What I learned from losing my dog

My fourteen-year-old dog Luna died last week.  She had been in failing health for two years and it was clear over the weekend she was suffering and it was time to let her go.

Bob and I cuddled her that last morning and fed her bits of cheese and told her how much we loved her and recounted her various adventures to her. I asked her to find our dogs that had gone before and my dad and sit in his lap once again.

She was confused but calm and we held her all the way through to the end, sobbing so hard I had to squint to see her take her last breath.

I’ve mourned the loss of my dog BFF who had been by my side all these years. I’ve mourned the loss of her warm solid body and her cold nose and I’ve mourned the memories of her leaping through the Grand Forest and digging holes in the backyard and the first time she was in snow, how she ran through drifts so high all you could see where the tips of her black and silver ears.

I loved Luna full out. Truly unconditional love.

As I grieved for her, a small miracle happened. Within the fullness of the love I had shown Luna, I could feel this other scratchy thread weaving in and out. As I gently focused on it, I understood: this was the thread of where I had closed to love. To loving. And to being loved.

In the midst of all replaying all that unconditional love for Luna, I could physically feel where I had done the very opposite.

Flooded with the reality Luna was gone forever and someday myself and the people I loved would be too, I saw so clearly how simple my choice always is: please open to love.

I know I will fail at this a million times between now and my last breath but what a terrific thing to fail at – loving more. Closing my laptop and looking at my beloved when he tells me a story from his day.  Sitting on the porch with a neighbor and looking in her eye with my full attention instead of thinking of the work I need to get back to. Listening to my lovely daughter without trying to fix her. Slowing down to feel it and love it all.

And when Bob and I fight or my sister bugs me or I read the newspaper? Whoa, then I can really practice.

Love. Am I opening to it right now? Can I open a little more?  And if not, if I forget or I’m too pissed off or I ate too much sugar the night before, can I open to loving myself just for trying?

Thank you wily strong adorable Luna dog. You left me with quite a lot to practice. I am so grateful for your love. Godspeed dear one.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Linda S. Williams - December 12, 2018

Jen, I recently lost a dog we had taken over from a friend… looked a lot like yours. We only had him for 7 months (he was 7 years old) before he died of Kidney Failure. The Vet prepared him enough to go home and be with us when he passed. It was so difficult. I never fell so deeply in love with a creature so quickly. We were both struggling with the loss and weren’t getting over it very quickly. But…. we decided to rescue another dog whom we met at the Shelter, along with a 7month old kitten as a companion to our older cat. We still tear up over Skyler, and miss his hugs and licks and enthusiasm, but the new dog, a bit bigger, and a mix, has cheered us up. We know he needs us as much as we need him. And found out we could take the risk again, and it’s okay. My heart aches for you, but you have addressed it well. Love and hugs to you!

Nancy - March 8, 2019

Putting my 17 yr. old Maltese, Sugar Baby, to sleep was the hardest think I ever had to do. She had been suffering with slow kidney failure, but when she started going into congestive heart failure, I knew it was time… just as the vet had told me I would know the right time. I had a friend go with me for her last vet visit. I grieved much harder than I thought I would. I’m an older, working single, and she was my roommate and companion. Having her really changed me as a person… for the better. I work full-time, and travel for work, so I can’t get another dog while I’m working (can’t afford one!) But I house-sit/pet sit for extra money on the weekend, and I live in a condo complex that has a lot of small dogs I can love on. When I retire in November, I will have to work p/t, so I’m thinking of pet-sitting.

Leave a Reply: