If you’ve lost a furry buddy, I’m so sorry. The first everything without them is difficult. Constant reminders of them no longer there.
For some of you who have only started to begin this difficult process, I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s never easy. My heart aches for you.
During the Holidays, it can be emotionally draining. As you pull out the stockings, the holiday décor. Everything is clouded with memories. I get that – I lived that.
For me, December 19th is also a day I struggle with. It’s an anniversary of something I wish never happened. December 19th, 2013 will mark a year since we lost our best friend Newton to Kidney Failure.
December 19th, followed so closely by the Christmas holidays could potentially be the worst week of my year. It has potential for me to crawl into my jammies with a glass or two bottle of wine and not surface again until the New Year. However, ask yourself as I have – is this the way you want to live?
Throughout the year, I can usually get past these moments by thinking about all the amazing memories and things Newton taught me. Knowing I’d do it all over again, if given a choise also helps.
Choosing the higher road is easier said than done – I realize this, it takes constant and strong control of your thoughts and emotions.
During the Christmas holidays, I’m taking the time to raise a glass with my Mr. and think about all the amazing memories with Newton. Although only with us for a short time, he left enough memories to last us our lifetime. I’m choosing a different path – I’m choosing to honor these memories with happiness.
In addition this year, I’m taking a friends advice. I’m honoring Newton’s memory over Christmas by sponsoring a rescue dog. I’m taking the money I would have normally bought him Christmas presents with and giving to one in need.
I’m working with a local rescue organization. They post a list of their adoptable dogs, and a wishlist for them. This could include everything from dog beds, to special feeding needs, treats and toys to annual veterinary bills. It really helps put things in perspective. Needs vs Wants.
This year, I chose to donate in Newton’s honor.
He’s with a wonderful Foster family currently, who I get to go and meet this beautiful little Puggle this weekend when I take over his new dog bed. Enzo also had an ear infection at the time of his rescue, so I helped cover the costs of his ear treatment. He lived with two older people who had to move into an assisted living home and sadly couldn’t bring Enzo with them. They didn’t have any family that could take him. So he is at a wonderful rescue organization in Halifax, NS right now. I have no doubt that he will find his forever family very soon. Until then, eat, sleep and be happy with your wonderful Foster family Enzo (including two other pug mixes!).
I know tons of rescues around have this type of program. If you can’t donate to a dedicated dog, donating financially or with your time can be especially rewarding – for all involved.
Some other advice this Holiday season – stay busy. When you’re not busy – Choose to life the life your furry buddy taught you to live.
On the worse days – Choose to try and be the person your dog thought you were. I think it’s a pretty darn good tribute all in itself.
I’m sorry for the DELAY! Ask all my loved ones, I’m notoriously late for everything in life. I think I even disclose this on my bio, ironically written after my first few posts went up 😉
So much has happened in the last two months that I almost am overwhelmed with where to start. We finished our basement renovations, Went on our trip to Italy, My sister got married, We sold our house, I started a new job in a new Province and now am currently house-hunting. I’m feeling a bit like this guy….
I can’t talk about them all today (even though we all know I’m long-winded enough to do so), so I’m going to focus on one in particular that I’m still coming to terms with….
I had a tremendously difficult time with this. It’s just a house, but great life moments made it our home. Memories of Newton topped my “Why I’m thankful we lived here” list I made, during my last weekend in there. Leaving, irrevocably made me confront some painful memories. The house has not changed, but we’ve had to. Each corner, nook and tiny cranny holds for me – special moments suspended in time.
Memories remind us of what we’ve lost.
Memories remind us of what we had.
These two opposing forces led me on a rollercoaster of emotions last week.
It made me deal with something I haven’t been prepared to do – start to let go. I tricked myself into believing it was something I had been doing all along. I hadn’t.
The time a person needs to take, cannot ever be measured in chronological time. Losing a loved one on any level is a deeply personal thing. You start to move on, you’ll start to make new memories. It takes time.
A friend told me she dreamt of Newton waiting for us at our next home. I know where he’ll always be – A monumental part of our past – with us wherever we go.
Yes we left the house that we raised Newton in, but we did not leave the memories.
Inside my thoughts. Forever imprinted.The moment I saw his face before he ran two blocks through wet pavement costing me a few hundred dollars in breakfast sandwiches and coffee for the construction crew, the hundreds of hugs given and recieved, the reminders of our fur-kids playing tag. Too many to list and count.
Memories remind us of what we’ve lost.
Memories remind us of what we can have again.
Great memories give us hope, inspiration and love. They guide us.
I walked around the house and said my goodbyes on my last day. As I reflect now, I realize (as difficult as it is to admit), what I was really saying:
“Thank you Newton – for all the truly great memories. I wouldn’t have changed a single thing”.
