Tag Archives: pet loss

Saddest email ever

We got the saddest email from a customer today.

“Please cancel my harness order. I had to put my dog down. I am devastated.”

Oh, my. It’s the worst day of any dog owner’s life. And in the midst of her grief, she thought about her harness order. 

It may seem strange to think of a thing like that at the time, but it makes total sense to us. When you can’t cope with the awfulness that’s just overtaken your life, you concentrate on the little, peripheral things. Because you can’t focus on the huge, gaping hole in your life. The enormity can’t be grasped.

Been there. Cried over that.

Most dog people have had at least a few “worst” days. They don’t get better, or easier, or less painful no matter how many of them there are. It doesn’t matter if your dog was old, or sick, or young and seemingly in good shape. It’s unmitigated pain and your life will never be the same again. 

Picture of sadness - heart behind broken glass

For many people, who live in a wider world than the dog community, it’s magnified by the non-dog people who say awful things like “at least it wasn’t a person,” or “it’s just a dog.” But psychiatrists agree, mourning is normal.

We know that he wasn’t “just” anything. Your dog is your closest companion. No one else is allowed in the bathroom with you.. Your crappiest day gets better when you open the door and your dog is there. He’s never too busy or distracted to give you a joyful welcome. You’re always the best thing that happened to him today. Every single day.

Forever different

Even if you have other dogs, life is forever different. His particular bark, footstep, mannerisms won’t ever happen again. That particular dog was unique and he was loved. 

Because we love being part of our customers’ lives, we hear dog stories all the time. And we’ve heard the pain in people’s voices when they say they’ll never have another dog. Losing them is just too painful. 

We disagree. It may not be time yet, but there should be another dog. Because the pain of losing that friend can’t be more than the joy of the time you spent together. The smiles and companionship, the laughter and love, have to be the legacy every cherished dog leaves behind.

Sadly, we empathize

When we got that email, we cried. We’d never met the dog. Only corresponded with the owner via email. We know almost nothing about this person’s life. We don’t need to. She’s a person who loved her dog and she was in pain. 

These days we need to remember the things we have in common. One of the strongest is our love for dogs. The sub-culture of dog people that we belong to doesn’t have a test for membership. If you love your dog, you’re welcome here. Dogs make our lives better. 

We’re reaching out to hug our customer who sent the saddest email. We’re so very sorry. We hope it won’t be too long before you can smile when you think of your beautiful boy.

How much grief is enough? Mourning a dog

I (Hope) have been struggling lately with a decision – is it time to get a puppy? Am I done with mourning my dog?

This post is going to be a lot more personal than most – it’s my usual job to share what we know about dogs and help you have the best/easiest/happiest/least stressful life with your dog.

But this is a decision that all people who love dogs face at some point – and I’m hoping by sharing it will help somebody else, sometime.

How long is grief?

It’s been five months since my 8-year-old French Bulldog Teddy died. It still doesn’t feel quite real – I’m still surprised when I realize he’s not next to me sitting on the couch, watching tv in the evening.

Most of the people we know have been through the agony of losing a pet. There’s no “good” way. Sudden or expected, illness or accident – every single way leaves us hurting. Teddy’s death was unexpected and fast – there was only a couple of hours between realizing something was wrong and saying goodbye.

When to move on

Teddy’s picture is all over our website, and all over both our business and my personal social media feeds. I rarely “share” the memories, because I don’t want to wallow in grief, or have other people feel sorry for me. I know two dogs is the right number for me – but do I want a puppy? Or do I only want my Teddy?

Fawn French Bulldog lying in grass

In March I contacted the breeder from whom I’d like to get my next puppy. Since French Bulldogs are very popular right now, I fully expected just touch base, let her know I was interested, and get my name on a waiting list. We’ve known each other for years, but I’ve never had one of her dogs. So I expected to have to wait, and am certainly willing to do so.

I was a bit shocked, delighted, and terrified when she told me that she was expecting a litter at the end of the month. And, if there was an available puppy, it could be mine.

My choice

I know there are some people reading this who are aghast that I’m planning to get a pedigreed puppy from a breeder, rather than adopt a dog from a shelter or rescue. I’m familiar with all the arguments on both sides of the debate. And, whether you agree with my choice or not, it is my choice. We all have the right to choose what’s right for our lives, circumstances, and situations.

I’ve adored French Bulldogs for decades, and it is my breed of choice. I know that Torque (my four-year-old Frenchie) is mourning for Teddy as much as I do, and would probably welcome another dog.

Is it the right time?

That’s the question I’m really wrestling with right now. Puppies are adorable, disruptive, wreak havoc with schedules, are generally pains in the butt, time-suckers, cute, cuddly, wonderful, and terrible – all at the same time. Am I ready for that?

Brindle French Bulldog puppy

The other part of that question is – would it be fair to the puppy? Could I give it the time, attention, and devotion it deserves? Or is it possible I’d be constantly comparing it to the one I adored and lost? Am I ready to fall in love all over again? Or am I still stuck on the memories?

Can’t stand the cute

The breeder has been sending me photos and videos of the puppies in the litter. When I watch them, the cuteness is overwhelming. And there’s an immediate “I want one!” reaction.

But the doubt creeps in after the video ends.

Checking them out

There’s really never a “good time” to get a puppy. They’re always disruptions. But they’re also sources of joy, smiles, and laughter – even when the naughtiness gets to us.

So sometime in the next couple of weeks I’ll make the four-hour trek to see if one of these puppies is meant to be mine. It feels a bit odd to make a date to fall in love. Or not.

Take care of yourself

If you find yourself in a similar situation – take the time you need mourning your dog and take care of yourself. I don’t yet know what I’ll decide about that puppy, but I do know that I won’t let Teddy’s death mean more than his life. I can’t be one of the people who reject love because grief, eventually, arrives. There will be another dog, some day.

2018 ends in pain

2018 wasn’t the best year on record – better than some. Worse than others. Until this week.

Anyone who uses Facebook has seen friends “sharing” their Facebook-generated “Your 2018” videos. Our “feeds” are full of them. We were kind of looking forward to our own popping up, until this week. This week 2018 went from a bit challenging to agonizing.

Teddy is gone

Hope’s 8-year-old French Bulldog, Teddy, died on Sunday. We were relaxing and watching television that evening. Teddy, as usual, was cuddled up next to Hope. He woke from his nap, panting and in distress. She ran with him to the emergency vet and learned that an unknown abdominal mass had ruptured and he was gravely ill. We couldn’t let him suffer and chose euthanasia.

A friend of ours told us: “Euthanasia is the last, best gift we give our pets. We take their pain and make it our own.” Teddy is free of pain. Ours is a throbbing behemoth.

Nothing stays the same

As everyone who’s lost a beloved pet knows – everything changes. Even with other animals in the house, everything’s different. And when you have multiple dogs, the dynamics of the family change.

As I (Hope) write this, we’re less than 48 hours without Teddy. Tango is sleeping more. Booker isn’t sure what to do with himself. Torque is unwilling to play. They’re not actively looking, but they know Teddy is missing.

Simon is barely four months old – a happy, clueless puppy. Thank goodness he’s here – we need to smile.

Feeling cheated

Beyond sad and unsettled, we also feel cheated, in an odd way. We’ve mentioned before that Teddy was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) early in the summer. It’s a fatal disease the takes away a dog’s ability to move, progressing from back to front. It’s caused by the same gene mutation responsible for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Battle plan

Hope had a plan in place to battle back against DM:

Rear lift assist harness
  • Special diet
  • Supplements
  • Physical therapy exercises to replace nerve loss with muscle memory
  • Massage
  • Cold laser
  • Training games to keep him engaged, thinking, and happy
  • Rear lift harness (pictured) purchased & ready when needed
  • Pet stroller so Teddy would never be left behind

The best-laid plans

Now all of it’s useless. Teddy saw his vets last Friday for routine stuff, including a check-in to evaluate the progression of his disease. They were thrilled with how he was doing – still walking. Still happy. They even got Teddy kisses. Six months after DM diagnosis, most dogs are “down” in the back. Teddy was still mobile. They tell us they fully expected him to have at least a year, very possibly more, before the DM took over.

So we were winning the daily battle against DM. And now?

No enemy to fight

This will sound like a non-sequitur, but stay with us for a minute: Is anybody out there a fan of the Monkees? Or even remember them? We were huge fans when we were kids.

Remember the song “Zor and Zam?”

The last line keeps playing in my mind: “They gave a war, and nobody came. And nobody came.”