AT RANDOM: Missing all of it

Anyone who has experienced the joy of having a dog in the house knows all too well some of the inconveniences that come with that joy: shedding fur all over the floor, picking up after them in the yard and your favourite shoes chewed beyond recognition.

But for the first time in 19 years, we don’t have a dog in the house, and I would give anything to have all of that back.

On June 13, our beloved 11-year-old Lab cross, Dom, died. Truly my heart is broken and I have found myself not only crying constantly but missing all of those little inconveniences.

But mostly I just miss Dommy: his happy, friendly face, the “smile” he’d give every time I came home. His enthusiasm every time we went for a walk, or when it was time for breakfast or dinner: every walk as though it were his first, every meal as though he hadn’t eaten in months.

I sit in the living room and still can’t believe he is not in his usual spot on his bed in front of the window, watching the world go by. Instead, I have his ashes in a box on the mantel, with his collar on top.

The day after Dom died I took my daughter and her friends to Lumby Days, as I had promised I would. I was grateful for the sunshine as I literally cried behind my sunglasses every time the girls got on a ride.

When we got home that day, I expected to be greeted by Dommy and his goofy, friendly face and when I walked in the door and he wasn’t there, I completely broke down.

The thing with a dog is that they are always there and you are always aware of their presence. From their nails tapping on the hardwood floors, to their snoring while they sleep, to lapping up great gulps of water and crunching on kibble (although to be fair, Dommy was more of a kibble-inhaler than one who took the time to chew it).

How do you explain the devastation we feel when we lose a pet? For one thing, they rely on us for everything, and there is a basic human need, I believe, to take care of something or someone. Obviously, our children are the big one for most of us, and I am so blessed to have my daughter helping me to heal during this time: she has given me hugs, drawn pictures of Dommy and said she senses his presence.

Dogs essentially remain children for their entire lives. They demand nothing more than love, affection, walks, food, a little play time. They don’t care what we look like first thing in the morning, what kind of mood we’re in. They forgive us our trespasses as humans never can. They don’t hold grudges, they don’t see skin colour, religious affiliation or sexual orientation. No matter their age, they are happy to hug and kiss us in public. They always need us, always think we are the greatest thing on two legs. They are the purest form of love there is.

Dom went from his usual puppy-like state to not being himself, and in less than a week, he was gone. We had to say goodbye far too soon and at times the grief I am experiencing threatens to overwhelm me. We had no time to prepare and as always with grief, the guilt threatens to take over. Did I walk him enough? Did I play with him enough? But I know that guilt is both unnecessary and soul-destroying.

I know Dommy had a good life; he was very much loved and a little spoiled: the dog hair all over the duvet was proof of that.

I want to thank Dr. Miles Latwat and the staff at Vernon Veterinary Clinic for their loving care of Dommy over the past 11 years.

I want to thank all of those who have offered support in the last two weeks: from flowers and chocolates to homemade soup to lovely cards, it has all meant so much. A gesture as simple as a hug or an “I’m sorry” goes a long way towards easing some of the pain. To those who have let me talk about Dom and share my grief, you know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And to you, Dommy, from the first time we saw you at the SPCA, at just nine weeks old, we knew you were special. You will be missed, always loved and never forgotten; your paw prints are on our hearts forever.


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