Losing a Pet – a Universal Hurt

Posted by: Shel Harrington 20 November, 2014 41 Comments

Loss of a Pet - a Universal HurtDon’t let the TV news fool you – there are a lot of good people out there! Nothing brings the compassion out of people quite like a cute animal – or the loss of one. If you have reached adulthood, chances are good you have either lost a beloved pet, grieved for a loved one who has, or know that there will be a time when you do. It is a universal hurt that transcends age, gender, race, religion, intellect, and income bracket.

In our animal world, the only thing worse than losing a pet is having to make the decision of when that will be. Please forgive my use of a crass expression here, but it seems to sum the situation up concisely: It. Just. Sucks.

But, oh, what a lovely opportunity to see the best in people.

As our beautiful 13-year-old Carolina Dog’s legs betrayed her more frequently and the tumor growing inside her impeded her lung capacity, we prayed for natural causes to swoop down and take the decision away from us. Our vet had already warned us things didn’t work that way. But what did she know? With my vast experience of having this one and only dog for 13 years, I thought (okay – desperately hoped) she was wrong. She wasn’t.

So, as we prepared for Bondy to take this walk to a Rainbow Bridge that we kept hearing about, we wanted to celebrate this doe-eyed dog that had just shown up at our house thirteen years ago demanding a good home. We tried to find her one. After several failed attempts, we had to face the fact that we had a dog and now needed a fence. Is that an ungracious way to accept a gift, or what?!

So, back to the celebration. We assisted Bondy in creating and executing a bucket list, posting the progress on Facebook. She had a ball riding in a convertible, having a whole ice cream cone to herself, and being allowed to watch TV while sitting on my precious green leather couch, among other things. We enjoyed it just as much. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t quite “all in” on the couch bit – I cheated and put a towel on it first. She – and my husband – had the last chuckle with that one. I didn’t notice until I saw the picture later that her tush was definitely off the towel and on my couch.

With all items successfully checked off on her bucket list, it was decision time. We made the phone call. We were fortunate that our vet was willing to come to our home. However, because of a convention she attended, the appointment was a week out. A long week filled with many ‘lasts’ – the last romp in the snow, the last play-date with Jenny (her Boston Terrier buddy), the last night she would be with us, the last morning she would bark us awake while rolling around in scratch-my-tummy mode.

I will never forget the abundance of kindness poured out on us those last couple of days. Offers of condolence, encouraging words, many prayers, and sympathetic notes both from those who knew us well and many who knew our hurt more than they knew us.

And on that final day, a dear friend called to let us know she was coming over with soup. Soup?? What kind of person brings soup and (as it turns out) banana cream pudding for a dog-passing day?? Apparently, the kind of person that is hurting so bad for you that they think of you all day long while they make hot soup and something light because they know it won’t occur to you to fix something to eat that day. The kind of person who packs up some crispy chips and shredded cheese to toss in the soup. The kind of person who, fresh from their own personal losses, drives over to unpack the bounty, say their own good-byes, and cry with you. Oh, that we could all be blessed with a soup-maker in our lives!

This is our first day without Bondy, so the hurt is still quite raw and the house is quite empty. We head to bed misty-eyed as we realize again she’s not there to have her 10:30 run before the goodnight snack. We agree again that we did the right thing. We chatter more about some of the special times with her until we can make each other smile. We agree that despite all the hurt involved in the final days, the joy of the rest of our time with her was absolutely worth it. And we agree that she was the best gift we almost refused to receive.

Loss of a Pet - a Universal HurtBondy’s the one without the hat.

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41 Comments

  • So sorry for your loss! It’s so hard to lose a pet. I lost a dog to lung cancer as a kid, it was tough, we also allowed him to do many things we hadn’t before during his last week with us.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Lisa. That’s what we did, too – she had more ice cream than was “safe” and could come in and out anytime she wanted – among other things! We sure miss her.

  • I’m so happy to read that that Blondy enjoyed her life and her bucket list. Bet that was a really cool drive in a convertible! Yes, the hurt of a beloved pet dying is universal, but it keeps us balanced in that we will always have those great moments and memories of our dogs and cats. RIP Blondy (Woofer, Poco, Squirty…)

    • Shel Harrington

      You’re so right, Letty – many, many good memories. Place sure seems empty without her, though. I appreciate you stopping by. I wasn’t able to get to your blog from the OWB site for some reason.

      • Sorry you couldn’t get to my blog. Literally you can just google literally Letty and find it. There are many dog stories on the blog in the last five years. Maybe a new dog will fill your hearts in the months to come.

  • How lucky Bondy was to have a family like yours. I’m so sorry for your loss but so pleased that you have found some peace in your friends.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Lucie. My first reaction to the soup-maker’s offer was that I just wanted to be alone. But to say so would have demonstrated an unwillingness (again!) to accept a gift – one that turned out brought some comfort with it.

  • Aww. So sorry for your loss! 🙁 Beautiful tribute. Soup is the cure all!

  • Wonderful tribute. So sorry for your loss

  • Oh, Bondy, I don’t even know you, but I miss you. Please bark a greeting to our Paige, Chelsea, Carson, Duchess, Stardust and Scotty… They’re all very nice dogs and will be glad to show you around and be your friends.

    • Shel Harrington

      My husband happened to be walking by when I was reading your comment and I read it aloud to him – cracked us both up, Marylin! Nice to know Bondy won’t be on her own!

  • Farewell, sweet Bondy! She was a well-loved dog. My thoughts are with you.