Let me start by apologizing that I’ve been a little lot lax in my writing over the past two – three weeks. I hit a speed bump in my healing process.
It hit me like a ton of bricks one day. I was walking home from work (something I hadn’t done in some time), and realized that the last time I walked this path was with Newton.
I couldn’t help myself, I found the nearest bench and had a “moment”. As much as I wish, it was not the kind where your makeup stays immaculate and your polish still shines. It was the kind of moment that makes you want to curl up in your favorite jammies and hide from the world with the curtains drawn – yep it was an ugly cry.
I felt like I had lost my best friend all over again. Experiencing all these “firsts” without him is heartbreaking. All these moments can be heartwrenching. Almost like constant reminders telling you what you no longer have.
I’m writing you this because some of you are going through what I am as well. After taking some time to think about it, it’s unfortunately part of the process of moving through the guilt, never forgetting – but functioning and enjoying the life we are fortunate to have. I realize I’ve made an effort to stay positive and upbeat – offer solutions to your own healing processes. Sometimes, however, you just need to take a moment, feel the pain and then try and patch yourself back together and carry on. Remind yourself only of the wonderful times spent together.
There is a feeling of guilt that I believe is natural – moving on without your companion. This is where my “Newton principles” kick in and remind me of what life is all about – Love, peace and joy. Stop and be thankful for what we have, enjoy the little things in life.
I’ve surrendered to the process of moving forward, understanding that there will be moments like this – lots in fact. It feels at times like it is a step backward, but grief does not have a time limit. My words of advice – it’s ok to get lost in the moment, just don’t lose yourself in the process.
Give all your pets an extra snuggle from me today!
I’ve been so busy with my new boarding business and renovating my flooded basement, that I am just getting to this now. Apologies, as my timeliness is not representing how humbled and honored I am by receiving this award!
I’ve still been falling in love dog walking at the SPCA 3-4 times a week, plus taking on boarders. *SPOILER ALERT* I cannot wait to share who I get to spend my time with next week!
Today I am thanking blogger K9 Harper Lee for The Missy Award Nomination. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, she’s an incredibly talented and charismatic Golden Retriever. She also has a great sense of humor – what a gem. Make sure to check this blog out!
The Missy Award is presented to bloggers who support and advocate for animals, either as the main focus of their blog or in a single blog post. The nominated bloggers can be animal lovers, vegetarians, vegans, rescue workers . . . doesn’t matter . . . it’s all about the animals.
The rules for this one are pretty simple:
You must post the award picture on your blog. (Who doesn’t love putting award pictures on their blog?)
And answer these two questions: What inspires you to write? Why do you love animals?
Nominate other worthy bloggers (whatever number you’d like), or you can simply accept the award and complete only Steps 1, 2, and 3.
Finally, please let your nominees know you nominated them.
Q – What inspires me to write?
A – That’s easy. My big hearted, gentle giant that we sadly lost to Chronic Kidney Disease – Newton.
Newton was only 2.5 years old when I said goodbye last December. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. I miss him every day. We tried everything to keep him with us longer. We had a week after his diagnosis to bring him home and give him his perfect day – every day. We recognized the signs he was giving us, and knew it was time.
Every day, I remind myself what he was all about – Love, Patience and Joy. I learned life lessons from my furry kid, and I have also turned them into my life’s mission statement. I started working with rescue dogs – training, walking and grooming. Then I opened my home to boarding other peoples’ dogs who want a home away from their own. I’m healing, and surrounding myself with “pawesome” animals plays a huge part in the process.
Q – Why do you love animals?
A – Easy, because they represent the best pieces of humanity. I think we can learn a lot from our canine and feline friends. We just have to listen. Too deep? Then how about this – I think getting to know their quirky, amazing and adorable personalities can be an amazing process. The animals I hang out with make me laugh on a daily basis. Laughing is great food for the soul.
Now for my nominees:
1. Oh Melvin (and Yo Jake) – a blog about the unlikely canine couple who found themselves brothers. Their owner writes about life with two hilarious rescue dogs, one of whom has severe allergies. Their owner tackles issues like socialization, food allergies and training. Talk about loving animals and making it work at all costs – She’s the real deal. You can feel the love between the three of them!
2. Peace. Love and Fostering – I think the name of her blog says it all. This blog highlights the stories of the amazing Pitbull fosters she opens her doors to. She also adds her wisdom and experience throughout. I eventually see myself getting into Foster Care, and she is an inspiration. Talk about someone who LOVES animals. This is it!
Sidenote – I’ve personally fell in love with Johnnie and cannot wait to see the progress of finding her a forever home!
