04 February 2011

Losing Your Dog

It is now exactly three calendar months since we lost our dog, Max, to cancer.

Losing your dog is an awful thing.  I knew it would be difficult but it is as much like grief as losing your best friend would be, which of course is exactly what it is.  The thing about dogs is that they are social animals with individual personalities and mannerisms.  You do not have a dog.  You have a relationship with an intelligent, rational being.  It is a mutual relationship in which he depends on you for his needs and is very eager to play his part in your life, giving you all that he perceives you need from him.  When that relationship ends, it leaves a hole in your life.  An enormous hole.

You could say I have a dog-shaped hole in my life but that doesn't really describe it.  I have a Max-shaped hole in my life.  It is a very specifically shaped hole precisely because of his particular personality.  No two dogs are alike and, at the moment, no other dog could fill it.  I will probably get another dog some time but it will be a new and different relationship with a new and different dog.

We miss him almost every day, some days deeply.  I have been amazed just how integral a part of our lives he became in the five short years he was with us.  So much that we did involved him, and our plans always had to consider his needs.  He was worth every sacrifice we made because of him.

Losing him has been surprisingly demotivating.  I have written hardly anything since he went.  At the end of hard days at work, however disgruntled I felt, without fail, Max would cheer me up immediately when I arrived home.  I am so grateful for the time we had with him.

I know the grief will pass.  Already, we think of the happy times we shared with him and not just the sadness of his ending.  We are thankful that he was happy and fulfilled almost to the end of his life and, awful as having to end it was, relieved that we did not hang on to him when it was clear that he needed to go and that keeping him would only have made him suffer.

I just wish we could have him back...

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