Must Love Dogs

I wasn’t going to belabor the death of my dog in yet another emotional post.

I really wasn’t.

But some strange force, not the least bit concerned about overanalyzing personal tragedy in a public forum, took over, and I didn’t have the strength to fight it.

The thing is you don’t have to publish everything you write. Bahaha

While that little thought is bouncing around in my head my fingers are pounding out a sappy vignette on dealing with death.

Two words, it sucks.

I found out this week that grief pools with all the other grief that came before it, creating this cesspool of emotion, that spills over one’s entire being as if a vernal waterfall.

That’s just my opinion, although I’m not sure I like being referred to as a cesspool of emotion, it is what it is.

The bond we have with our dogs is unique, but to those who don’t understand the emotional fallout after losing a beloved pet, this whole I can’t get a grip on myself might seem odd.

Admittedly, I’ve been letting my emotions flow without delineation, much to the annoyance of my roommates, but hell, the last thing you want is to dam up your fervor, because you’re just putting off the inevitable burst at the first sign of a crack.

“Let it go,” as Queen Elsa advises.

If I were a therapist, in my professional opinion, I’d say I’m doing splendid, considering I lost my shadow, and we all know Shaggy took it with him.

I have done all things distracting so as to not get hijacked by my unruly emotions.

I’ll admit, the plan has holes.

I recruited Dante, who helped me put up the Christmas tree, and yes, I realize it is before Thanksgiving, but it required rearranging half the house for several hours, and this occupied my thoughts quite nicely.

I agree it goes against all the rules of holiday decorum, as if wearing white after Labor Day, and I don’t care. In fact, the whole impropriety of it all makes me happy. I’ve become unscrupulous.

We’ve watched more Christmas movies than I care to admit, I’ve putzed around the house for no other reason than to revisit every place Shaggy has ever rested, and made several bad food and beverage choices.

Repeatedly.

But then I ordered a Portuguese water dog Christmas ornament, a Portuguese water dog wine stopper, and a Portuguese water dog doorstop, and honestly, I feel much better. I resisted the t-shirt and matching socks. Discipline at its finest.

Larry’s completely baffled.

He says, “every time you open wine, the front door, or look at the Christmas tree you’re going to be reminded of Shaggy?”

Me, “yes, that’s the general idea.”

“Why?”

“I like being sad.”

“Why don’t you look at our visa? Now that’s dismal.”

“I’m going for heartbroken, not morose.”

“I’m just trying to help.”

“Are you now?”

On a more upbeat note, Larry and I celebrated thirty-eight years of marriage (twenty-five of which we’ve owned dogs, cats, or both, just sayin) the day after Shaggy died.

Thank God we were home when Shaggy’s heart stopped beating and someone wasn’t watching him for us. Dante, Larry, and I were right there, Shaggy spent the entire day by my side, and passed away minutes after Larry returned from the office as if he waited so Larry could say goodbye.

For our anniversary Larry booked a room at the Carmel Mission Ranch and made reservations for dinner at La Bicyclette. He couldn’t have dreamed up a better distraction, the scenery, the food, the hiking, and although every damn person had a dog, it was strangely comforting.

This is our attempt at taking a selfie in the mirror, the first shots our eyes are closed because we’re looking at the phone, but then a light bulb went off in Larry’s head, and he says we have to look in the mirror. Do we still look slightly confused?

La Bicyclette, where we enjoyed our anniversary dinner, is known for its oysters and gnocchi, which we indulged in without remorse, soaking up the juices and sauces with warm french bread. I know. I know. Totally bombed the diet again, but it’s my anniversary, and my dog died.

The minute I walk in the door to our home I’m in trouble, Shaggy’s presence is everywhere, and nowhere.

There’s not a place where his memory does not linger.

I keep checking to see if his water bowl is full, if he’s curled up next to my chair, if he’s ready for his evening scoop.

I visited with my sister one morning and we had an absolute cry fest. We scheduled another one for next week if anyone cares to join us.

I discovered that it’s best to be with people who love dogs when you let it leak out because they totally get it and chances are they’ll cry with you!

It’s a thing.

All the Christmas presents for my grandkids are wrapped and under the tree.

I even cleaned out the refrigerator which I despise.

Today we (Larry) decided we were all going to clean out the garage. I’m not sure you fully understand the scope and sequence of this sort of project. See, I keep the house, Larry keeps the garage, enough said.

The garage is a disaster of epic proportions.

Dante and I walk out there, fidgeting with our restless hands for a few minutes because there’s no place to start, no end to the debris field, and a sense of doom is looming large.

Larry’s in the driveway barking orders which everyone is ignoring.

Dante and I start loading the goodwill stuff in my car, the trash in Larry’s truck, and just when I think we’ve made some progress, Larry walks in and says, “what am I supposed to do with all that trash in my truck? What are we doing with this couch? There’s no place for all these bikes (he has five). I’ve never seen these golf clubs in my life?”

I’m like, “put the clubs in the side yard and maybe sack your attitude.”

“Oh, you want to come with me and see the side yard, it’s a disaster (he also keeps the side yards).”

I walk with him to check it out, there’s like a couple of things stacked in front of his cupboard. I throw them all in the back of his truck, “there, all clear.”

He opens his cupboard and there are two additional sets of golf clubs in there covered with cobwebs, he says, “Where in the hell did these come from?”

“The golf fairy, geese, put them in the goodwill pile if you don’t want them.”

Dante and I continue to sift through the rumble in the garage, bins of ski gear go to the goodwill, memory boxes for four kids get stacked under the window, Halloween costumes from when my kids were young go in the trash, decorations for every known holiday get stored in the cupboards, books, photo albums, decorations from a bridal shower we gave ten years ago, it’s endless.

