Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Grieving Ode to Tina

With the recent loss of my 17-year-old dog just under a week ago, I am, of course, quite conscious of the issues of loss and grief once again. Whether it's human loss or the loss of a beloved pet, the pain can run deep as we ride the waves that grief delivers to our doorstep.

As I begin the process of recovering from this loss of our canine companion of 16 years, it brings back echoes of the loss of our other dog six years ago, as well as the death of my mother and father-in-law in 2011, not to mention the many other loved ones who have crossed to the other side over the years.

Reading responses from friends on our dog's memorial Facebook page, it's so very apparent that those who themselves love animals can understand how deep those feelings can run. One friend wrote: 
I've lost both my parents--I was present for both passages (and by myself for one). I went through the funerals, and I can easily say that neither caused nearly the intense psychic disturbance that seeing both of my cats off on their journey beyond did. I think we can often be conflicted about our human relationships, even the best ones, but our connections with our animal friends are so unconditional that the wound is greater, and the reactions very different. 
I couldn't agree more. Our dog was an almost constant companion for sixteen years, and if my calculations are correct, that's almost 6,000 days--and probably more than 20,000 walks, and countless longing looks, moments of affection, and untold moments of simply being aware of one another's presence--even when we were not physically together. 

I believe that this human-animal bond is intensely ingrained in our genes, and generation upon generation of humanity has enjoyed the companionship (and sometimes protection) of domesticated animals.

Our little Tina didn't really protect us physically, but she protected us energetically--from loneliness, from isolation, and from a sense that we were not worthy of affection or love. Her constant companionship and unconditional regard for us as her "special humans" cleaved us to her in a way that only animal lovers can truly understand.

I grieve for my little girl, and I wish her great happiness and peace in her final separation from her beloved yet worn earthly body.


7 comments:

Rachel said...

I followed your link from Suebob's. I do think we sometimes grieve more for our pets than the humans we lose, not because we love our people less, but because while our love for our dogs and cats is uncomplicated, the end of their lives is almost always a decision that we have to make. Even when you're doing the kindest and very best thing for your pet, it's hard not to feel the weight of that responsibility.

I'm sorry about Tina. She was a beauty.

Anonymous said...

Having suffered through the same lost several years ago, I couldn't agree with your assessment more. I still miss my little companion, even though I have another wonderful dog.

Keith Carlson said...

Thank you both for the kind comments. We lost our other dog six years ago, and so we now have lived through this experience twice. It's nice to know that others share our deep love for our pets and the knowledge of how profound that loss can be.

Anonymous said...

I lost my beloved Golden Retriever, Peanut Butter, 3 weeks ago. He was only 8 years old, and the cancer that took him was as stealthy as a thief in the night. I made the decision to put him to sleep because I just couldn't let him suffer. After making the appointment at the vet's office, I spent the rest of the night with my head resting on my boy's chest. The hardest thing I've ever done was waking him up to bring him to his vet to be euthanized. It was so painful. I know exactly how you feel, but I am also jealous because you got twice the number of years with Tina than I had with Peanut Butter.

Keith Carlson said...

Thanks for your comment, and I'm so sorry for your loss of Peanut Butter. We realize how lucky we were to have Tina for 16 years and we frequently counted our blessings that she was with us that long.

If you'd like, you can visit the blog that I wrote for our other dog, Sparkey, during his last six months of life. He died six years ago. You may find some of the stories healing when you're ready. http://latterdaysparks.blogspot.com.

Blessings on Peanut Butter's spirit.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you as you grieve Tina's passing.

Keith Carlson said...

Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness and caring.