“It was JUST a dog” is something I have heard people say when someone they know has lost a pet. For many people though, myself definitely included, losing a beloved pet is like losing a member of their family. Since I was a little girl I’ve always had a natural affinity with animals in general. Just being around them has always made me feel happy and at ease. I’ve had quite a few animals in my life over the years…dogs, cats, horses. But the one that always comes to mind the most is my dog Abby. It may sound silly, but in many ways we were kindred spirits
Abby was so much more than just a dog…she was my best friend, confidant, running partner, therapist…she was family to me. Abby was there by my side for the happiest times in my life and for the saddest times in my life. She knew everything about me…more than any person knows! She always seemed to know when I was feeling down and that just her presence would help to make me feel better. She was the absolute BEST listener! She never judged me and always made me feel important and loved. Even when I was busy with life in general and didn’t pay her enough attention, she just waited patiently as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’ll be here for you no matter what…” And she was. Abby enriched my life in ways that I don’t think I will ever be able to put into words. And yet all she asked for in return was some food, water, and a good belly rub now and then. How many people can we say that about? It’s funny…I’ve always said that people need to take after dogs more. They are honest, loyal, kind, loving, non-judgmental…without even trying! Shouldn’t we strive to be more like them?
When Abby died of cancer a few years ago I thought I would never stop crying. Most non-dog people couldn’t understand. It was like losing a part of myself. Who was I going to share my deepest secrets with now that she was gone? I couldn’t imagine letting her death go by without some kind of memorial. She had done so much for me without asking anything in return. So, in celebration of her life, I held a memorial service for Abby at the beach (she LOVED the beach!). The service was attended by my family and a few very close friends. We all gathered at Abby’s favorite spot on the beach where I read a few doggy poems that I hoped would describe at least a bit how I felt about her. My favorite poem, and the one that makes me smile and cry at the same time, is “Rainbow Bridge”. This poem is a must for anyone who has lost a pet. It describes beautifully how we will be reunited with our beloved pets one day. During the service we all cried…and laughed at the same time when I reminisced about some of Abby’s past antics. I was so happy that I decided to do this for Abby. But part of the reason I held this memorial was purely selfish…I needed a way to help ease the pain I was feeling. Looking around and seeing all the sad faces made me feel less alone. They all loved Abby too and felt her loss…maybe not as deeply as I did, but they felt it just the same.
If you’re feeling the loss of a beloved pet, know that you are not alone. Don’t be embarrassed by your feelings of deep grief, for it is only natural when one has lost a member of their family. And for many of us our dogs are truly members of our families. They are, in fact, so much more than JUST a dog”…
“He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.” – Author Unknown