It's been almost 3 weeks since I put my 17 year old dog down. I had him since he was 6 months old. I'm having a hard time adjusting to life without him. My partner is struggling too. At least we have each other. Since our dog was ill at the end, he took a lot of time and energy to look after. Now there's a void. Need to get out more but am sad and lost. One day at a time I suppose.
A hint. Write his obituary. Put some time, efforrt and loving heart into it. Tell his story. he had some special talents and there was something special he did for you in terms of love, I am sure of it. REcord that for him. It will help his memory live in honor.
Or put together 15 or 16 photos and a song and make a slide show online. I wrote the obituary for two of my dogs afterward and it helped me really honor their memories and I have it to this day, in scrap books I made with their photos.
cyber hug to you.
For a long time I felt sick to the pit of my stomach after this, but I remember the happy life she had and that death has to come to all living things. Please remember, hard as it is, the pain you are feeling is due to missing him, it is not his pain- he feels no pain now.
The sooner you get a new dog, the better.
Dealing with these losses is a tough part of life for anyone. But pet owners must realize this is a part of the bargain for pet ownership. It's part of the package. If you find loss of a pet too overwhelming, you shouldn't have pets in the first place. In any case, the living have to carry on with their lives. Good luck moving on from that chapter of your lives.
So sorry op. it does get easier in time.
I can understand the feelings you are going through. We are a multiple dog household, and have had to put down eleven dogs in the 20 years we have been together. We currently have 7 dogs (4 are 10+ and two will likely pass in the next year). Our newest addition is an 11yo German Shepherd; she was dumped by her past owners because she was old and had neurological issues. We took her home from the shelter knowing that we are providing her hospice care and a comfortable place to stay for her live for now. She is a very sweet girl, and sleeping on a dog bed near me now.
I recommend the idea of doing an obituary. We've done blog posts for all of our pets (good stuff and the bad stuff). Honor your guy with words and pictures. It will also be something that you can go back and read when you want to.
I also recommend that you volunteer an hour or two a week with a SPCA or rescue group (even just holding a dog at one of the weekly outings). Be around other animals and people who love them. The two of you will know when it is right to add someone new to your family.
Go get another pet. Obviously you both have big hearts and there are SO many pets that need your love and your home. The new pet is not meant to replace it is simply an addition to your family. Also it does get better with time.
I will always think fondly of the special loving times I've had with my 4-legged companions. They got me through so much emotional pain. It would be nice to think that they're in a better place. At least I take comfort in knowing that they're not in pain. I can honor their memory by rescuing another. Everyone deals differently with loss. The fact that the loved one had 4 legs, and not 2, doesn't mean that it's less of an absence in one's life. OP you are truly a wonderful person for having cared for and loved such a wonderful soul.
A few years ago I lost my 17-year-old dog 14 months after I lost my partner of nearly 20 years. I was very sad when my dog died -- and it was a dog my late partner and I had rescued together -- but she had been sick at the end, so in some ways that made the loss easier.
But, as others have said, none of us are getting out of here alive and, yes, this is part of the bargain of caring for a pet. For the most part, we will likely outlive them. As sad and difficult as that reality is, it is part of the deal.
My sympathies. It does get better with time.
I like the obituary idea,too. I did a video of one of my dogs to the song "Sleep Forever" by Cheap Trick, and everyone that's seen it has cried. It's a great song. And do go to the shelter and get someone that needs you as much as you need them. It helps so much to love another dog again.
I must admit that Facebook was very helpful when we lost our dog in April. I put together a bunch of photos and commented on them and posted them. The only problem was that it took me a few minutes to post them all and AFTER that I posted that he had died. So several people were writing what an adorable dog he was only to see the name of the album and the reason at the end and get incredibly sad. But it was very cathartic.
Then after a few weeks we started looking online at Petfinders and eventually hooked up with rescues. A friend told me that as lucky as our last dog was, there were other dogs that could use that much luck and love. So we adopted two within a month and they are wonderful.
Never forget what a wonderful thing you do by the life that you give to a pet. They are so grateful.
He is so lucky he had 17 wonderful years with you and your partner. He knew he was loved. Time really does help heal. Just give the time some time.
Another vote for the obit. Great idea.
