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.


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