Last month I got a text from my brother letting me know he had reluctantly, but lovingly, made the difficult decision to have my dad’s Cairn Terrier Mandi euthanized. I had just pulled into my parking stall at a local strip-mall where I planned to get a haircut. I read that text and immediately lost it. Yes, I lost it right there in the parking lot in front of Cost Cutters and Papa Murphy’s Pizza.
A few days later after the news sunk in, I wanted to write and share about this with you, dear readers. But I waited. I held back. I thought, geez, should I really share about this? Would you think I was/am nuts? Mandi was just another dear old dog, for crying out loud. So I waited some more.
A month later I found myself still wanting to share about Mandi, and so I finally figured, okay, just do it. Besides, I know many of you are pet lovers like me, so you’ll relate, right?
Because to love a pet is also to understand what it’s like to grieve for a pet when it dies.
When a beloved pet’s life ends, it’s like saying goodbye to a part of your life too. Saying goodbye to Mandi was like saying goodbye to my parents. Again. It hurts. Again.
Pets come into our lives and pets leave our lives and by the time they leave us, they have etched themselves into our hearts forever.
This is one more reason pets are so deeply loved, deeply grieved for and deeply missed when they die.
Mandi lived to be 16 years old. That’s a lot of years, as dog years go. A lot happens in a family during a dog’s life, during 16 years, or however long it happens to be.
Life in dog chunks, as I have said before, that’s how I sometimes look at mine.
Like all pets do, Mandi witnessed the joyful times in my family. And the not so joyful times.
For example, as I shared in my memoir, the day my brother wheeled our mother out of the house in her wheelchair for the very last time, we placed Mandi on her lap, so my mother could say goodbye and give Mandi a pat on the head, which she did.
My dad’s and my three siblings’ mouths, as well as my own, dropped open as my mother unexpectedly smiled and said, “Goodbye, Mandi. You’re a good little dog.”
You see, that day my mother was not speaking to ANY of us. At all.
But she spoke to Mandi that day.
Says a lot right there, doesn’t it?
After my mother died, Mandi took on an even bigger role in my dad’s life. She was his constant companion as he adjusted to life alone. Mandi filled that role, and admirably so, for over eight years.
My dad and Mandi grew old together. Their bond deepened.
Then unexpectedly my dad became ill. As many of you know, he died this past July. My heart aches still.
My siblings and I were struck by the fact that Mandi somehow managed to outlive both our parents. She stood by our mother. She stood by our dad.
Shortly after my dad died, Mandi’s health deteriorated, and rapidly so.
Her work was done, and it seemed somehow she knew it.
Do dogs sense such things? Who knows?
It doesn’t matter anyway.
Mandi was just another dear old dog.
A dear old dog who will always be remembered for her spirited, feisty and unconditional devotion.
You were a good little dog indeed, a link to my past and heart. Forever.
Please share about one of your beloved family pets, past or present.
Have you ever felt embarrassed about grieving deeply for a pet?