Getting through the grief of losing your dog
Hi my Dear Friend,
I know I’ve been quiet for the past two weeks. I’m trying to get adjusted to the new reality with you not being here. Well I mean, physically not being here because otherwise I feel you wherever I go. Maybe dogs die because that way they can get closer to our heart and be with us in places where they normally wouldn’t be allowed?
However, I’m still missing the physical you. Mornings and evenings are the worst. In the morning you loved sleeping in. You were like a teenager. Cozied up under the duvet cover, your head on the pillow, you looked up at me half asleep as if you were saying: "Five more minutes dad, pleeease."
The whole experience of you not being here is so surreal. I look at where you used to lie under my desk and you’re not there. You’ve spent half of my life under my desk, first at the clinic and then at my home office. You loved it because it felt like a den, safe and secure.
I still turn my head over my shoulder when driving to check if you are ok. It’s a habit that will take a long time to break. I miss you being on my backseat, strapped in a seatbelt harness to keep you safe. I have not vacuumed my car since you left because it’s full of your hair.
We’ve been biking more now. Yesterday, we biked 90 kilometers and I am still walking today! I thought I’d be stiff, but I’m not. Yes, I am taking GreenMin very regularly and it helps. The minerals and chlorophyll in it make my body recover faster. Or is it because your face is on the label? I look at the jar and all I wish is you could come alive.
When I bike, I see you running along, happy, circling in tight circles, keeping up with ease. You used to run like that when we rollerbladed in Stanley Park. Did you know they just named it the best park in the world? The best park for the best dog, my dog. Wait a minute, there are many best dogs. Pretty much every dog lover has their best dog. But you were my very best.
When I feel sad about not having you around, I get on my yoga mat. Yes, I do the downward dog you showed me how to do. By the way, people seemed to like the "Down Dog around the world video.”
The other day, I was thinking about the afterlife. You see, many people are saying there is an afterlife and while I love the idea, I’m somewhere in the middle. One simply can't say if it does or doesn’t exist, but I do feel your energy imprint in my heart.
And then there are events like finding the little stuffy ‘mini Skai' in a park just before we lost you. What is the likelihood of a mini-you being in the park? Pretty much zero, and yet, it happened. It seems like it can't be a coincidence.
I miss the physical you a lot. Like you peeking around the corner when I was at the desk to say hi. I miss the feel of your hair. From the pictures, it looks like you had more gray hair two years ago than this year. Could it be the addition of FeelGood Omega? I miss your smell, you never smelled ‘doggy’, more like grass and the forest.
When I finished my yoga practice the other day, it felt like you came, lied down and put your head on my chest. You helped me recall the memory of "my" horse Alfa that I looked after when I was a kid. You know Alfa was not mine, she was owned by the stables and suffered from severe tendonitis. The trainers didn't treat her very kindly and made her work despite her lameness. There was no escape for her from the ring and it made me feel so helpless.
I made a wish for her to be sold to a good home because I knew if she stayed, she’d continue to suffer and I couldn’t bear it. That was in the 80's and when you came to me in 2001, I got the strange feeling you and Alfa were one soul. The second time around, I was able to care for you and give you the best life a dog could possibly have. You’ve traveled to more countries than most people have and you were taken as an equal. I wonder if you’d have turned out as awesome if that didn't happen? Plus, you totally acted like a horse! Just look at the video here:
You see, until now, I didn't tell my friends and the community that it was me who took the final step to let you go. Honestly, I have no idea how I did it. I called uncle Kamil, my vet-friend to put a catheter in before I flew in from Norway. When I got home, you were on the sofa, your head on the pillow, covered with a blanket. You looked quiet and surrendered. You were happy to see me, but you could not walk or get up. You were so brave! No drama, no whining, just peacefully waiting for me to help you. The Zen Dog.
In my head, I gave ourselves a time limit. Two hours, in fact. And then, the time flew faster than light. I asked for a half hour more and it felt like a second. I knew you were ok leaving, but I was so not. And then, as if in a dream, I saw my hand lift and unlock the IV flow. Was it you who made me? I held you, told you I loved you and you just fell asleep.
They say that if you love someone, you will have the strength to let them go despite how the loss will make you feel. I know I could’ve asked someone else to help, but it would not feel right. You were peaceful, surrendered and beautiful as always.
Now, I know that it’s true for sure: "If you love someone, you will set them free....
Two weeks later, I’m still struggling with not having you around, but one thing became clear. You’re helping me channel my sadness into helping other dogs who are alive because their people's greatest wish is for their dogs to live a longer and healthier life.
I know if the accident you went through didn’t happen, you’d be still around, but perhaps your soul knew I’d grow better and work even harder if you were gone. There are many dogs and their people I have to be here for and I hope you will continue helping me do the best job I can.
You also asked me to tell other dog lovers not to prolong their terminally injured or ill dogs' suffering and gather the courage to let them go when their dog is asking to go. Making that final step is so hard but it’s also the greatest expression of kindness and love one can give to your best friend.
I know, one day, you will send us another dog, but not yet please. I think staying closely connected with you is the right thing to do for now. And when you and I have too much work to do, we will ask another dog to come and help. Maybe in two years? What do you think?
Your departure has catalyzed so many events. It allowed me to see how lovely the community you and I created is. My plan is to go through the thousands of messages and be inspired by the kindness and love so many people sent our way. You helped me see more clearly that the world is good at its core because, despite all that is happening, when we need others, when we really need them, they are there for us.
Dad aka Dr. D