I had to put two cats down in the past couple of months and it's brutal. One was 17 that I had since he was 6 wks. They're just little unconditional lovers whom we hate to see leave this world. It gets easier though. Just takes time like anything else.
(I'm a sucker for these threads)
[quote]The sooner you get a new dog, the better.
Maybe, but be careful if you get a puppy. In fact, if you're thinking of a puppy you might want to give it a bit more time.
The trouble is that after living with an old dog, especially one you've had forever, a puppy is a real shock. You forget how stupid puppies are. I mean that in a good way, but puppies seriously don't know anything about anything. You tend to assume that the puppy is a younger, more active, version of the dog you just lost, but he's not.
If you're not ready to re-set mentally, and at the same time dedicate the time and effort necessary to make the puppy the best dog possible, then you need to give it more time.
It's been just about a year since we put our 19 year old dog to sleep.
I am still overcome with guilt, even though it was the humane thing to do.
Oddly 2 weeks later a stray cat adopted us. He is a love and has helped ease the pain immensely. Get another pet OP. it will take your mind off the sadness of the loss.
Also, I was NEVER a cat person, but I'm a convert. They're so much easier and it's nice to not have to worry about heading straight home after work. Now iI can stop at the store or go to dinner then it's no big deal.
I've had people who've lost pets tell me they could never think of getting another pet to replace the one they had for so many years.
My answer is always the same. You're not replacing the pet you lost, you're bringing a new life into your lives, giving him or her the love and affection and devotion she or he will give you back in spades, and bringing a new sense of joy into both your lives.
After I lost my first pug, I would wake up in the morning feeling him at the foot of my bed and that was the worst pain of all. Bringing another dog into our lives was the happiest thing we could have done. And you NEVER forget the one you've lost because his spirit always hovers nearby and somehow, the new pet always senses there had been another pet in the space and responds to that sense of peace and security.
Don't deny yourselves or the next dog the chance to start new lives together.
We had ours since they were pups and also had to put them down, 2 years later, we simply can't have another. They were family and our lives for 14 years and we still have not gotten over there deaths. One day, but not now
>>>Go get another pet. Obviously you both have big hearts and there are SO many pets that need your love and your home. The new pet is not meant to replace it is simply an addition to your family. Also it does get better with time
This is so true. If you get another pet, please think about getting one from a shelter/rescue organization. So many people have been hit hard financially in the past 6 yrs that they have had and continue to have to turn their beloved pets over to a shelter.
I am so sorry, OP. I hope you and your partner remember that love never dies, and that when the time comes, your beloved dog will move you to open your home and hearts to one who is in desperate need of a home and your love. In the meantime, take good care of each other and, as you wrote, take one day at a time. You were together a long time and you gave your dog a wonderful life; he knows this and that he is loved.
((((OP and Partner)))
[quote]Putting a pet down
I'm sorry, OP. I've been there as, I'm sure, many people in this thread.
I had to put my cat of 14 down a few years ago. She had cancer. What made it worse was that it was shortly after my mom died of cancer. I was incredibly depressed for a while and never thought I could love another pet the way I loved my cat. What truly lifted my spirits was adopting a kitten. She's very different than my other cat in personality but I love her just the same.
[quote]The sooner you get a new dog, the better.
Not in my experience. We had to put our Debbie down after she had a stroke, and from the vet's office my husbear drove us to a shelter where he picked out a puppy to replace her.
Two weeks later we had Dixie in the house, and to be honest, I never really bonded with her the way I had with Debbie (and her big sister, Maxx).
Dixie died last spring (she was 12). And now we're looking at the possibility of another puppy to keep Heidi (Dixie's little sister at 8) company. I'm really ambivalent. I'd rather just keep Heidi until it's her time and then just have the cats (we have 4). But it seems I'll be overruled, I'm sure.
It gets better.
I had to put my cat, Silent Bob, down last Tuesday. I feel your pain OP.
Take care of yourself.
Sorry to hear of your loss OP. Hugs. I lost my cat of 17 years one month ago. Even now, it still hurts that he's gone. I got a 5 month old kitten two weeks after his passing and it has really helped a lot. I definitely do not think she is a replacement by any means, but his passing was a way to allow me to help another animal in need. Had I not adopted her, she would have been put down at the shelter.
