The Only Thing Wrong With Dogs, Is They Don't Live Forever

Disclaimer: This isn't going to be the usual happy, upbeat sort of post you might be used to from me. This week has been one of the saddest, most heart breaking I've ever been through & I'm writing this as an attempt to organise my thoughts and clear my head a bit. 
(In other words, feel free to come back another day for the positivity, cute doodles & pep talks!) 

My dog died on Monday, and I'm not okay.

I've realised that essentially, I'm grieving for her as if she were a person, and that is okay.
She's been my constant companion for almost 13 years, my furry side kick while I work from home, and in my mind, in terms of the friendship & bond we shared, she's just as important as my favourite humans, so why shouldn't I?
I know there will be people who think I'm being over emotional, a bit dramatic maybe, and that's okay too.
Maybe I am over sensitive (actually there's no question about that, I'm the very definition of HSP, which probably is magnifying everything, but doesn't make my feelings any less valid), or maybe they've never had a dog in their life, maybe they just don't get it.
That's okay.
(What's not okay is dismissing someones feelings as "silly" or an "over-reaction" because you don't get it, or telling them to "get over it", making them feel worse in the process... but that's another blog post entirely.)
For the record, I know a lot of you do get it because of all the kind words & messages I've received. Thank you so much, especially those of you who've been through it first hand, it means a lot.

Those messages are part of why I'm writing this (several of you suggested it!) My thoughts and emotions are a tangled, jumbled up mess right now; but I've decided to put them down on "paper" all the same, partly in the hope that it'll be cathartic somehow, and partly because if reading this ever helps anyone in the future feel less alone, or less like their feelings are "silly" or "over-dramatic", then that's a good thing.

So. here we go...
On Monday, I had to say goodbye to my best friend.

She was a small dog with a giant personality. She was feisty and stubborn, but also funny & so loving.
She knew when you were sad and would smother you with fluff to try & make you feel better.
She knew when you were happy & enthusiastically joined in, whether she understood why or not.
She was pro naps, pro snacks and very much anti walking in the wind or rain. (To the point where she'd promptly sit down & become an immovable furry boulder until you gave in & picked her up.) She went to sleep at the bottom of my bed every night, yet somehow always woke up on my pillow.

My little Leia dog, who's been by my side for nearly 13 years, passed away & took a chunk of my heart with her.

I'll be forever grateful that it happened peacefully, at home, on her own terms.
She wasn't sick, or in pain, just old & tired after a good long life of knowing nothing but love and contentment.

For a week or so before, she'd been a bit fussy about her food, and a bit wobbly on her back legs, but I put that down to old age.
Over the weekend she went downhill fast, and I was bracing myself for taking her to the vet on Monday; fearing the worst.
But in the end, there was no rushing to the vets or having to make that hard decision.

She saved me from it. She was looking out for me til the very end.

I stayed up with her on Sunday night, she slept on & off, curled up in a blanket on my lap, while I showered her with kisses & cuddles & a fair few tears.
At 7am on Monday, she snuggled her tiny head under my chin one last time, and that's when my heart crumbled.

Saying goodbye to any pet is horrible.
I know that, because we have a bit of a pet cemetery going on in our back garden having lost several much loved small pets over the last 20 years (Hamster pals Audrey, HB, Charlie, & CJ, gorgeous guinea pigs Max, Harvey, Chewie & Paddy, my pretty little budgie Harry & Ackbar the crested gecko) but much as losing each of those little pals was awful, it was no preparation at all for saying goodbye to Leia.

I suppose maybe it's because small pets live in their own worlds within their human's, whereas a dog's world is their human, and vice versa.

Whatever the case, the pain I'm feeling this week is like nothing I've ever known. The sadness is heart crushing and overwhelming. I've cried my eyes raw more times than I can count. There are memories of her EVERYWHERE, all ready to jump on me when I least expect it & start fresh tears rolling.

It's the weirdest, emptiest feeling to know that she isn't here anymore. I keep expecting her to come trotting through to see what I'm up to, making sure sure I'm not eating anything good without her knowledge. This house is so quiet & my brain plays tricks on me, letting me think I hear her little snuffle or the jingle of her collar when she'd have a stretch & a shake after a nap.
Grief is sneaky, and sometimes cruel.

Of course I always knew this time would come, because unfortunately, it's an inevitable part of the deal when we invite those furry little heart-breakers into our lives; that they just don't live as long as we do.

In Leia's case, she gave us 13 years of joy, companionship & unconditional love. And however long this aftermath of heavy heart and aching sadness lasts, I still think that was a deal worth making.

Which doesn't mean I wouldn't jump at the chance to fast forward to the part where I can remember her fondly without crying, but I know the bit between now & when that happens is non-negotiable too, which makes me extra grateful for my family, who are also feeling it.

Not because misery loves company, but because they get it.
They know what a brilliant little dog she was, and what a happy, contented life she had. They understand that she wasn't "like" part of the family, she just WAS part of it, as much as any of the human members.
They remember her funny little quirks, her happy waggy tail, her forever enthusiastic sticking out tongue... all the happy times. That shared collection of memories is helping, a tiny bit at least.

I'm trying hard to channel the Dr Seuss quote:

"Don't cry because it's over, Smile because it happened"

I'm not there yet, but I remind myself daily how lucky I was to have her, and how I really couldn't have hoped for a better end for her, even if it did come much too soon.

So, do me a favour pet owners: give your furry pals an extra cuddle for me. And, however busy you are, remember to take an extra minute each day to just fawn over them & let them know how much they're loved. They give us SO much, and that's all they really want in return.

Sleep tight little Leia dog.
You were joy on four legs & the best friend a girl could hope for.
I'll always wish you could have stayed longer, but I'll cherish every moment I was lucky enough to have you in my life & all the happy memories you helped make.
I think you knew you were so very loved, and I hope you know you'll be forever missed 💛

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. I struggled when I lost my big dog Kia because the emotional reaction was so strong. I wasn't prepared for it at all.
    They are part of the family - the warm furry bit x


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