This is another very reflective blog as I sit here only half way through the week and having already heard of two friends who've lost their dogs and two of my regular clients. It's all too sobering as sat next to me on the sofa, is my boy who, I know is on borrowed time and know that the awful decision is looming. It does pose the question........is all the pain and heartache you suffer when you lose one, worth the reward of having them for however long they're here? My answer has always been yes to this but, I'm finding it harder and harder to cope with the upset when another poor wee soul I know passes.
It is of course worse for me as each time one of my furry clients goes, they take a small piece of my heart with them. When I've groomed or walked a dog regularly for say 8 years, if you look at their lifespan, that's actually a big chunk of their lives they've spent with me. In a dog's eyes 2 hours seems much longer to them than it actually is to us. There was a sketch in an episode of Family Guy where Brian, the anthropomorphic dog was talking about when the family left him at the kennels and he quoted "I don't know how long you left me there, was it 10 hours or 10 days or it could have been 10 weeks?" A dog has no concept of time and no concept of death.
I was thinking about this the other day when I was looking at some photos of my Buddy from 2 years ago. I pointed out to Mr Furry that he had no white on his face at all then and yet now his almost completely silver face is glistening in the evening sun. I am in some of the same photos from 2 years ago and I look no different? As Mr Furry pointed out, I should look at photos of me 14 years ago. Do I look any different then? Yes of course I do. So looking at their short lives, it's of course understandable that their ageing process is going to be much quicker. In Bud's case, I swear it was overnight.
I really don't think there is any way of coping or hardening to the pain of losing them, they're far too bigger part of our lives. Time doesn't heal, I don't think it's a wound that ever heals, time just helps you to move on but you never ever forget.
Which brings me onto the matter of other pets' grief. Again this is something I will need to confront at some point. I've actually heard of dogs dying from a broken heart when they've lost their house mate. So how do you not only cope with your own grief but with theirs too? I have been told to get the Vet to come to the house when that time arrives and allow the other pets in the house to be present. I'm really not sure? How do we know what the right thing to do is? This is one of those times where I'd really love my dogs to talk to me.
I am very aware that unless you've experienced the joy of having a dog and indeed the pain of losing one, you cannot begin to understand the grief. It's like a pain that just won't go away. You're fine for a bit and then the slightest insignificant thing will set you off crying again. After a few weeks, you start to fondly remember funny stories and memories but still your eyes are glistening with tears as you recite. I wonder whether pet grief is ladened with frustration and helplessness. Is it because we know little about Veterinary procedure and protocol as opposed to our own health system? Do we feel Vets are too quick to put a dog to sleep? Is it because dogs can't tell us how they feel? All I know from having had many tearful conversations with dog owners is that the feeling of wanting their pal back is just unbearable. One thing I've never understood is when someone says after losing a pet, "I can't get another it's too painful losing them". Yes it is painful but to me, having a pet in your life as opposed to the emptiness is worth that pain.
I apologise to anyone that I try to comfort when they've lost their dog because frankly, I'm hopeless. As much as I try to stay strong, I can't and I'll end up in pieces. I've always been an emotional person and even more so where animals are concerned. I'm the type of person who watches a film where a man and a dog get shot.............I'll be more concerned about the dog, the man can look after himself. I do dip my hat to all Vets because I honestly do not know how they do it. To see such heartbreak so regularly I cannot bare to think. I guess it can only be like being a Paramedic in that you just treat each one as a different case, detach your feelings. I know I simply couldn't do it. Sorry just seems such an insignificant word when someone has said goodbye to their friend yet, it is the only word used. Take comfort in the life you gave them, yes but why couldn't it be longer? I've blogged before about how long is life but the fact is, dogs' lives are too short period.
Many people have been asking me about how Buddy is. He's amazing! Seriously.......amazing! To look at him you'd think I'd made the whole thing up. He's still the same Buddy that he was which of course, makes dealing with his illness much, much harder. We're marking little milestones as we clearly don't know how long we've got. So we wanted to get him down to Cornwall again, which we did back in May. The next goal is his 10th Birthday in July (not long now!) and then we're off to the Lake District in September so that'll be the next one. Personally I'm just thankful for every morning I come downstairs and still find him tucked up in his bed because I know, one morning he won't be.
To all the doggies big or small that have passed over the bridge recently, be sure to shine brightly in the sky. For their owners, stay strong, let yourself grieve and when you're ready to love again, do it wholeheartedly.
Big hugs for all your furries tonight.
Much love, Sally xx