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I have come to believe that losing a beloved family dog is one of the worst pains you will ever feel. That loyal companion, that faithful friend, that unconditional love. The dog that was once the permanent cuddle, that was always there for you, is one day gone. That leaves a hole in your heart, which takes a long time to heal. The grief and pain is deep.
I know that pain, and I believe I can share my experience to help others get through their loss. First let me tell you about my beautiful greyhound, Pepsi. She was a huge part of the family, everybody loved her. She was so loving, intelligent, funny; a joy. We had her from when she was six weeks old, and she quickly became the baby of the house. She had a wonderful life, the best food, great walks, holidays, she had her own toy box, comfy bed, she had the perfect life. She was always there for cuddles if I was down, or jumping around, wagging her tail, taking joy in my happiness. The bond we had was incredible. Then a few days after her ninth birthday, with no warning, completely unexpectedly, she was gone. Within a blink of an eye she had died. Taking the life, soul and happiness out of the house with her.
The day Pepsi died, I had headed to work in the morning, giving her her usual goodbye kiss. I always remember she looked at me in a way I’d never seen her do so before, looking back it was like she must of known it was her day to go. Anyway, whilst I was at work, the post came through the letter box, Pepsi ran to get the post, she fell and hurt her leg. She was immediately taken to the vets, where X-rays showed she had cancer and tumours around her heart. She was incredibly ill, there was nothing that could help her, and the kindest option was to put her to sleep.
I had a call at work, rushed to the vets, in shock, panicked, with a broken heart. There, lay my beautiful Pepsi, and there was nothing I could do to help her. I cuddled and kissed her, said my goodbyes, and had to begin the long hard road of coming to terms with the loss. It was a huge struggle.
I always say unless you’ve had a dog you can't possibly imagine the love and bond you experience. It is the most pure friendship, based on pure love for each other. So imagine that face full of love that was always there to greet you home, is one day gone. The house feels empty, quiet, soulless. No wagging tail, no water bowl, no toys, no dog hairs, the snuggly, bundle of love has gone forever.
It's so much to deal with. The feeling of missing your dog is unbearable, time is a great healer, and as hard as it is, with time it does become easier. You have to come to terms with the loss. I found the best ways were to keep reminding myself that Pepsi would want me to be happy. I would think of the nine blissful, happy years she gave me. The tears were daily, but you must let your grief out; don't bottle it up. Have a good cry. Remember the grief you are going through is the same as if you are grieving a human; worse even. You must talk to family and friends, don't suffer in silence. Talking is good. Keep your dogs memory alive, talk about all the love you had, talk about all the funny times, and emotional times. Just talk, talk, talk. It could take a full year or more to come to terms with it, don't think you should feel better after a few weeks. Your heart needs to heal, and you need to accept the empty space in your life. You need to get used to your dog not being there, which is very difficult, but you will get there.
Don't Suffer In Silence
Change your routine. If you used to go straight home from work, then go to the shops, or meet a friend for coffee first. The times in which you would take your dog for a walk, make these times be when you go to the gym, go cycling, go to the cinema, go swimming. There are endless options of activities that you can do, just make sure it's an activity which you would not have been able to do with your dog. Of course there’ll be days when all you want to do is be alone and cry, and this is okay too. Do what is best for you.
When you lose your dog, the last thought in your mind will be to get another one. Your dog was unique, irreplaceable, a one off. You can't replace a human, it is exactly the same with dogs. However I know from experience, a few years after the loss of Pepsi, a loveable, joyful, full of fun, Labrador, Lola, came into my life. Bringing that pure unconditional love and friendship into my life again filled my heart with joy. My heart was filled with loyalty and love again, the emptiness was once again filled, and I fully realised how much happier I was with a dog in my life. Lola gave me her heart, I gave her mine. My heart was full again. Pepsi was not replaced, Lola was gained.