She's a terror on four paws but keeps me entertained. Even now, she's licking me like a dog while I type and purring nonstop. I think she's very grateful to have a real home now.
Consider adopting again OP. It isn't replacing your lost pup, but giving a life of love to another one who desperately wants a chance.
My partner and I loved our dogs. But when we had to let our German Shepherd go (11 years old) we never looked back. And when her companion, a sweet mutt, had to be put down four years later, it was the same thing. Sad, but by the end of the day we were aware of more free time. We have waited to get other dogs until we're ready for the responsibility, not rushing to fill a void. Because we don't have a void.
So neither of us really understands the aching, remorseful sense of loss shared here and on so many threads. Like I said, we have loved our pets, and hated the decisions required, but we've never confused - sorry, wrong word - we've never elevated our pets to the level of human-like companions where grief is equal to the loss of a person in our lives.
But we also feel like our dogs somehow are still around - see them, smell them, hear them, sense them. Maybe a little spiritualism or psychic trust helps bridge the distance.
OP, it's only been three weeks. Maybe you're trying to rush the grieving process. Society, to a large extent, still disapproves of pet grief. These are the people who say, "it was just a dog, get over it," etc.
It's very hard for pet owners to not internalize those messages. Would you get over the loss of an important human friend or a loved one within three weeks? I doubt it.
Of course it hurts and it's hard to adjust. You had the little guy for 17 freaking years. Give yourself time, and permission, to grieve. Take good care of yourself right now and go easy on yourself and your partner. Losing a pet really is traumatic.
Hang in there. If three months pass and you still feel this same level of grief, you may want to see a therapist.
I have a most loved doctor friend that has experienced a very similar situation. I can only imagine your heart break and wish you well for the future.
I'm all about bulding people and pets up, not putting them down. ...even pets have self esteem.
OP, you should have had him cloned.
I, like others here, know how painful it is to put pets down. My condolences.
Others have suggested you get another pet right away but may I suggest that you wait for at least 6 months. Pets can add a lot to our lives but there are some negatives too. You may find you like the freedom of not being tied to another pet, of not having to rush home from work to walk and feed the dog. And remember how guilty you feel when you spend a day shopping or with friends when you know the dog is all alone and waiting for dinner and a walk? Then there are the costs to consider and the pet hair to deal with too.
Two months ago when I put my 21-year-old cat down, as I had done with numerous other pets, I decided that was it for me, I never wanted to go through that again. Sure I see people out and about with their dogs and I get nostalgic for a minute but then I realize I made the right decision for me.
You are a murderess, Mary OP, and may you carry the misery and guilt for what you did for the rest of your life!
I agree with R16 in terms of not looking for a puppy if you are used to having a mature dog around. I am the multiple dog household above, and we also are a foster home for 2 rescue groups. Our groups get a number of dogs that are dumped before age 2 because they are no longer "cute puppies". In the past 2 months, we placed a 15 month old Yellow lab, a 2 year old boxer, and 2 German Shepherds under age 4 into permanent homes. On Friday we will place a 17-month old hound/shepherd mix who was adopted by a college student when the pup was 8-weeks old, and then the college student realized after a year that a dog is a big commitment who was crimping his social life.
Also, do not feel the need to go out and rush to get another dog. You and your partner will know when it is right. That is why I suggested volunteering now to be around dogs (and dog lovers). I also feel that there is nothing like dog kisses to help whatever ails you. Look in Petfinder to see what groups are near you. Every rescue organization or SPCA welcomes volunteers (even 1-2 hours at a time). One of our rescue groups does outings every weekend at a Petco/Petsmart; we welcome "extra hands" to hold a foster dog on a leash for the 2-3 hours of the event. Every pair of "extra hands" means that we can bring one more foster dog to the event.
[quote]We had ours since they were pups and also had to put them down, 2 years later, we simply can't have another. They were family and our lives for 14 years and we still have not gotten over there deaths. One day, but not now
2 years? Why how selfish of you. All that love you had for your pups is going to waste as countless animals suffer without the one they they not only want, but need, a home. Get your asses off the couch this week and go to the shelter, someone is waiting for you.