3. Gardens for Goldens – I’m not ashamed to say I had tears the first time I found this blog. Gardens for Goldens is amazing, it’s all about creating a memorial garden for rescue Golden Retrievers. Through this story of a rescued garden, GFG hopes to share the love for rescue! A beautiful tribute, please check it out!
I also want to thank all of you for all your love, advocation, commitment and passion when it comes to the protection of distressed and homeless animals. All of your blogs inspire me on a daily basis. Thank you for that.
Beyond that, many of you have shared your own wisdom, encouragement and thoughts with me. I am beyond thankful to be a part of this wonderful community. I also nominate each one of YOU for this award!
I’m going to change the pace and write something that will hopefully give you happy tears for a change – Imagine!
This weekend I had the pleasure of volunteering at an Adopt-a-thon. PetSmart and SPCA teamed up all weekend long to host PetSmart – NB’s first ever Adopt-a-thon – How exciting! We paired experienced SPCA volunteer handlers with an adoptable dog to create an interactive experience. There were also four SPCA cats up for adoption – you should see their adoption space, there’s even a play space in the back!
PetSmart partners with non-profit animal shelters like the SPCA to create an interactive space for adoptable animals. Plus, they get tons more animal lovers coming through naturally. Our hope was to expose these little fur babies to a great experience and more – people who may be interested in giving them their forever home.
I believe PetSmart is only in Canada/US. Here’s a bit of background for my European/Aussie peeps! They are an all-in-one pet warehouse where they welcome you to come shop WITH your pet! Some locations may also have some of the following: Grooming, Overnight boarding, Training and Doggie Daycare. I’m usually all for supporting the little guy – i.e. small business, but I love me some PetSmart!
Back to the Adopt-a-thon!
To reduce the amount of returns completed like a Wal-Mart customer service desk, we ask a lot of questions up front. After all, we hope for a forever home, not a weekend stay.
Temperament testing sheets were available
Vaccinations were up to date
Volunteers were on hand to call references immediately (including 3 non family members and current/past vet contact)
Training: PetSmart trainers were present to speak to potential owners about helpful hints on whatever concerns they had. They also volunteered to help socialize any new adoptees to any new furry brothers/sisters.
Second thoughts? We were urged to tell people to think it through, take the night to think it through or bring their families in for a second visit.
Financials – PetSmart had these savvy sheets that outlined financial costs associated with dog ownership.
Spaying contracts – As all the dogs had been neutered we did not require spaying contracts to be signed.
We were ready. Doors opened, and it was time.
Meet the dogs
I had a lovely 8 year old German Shepherd named Chance – appropriately named! His family had him for 8 years before surrendering him due to moving. A sad story, and one seen too often.
Chances new parents saw him, and we took him for a walk outside together. I heard their story. They only adopt Senior’s, and call themselves the “Golden Oldies”. They’re mission is inspiring. They adopt Senior dogs and cats and give them a safe and happy place to live out their golden years. How AMAZING is that?
Chance had never lived with other animals before. They currently owned a 9 year old Bernese Mountain dog (*sigh*), a 7 year old Shepherd mix and 2 cats (14 and 16 years) on 20 beautiful acres of country space. Once we called their references, including their current vet, Chance went home with them. The lovely couple brought all 3 dogs in later the afternoon for a bath, so we got to see him again. Who doesn’t love a SPA DAY! They said Chance went into the house, sniffed everyone, grabbed a football and jumped up on the couch to have a nap.
Enjoy your new home my friend!
This little lovebug is 3 year old Lab/Retriever/Shepherd mix Mishka. Mishka’s been with us since November. She’s a sweetheart, with the focus and smarts of a Shepherd. What a terrific combo.
Mishka was found as a stray. Posters were put up, she was announced on the radio and a profile was made on the SPCA website and Facebook page. No responses. During testing, we found she can be slightly reactive to other dogs, but appeared fine other then that.
Mishka’s new family had been looking for a puppy. When they came in for catfood, they took home more then they had initially planned on. The connection they had was instantaneous. They’re references checked out, they had budgeted appropriately and their vet gave a glowing report! Mishka was adopted!
They also bought adult training sessions for Mishka to start working on her reactive nature, starting this week. Wins and tail wags for all.
I know I’m not supposed to play favorites, but too bad – he’s it!
This dog has a better resume then I do! Pepsi is also our longest resident. He’s been with us since June 2012. He had been microchipped and spayed – proving he had been taken care of once. His family was contacted and they said they do not have the time/energy and did not want him back. He found the shelter a highly stressful environment and was put into a Foster home in December. Pepsi has come a LONG way. He’s extremely social and loves people and big dogs.
One small fault – Pepsi tries to herd anything smaller then him – it’s the Border Collie in him. What a great agility dog he would be!
