is currently experiencing the loss of a pet or expecting to, I will tell you your heart will heal. I thought I would never have the same feelings for a dog that I did for Oliver. I am certain you will feel the same way and even though this has held true, it didn’t keep me from owning more dogs and having fantastic, fulfilling relationships with each and every one of them. And if you are a dog person, it will be that way again in your life. I believe that ALL of the dogs we have in our lifetime are great, just in different ways, and in a way, a gift from God.
MY FAVORITE POEMS
When I lost Oliver my neighbors, Michelle and Dave Radford (who loved him so) gave us this poem. I have kept it now for another decade exactly. You can copy, change it and give it to someone who might need it.
A SPECIAL PLACE
You have a special place Dear Lord
that we know you'll always keep.
A special place reserved for dogs
when they quietly fall asleep.
With large and airy kennels
and a yard for hiding bones
with maybe a little babbling creek
that chatters over stones.
With wide green fields and flowers
for those who never knew
about running freely under
your sky of perfect blue.
Lord, we know You keep this Special Place,
and so to you we Pray,
for one special Rottweiler Mix
who quietly died today.
He was full of strength & love
and so very, very wise.
The puppy look he once had
had long since left his eyes.
He is dearly missed my Lord
by very good friends of mine.
He went to join his ancestors
to Your land that is Devine.
So, speak to OLIVER softly please
and give him a warm hello.
He’s a Special gift to you Dear Lord
from the Putnam’s, who loved him so.
HELP WITH GRIEVING THE LOSS OF A PET
The Pet Loss Support Page
If you, your children, or someone you know could use some information on grieving the loss of a pet, this is the most comprehensive resource I’ve ever found.
- 10 tips to cope with the loss of a pet
- Participate in pet loss bereavement study/survey
- Memorial urns, jewelry, markers etc.
- Pet loss hotlines
- How to handle the end and your pets remains
WAYS TO REMEMBER
Every day someone makes a loving gesture on behalf of someone special. Memorials and Honorariums are a touching way to help someone you know leave their mark on the world of so many homeless animals in need through the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society.
FRIENDS WHO HAVE SAID GOODBYE