Death of a Pet - Grieving and Starting Over
The Loss of a Pet - Starting OverThe year I was born my parents purchased the Encyclopedia Britannica, it was the thing to do during that era, I supposed to get a jump start on your child's education. I know for me, one volume of that encyclopedia was read over and over again. Recently, I was cleaning out old files and closets and came across that one book, it was volume 7. Damascus - Education was printed on the binding. I don't know what happened to the other volumes and don't remember even looking at them as a child, but this one was warn from use, it had traveled with me for years tucked away in a box.
In the middle of this book on page 495 was the section entitled DOGS, and the pages were worn, taped and glued from being looked at over and over as a child. One page in particular was in disastrous condition, hanging by a thread, in the upper left hand corner was the photograph of a fawn Great Dane. I remember as if it were yesterday .I asked my mother if we could get a Great Dane. We had always had a dog or two and I loved them, but I was fascinated with this image of this magnificent creature. Whenever I asked, the response was always the same - when you are grown and you have your own house, you can get your own Great Dane. The rest is history!
The magnitude of purchasing my first great dane and the loss of her to bloat at 2 years of age, was an enormous "marker event" in my life. I had saved baby sitting money since I was 12 years old for my first dane and I even had to take on a second sitting job just to pay for my Aqua-Net hairspray to keep my famous "flip" hairdo in tact! I digress ..
The point of this article is to express my understanding of the tremendous loss owners feel when they lose their pets. I had waited so long for my first dane and losing her was like losing a child to me. I mourned her death for a year. Then I realized something very important.
IF I love this breed so much, and IF I am always going to have one, then I need to appreciate every single day they are with me. And when I loose one, either by old age, illness or because I had to make that dreaded decision to put one to sleep, then I must get another. Because of this loss, I learned to love the breed as a "whole" and realized there are thousands of Danes put to sleep each year because they are not fortunate enough to have good homes. This is why I tell pet owners it is important to bring another pet into your family, after the loss of one.
I always discussed this topic with my puppy buyers. If you are going to own a giant breed, especially a Great Dane you need to know they are a pretty fragile creature in spite of their size. With that fragility comes numerous problems, including having a shortened life span - they are a freak of nature, manmade and fragile and although I have had many live to be old - 11-14 yrs, and I have lost some under one year of age as well. As in everything else in this life, there are no guarantees.
So when a pet owner writes me about the loss of their pet, I tell them it is time to reinvest your heart. Remember another Dane is a not a replacement, or a substitute for the one lost, and getting another puppy to care for does not diminish the importance of the one lost. This will be another compliment to your life, not a substitute - and do so means with no expectations that the new animal is like the old one. Nothing replaces the ones we lose.
As human beings, some of us have this intense need to nurture and
love something unconditionally. They are our gift in this life........so
if you love the breed, you will own the breed and love them as a "whole"
breed and let them mend your broken heart.
One last ritual I do is to take a small portion of the ashes of each
of the animals that have passed through my life, and place them in
a small container that I made out of ceramics. This container is kept
in my safe deposit box at the bank, with instructions in my Will to
combine their ashes with my own someday.
Confetti - Died February 2008 - 13 yrs of age.