Our dogs have always been a big part of our lives. For the past decade it was our two Bullmastiffs, Luna and Bruiser and our little Cairn terrier Bridget who were the family dogs as my four children grew up. They’ve also been tremendously helpful in helping me to cope with depression and chronic illness.
We always suspected that we’d lose them in close succession, but trying to brace for it didn’t make it any better when it finally happened.
Last year Bruiser passed unexpectedly at the age of 8. This came as a bit of a shock since we didn’t expect him to go first. The vet thought that it was a sudden stroke. Luna, who was his mom, took it very hard. She was pacing around the yard for weeks looking for him and tried to dig where his grave was. We were afraid we’d lose her too but she hung in there.
Bridget was close to 18 and had a good long life for a little terrier. The past few years she’d been deteriorating and became senile. Still, she seemed to enjoy life and I’d often see her reliving her youthful glory days trying to hunt in the yard, even as she was aimlessly running in circles. Finally, last year she began to deteriorate for good and she passed away the night before my birthday in October.
Now only Luna was left out of the three old dogs, and I held out hope that maybe she had another year or two left at the age of 11. But her passing came suddenly this week as well. One day she was wandering around the yard and sleeping the days away like she normally does, and suddenly things went downhill. We hoped she’d pass quickly and peacefully like Bridget, but a day later we knew she had to go to the vet.
It’s important to me to be right there when my dogs pass on…it’s my thanks to them for their loyalty and devotion to me. I stayed with Luna through the sedation and as she took her last breath.
Bruiser and Luna were very special to all of our family, but especially to my youngest son Nicolas who has Down Syndrome. Bruiser and Luna were so gentle and tolerant of him and they had such a special bond. Nicolas’ goodbye to Luna broke my heart.
I’m thankful for the inner work I’ve been doing over the past year. I’ve learned to be present with my feelings even when they’re hard. I stayed in the moment through it all, though adrenaline was certainly helping.
I didn’t try to self medicate with food or social media (my unfortunate drugs of choice in sobriety.)
I listened to what my body was telling me and later in the day when I felt myself physically crashing and the recurring sore throat from my chronic fatigue started to make its presence known, I took the cue and went to bed to become a burrito for the rest of the day.
As I write this, it’s the morning after. Anticipating an event can never adequately prepare you for it. The realization that all three of our old dogs are gone is heavy. Mastiffs are big dogs and their presence is sorely missed.
- I realized we won’t be using up as much dog food now and won’t be needing the big bowls any more.
- No more massive piles of dog poop or pee on the concrete pad in the summer (they hated the wet grass)
- No more climbing over them when they plopped in the most inconvenient location.
- The floor in front of the extra refrigerator where the mastiffs slept suddenly feels very empty.
Anticipating the passing of our old dogs we got a little Jack Russell Terrier Lily two years ago, and then added a Mini Aussie Belle a few months after Bruiser’s passing. They’re a completely different dog and have a different kind of energy, but I love their spirit and rambunctious play. As a mom homebound with chronic illness, my dogs are the world to me.
But they can never replace Luna, Bruiser & Bridget. Every dog touches a different place in my part. I’ll forever miss Bruiser’s “talking” to us or hugging him, Luna’s gentle spirit and Bridget’s terrier antics.
Life goes on, as it has to and it’s a new normal now. One that will take some getting used to.
What we have once enjoyed we can never lose; all that we love deeply, becomes a part of us. – Helen Keller
You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us. – Robert Louis Stevenson.