Two Weeks

It’s now been two weeks since we lost our beautiful standard poodle of fifteen years, which I wrote about in my previous post.  Slowly, but surely, life is getting back to a new normal for us.  If you’ve never lost a beloved pet, you likely cannot relate to my thoughts today.  But if you have, no doubt you understand all too well, and based on the feedback from friends on my Facebook page, it seems that the majority of people understand the grief of losing a pet.

Pierre Car sm
Riding in the car or RV was Big Ol’ Baby’s favorite thing to do

I have been so grateful for the many kind thoughts that have been sent our way either in person or from friends that I connect with online.  Our vet sent us a card and a wonderful personalized “paw print” memorial gift to remember him.  My Facebook post on his death was overwhelmed with kind thoughts and prayers, and my nearest and dearest friends called, sent texts, and one even brought me a card with a timely news article clipping on the subject of losing a pet that was published only two days after he died in the nationally syndicated Dear Abby column.  I wanted to share that link here, as it has brought me much comfort and was just what I needed to hear on that day.

Dear Abby: Only time can truly heal pain of losing beloved pets

I also wanted to share a link to another article about pet grief that was both comforting and informative to me.

Ann Arbor News: Experts say that pets grieve after the death of another family pet, and helping them through the transition proves healing for everyone.

The article posted in the Dear Abby column in the first article link above really spoke to my heart in a way that I had not really considered before.  We as pet owners, or rather – those of us that are owned by some special pets, willingly open ourselves up time and time again to pet ownership, knowing all too well that one day, we will have to suffer the loss of their companionship and love in our lives, sometimes even through a serious illness preceding their death.  Yet, it seems we just continue to invite these special creatures into our lives all the more to let them love us and be our best buddies.  Having the love of a pet is so wonderful that we are willing to deal with the pain that will come our way at some point.  I have known a few people in my life that swore off of pet ownership after dealing with the grief of losing a special pet, though, which is very sad.  Dealing with grief is a natural and necessary part of life, even though it is no doubt a painful part for a while.

My family has now been blessed with the love of two very special “angel” dogs since our children were small, a miniature female poodle and a larger standard poodle.  To say that we pretty much adore poodles is an understatement, and we have especially come to love the standards now, based on our marvelous fifteen-years with Big Ol’ Baby.  We had no reservations at all two years ago when we got Girly Girl, our brown female standard poodle, and without a doubt, she is going to be every bit the love in our lives that our other two poodles have been.

Girly Girl has changed somewhat in demeanor over the past two weeks, and I am taking advice found in the second article to heart.  She has always had another standard poodle in her life, and she is now on her own except for us.  Her eating is a bit off, and she seems a little more needy as far as attention from us, so we are making an effort to spend more time with her and keep her active.  Autumn is a beautiful time of year where I live, so more “happy distraction” walks are certainly a good thing anyway.  I know that at some point in the future, we will find another companion for her (and for us), but right now, we are just not ready.  It will come in time, I’m sure.

Just A Dog
One of my favorite poems

After two weeks, I am happy to say that despite the heartache of losing my big buddy, my heart is healing and I’m moving forward, just like I’ve done after losing so many dear relatives and friends and pets before now.  While I miss them all, I know it is all just a part of life and does not have to cause me to withdraw from the love of those that are still here, both people and pets.  We even took Girly Girl on a quick weekend camping trip this past weekend, and we had a very good time, despite the gaping hole in our hearts for our sweet ol’ buddy that loved to go in the RV and go for long walks so very much.  I suspect I will always see him along for the ride on future trips, and I will have a big smile on my face every single time.

Pierre RV
Big Ol’ Baby, riding in the RV, Thanksgiving Day, 2012
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Saying Goodbye

To Our Big Ol’ Baby
5/1/1998 – 10/14/2013

(originally written on 10/14/2013)

 Pierre

The day that I have dreaded for 15 years came and went today.  We said our goodbyes through our mutual tears.  Yes, I saw the tear that you shed as you looked at me while you laid on your bed in front of the fireplace, unable to move anything but your sweet head.  It moved me so much to wipe that tear away from your face, and I hope you saw how much I loved you in that special moment.  I have cried buckets of tears since leaving you at the vet this morning.

The stroke finally took away your ability to move on Sunday evening, but as always, you followed us with your eyes and your heart until we gave you back to God shortly after 9 am this morning in the hands of the doctors that have kept you healthy for us for so many wonderful years.  I count it a privilege to have been with you, looking into your sweet, soulful eyes as you finally drifted off to sleep and as your heart finally quit beating about a minute later.  While it tore me up to watch you slip away, it also helped me to see your pain and distress leave you as well.  For that small blessing in the midst of my grief, I am grateful.

You are as much a part of our family as any person has ever been, and I have loved you just as much as any human being I’ve ever loved.  Looking back through pictures of you with our family and friends over the years today kept me in tears, both happy and sad.  You were there when our little family was whole, and you remained behind as both kids moved on.  You have helped me so much through my empty nest period, and I just don’t know how I will go on and be happy without your sweetness and companionship in my life every day.  You were always there for me, ready for a big hug, and you have been my constant daily companion.  You were our first big dog, and you were our first big-hearted four-legged love.  I am going to try very hard to remember your example of unconditional love every single day, too.  I’ve never met a being, either dog or human, that showed this kind of love so consistently.  No doubt, God gave you to us as an example of His perfect love, so that we could witness it for ourselves and know it is possible.

The memories are so rich and full in this house and in my heart.  I will no doubt spend days and weeks in memory with you, but one day, I know my heart will eventually be able to move on just a bit while keeping you in a safe place to comfort me when I need a fuzzy hug from you once again.

I thank you for taking Girly Girl under your “wing” two years ago to show her some of the ropes around the house.  She is still just a kid, but with your guidance, she is learning how to love already.  I know a lot of that came from you showing her how to love us, and I will do my best to continue to work with her on learning how to love and trust, as she came from a home that apparently didn’t show that kind of love to her before she came to live with us.

Right after you had the stroke and could no longer walk yesterday, it started raining and continued to rain for hours.  This morning, when my husband loaded you in the back seat of my car and we took you to the vet, it seemed that the cloudy sky was still so very sad, even though the rain had mostly quit.  The dreary clouds have hung in there with no breaks today, and I know that is probably contributing to my overall sadness right now.  The first real cold front is moving though, and the leaves are just beginning to change.  The plants in the garden are dying off, and it’s time to finish picking the garden this week before the first freeze.  Between the rain, the clouds, the evidence all around that nature is preparing to hibernate for a few months very soon, it seemed that God spoke to my heart that his creation is perfect and that your passing was just as it should be right now, at this time.  It was your time.

I am absolutely heartbroken over losing you today.  I think you may be, too, as it always seemed that you took your job so seriously to love us and always be right with us.  We will be fine, but we will always have an empty place in our hearts where you have been.

Please save me a spot in Heaven close to you.  I cannot wait to give you a real hug once again and take another long walk with you at my side.  You will always be my Big Ol’ Baby, and I will love you forever.

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