OP, we also put our dog down after 17 years
awhile ago. We took comfort in the long life he lived and the great life we gave him when he was alive.
It took a long time, and another dog, but we are finally able to look back at that time we had with him and smile........
Thank you everyone. It is one day at a time. Just got back his ashes today. This is bringing my partner and I closer together.
OP writes: [bold]It's been almost 3 weeks since I put my 17 year old dog down. I had him since he was 6 months old. I'm having a hard time adjusting to life without him. My partner is struggling too. At least we have each other. Since our dog was ill at the end, he took a lot of time and energy to look after. Now there's a void. Need to get out more but am sad and lost. One day at a time I suppose.[/bold]
You sound like you're handling this well enough that you don't need much advice. So, it's best just to have someone who can reassure you. And you are wise with the last sentence in recognizing to give yourself time.
Last year my Aunt had to put her dog down as well. A host of health problems were shutting down her 14-year-old dog. It was only going to get worse. Euthanizing a pet is more humane than how we treat humans when they're approaching the end of their lives.
My Aunt waited six months to get a new dog. Part of it was respect. Part of it was just her. And there is no one answer. I have a sibling who -- after his dog died at home in 2010 -- said he wouldn't get another dog for some time. He and his family ended up with a new one within a week.
Pet -- especially dog -- owners operate on a plateau for which I admittedly do not fully understand. (I'm not anti-dogs. I had one who died 15 years ago and haven't had one after that.) I connect that the pet [dog] is essentially a child to a [dog] owner. But they're not human. And that can be easily overlooked [by the owner].
Only thing worth giving you in way of advice is this: When it comes time for you to get a new dog, be smart in what you select. Be responsible for this new dog with what that new dog will be like for your home. So, you're already smart for recognizing the necessity of "one day at a time." And you should be fine.
Sorry- I had to put my cat down and now have a dog- whom I love like a child. It is a rough time. Best thing I did was to mourn for a month- then move on. You shared your best with your dog. That is a great moment in history. Make another.
Hey, guess what. You're going to die. I'm going to die. Everyone and every living thing we both know are going to die.
It does get easier, OP. At the three week mark after my cat died in January, I was still numb, still had trouble sleeping, and hated coming home to an empty house. I ended up redecorating and painting. It was as though the light had literally gone out of my house when my cat died. Everything looked dingy and dirty. That distraction helped keep me busy. I also traveled a bit. Like your dog, my cat had health issues for the last 2 years and I really couldn't leave her.
After about 2 months, I started volunteering at the animal shelter once a week so I could be around animals. It helped a lot. In April, I ended up bringing home a 12 year old cat who was not adjusting well to shelter life (his elderly owner died). We needed each other. I haven't bonded with him as strongly as I did with my other cat, who I had for 19 years, and I'm sure he doesn't love me as much as he loved his old man. But we have an understanding and it works for us.
You didn't put down the dog on a whim. He had lived longer than one had any right to expect. You had given him a good life, and then you did him a favor by not allowing him to be subjected to the pains and indignities that he would have faced if you hadn't made this sacrifice.
Unfortunately, our pets tend to be the very things that help us get through such times of sadness. So there really is some validity to that apparently heartless question, "are you going to get another one?" That's what I did when my grandmother died: I rushed right out and got myself another old lady.
Ok I know not all animals are the same but for those who had to put their loved ones down, did it come suddenly? I have a 17 year old cat, pick of the litter. She is the only surviving in the litter and she's still kicking. She's had a thyroid problem for about a year now, with daily medication, is constantly hungry but except that she has a huge pee output and her poop is now horrifying smelly, she seems just fine. I"m wondering if she is on borrowed time, I don't know what to look for or she'll just keep going to twenty or so. Since her litter all went around 14 I have no other reference.
We weep for the OP
r44, if your cat is peeing a lot, get her kidney function tested. It could be early stage kidney failure -- which is treatable with medication. You don't want it to get to late stage, which isn't always treatable and can kill them suddenly. My cat was 20 and died from kidney failure. I wish I'd recognize the signs earlier (drinking and peeing a lot, weakness in back legs, which I thought was arthritis).
My cat doesn't pee a lot but she drinks a lot of water andhas clumsy back legs. Should I be worried?