-Border Collie/Lab mix
– 3 year old
– High Energy
– SMART! This dog learned sit, sit/stay for 10 mins, down, paw, dance, crawl and beg in the matter of a 2 month span.
Pepsi did not get adopted, but is still looking for his forever home. I added him into the mix as I adored working with him and I wanted to showcase how amazing Foster Care can be. What a difference to the anxious dog I met months earlier.
These were the three dogs that I worked with during Saturday/Sunday. There were many others in attendance – Here are just a few others!
I’m proud to say that all in all, 8 new furry family members are sleeping in warm new beds as of Sunday. Meeting all these families first hand, I have no doubts that they will be amazing parents. It was an amazing experience to participate in.
I know all over Canada and the US, most PetSmart’s are partnership with a local Animal Shelter of their choice.
If you’re interested in participating – please do not hesitate to contact your local PetSmart to find out more.
Thanks for reading !
*If you’re interested in any of the other dogs listed, please see monctonspca.ca for more information!
When your family loses a pet, your ENTIRE family loses a pet. Not just your two footed bi-ped members, but your furry four footed ones as well. The purpose of my writing today – a friendly reminder to take care of your furry friends (as well as yourself) during this very tough time.
I’m ashamed to say that when we first lost Newton, I was so lost in my own anguish that I forgot this all important thought.
Of course, I kept up with their daily routine and was a good parent – but not a present one. I was stuck in a self-centered sad bubble of a life for a little while. Thankfully I went home to my parents at Christmas time to drink a lot of wine and cry heal. This was a change of pace for Stewart and Frankie and they got a ton of attention they so deserved.
2. a cause of distress (as an unsatisfactory working condition) felt to afford reason for coplaint or resistance
Obsolete, so final and definitive. Exactly how I felt.
The point I’m getting at is that for those first few weeks, I was lost. I was grasping for reason, some semblance of normalcy. I’m not beating myself up about this, as I was learning my way. Nonetheless what I should have been was a better, and more present Momma, to the two wonderful fur kids I still had.
To help give you some understanding of our story, I’ll share a little bit about my two lovely fur-kids.
The story of Stewart and Frank “the tank”
Stewart has always been the more resilient of the two. We had him from around the 4-6 week mark of his life. He literally found us and chose us to be his.
Stewart’s always gone in the car (LOVES it in fact), he’s gone on road trips, spent time with other members of our family, goes with us on our week long summer getaways. My point – Stewart has always surprised us with his acceptance of change.
In case you don’t believe me…
Most importantly, when we introduce new members into our family, he stays as cool as a cucumber. Here are some pictures of his first minutes with both new family members.
Frankie on the other hand, does not deal well with change.
We adopted Frankie almost 3 years ago when my fiance and I were volunteering at the SPCA. We were looking for a furry friend for Stewart, and found Frankie. He had been named “Gadget”. He was born and lived all 10 months of his life thus far in the kennel at the SPCA. We fell in love with him instantly. We found out that his hind end muscles had never developed properly, and he was left unable to jump, sprint or walk in a straight line. We chose not to be sad about this fact, it was just Frankie.
We like to think that as Frankie ran face first into the plexi-glass when he first saw us, he was giving us a sign… I mean COME ON… A cat trying to jump through fake glass to get at you?
We got approved for adoption and took him home almost immediately. Once Frank the tank was cozy, he showed us he does not like his routine disturbed. He’s actually kind of a jerk sometimes (albeit, our own lovable jerk). Wherever we went, he marked his territory by seeking out each and every corner of his new temporary home and hissing at it (obviously terrifying all the spiders lurking in the corners). Even so, I considered Frankie my little lovebug from the start, he snuggles whenever and wherever he can.
We both cheered him on as his back legs developed muscles over time. As he eventually learned to jump and run stairs for the first time, we were witnessing milestones really.
However, due to his temperament and aversion to change, I believe he was affected more then Stewart by Newton’s sudden departure from our lives.
During those first 2 weeks home, anything I saw of Newton’s made me burst into tears. I took everything that was “his” and placed it in the spare bedroom and shut the door. I couldn’t look. I noticed Frankie’s change immediately. He snuck around the house, my own personal “velcro”, then would let out what I can only describe as “yowls of death”. I thought something was seriously wrong with his health.
Then I had a thought.
I brought back out one of Newton’s dog beds. Immediately he curled up and stayed there for almost two days, leaving only to eat and use the litter box.
“I’m a terrible person for not trying this sooner”, I thought to myself. I lifted him off the dog bed and “traded”. I brought out one of Newton’s old blankets, which I folded and tucked into a basket. Four weeks later, Frankie still lays in his basket, with Newton’s blanket inside. He lays beside the couch from 7:30 pm – 11 pm every night while I watch terrible reality TV. He does not come to bed with me like he used to, but I know he’s content where he is. There are no more “yowls of death”, and he acts like his happy self. Frankie still cannot run a straight line to save his life, but what really do you require that skill for?
