Love – Loss – Lessons. Losing your furry friend brings intense sadness and grief.
If you are a dog lover and have loved and lost a dog you will understand the total unconditional love and joy they bring to your every day and the deep and profound sense of grief, loss and sadness losing them leaves you engulfed with.
Here is my furry heartbreak story.
Maxy was my own first fur child, we picked him up all cute, naughty and cuddly at about 10 weeks old. From first sight and first cuddle Maxy lodged himself deep in my heart and for his whole 14 years and 11 months the bond just deepened, he truly became my bestest friend and biggest supporter.
Together we visited parks daily, played and swam at the beach. I listened to him bark and swim after the boat while I water-skied. I dressed him in colourful bandanas and xmas ribbons for special occasions. I chased after him chasing other dogs. I fed him and bathed him. We laughed and played. We welcomed Suzy another Golden Retriever into our lives when he was about seven, which turned him into a puppy again. Life was good.
Then he started to get older, we slowed down. I took on and off his booties every night that prevented him slipping on the floorboards, I came home at lunch to check on him. He underwent a few operations for minor ailments. I picked him up and lifted him out of the car on our park visits, at 35kg this was a good workout. But most of all I just loved him, and being near him.
He protected me, he loved me, he taught me lesson after lesson about being calm, loving, and patient and to enjoy the moments, plus to eat well, and wait at the gate for your loved ones. Any and every moment was just awesome being in his furry paws. He loved life to the MAX.
The day came though, I knew it would, his arthritis was bad and then out of nowhere he started having seizures that we couldn’t manage with medication. It was his time, I kind of knew. I sat with him all day waiting for the vet to come, we had a night time home euthanasia appointment.
On his last day together we looked at every photo we had together. I asked him for a sign to confirm my decision and he lifted his paw and put it on the photo album. We took a quick trip to the park and sat and took in the sun and the grass. I hugged him and stroked his fur. We had a Vegemite toast and chocolate cookie party. I cried buckets of tears.
The vet finally arrived, drew up a syringe as I stumbled through my final goodbye, with my head nuzzled in his fur. One of the two hardest and most gut wrenching goodbyes ever. I heard the vet say “He’s gone”. The two words you never really want to hear.
I drove him to the vet where I again said goodbye. I then had to pick myself up off the floor and walk out of the vet clinic without him. One step in front of the other with blurred vision. From all the tears.
The grief doesn’t really end when you love something that much. If people say “it’s only a dog” Don’t let them minimise your grief. It’s your dog, your best friend, your fur child, your source of unconditional love, your feelings and it’s a huge, no a gigantic loss. But it’s also been a blessing for having had them in your life.
Journal your feelings, plant a tree, create a memorial, make a space in the garden. I have a memorial garden, I make cupcakes on his birthday every year. I speak to him when I need help and think about him often. I journaled about him for months and wrote the tribute below. I allowed my grief to engulf me, I walked through the middle of the pain.
By doing so I came out the other side 18 months later ready to share my love with a new family member Chelsea the 12 year old Black Labrador rescue dog.
Because of Max I am able to give more love to Chelsea and Suzy every day, he helped teach me how to love.
Remember your best friend and believe he/she is still with you in your heart today and every day and remains with you always. If you look up and feel from your heart the love is never really far away.
I would feel honoured if you would share with me the one lesson your furry heartbreak has taught you? Or share your tribute on my page where it will be honoured and treasured.
MY GOLDEN LIGHT
17/7/99 – 22/6/14
RIP My beautiful baby Boy
You came into my life like a golden light an instant best friend with a heart so full of love to give and a soul full of joy to share with those you loved.
As a puppy you were as cute, cheeky and naughty as can be keeping us entertained for hours on end with delight.So beautiful your locks of golden fur, smooth, silky and soft to touch. You were like a gorgeous golden ball of furry love.
Through thick and thin you were always at my side. You never failed to be at the door to greet me with your loving welcome and wagging tail, just wanting to be near the one you loved so dear. You were always nudging me with your snoz for a pat or a cuddle and ready to give your love to me and the whole family.
Trips to the beach and the park lightened and brought immense joy to parts of my days and made your days complete, just being you and chasing all the other dogs and ensuring we were all safe.
You always had so much fun rolling around on your back on luscious green grass one of your favourite pastimes.
You were a great big brother to your friend and smoochy confidant Suzy, inseparable from day one a special bond was built. Every night you let her lick you from ear to ear creating a wet looking Mohawk throughout your hair. Between the two of you, you have stolen big pieces of my heart.
Maxy I look back and the years past to quickly, I know we together lived and loved life to the fullest but I crave the memories and the love and struggle to let you go.
Life was far too short for such a loving soul, however the legacy of your teachings will linger with me forever. The unconditional love you gave has truly awakened my soul. Helping me realise what true love really should be.
You approached any situation in your younger years with vigour and enthusiasm growing into a true gentleman with dignity and grace in your older years. You always approached life with patience and were true to and loved yourself, trusting others and living every moment to its fullest.
The day came when life got too hard, those leggies of yours old and tired and seizures appearing out of nowhere taking your energy and quality of life.On the last day Maxy I asked for a sign and you gave it to me, still together deciding your fate. You knew the time had come and you gracefully helped me access inside the right decision to make. The decision I made with peace but to lose you still consumes me with grief. In my arms you took your last breathe a promise I had made to always to be there with you.
You have taken a piece of my heart with you which I hope keeps you at peace. It was a small gift to give to you, one I loved so much. Each passing day I feel hurt, but I also smile and laugh you filling my heart up with love in remembrance of our lives and wonderful memories we created together.
I know I will never see you at the gate again, call your name and see you come running, touch and cuddle your golden furs, look deep into your big brown eyes, or kiss your cute muzzle but in my heart I know you are with me looking down from above keeping Suzy and me safe till we meet again at Rainbow Bridge and cross over together. Please have fun enjoy your new found health and vigour and don’t wait at the gate for me.
I thank you, I miss you and I will love you and remember you forever more than my heart can express.
Good Bye for now Maxy forever shine your golden light.
Your mum Lara and your best friend Suzy. XXX
Photography courtesy of Real Moments Photography
“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”
If you want to read more about getting over a heartbreak see my new book Heartbreak, Healing and Happiness available now from Book Depository
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I would really love your feedback and comments on your own experiences. Sharing our experiences can really help ourselves and others to move through the grief.