Dealing With The Passing of Your Pet
Earlier today I got a message from the lovely Kelli at Divas that Pray. She was so very sweet. She wanted to know how things had been going with our dogs and the choices we were making. As you may recall we lost our beloved Sparky from kidney disease. It was really VERY earth shattering for me. When I try to explain how bad it was, I can’t seem to find the words. I can’t seem to put it together. What I realized is that I could find the words and I could put it together. I had not done that because I feared the judgement that might happen.
I didn’t share too much of my emotion on my blog and Facebook because while animal lovers can totally relate, I truly don’t think that most people do. So for me, I feel like I buried my son. When I say that people are like get a grip it’s a dog. The problem is, he wasn’t just a dog to me. He WAS my son. I was told I couldn’t have anymore children after my son (my 9 year old Alex) was born. I’d hemorrhaged after the birth of my daughter, who was a premie so multiple complications. They didn’t think it would happen the second time because there was so many complications, including a preterm delivery. When it happened with my second birth the doctor said another might kill me. As much as a risk it was and I wanted more, I wanted more to be here to enjoy the two I was blessed with. So that was that.. no more babies for me. I felt a hole, a void. I knew my family wasn’t complete. I didn’t immediately feel like I wanted another baby, I still had a newborn I was cuddling, but I couldn’t help but feel that we were not whole as a family. My oldest was 3 years old. She had a love for animals and would always play with the her grandma’s dogs and all the other dogs in the family. I thought it would be the perfect time to get her a pet since she’d been the only one for three years and now she had to share mom and dad. She was our princess and her brother wasn’t going to take that away. They did well as siblings though. Mariah was just three years old and Alex was around 6 months old. We contacted a local rescue and got added to the list to get a dog. The rescue group can take six to twelve months or even longer to get a dog to place. The rescue here is small and non-profit and they adopt dogs as they can. They also take in dogs that people need to surrender and contact them. This happens as they come, so the waiting list can be a while.
Shortly (around two weeks) after we applied I got a call. There was a dog that needed immediate placement and had a really horrible story. It hurt my heart and even with an infant, I knew I had to have this dog. The foster home couldn’t take him because in the city limits you are only allowed five dogs to a household, whether you are working a rescue mission or just an average house. They emailed me a photo and a little more information. I called back, got the kids in the car and headed out.. I adopted Sparky. His story is very sad. He was left in a foreclosed home for over a month. He had major anxiety issues, but he never left my side. I would go from the chair to the bathroom and he would follow sitting outside the bathroom door. He was my baby. Literally. Losing Sparky was one of the hardest things that I ever went through. Most people don’t understand. I STILL break down and cry like the day it happened. It’s been just over two months. Here’s the thing though, now the kids are grown more (soon to be ten and thirteen) and they don’t need me as much, not to mention they are in school all day.. it was Sparky and I. ALL DAY. EVERY DAY. He was mine, he was constantly near me. I am disabled. I have a rare for of Muscular Dystrophy called Pompe’s. So the disease progresses as it would like. I am more home bound then most people, but I also love my blogging, so that keeps me home! Then in January 2012 I was in the horrible accident and completely shattered my ankle. With that the disease progressed fast since I was sitting around unable to walk on it (and too weak for crutches at first) and wasn’t using the muscles. My muscles break down (I can’t rebuild them – that’s the disease). In all of that Sparky stayed very close to my side. He was so very devoted to me. He didn’t care what flaws I had. The fact I can’t move around as much anymore was no big deal to him. He was still dedicated and he stayed that way, even through to the day he passed. I suppose, I rescued him from the very low point in his life and no matter how low my life or health got he was staying true to me as I did to him. I’m home all day. Travis (my husband) works a very weird swing shift and the kids are in school all day, so it was me and the dog. He was my best friend, my son, my companion and my pet. He provided me with the closure I needed on not being able to have another child, he provided with the friend I needed 24/7, he gave me hope that no matter what, I had unconditional love that didn’t need to be repaid or him needing anything in return. He sat ON my old desk while I would blog or spend time on the computer. Then I got a smaller desk and he would sit next to me on the desk chair or lay on top my feet, which were always cold. It’s funny, he knew when to and when to not lay on my feet. After the accident, he curled up