Sharing loss is something that has been hard for me. Being tough and sucking it up were qualities I was taught as a child. As I meander through my dog’s lives, I note my experiences with the various stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance). Each loss had its own special details usually connected to an event that would be forever imprinted in my memory.
Susie was my first official dog as an adult (of 18). A bird dog mix (Hawaiian Poi Dog) living only 2 months until she bit a poison frog. Susie’s sudden death was earth-shattering and the only way to deny and numb the pain was to replace her as quickly as possible.
Auggie Doggie was a whacky dog. Cute, yet had a chip on his shoulder. He lived for almost 13 years, biting most people and favoring only my mother. When I returned to Hawaii, my sister agreed to keep 4-year old Auggie when I promised her my 10 speed! Though my sister got the short end of the stick, our family shared many laughs over the “dog deal!”
Kiska, my first dog with a pedigree, lived 12 years. Even though I was with her at the end, my feelings of depression and guilt lasted for years due to lack of acceptance. The experience with Kanaka Man showed me clearly that to continue a life in order to avoid feelings sadness and loss was simply cruel. I promised myself never to be so selfish again.
The poem, “May I Go Now?” by Susan A. Jackson asks owners to be brave, making the hard decision out of love. As an owner, I must be the one to make the final decision to let go and honor our partnership.
As I look at my life and what I want for my ending, I know that long-term suffering and drawn out days or years of incapacity would not be my choosing. While some people might say that arranging for end of life issues is too uncomfortable, I feel it is a personal responsibility. Once planned, I can let go of worrying and hope for the best outcome for myself.
If you have followed my blog, you know my attitude on writing about the end of the life and how vitally important it is to remember life is terminal. Things that seem important today, will mean nothing tomorrow. And so it goes, I am grateful every day if I can remember this universal truth.
Louie, my 12-year old Basset Hound, left 2 months ago, unexpectedly and expectedly. He was the first one up in the morning, breaking the ranch life silence that I always enjoy in the mornings. A few weeks before he died, I started thinking; “I am going to miss that whine when it is gone!” How did I know? I still have no idea. It just felt like quiet acceptance.
Once again, my dog gang has risen to 3 with the arrival of Tommy, the smartest and cutest Basset Hound around. Of course! I must go, it has snowed in San Miguel de Allende in March and photos have to be taken.
Would love to start a conversation about dogs, losing dogs and losing our lives, please comment and let’s talk.