I had to have my 19 year-old cat put to sleep 3 weeks ago but I have coped by reminding myself what a long and happy life she had (I adopted her from a rescue center when she was 5; she had been dumped in their garbage bins and was incredibly nervous for the first month or so after I brought her home). I'm sure you have many happy memories about your pet - think of how lucky s/he was to have you, as well as vice-versa.
I also have a 13 year-old rescue cat who I have lavished a lot of love on. I have started to consider adopting another cat to keep him company. I will probably go for an older cat - there are SO many of them needing homes in my area. I feel like I owe it to both my old and my new cats to take another one in.
I have a friend who lost their beloved dog 6 weeks ago and is currently going through the process of adopting a lovely but unwanted stray collie. Like he says, the new dog can't replace the special bond he had with the one he lost but it can be a carthartic experience and it will give another animal the chance to experience a loving home they might not have had otherwise.
Here are some beautiful stories to comfort pet owners, via The Guardian:
[italic]To me a family without a cat just didn't add up. By Maggie O'Farrell
"One of these days she will lie there and be dead." So begins Thomas Lynch's poem Grimalkin. As first lines go, it's startling, unforgettable and one best heard in Lynch's Detroit-Irish drawl. For me, it sums up what is particular about the relationship between cat and human. We know we will, in all probability, outlive them. The pact we make when we take them in is that we will love them, live with them and then bury them. It is a relationship entirely predicated on impermanence.
When I went to work on persuading my pet-phobic husband to admit cats into our household, I had in mind the sense of unity an animal can bring to a family. Members of a feline-owning family can measure out their collective lives in cats: all those short existences, leading you back through shared experiences. To me, a family without a cat just didn't add up. How would we maintain cohesion if we didn't have an adored furred mammal in our midst? How would we get through chickenpox without a curled, narcoleptic presence on the duvet? We needed a cat as social glue, as common ground, as an educator on caring for other species.
When my son was two and we'd just moved to a new city, my husband finally gave in and we acquired two rescue cats. One was Moses, a kitten. The other was older, fluffier, scruffier and had what the rescue centre termed "neurological problems". We called him Malachy.
Within a few hours, Moses was giving himself over to such entertaining pursuits as climbing curtains; Malachy spent a week hiding under the sofa. Everything terrified him: the television, footsteps, glasses of water, someone putting down a book, someone picking up a book. When he finally did venture out, the nature of his problems became clear. Every few steps, he was compelled do a strange reverse shuffle, a little like Michael Jackson's moonwalk, with his front paws.
He couldn't jump up or jump down. The distance from lap to floor puzzled him greatly. Preparing to do anything like eating or walking over a mat necessitated a moment or two of backwards sliding before he could address himself to the task. The rescue centre said they didn't know what had caused it: "He could have been born like that."
But, living with him, I became sure I knew what had happened. He never lost his random fears. He had a terror of plastic bags, of heavy objects. I once lifted a teatray over him and he screamed, scuttling away under a table. Sometimes, sensing a hand near him, he would cringe, abject fear in his eyes. No matter how much we loved him, how consistently kind we were, it was always possible to glimpse his other life, just as it was possible to find the tabby marks in his monochrome fur.
I could fill pages with Malachy's exploits, with his strange habits, with the oddness of having a cat who wasn't really like a cat at all. A cat who couldn't climb or walk normally or even miaow (instead, he made an ascending arpeggio that sounded like "Brrrr-neogh"). A cat for whom people would slow down their cars to stare, so unusual a sight was he, high-stepping and reverse-shuffling along. But this isn't about Malachy's life; it's about his death.
Four years after he'd come to live with us, I was looking out of the window at the relentlessly driving rain when I noticed a black shape in a flowerbed. For a moment, I thought someone had pitched something over the wall – a ball or a hat. Then I realised it was Malachy.
I went out and brought his sodden form inside. I made him a bed beside the radiator. He purred, I remember, and settled himself into the shape of a lifebuoy. Early the next morning, he and I were at the vet's, where they confirmed that he had advanced renal cancer. There was nothing they could do. "Some people like to be with the animal while it happens," the vet said, with infinite tact, and it took me a moment to realise what he meant.
[italic]Malachy, who had been downstairs for the blood tests, was delighted to be reunited with me. He stumbled and shuffled his usual way on to my knee and gazed up as if to say, 'You're here so everything is going to be all right.'