and slept on the recliner by me all day. We’d break and play a few times a day and then when the kids came home he would play with them, love them and use up his energy while I would flip laundry or get dinner going. At dinner he would sit on the carpet at the edge of where it met the dining room wood floor. Never would come closer then that at the table unless I called him to (if a child or we dropped something). He never went after dropped things unless we had told him to. He truly was an amazing dog. He never barked. The only time he would bark was to let me know someone was in front coming up to the door, to tell me the door bell went off or someone was knocking if I was in another room. Still even then it was a small, short “notification” bark. He stopped as soon as I said “Okay Sparky, mommy knows”. That was it. He never, even from day one would go to the bathroom in the house, which actually surprised me since that’s all he did for the month before we got him because he was left with no other choice. He was a wee bit aggressive with his food at first (who can blame him after he was left for so long.. he didn’t know if he would get a next meal) but he quickly broke that up within a week or two of regular feedings. On top of that to make sure he wouldn’t be aggressive with the kids or anyone else over a bone being moved or what not, I would have the kids and my in laws feed him and give him treats so that he learned they aren’t going to take anything, they are only going to give it. He was completely over the food aggressiveness within a month of us having him though. He was 110% the perfect dog. Everyone that met him wanted him. They couldn’t believe he was a DOG because he was so well behaved. In his mind, he was not a dog.. he believed he was a human like you and I. When I traveled, I would miss him like mad, but everyone would fight over who would take the dog. He was truly everything I wanted in a dog and more.
Grieving The Loss
When Sparky passed in October, I was devastated. It’s hard. I have him cremated and he is home with me. He’s on my desk, even though I don’t spend much time there. I work from my laptop on the oversized circle chair, which is more comfortable. I want to get him a super special urn but I haven’t been able to look and decide on one yet. I look and I find a few, but the emotions are so raw that I start crying hysterically again and have to wait to look more. It’s hard. It’s still so fresh. I hope at some point I can look at his pictures and urn without crying and can chuckle and remember the good times with him. I do still remember the good times and when I do certain things I know he loved, like naps, I will still look over and rub the bed where he laid and smile. He’s not in pain and he’s running free, but I also feel like he’s so very alone, because he is in heaven alone. My grandma is there and I hope they are hanging out, but the fact he is alone always makes me feel really sad. I want him HERE. I still don’t think I have let go. I am not even sure if my brain realizes that or if in my head I keep saying the nightmare will end and he will be home.. maybe that is just a coping method to get me through and keep going for now. Right after he passed, I was physically sick as well as so damn heartbroken.. my entire body hurt. My heart ached so bad. I felt like I was legit having a heart attack. My chest pain was insane. It felt like knives were everywhere. It was bad. I stayed in bed for three days and just slept and cried and slept and cried. Then I started to get up slowly and do things, but I was very disconnected from life. I didn’t take phone calls, I didn’t do much of anything.. The vet that came to the house for him, brought him back to me cremated the week after it happened. Then I started to feel a little better. I was taking some phone calls and doing some emails, but I was still spending a large amount of my day grieving.. I think part of me will always grieve and miss him, but I know that I have to push through and move on. I can’t spend the rest of my life in bed grieving, even though that is really all I want to do at this point.
A good friend of mine lost both of her dogs (who are very much her babies) this last year. She told me that we needed to get another dog. It wouldn’t replace Sparky, but it would help. I decided that I really did need someone, something.. Being home alone all day just gave me more time to think about and mourn Sparky. I decided to call the rescue. I went over the entire situation with Sparky and talked to them for quite a while. I knew it would be a few months before the rescue would have a dog, so I would be able to prepare and get ready to love a new companion. Then, as happened with Sparky, the rescue called. They had Jordy. His story was also very sad (I promise I will blog that soon). He was in a foster home and many people had come to see him, but they all passed. The lady from the rescue knew me and told me she would tell me why the others decided against him, but not until after I seen him. We headed out to see him.. I fell in love the moment I seen him. I still had heartache, but I knew why people didn’t want him and I knew why he would be perfect for us. Can you look at him and see why no one wanted him?
