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Beloved Pets- Links to Our Past & Hearts Forever

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.

Thanks, Mandi.

You were a good little dog indeed, a link to my past and heart. Forever.

 

Beloved Pets, Links to Our Past & Hearts Forever

Please share about one of your beloved family pets, past or present.

Have you ever felt embarrassed about grieving deeply for a pet?

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Ilah

Saturday 27th of January 2018

I have been blessed to be mom to a loving, caring retired, rescued greyhound for five years. He was retired at four years from racing. His discharge papers say “he refused to run.” So, Major adopted us through Greyhound Pets of America one sunny afternoon. I know greyhounds pass away younger than most pets. While I knew this in my head, my heart cherishes everyday we are given with this silly boy. I had breast cancer and treatment in 2017, and he has been my buddy. While I have tears at this moment, I try to live in the moment (and with many things) with this guy who is so much a part of me. I admire and respect those who have had to make the life changing decision to put them to rest. We are blessed to know our “pet loves” in this life. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your life with us, and for sharing this event.

Nancy

Monday 29th of January 2018

Ilah, I loved reading your comment. Thank you for sharing about Major. He sounds just wonderful. I'm glad you two have each other.

Ashley

Monday 6th of November 2017

My dog Dora she.. was my baby and she died from diabetes... we took her for granted but now we all pray for her EVERY DAY Y-Y

Nancy

Tuesday 7th of November 2017

Ashley, I am sorry your sweet Dora died. I understand that heartache. Thank you for sharing about her.

Sharon Armstrong

Monday 7th of November 2016

Nancy, I have grieved for many dogs in my life. Each special in his/her own way. We've got 10 year old brother and sister now, they're German Shorthaired Pointers, I think you've seen them on Instagram. Sister Sammy has been old for awhile, Fritz just got the memo a few months ago when he had surgery to remove a cancerous growth. I've had a dog in my life since the time I was 5 years old. I cannot imagine my life without the unconditional love of a dog, but it will probably come to that. Fritz was our dog since he was 10 weeks old, sister Sam was out of the same litter, and lived with my Dad, his wife and their Beagles they breed and show. Dad was getting a little old to get out and hunt and didn't walk Sam, not the life a sporting breed should live, so when he said he was going to give her up, I asked him to bring her to live with her brother. She's been with us for 5 years. Fritz stayed by my side through chemo for lymphoma and now through stage IV breast cancer. He's my velcro dog, always laying his big head or huge paw on me and dragging his bed over to my side of the bed to watch me at night. They will both leave a hole that will not be filled in this life. I don't think it fair to leave my hubby with animals to take care of after I'm gone. I am sorry to hear about Mandi. It sounds like everything a devoted family member is and I'm sure it was very painful to lose her, and with her, another connection to your parents.

Nancy

Monday 7th of November 2016

Sharon, Thank you for your beautiful words. I am touched.

Cathy

Monday 7th of November 2016

I'm afraid I would take Beth's comment a bit farther - for me, at least, the number of people I've cared about more than my pets is in the single digits. My first dog as an adult lived 18 1/2 years, so I was unbelievably lucky. Each and every one since has been equally treasured. You think you can't possibly love another dog as much as the one that has gone, but all of them leave their mark on your heart in a different way.

When I met my husband, I still had my first dog, and *some* people thought he was a bit funny looking (he was the runt of a litter, and looked like a miniature Labrador, with very short legs and kind of bulgy eyes, weighing about 25 pounds). When he (husband) came over to my house for the first time, I said 'don't you dare make fun of my dog.' His response was a bewildered 'why would I make fun of any dog?' and he sat down on the floor to get acquainted. Pretty sure I knew he was the one for me at that point -

I cannot imagine life without a dog.

I am sorry about Mandi - it does tear out a piece of your heart to lose a pet.

Nancy

Monday 7th of November 2016

Cathy, I love that story about when your future husband came over to meet your sweet dog. That was a major clue you had picked the right guy for sure! Thank you for sharing that. I can't imagine life without a dog either. The joy far outweighs the heartache. Thank you for reading and for your kind words.

Rebecca

Saturday 5th of November 2016

Nancy, I am so sorry about Mandi. What a beautiful and kind looking dog. And the story of your mom made me cry. So touching. Losing a pet is always painful. I wish they lived longer. They bring so much happiness into our lives; they should be with us for a long time. I can see how important Mandi was to your family as she represented so much.

I never felt embarrassed about grieving deeply for a pet. They are family. I went through this with all my guinea pigs and dogs. All the losses have hurt me in different ways, too. I still have my kitty with me and she is getting old. I cannot imagine losing her but I know the day will come. How do you prepare for it?

I am sorry you're going through this pain, my friend. Thinking of you. xoxo

Nancy

Monday 7th of November 2016

Rebecca, Good for you for never feeling embarrassed about grieving deeply for a pet. They are family for sure. I hope your kitty is with you for a long time yet. Thank you for sharing and for your very kind words. xo

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