It felt like the basest treachery to stroke his head. But I did it anyway. He looked at me and I looked back at him and an expression of puzzlement, of preoccupation came over his face and I was wondering what he was thinking about, what you think about at that moment, when the vet said: "That's it now." Malachy's head was heavy in my hands and all I could think was how fast it was, that slippage from life to death. Surely it should involve more drama, more struggle?
I wanted to get through telling the children without crying. I didn't manage it. We inspected the body; this seemed important. What struck us all was the rapidity of change after death: the stiffness, the immobility. "It doesn't look like him any more," my son said, in anguish. We dug a hole, we put him in; we took him out again because the towel covering him slipped and my daughter started to scream that the soil would get in his eyes. We rewrapped him and put him back.
A sudden death is beyond discombobulating. He still seemed so bewilderingly present, his bed under the radiator, his bowl by the back door. I couldn't get my thoughts to bend around his absence, so what chance did the children have?
The angel of death seemed to hang around the house for a long time after, casting a miasma of confusion. We read and reread Judith Kerr's Goodbye Mog – a superlative picture book about a cat's death – until the spine broke. My eldest child's grief took the form of questions, not all of them possible to answer: Why did he die? Will I die? When will I die? When will you die? The three-year-old's reaction was slower, as if she couldn't immediately grasp the irreversibility of what had happened. One night, several weeks later, she cried hysterically until she extracted a solemn promise that if she died, I would wrap her in a towel and make sure it didn't come undone.
Perhaps hardest to deal with was the bafflement of the non-verbal members of the family – the baby and the other cat, Moses. They both looked for him and called for him, for longer than seemed possible. They hung around the side gate of the house together, where we'd cut a disabled-access hole for Malachy, the baby shouting "Mam-Mam!" through it and waiting for him to appear. Moses went compulsively through the house, round and round, up and down the stairs, emitting a low, inquiring miaow that could only mean one thing: where are you? I couldn't get over my horror at his end – and at my part it in. I would look at my hands and wonder, like Lady Macbeth, how I ever could have done it. How could I have let the vet go about his grim business?
One day, I took the advice, given to me a long time ago, by my English teacher at school: "If something is dominating your thoughts, write it out of your system." I had started a new book, about three grown-up siblings in crisis, and I'd found I couldn't get the middle one in focus.
So I switched on my computer and wrote about Malachy. I put him into the book, in all his strange glory, and all at once the elusive character fell into place. Malachy was resurrected briefly – I couldn't do it in life so I did it in fiction. There he stands, on page 41: I know where to find him if I want him.[/italic]
[italic]A dog death leaves a big hole in the family. By Michele Hanson
My lovely old dog died last August. The remaining dog didn't seem particularly upset. It only cried twice. Came in from its walk, looked for the old dog on the sofa, but it wasn't there any more. So it cried briefly and then headed for its dinner. I cried much more. I'd cried quite a lot in advance, which is what I tend to do from when a dog gets to about nine because I know what's coming. I've had four dog deaths to cope with, all utterly horrible, and they leave an enormous gap behind – a big hole in the family.
Our family being rather tempestuous and mainly made up of shouters, a cheery, cuddly dog has always been vital. You can turn to it when all other family members are critical, unpleasant and fail to understand you. The dog loves you, is never critical, rude or bad-tempered and probably understands you better than you think. And it can calm down an agitated family member.
There is little more enraging than losing your keys. It always made me stamp about until I realised what it was doing to the dog. Upset by the screeching, it would cower under a table, trembling. I didn't have to scream – only say "Where are …" and it would be done for. How can you do that to a dog? And for what? Screaming never found my keys anyway. It distressed the whole family and got everyone running about searching and shrieking, but it was the dog's reaction that stopped me. A distraught boxer dog is a heart-rending sight. One look at it and I was shamed into calming down. Which calmed everyone else down. Harmony reigned.