My best guess is that you completely didn’t notice the fact he only has one ear. He does have 2, just doesn’t have the ear lob on the other. This made me super sad actually. He is a sweet dog, one ear or not. Just because he is different no one wanted him. That was really sad to me. He was sweet and he loved to give kisses, he was hyper, but I couldn’t pass on him. I wanted him to have a forever home and I didn’t want him to be living in foster care because he wasn’t cosmetically perfect. He came in to our life and things got better, but there was still a lot of times I would break down “because it wasn’t the same”. But alas, I keep trying to push through.. I KNOW Sparky and I know that he hated when I was upset, so I try and keep that in the back of my head, but there are just those days, when it doesn’t matter, I just want to cry and I do. I am getting better though. I can talk about it now without crying. His picture doesn’t make me cry every time anymore, makes me sad always, but I don’t cry. I cannot read my rest in peace post without crying. I will always miss him. I will always WANT him back, but I have to be thankful for Jordy and the family I have. I have to live life. I can’t sit and wait for the day we meet again and do nothing until that happens. It doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t thoroughly ache for him though! I don’t know that I will ever lose that feeling.
It’s been a little rough with Jordy because he isn’t a lovey dovey dog. He loves us, but he is not the dog that wants to lay on you or even next to you and cuddle. He will cuddle in bed, unless you move a lot (which I do with the muscle disease.. my muscles twitch and/or I just have to move to make sure I am not going to have muscle spasms from sitting in the same spot too long). He prefers to sleep at the end of the bed when my husband is home, otherwise he will sleep up by the pillows on my husbands side when my husband works. I think Jordy is more clingy to the boys in the house then to mommy, which kind of stinks. During the day he lays on the back of the recliner a lot, he will lay on the back of the oversized circle chair I am usually sitting in with my computer, but not always. If I start to move around too much or talk on the phone, he will jump down and lay in the middle of the floor to sleep. It surprises me because he is sleeping, so why not stay up on the comfy chair, by me! That stuff is hard, because he’s not too affectionate and of course Sparky was over the top affectionate, so I miss that even more. It makes it harder to get over, but I think that Jordy is coming around. He had a rough start too, so my husband keeps telling me to think back to the first 6-12 months that we had Sparky.. it was the same thing.. we had to teach him that this is what we wanted and this is what we would give him. Sparky was 10 months old when we adopted him, Jordy was 14 months. So I think that Jordy will come around. It’s just been 2 months since we got him.
Should I Get Another Dog?
Last week I was looking through the pet ads. I do that periodically. I am not sure why and I don’t know that it’s a good idea, but none the less. I decided to ask on Facebook what my family and friends with pets thought and get some thoughts. I have never had more then one animal so I wasn’t sure how much more work a second might be. We had been contemplating adding another dog to the household. My husband wanted a larger dog and I was on board with that, mostly because of my disability. A larger dog would be more intimidating to anyone who may try to intrude in the house. We also have an alarm system. While I really wanted to add another dog to our household I had some undeniable hesitation about it. The dog I wanted was another rescue and the owner is passing away from fourth stage cancer and looking for an amazing home for her dog so she knows the dog is in good hands when she goes. The dog is a girl and three years old. She is a poodle terrier mix, which is what made me fall in love before I knew anything. Growing up my childhood dog was a poodle terrier and I loved her. I actually wanted a poodle terrier mix when we were looking for Sparky. However, poodle terrier mixes are hard to find (they are very desired and cost more then a pure bred as a puppy). Both dogs are fixed so I wouldn’t have had to worry there. I kept wanting to do it so bad, but something inside me said no. I went back and forth with the current owner for a week (she continued to look at other options, but we talked). She is super sweet and she knew that it would be a good placement if we decided to take her girl. I went so far as to call my mom and see if it didn’t work here if my mom and dad would take her. My mom said she would consider.