The main thing is he’s back to playing with Stewart, inquisitive about new visitors and eating normally. So, why did all this happen?
My cat was grieving.
I’m not writing to make you sad, even on such a topic. I’m sharing this with you all to hopefully learn from my mistakes. I should have been aware earlier on, and helped make the transition for all in our household, as easy as possible.
Cesar Milan writes,
“A dog that has lost a companion may show signs of emotional distress with a lack of appetite, aloof behavior, or even be demanding of attention and affection. We have to remember that when a living animal relates to another for a long period of time, they do develop relationships; they do create habits, routines, boundaries and even rules around each other. When suddenly one of the ‘partners’ is no longer there, the dynamic changes.”
“Though it may seem an odd question, how are you responding to the loss? Cats are sensitive to changes in human emotions, behaviour and routine. If you are upset, your cat will respond to this and may become anxious, depressed, agitated or physically unwell.”
Of course I was a mess! Not a hot mess at that… A cat is never “just a cat” and a dog is never “just a dog”. They are important members of your family. An important part of ours abruptly went missing, we were not whole. I was anxious, depressed, easily agitated and did not go back to my normal routine of work, gym, dinner, family pet time. Things had changed, and I had too. How could I not expect my furry friends to pick up on this? We needed to find a new normal. So we are picking up the pieces.
If you’ve lost a furry friend, I’m so very sorry for your loss. There is no time limit for grief. Take all the time you require, but make sure you do not get lost in it. Do not let it define you. Whether you like it or not, you will have to find your new normal.
My advice to you, should you go through this terrible ordeal, is observe your other pets’ behavior. Sometimes I’m sure what they need is to feel some semblance of normalcy – just as you do. Just as important, is to ensure you take care of yourself in this difficult time. I’ve offered suggestions that have helped me here. I should have also added to ensure that you give your pets some extra TLC. It’ll make you both feel better, after all snuggles never hurt. Do not feel bad if you find your feelings of grief do not subside. Know there are many groups and professionals available and ready to help.
I’m so behind on my writing, but for good reason. Ahh so much upcoming that I need to write about (cue suspense music). I wanted to take a few moments and thank Mayra Bitsko for nominating my blog for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award – Thank you for the nomination. If you haven’t checked her blog out yet, she’s a terrific, passionate writer who also is a dog lover/owner – yay!
As most of you know, this is a therapeutic process for me. I’m happy that even sharing some of this difficult process is helpful to another.
I wasn’t quite sure how to go about this, as it was my very first nomination so here goes. I’ve never been good with rules, so like all things best to start at the beginning.
Here are the rules of the award:
1.) Display the award logo on your blog.
2.) Link back to the person who nominated you.
3.) State 7 things about yourself.
4.) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5.) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.
7 Things About Me
1 – I am the proud mama of two rescue cats: Stewart Scoudouc (Orange Tabby) & Frank the Tank (“Frankie” – Russian Blue mix). Frankie was born without the proper functioning of all of his back leg muscles, leaving him unable to jump/move quickly. We rescued him when he was almost 1. As his muscles evolved, he had his first jump/hop EVER onto an armchair when he was 2.5. Although Stewart hated him on site for the first few weeks, you can see that they have formed a bond and understanding.
2 – I have been with the love of my life for almost 14 years, and we’ve been doing part time long distance for the last 3 years.
3 – I was an elementary teacher for 6 years, before switching to a wonderful marketing position. Teaching is an amazing job, one that I definitely miss from time to time but love my new job!
4 – There are three things that relax me completely in life – animals, cooking and my family.
5 – My socks will never match
6 – I believe if you are an animal lover, and have the time, space and means to do it – you should always own animals. I truly believe ife is better with pets.
7 – I believe in the Karma of the Universe – what you put out is what you’ll get back.
15 Blogs that inspire me on a daily basis, and usually make me smile are….
1. http://ohmelvin.com/ – Wonderful, quirky blog about a girl and her two wonderful rescue companions. Loads of personality, plus she makes me want to have an office just like hers!
First of all, if you are reading this, you’ve probably either lost or are losing a furry friend. Please know I’m very sorry for your loss. It is never easy. Take solace in the fact that you gave them a great life, and don’t be too hard on yourself. My post today is dedicated to discussing a multitude of ways to commemorate your best friend.