All our dogs would head straight for a weeping, distressed or depressed person when no one else could cope or be bothered with them and kiss or fuss round them, sidle up and lean or sit on them until they felt better. We once had a shepherd from the Umbrian hills to stay. The lodger's sister had fallen in love with him over there, brought him home, dumped him heartlessly only days later and left him alone in a bleak bed-sitter in Earl's Court, from where Lodger rescued him and brought him to our house, where he sat silently in the spare room. We couldn't communicate with him, none of us being fluent in Italian. But then the dog found him and kissed him relentlessly until he burst into tears and wept loudly until he felt better, the dog glued to his side.
Not that the dogs made us all perfect. They also inspired jealousy and competition. Who loves the dog most? Who is better at training? Who is the dog's favourite? "The dogs come first," my mother would moan. "It's them first, Amy next and me last!" Then, to get her own back, she'd feed them forbidden snacks, in defiance of my instructions and, together with Daughter, undermine my training methods and wreck my dog regime. A power struggle, played out through the dog. But on the positive side, the dogs provided a useful distraction. Tension in the kitchen? Oh, just look at the dog! It's doing this or that, it needs to go out, it's poorly, it needs calm and attention, it still loves the person who's in disgrace. It defused the tension and distracted us from our problems. Two dogs were twice as effective.
It isn't just our minds, but our bodies that a dog can put right. When my mother was old, very poorly and had almost had it, we bought a puppy, took it up to her bedroom – where she lay marooned, bedridden, unable to eat or barely speak, eternally constipated and longing to die – and plonked it on her bed. Kissed and adored by little Violet, my mother perked up at once, her appetite returned and within days the constipation had gone! I swear it. Miraculous. Naturally that lightened her mood, she stopped begging me to push her off her perch and the whole household was cheered. Regular doses of puppy kept the gloom away for months. We all know that stroking a dog can lower blood pressure, but regulate the bowels as well? Clearly, yes.[/italic]
[italic]In our own ways, we all depended on the dog. When Poppy, the dog before last, died, we were all bereft. Knowing it only had a day or so to go, I cried downstairs, my mother wept upstairs in bed, remembering her own, first, beloved boxer dying 50 years ago, and Daughter sat up very straight with her back to the house in a sunny patch of garden, giving the almost motionless dog a last brush and a stroke. Luckily for Mother, she wasn't here when the latest dog died. She beat Lily to it by five years. But for the daughter and me it was an unbearable business all over again. If the dog is having a bad time, you have to decide when to take it to the vet for the very last time. How do you know when? "You'll know," said everyone with a dog. But I dithered on. I thought I knew at night, when the poor dog seemed desperately poorly, but it perked up in the day and I didn't know any more.
Then Daughter and her boyfriend came to visit, and for the first time, the dog couldn't be fagged to get up and say hello. So we knew. Some people, when their dog dies, swear they'll never have another one. They can't bear to go through losing one again. My friends Jed and Marge felt like that. They buried their beloved dog in the garden. Its shrine was enormous.
"You can go on holiday now," I said rather callously to Jed, a very tough fellow, but he was horrified. "We can't leave him alone," said he, red-eyed and about to blub again. They got another dog eventually. It needed a home and they needed a dog.
But we always knew we wanted another dog. Without one, the house seems strangely quiet and empty.
Daughter and I rushed out, perhaps too quickly, to get another. I felt disloyal at first, but soon grew to love the new dog, a very nervous, weedy rescue boxer. Then I got another, so I wouldn't be left without a dog again.
People warned against getting two dogs but I barged ahead, thinking it would be a breeze. But bad luck – although they were heaven at home, they turned into a vicious gang when out and about. Which made walkies a nightmare, but it was worth it because I now still have one dog left, which isn't nearly as terrible as none. And as the daughter has left home, it would be horribly dreary here without a dog.
So here I am alone with one dog. A perilous position to be in, but I'm stuck with it because Violet is happier alone. She's eight and a half. Nearly time for me to start crying in advance again. It may be difficult for the non-dog-owner to understand all this, but every dog has its own individual character and is an irreplaceable member of the family, so it is sensible not to ask a bereaved dog owner, "When are you getting another one?" And never say, "It was only a dog."[/italic]
Remember this, OP: you gave him a great, long life, with more love and attention than many people get in their (much longer) lives.
One way to honor his memory (and relieve your grief) would be to rescue a shelter dog. Give another dog a chance at that love and happiness, especially one that might not live unless you adopt him/her.