While Jordy is really hyper and I don’t have people knocking down my door to pet sit like I did with Sparky, he’s also very lovable. When I travel, if he can’t come, my FIL stays at the house with him (and would with Sparky if I wanted Sparky to stay at home, or if the pet sitters we loved weren’t available to take him). Jordy is only 7.8 pounds, so he can fly with us as a carry on! Under 20 pounds is the limit on that (with the exception of some breeds). Jordy won’t get any where near 10, let alone 20 pounds. He is on an organic all natural diet, but he takes in enough calories to maintain. He’s so very active. He isn’t suppose to be much bigger and the vet thinks he is at a good weight for his breed and build. So when we fly it is to see family. While the hotels are hit or miss with animals, since I am going to see family, he could spend the time at their house when we are there visiting. We only use the hotel for sleeping, so that’s not an issue. When I add another dog to the mix, I have to get a pet sitter. Then I worry about other things, like what happens should they NOT get along. I can’t handle having an animal for more then 24 hours without bonding to it. I even do with my families dogs. But I know the dogs and I am able to see them anytime, so it’s not as hard. If I got this other dog, I would fall in love, despite any flaws she may have and then what if the dogs didn’t get along. That’s hard to deal with every day if they are fighting and trying to make them get along. Then we have Jordy in doggy classes for him to learn commands and to break some bad habits he had and learn bonding with him. So I wouldn’t want to do all that and have him lashing out because since he arrived, he’s been the one and only dog in the house and he gets ALL the attention. I kind of felt like every thing that I have been working on with him (and the money spent) might be a loss. Not that it would be for sure, but it could be. Sparky also had seizures, so his monthly medicine and vet bill every other month (blood work) added up and were expensive. I wouldn’t have traded that for the world, but with Jordy, he hasn’t had to see the vet yet, other then when he was sick last week. So we have less costs with him. Sparky was 28 pounds so he ate a cup of food a day.. Jordy eats a 1/2 cup.. so a 5 pound bag lasts me almost 2 months with him. He is pretty easy to maintain and doesn’t need grooming (maybe once a year to get the under coat that sheds cleaned up really good). He has a little longer of hair, but it’s fine and it doesn’t require cutting.. it doesn’t grow longer. Just a little trimming on his behind and paws, but he’s okay with me doing that. Jordy has been much cheaper for us then Sparky was, but I fear adding another dog might be quite a bit more expensive too.
I really fell in love with the dog. She’s still available and I still might take the turn in the end, I am just not going to do it until I am able to eliminate all the doubt I have. I don’t want to do something and I don’t want a poor dog to miss out on the perfect home because I am unsure. So the rescue is going to keep in touch. She’s in a home right now and doing well. She loves other dogs. I am just afraid of all the unknown it could bring. I know bringing her home for a day to see how things go isn’t going to help, because I will start a bond right away and it will be no good. I think Jordy would be completely fine with it, until he realized she wasn’t leaving at all. He is fine with all our friends and family when they come over with their dogs.. so it would be hard to tell what he would do if the dog was never leaving. It might be a week or longer before that sets in for him. So that makes it difficult for me. I just don’t know.. What I know is that with some doubt I can’t do it. I need to know in my heart and brain that I am 100% okay with it. It’s also hard because I’ve NEVER ever had 2 animals. Even growing up as a kid, we always had one. So I think that worries me too, with my disease and my bad ankle, is 2 dogs too many for me? It’s winter so I don’t do any walking outside, but that’s another thing, can I walk 2 dogs? She does still have a playful side, but she’s not as active as Jordy. He’s a pomeranian sheltie mix. He’s VERY VERY high strung. He likes to go go go all day. He is not all that good of a walker because he can’t stay focused on anything. So he’s looking all around, trying to walk and not paying attention. We worked on this in doggy class, but he still isn’t great with it. He’s too curious and no amount of training with cure that. He listens and obeys, he just can’t relax and focus on the walk. But.. he IS a dog.
We feel that right now it’s just best to wait. I am sure Jordy would love to have a playmate, but I am not 100% sure and that is something I said I could never do.. Adopt and then give the dog back. I really struggled to bond with Jordy and still do with some things, but truthfully, we are working on it. Bonding doesn’t happen overnight with every person and every dog.
I am still very much grieving Sparky and while another affectionate dog may seem like the answer, it also might be a nightmare. I don’t want to have regret. I need to heal from the loss and bond more with Jordy before I can make a choice on if two is the number for us. And our household is split on the choice. Mariah says yes, I am unsure, Hubby says he is unsure but thinks if we do it we should get a bigger dog and my son is a go with the flow (he doesn’t have an opinion one way or the other). Grieving the loss of a pet is VERY hard. It’s also very sad. While some people can look at it and say “It’s just a dog” Sparky was very much my second son and always will be. He was and will forever be my baby. If you aren’t an animal person, that’s okay.. but understand the reasons people grieve so hard over a pet and why it’s not the same for everyone. If you haven’t had a dog, or a bond with a dog, it’s hard to put in to words what that is like. The bottom line is dog, cat, bird, worm or person.. grieving is natural and everyone is different.