Everyone is different. I know as I go through my own grieving process, I’m looking for ways to continue to keep Newton near and dear. We were a one dog family, we went from arranging our entire day around Newton to nothing. I was lost. In the beginning I don’t mind admitting that I was desperately searching for anything that I could hang on to. There are still days that I want to stay in my jammies, listen to some sad tunes and down a bottle glass of vino. I’ve found a better way (for me). Most of you who follow my blog know I started working with the SPCA again after losing my best buddy. Being around dogs who need so much, allow me a new routine that makes me feel necessary again. They give me strength, love, laughter and a purpose when I felt I had little.
These are not ways to ease grief, only time can do that. Instead, when you’re ready, and are looking for a way to commemorate your furry friend – this list may be helpful. Find something that speaks to you, and represents your lost companion and your bond. It can be very therapeutic.
First of all ignore those people who say, “It’s just a dog”. Thoughtless words. In my opinion, they will never understand so do not waste your time with them. They do not belong in your process.
Commemoration – Let me count the ways
1. Write a Eulogy, it helps to think back and remember all the great times. Trust me, you’ll go back and re-read this.
2. Have a ceremony. We have yet to have ours, but it will be coming. I want to spread Newton’s ashes in his favorite places, and we have to wait until Spring in order to do this. I’ve been told it helps, especially little ones, with closure.
3. If your a writer, write a letter. I wrote and then shared mine here. If you’re an artist, paint. If you’re into music – write a song. Another blogger friend is having a ring designed to represent her pup and their bond. I thought that this was beautiful. Any form of expression is healthy.
4. Plant a tree. Most dogs love being outside. Plant something that is representative of them, that will bloom every year and give you a beautiful reminder. Some people even plant a flower, bush, tree or garden in a spot of significance. If you need a little inspiration, check out a blogger friend’s project – “Gardens for Goldens“. They’ve taken their project to a whole new level!
5. Store the memories somewhere, including photos, a favorite toy etc. I decided to make a picture book that has all photos of Newton, in all stages of life. I wanted a place that I could go back and remember all the good times. Further, I’ll be getting close friends and family members to sign it and include a favorite memory. I’ll be bringing this out on those sad, dark days. If a photo book isn’t your cup of tea, Modern dog magazine has some pretty exceptional ideas here. The blog, My wonderful life, has another list of unique ideas here.
6. If you know your pet is terminal or have little time together left, make a list. When we found out we were losing Newton, we made a list of everything we knew he loved. The vet thought we would only have less then a week left with him. If he was up to it, we wanted to try and fit everything he loves into this 6 day period. We were lucky, he was never in pain and he was able to do many of these things. It was a celebration of his life for 6 days.
My entire point, make your days all epic days.
If you all haven’t seen this wonderful video of a man who gives his dog, who has cancer, his last epic meal. It’s touching, and a real tear jerker. Amazing to watch if you’re able.
7. During the time you would normally spend together, keep yourself busy. If you had a specific time that you would walk together, make sure to do something else. These can be the saddest times if you’re alone. Finding something else to do can make this easier.
8. Try something I call “Fur Therapy”. Whether it be visiting another cat or dog, boarding a friends fur-kid or volunteering at your nearest shelter, it can be extremely therapeutic. If you’re an animal lover, animals may be healing for you. I know this has worked amazingly well for me. I’ve also been boarding dogs on weekends for friends and family members and volunteering. It has given me a purpose.
9. Read Jon Katz’s book “Going Home“. He speaks about something called the “Good Life”. A wonderful notion which I think would give most solace. Read more on my review of this here. If you’d like a quick snapshot – here’s a excerpt from Going Home.
11. If you need, reach out to people who understand. There are a multitude of pet grieving groups. People who are in these groups will not judge, only listen.
12. Cry when you need to. There is nothing wrong with it.
13. Write a list of everything you learned from your companion. It’ll make you sad at first, but then extremely thankful they were ever a part of your life.
14. This one may be too early to mention, but I’m going to put it out there. When you’re ready, welcome a new furry friend into your lives. This is best way to celebrate a life. Practice everything your lost companion taught you. This could take a few months, or even a few years. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Grief does not have a time limit.
This is a difficult road to take. I hope you’ll find the above list helpful. If any of you have any other ideas, please comment below. I look forward to hearing about them and sharing them with others who are going through this terrible time.
I’ve gotten so many responses back from so many of you. It shocked me at first. The support many of you have shared, I’ll be forever grateful for. This process is the hardest part of being a pet owner. Know that you are not alone. We are lucky to have them in our lives at all, they always leave far too early. If you haven’t seen the link going around, check out A dog’s purpose: According to a 6 year oldhere. It’s a beautiful thought.
Grief is a powerful thing, do not lose yourself in it. There will come a time when you remember the great times, and tears do not fall every time. Until then, I hope some of the above helps.
