This has been a rough year for me and many of my dog-loving friends; I’ve lost track of how many people I know who have lost one of their beloved canine companions. And every time I see another loss announced in my social media feed, it brings my loss back with a sharp pang. If you’ve lost a dog that you love as much as life itself, you know that pain.
Many of my friends’ dogs, like my darling Otto, were elderly. And while we all know that the death of an old dog is inevitable, and we may have even told our friends that we’re prepared for it, when death comes, our loss isn’t any less painful or easier to accept.
It’s far more shocking when a loss comes out of the blue. Cancer, especially that devil hemangiosarcoma, took several of my friends’ dogs. Often, they seemed as right as rain one day and had a dire prognosis the next.
At least we can talk to our friends and family about our grief – I think it helps. I know our other animal family members grieve, too, though I’m often at a loss as to what we can do for them. My 8-year-old dog Woody was a tiny puppy when he first met Otto; until June, he never knew life without his idol and leader. He’s been visibly depressed, uncharacteristically quiet, for months now. He walks with me to water the oak tree we planted on Otto’s grave; does he understand why Otto is buried there? We thought it would be comforting to have Otto buried on our property, but I have to admit that the very real possibility that Woody knows Otto is underground there haunts me.
They say that the pain of losing someone we loved is the price of all the joy they brought us. Heck, I’ve repeated this to my friends when they’ve suffered a loss; I know it’s as true as the fact that the sun will rise again tomorrow, or that I will love – and lose – another dog or three before I die. The more it hurts is directly proportional to the depth of the bonds we shared, the number of the experiences we had together, and the profundity of the things we learned together. What an honor! What a loss! Hang in there, friends; the love itself never dies.
Sending love and light to Otto, Raven, Lucca, Piper, Abbi, Prince, Sierra, Trixie, Lili, Gordon, Kaiser, Cinder, BlueBell, Buster, Grayson, Cheeru, and all those I can’t remember through my tears – so many good dogs! – and to the people who loved them – who still love them, even if we can’t still see them.