Pain of Losing a Pet

In another month, it will be a year since my Willow dog died. I spent all last summer trying to save her.

I was reminded again recently of the pain of losing a pet member of the family. It made me think of one aspect of losing Willow that I’ve never heard other people talk about and I’m wondering if I’m the only one who has felt this.

Willow was with me through a very difficult part of my life (yes, I’ve had a few other difficulties besides the one I’m in now). Willow was a comfort through the fear and grief.

Renaissance Willow

But she was also there through some big, happy changes in my life – buying my own house, the freedom of being able to express myself after getting out of an abusive relationship, a wonderful new friendship, some great times with my son, meeting my biological family, and meeting and marrying H.

Willow dog in tree

I think because of this, my time with her and our relationship came to represent many things to me. When she died last August, I didn’t just lose her, it’s like I lost a chunk of my life. So I didn’t just grieve over the loss of the good in that 12 years of my life but even over the bad.

I think it brought up the regrets, the things I wish I’d done differently during that part of my life, the things I didn’t take time enough to appreciate, the opportunities lost. Maybe a part of me unconsciously realized that another big part of my life with Willow was also about to end.

Willow dog with crossed legs

I’m just wondering if anyone else has felt that when they’ve lost their pet friend? Do all the memories come flooding back, not just about the animal, but about everything that happened during the time you were together?

It makes me wonder what Java will represent. Considering how funny, energetic, and joyful she acts, maybe she’ll represent a childlike awareness and curiosity about life, a renewed feeling of energy, and she’ll represent fun and laughter.

Java dog running with duct tape

The other day she jumped up after a butterfly. When she landed on the ground, she looked back at me with such a grin on her face it made me laugh and think, “such simple pleasure. Why can’t I be more like that?”

Maybe I can.

Java dog jumping

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  1. Almost 2 years ago, we had to put our 2 beloved dogs down at the same time. We had them for almost 12 years. Keysha, had hip dysplasia so bad, she could barely get around,and she was paralyzed on the left side of her face, Tyson, he blew out a knee, and at his age, we just couldn’t do the surgery. So we made the decision to have them euthanized together. They grew up together and they were the best dogs. We thought we were making the right decision by letting them go together. We went into the room while the vet euthanized them. I have never cried so hard in my life. It was the toughest thing I have ever had to do. They were my children.
    To this day, I still accidentally call my Aussie’s Tyson and Keysha. I guess old habits just don’t go away.
    I know what you are feeling, and I am always finding myself thinking back about Tyson and Keysha. The memories they brought to my life, the joy, the pain, (Keysha had knee surgery a few years before her passing), the tears, and the smiles they brought me.
    Now I have my 2 crazy Aussie’s to bring new memories, memories I know I will never forget, just like Tyson and Keysha!

  2. Great post Mary. I felt a little like that when my 20 year old “Kitty” (imaginative name huh?) had to go, more nostalgic I guess.
    Good food for thought. What memories do you want to create from here forward…

  3. Paint Girl – Yeah, each animal is different and special in their own way. It’s hard to think of Java getting old. Best to enjoy now.

    Sue – I’m still working on figuring that out.

    Manker – Thanks.

  4. Losing a pet is so hard…even after a long time has passed. Sometimes I think I can still hear Duffy’s tags jingle when I come down the stairs in the morning. At least I have some very happy memories of him. Glad thad that you do, of Willow. See you later!

  5. I still think of my childhood kitty. We had to put her down when she was 18. I had her for 18 yrs. (well she lived with my parents while I was in college but she always remembered me when I came home, would sit and sleep w/me.) I can still tear up and cry over her and she’s been gone for twenty years! I want to find another cat that looks like her someday, she has beautiful Siamese coloring.
    Willow sounds like she was one of the great ones! You’ll hold her memories in your heart always.

  6. Lynn – Willow was just such a cuddler. I miss having her lay on my feet at night.

    Pony Girl – I had a cat I called Malone for 20 years. It was really hard to let her go. She was a feisty, one person cat. They sure do all have their own personalities that makes them so memorable, no matter how long they’ve been gone.

  7. I lost a very special dog, Cadi, almost 6 years ago in mid-July. She was my first ‘soul-dog’ who wriggled her way deep into my heart. At the time, I felt like I’d lost my heart – all that was left was a big hole. Over time, I learned that she’d taught me how to let dogs touch my heart, and that legacy has made all my subsequent dog relationships stronger. Believe it or not, I later learned that my current soul-dog, K, was conceived on the very day that Cadi had died. Makes me wonder…

    I still get sad every July, remembering my Cadi. But, when I stop and really think about it, my memories are more filled with smiles now than at the beginning. What a strong love.

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