I went to the SPCA last night to walk some of my oranges. As I walked through the kennels I noticed a few things, let me tell you first the good news. I immediately saw that two of the dogs I regularly work with had been adopted, with a third pending!
It’s policy that we are not to take the dogs out once the adoption papers have been finalized as they no longer belong to the SPCA. I immediately gave Newton a “high-5” in my head. I locked eyes and gave them each a “great job”. I was so happy for these dogs. Furthermore that someone else had connected with them, saw beyond the orange and yellow sheets explaining their issues (Colors are a way of identifying a dog’s temperament, Green = easiest, yellow = a few issues, Orange = please read all testing & check with manager before handling).
Then I turned the corner and saw Big Ben’s kennel. It was empty. Ben was an interesting case, a 4 year old half husky, half shepherd. One of the prettiest dogs I’ve ever seen. All alert eyes, with a body that was ready to spring into action upon the snap of some fingers. I took my fiance in to meet him once, all he said was “whoa, that’s a pretty dog”. He was a dog who I’ve learned the most from as a volunteer. Ben made me work for everything.
I had a friend that once said,
“The most stubborn and difficult dogs can be the ones you learn the most from”
Ben had never exhibited aggression to humans to my knowledge, however canine, feline or any other furry friend had better watch out. I don’t know why Ben was surrendered, or anything about Ben’s previous life. He was surrendered without a reason given. Ben had a few issues. He responded to uncertainty with “fight” rather then “flight” when presented with other furry friends. Loud noises and surprises frequently made him feel this uncertainty as well.
Walks with Ben made me more alert , I always had to be aware of my surroundings, ensuring his (and others) safety. When handling, grooming or practicing commands/manners, I had to be completely immersed in the process, ensuring I was aware of his level of comfort at all times. I’ve always felt that I was in tune with the body language of a dog, but he brought me to a whole new level.
It’s a sad story that I write about today. Ben did the unforgivable – he bit another volunteer. I think it may have been quite bad. He sadly wrote his own ending and passed over the rainbow bridge yesterday. I know that some of you may be torn about my next comment – I believe that Ben may have been part victim and part aggressor here. I know that might seem strange to say, and not all of you will understand my way of thinking.
Let me elaborate. I know the volunteer he was with, a green volunteer who just wants to be around dogs. I think this wonderful, further that she’s wonderful. Working with the oranges may not be where some volunteers/owners belong. These dogs deserve love yes and attention – but they also need more: consistency, a firm and fair demeanor and most of all an understanding of boundaries. I’m not saying that what he did was ok. I’m saying this may have been avoidable.
Ben, a dog who I’ve worked with for 5 weeks has never even shown a hint of aggression towards me. He greeted all orange volunteers the same, with the wag of a tail, a hand lick and a love for humanity. I also understand he greeted us this way because we had not ever proved him otherwise. I believed that there was a person out there without kids, without other pets that would have understood him and gave him a forever home.
I think the key is understanding a dogs’ body language and respectful handling, Orange dogs can also find their forever homes. It takes time though, and Shelter dogs aren’t always given all the time they need. In an already tense environment, kenneled with other dogs all around (not a great environment for Ben) – Ben needed to be put through the paces, tired prior to handling, easing his tense nerves. Not everyone might understand this, or take the time to read thoroughly through his temperament testing.
Some people wish that their dogs could talk, I believe if we look close enough – we can read them. Listen to what they have to say. A dogs’ body language can tell us all we need to know.
A few links worth looking at go further into this:
Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan explains in this video about compatibility and interpretation. Cesar is waaayyyy above my personal abilities, I think these cases are better left to experts. In the meantime, I’ll be comfy just working on my listening skills.
I found this video quite interesting as well, and more pertinent to Ben’s case. We always want to touch dogs, but not all dogs want to be touched. Check out eileenanddogs.com video on body language and petting here.
Since I was not there, I hate to jump to conclusions. What I do know is this: Ben has never exhibited any signs of aggression with me. I’d like to think that if with a little more understanding and respect for a Ben’s comfort level and needs, this all could have been avoided. Some people may argue that Ben was a ticking time bomb. In this case, I do not agree. I know it’s a controversial topic.
I say this as I have seen the positive, the light. Once he became comfy, he seeked out my hand to rub against his ear, his special spot that he loved being scratched. He made me laugh constantly. Ben had a great sense of humor. The right owner may have come along, they also may not have either. As an SPCA volunteer, you cannot afford to think this way. I like to think that the right home would have worked on this with him, protecting him and others in the process.
In this world of partnerships between human and canine, we have an upperhand. As we can dictate the fate of such dogs. I think it’s a responsibility that we have and should take seriously when handing special dogs, such as Ben. We need to listen to what they have to say.