  • Shel, I was reading this post in a restaurant and had to stop for fear of embarrassing myself with sobs. When I read it at home, indeed the tears came. I think anyone who has never had to euthanize a pet can’t truly understand what a heart-wrenching decision it is. So glad you and Steve can look back at all the good memories with your beloved Bondy. She was a “lucky dog” to have you and Steve as parents!

  • I’m so sorry, Shel. Bondy was clearly one helluva dog.

  • Shel, thank you for sharing this wonderful and loving tribute to Bondy. You have an amazing ability to express what so many of us have experienced when we’ve had to say goodbye to our beloved pets. The way you described your dear friend with the soup and the pudding was so eloquent I don’t even have words to adequately explain how touching it was. Our very first dog was a rescue that wandered down the dirt road we lived on. He lived another 14 years after that and based on the age our vet estimated him to be at the time he joined our family, he was about 17 years old. When it was his time, and we clearly knew when that was, our little old country vet very lovingly put him to sleep and we buried him in the backyard. Oh how I loved him !

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment, Joyce. I know you are a true dog-lover and how sensitive you must be to the loss for others. Natine speaks highly of your site, so when I saw “WilsontheCorgi” I had to pop over and LIKE it!

  • Ah Shel, I had no idea! Obviously I have to find you on facebook. I wonder if this little offering might help http://samsmiles.org/rainbow-bridge/lend-me-a-pup/ It’s a bit schmaltzy, but I think we need a bit of schmaltz at times like these.

    We once had a beloved cat, an old Persian named Brahms, He had begun life as a cantankerous little chap and ended it wise and benign. He was 16 and not well and we all waited for the miracle to happen – but it did not. We waited too long and on the very day we had separately decided the deed could be put off no longer, he disappeared. We never found out where he went or how he died. It added guilt and concern to our grieving and I have always regretted our prevarication – not knowing is awful.

    When my old girl became frail and unwell I made the decision, still a little later than I should have – but I held her in my arms as the vet gave the shot and felt her slip peacefully away. She was buried in the garden close to where I parked my car and I greeted her every day. I planted cat mint on her grave and a young Orlando played there happily for several years, keeping her company.

    I send you a big, warm, long hug. Our pets are our babies and I am so glad you have all those days of bucket list memories. That was a wonderful thing to do for her and for you. She gave you complete devotion and you gave her a safe place to live, love, and made her last days happy too – perfection!

    Your soup and dessert bearing friend is a treasure! A keeper! Adopt her!
    xoxo

    • Shel Harrington

      That was, indeed, a sweet poem, Pauline – thanks for sending it. I’ve already passed it on to another who I know will appreciate it. I understand about Brahms, but, on the other hand, he was able to die on his own terms. My last cat, Germano, kept trying to go off by himself, but since I didn’t let him out the best he could do was go in the bathroom and turn his back on us. I felt strongly that was his attempt to “wander off,” yet I’d go get him and try to cuddle. Because it made me feel better. I’m not sure that I was doing him any favors. In the midst of Bondy slowing down, I loved hearing about Siddy’s adventures – it evoked welcome memories!

      I know you had your own soup-maker, Pauline – and I’m with you. We should hold on tight!

      I can’t believe we’re not FB connected! I tried finding you there, but there are several with your name and I didn’t have an identifier. Here’s my link so you can find me: https://www.facebook.com/shel.harrington

  • Diane

    I’m in tears as I’m reading this. Bondy was so lucky to have found you and Steve. I know how painful it can be to lose a pet and to have to make the choice when it’s time. Sounds like you have some very good friends out there. Sending prayers.

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Diane – the prayers definitely help. I know that you probably have more experience than you would like to in this area! Miss you guys.

  • cathy

    Beautiful! The tribute and the 13 years of memories and love. I’m in tears.

  • What a beautiful tribute, Shel. Rest in peace, Bondy. I have no doubt she lived a happy and very spoiled life with you. xo

    • Shel Harrington

      She didn’t start out spoiled, Jill, but we made up for lost spoiling-time in the last few weeks. All she had to do was look at ice cream or the sandwich we were eating and it was definitely share time!

  • Am teared up all over again, but this was beautifully written, Shel.

  • Good grief, what is it with people losing loved ones this week, whether pets or humans. This needs to stop!

    *hugs* I’m glad you had a friend to help you through that day.

  • Debbie G

    I am so sorry as I know how real the pain is and nothing can replace your Bondy. Another precious animal may come your way and make you smile again, but it won’t be the same. I am happy for Bondy in that she got to have you in her life!

  • Donna Wade

    May you and Steve find peace in the coming days knowing that Bondy was loved and gave love back. You guys were such good parents!

    • Shel Harrington

      Thanks, Donna. And thanks for the rebel golden retriever video – it not only made me smile, it helped me craft that life philosophy I shared on your post!

  • That is so sad. I have a chihuahua who just turned 4 and he has seizures. I don’t know what I’ll do when he crosses the rainbow bridge. Don’t want to think about it. My son got a pit puppy the first of the year, and I hated that dog, at first…. She was an inside dog, and she was turning out to be so wonderful! We found out when she was 8 months old, after we’d had her for 6 months, that she had a severe heart murmur. 5 days later, she died right as we pulled into the vets drive. It tore me up. So sorry for your loss.

    • Shel Harrington

      I imagine your hurt was compounded by your son’s hurt, Jamie – can’t fathom how difficult that must have been. I’m sorry that you get it.

  • Beth Silvers

    Beautiful tribute to a beautiful creature!!

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