Another sad side of this is that dogs who have not been given their forever home before passing over the rainbow bridge aren’t given the same respect, grieving, and remembrance of life. I believe they deserve this too, and I know I’m not alone. So today, despite Ben doing the unforgivable, I dedicate this post to him. Ben, thank you for teaching me to be more compassionate, more understanding, more patient and more alert and in tune with your language.
Lastly I leave you all with this…
Dear Ben, when you pass the rainbow bridge I wish for you lots of doggy treats, big fields without leashes to run and explore, incredible adventures, no other dogs or cats and many humans of your choosing to give you head scratches ONLY when YOU want. I choose to simplify this process and remember you only for the positive.
Ben, If my Newton does meet you, know he will be your friend. He will continue teaching you that not all dogs are enemies, I hope he will show you that some can become friends.
I ask you, if you would, fellow dog lovers to take a moment to think of my friend Ben.
Yes, I said tenth – refer to my “about” section to see my love of procrastination. This procrastination however, is a healthy one. I keep meaning to lend it out to friends who have just lost or are losing their canine companions. Maybe this book isn’t for you, but then again, maybe it is. I found it in the “Self-help” section of our Chapters. I don’t know why, but there is something about that particular section, when I walk through it, that makes me feel even more miserable and low then I already was feeling (cue ballcap and secret mustache disguise).
Katz discusses the difficult task of saying goodbye to furry friends. He further goes on to offer his support and opinions on comfort, grief, perspective and moving forward. I find grief (albeit healthy) can be like a sink hole (unhealthy) – only taking you down… and down. It’s hard to get out of. As I go through my own stages of grief, I find myself going back on this book and taking something different every time, slowly getting me out of the sink hole. I’ve met tons of you through this blog, many of you are going through your own grieving processes. I feel for each of you, wish you well, and I hope you can take some comfort in what I’m about to say.
As most of you all are aware, we lost our best friend Newton to Kidney Disease last Dec. I started writing about my process of losing him here.
The most important thing I’ve taken from his book, is this notion of something called “The Good Life”. It has helped me on those really dark days. You know the ones where you look out the back window and hundreds of great memories come flooding back to you – Overwhelming really.
I know I will always have them, and what I’ve come to realize – it’s not a bad thing. Although sad to remember what I lost, these moments make me happy he was ever ours in the first place.
In an interview done by Jon Katz two years ago for Reuters.com, he said “One idea that I advocate is the dealing with guilt directly. Acknowledge the good life, remember the good things you did with your pet — the places you took them, the affection you showed them. Remind those who have lost a pet that they generally gave their pets a good life and that’s a good thing, so don’t forget that.”
Katz further suggests that , if we can allow ourselves to grieve, we can also with time celebrate their lives. He asks the big questions – Did we give our pet a good life, were we there for them when they needed us most, did we make the best decisions when we needed to. He made me deal with these questions – head on – and it helped. It’s my personal opinion that in doing so, I’ve reached a point of reflection where I can now celebrate his life without tears every single time. Due to his faulty kidneys since birth he was only supposed to be with us a short time (still unfair). We were able to give Newton a good kick ass 2.5 years, and I’m proud that my fiance and I were able to.
I loved the idea of acknowledging the good life, not dwelling on the end (SO HARD) – but all the cheeseburgers, bellyrubs and adventures in between. It’s IMPOSSIBLE not be sad about the circumstances and guilt of saying goodbye to your fur-kid, but relish in those memories of all the in-between happy moments!
While I didn’t enjoy (or wasn’t ready) to take on certain perspectives from Jon Katz’s book, I loved this notion. Remembering the “Good Life” that has helped me tremendously. We gave Newton the best two and a half years we could have. Where we went, so did he. As my new blogger friend, MissHappyCreature, commented on my post – being with their humans is where dogs really want to be anyway (What a wonderful comment – thanks for that!). Newton was loved everyday (by many), had many adventures and experienced a wonderful life. I wish it had been longer, but isn’t this notion of the “good life” what we are all looking for?
As many of you have already heard of Newton’s life lessons – he has taught his humans to live better lives. The dogs I am now working with at our local SPCA also deserve this “good life”. It’s with great gratitude that Newton has taught us his life lessons, and now we’re able to share this with others.
Now, please don’t think I’m getting preachy on you all. I am not an expert. I just know what has worked so far with my process. Many of you have wrote to me and are feeling/experiencing the same thing. You’re lost. Unaware on how to go forward, more so – not wanting to. I believe you should grieve as you need to. We are all different.
With that being said, the oranges at the SPCA were all walked yesterday – how awesome for them!! So guess who I get to help socialize today 🙂
Hopefully these sessions will help them become little social butterflies and get the “Good Life” they deserve.
Not to be cliché:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”