Larry who has not moved a single item says, “Why are you keeping all those baskets? Where is that wine refrigerator going to go? There won’t be room for my car? We’re wasting our time!”

Me, stomping my foot, hands-on-hips, “Could you just try and say one positive thing? We’re busting our butts here, and all this grousing is defeatist.”

He stares at me as if I’ve from another planet.

In my head, I’m printing up enough indulgences for an entire week.

Eventually, we’ve made ample space to put my exercise bike out there with an old television from my sister and still park his precious car. We’ve saved a chair and a couch. The rest is gone.

I’m dusty, exhausted, and haven’t thought of Shaggy for hours.

Larry, who should have been tarred and feathered for his perfidy, says, “would you like a glass of wine.”

And I finally realize this was Larry’s plan all along…total distraction.

Dante and I collapse in the sitting room and wait for Larry to bring us our indulgences.

I’m dog-tired, I look around for my heart who should be lounging beside me on the couch, his absence is waggingly obvious.

I moan, “I miss Shaggy.”

Dante and Larry collectively moan, “we know.”

“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight,” says Kahlil Gibran.

I’m Living in the Gap, remembering my delight, what’s new with you?

Anecdotes:

“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief – but the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love” – Hilary Stanton Zunin
“No one ever really dies as long as they took the time to leave us with fond memories” – Chris Sorensen
“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to” – Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
“Grief is the price we pay for love” – Queen Elizabeth II

Shaggy’s final sleepover with the grandkids.

42 Comments

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  1. I still have Ollie of course, but can identify with every thought emotion in your lovely piece. Losing dogs is a lifetime of memories tinged with sadness, and one reason why I was never going to get another one.
    But what would my life have been like without Ollie? Less rich, and less rewarding, I know that now.
    And what might life be like if he goes before me?
    I try not to think about that…
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate Pete how deeply you understand and can commiserate with the hole in my heart. The thing is I had inklings that his time was coming to an end but I pushed those thoughts away, thinking I was anxious, or projecting my fears. Life is definitely diminished without Shaggy, he was such a big part of our lives, and I never realized how much he enhanced our lives. It’s been a difficult week but I’m trying to focus on the memories instead of the loss. It doesn’t always work! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your emotion on losing Shaggy resonates strongly with me. For at least a month after losing Angus, our yellow lab, I would burst into tears walking down the pet aisle at the grocery store. Once I was crying in front of our mayor and he asked if I was ok. I nodded my head. I couldn’t explain to him that Angus had died and dog food triggered me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my Elizabeth, I did the same thing when I passed the the dog food aisle at the grocery store. Triggers are the worst because they’re so unexpected! Angus must have been a wonderful dog, let’s hope he and Shaggy have found each other. I do my best when I stay distracted and exhausted! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. C, I’m so sorry for your loss. I love dogs. Sometimes more than humans. I’m happy you had distractions, which made me chuckle through the tears I was shedding while reading this. There’s a hole in the heart when a beloved dog is no longer by our side. My love and prayers to you dear friend. Happy Anniversary as well. I’m thinking of you. ❤️💛🙏🏻🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you K, I know how much you love dogs and I agree they are easier to love than some humans! As the days pass it’s getting easier in some ways, harder in others. I’m feeling your love and prayers, thank you so much, sending some love and hugs back your way, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. C, I just read your post to Jeff. He sends his regards. He enjoyed your writing, and sad about your loss. We both agreed you have such a way with words~even in your grief. Thank you for being so raw and transparent. ❤️💛🤗

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, pass on my love to Jeff, I appreciate his kind words and gracious sympathy. I suppose life will take us down when we least expect it, the hard part is getting up, and reengaging in life. I so appreciate your encouragement, means the world to me. Hugs, C

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    1. Oh my Fred, you are so right! Those precious girls are everything to me and they know how to mend a broken heart with lots of hugs and kisses. I’m so lucky they live across the street! Hugs, C

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    1. I totally agree Keith, those grandbabies with my sweet pups is now precious beyond belief. None of us knew it would be his last sleepover with the girls. I’m so thankful Julie snapped a shot! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, C

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  4. Let it all out and be yourself Cheryl. I talk about my Mom all the time, I think about Houdini, my innocent little rabbit, and Errol Flynn (super smart cat). We love and sometimes we have to let go, but not forget, just keep going forward. You write and seem to be a person whose laugh is natural. That’s nice, and I am like that. Soak up life and keep writing and living these wonderful stories that will live on. Stories about life, laughter and being happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m learning that my grief can be uncomfortable for others to witness? It’s as if they just want me to put it aside and move on. The strange thing is we grieve every loss differently. It’s always unexpected, the intensity surprises me, and expanse of time needed to heal is more extensive than I would have anticipated. I love your advice, keep writing, living and searching out your joy! Happy Thanksgiving, hugs, C

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  5. I think it’s truly hard to lose a dog. After Taz passed, I kept his bed at the foot of mine for almost two more years, just in case his spirit should visit and need a place to rest. I swear I heard his wagging tail beating against the wall one night. I’m consoled by the old saying that “all dogs go to heaven.” Sorry for your loss

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I love that you kept his bed beside your own for two years in case he “needed a place to rest.” I kept saying to everyone, where the hell did he go? The presence of an animal is so powerful it seems unbelievable that they can be here one moment and gone the next. I believe that tail you heard was him, and that encourages me, as I’ve been listening for whispers from Shaggy from the other side. Thanks for sharing your experience with me, it helps, Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cheryl, I am so very very sorry to hear of your loss. It is a loss like no other to lose your constant companion. I hope you take the time that is needed to feel, and remember, and continue your love of Shaggy. My genuine care to you ♥️.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you LaDonna, I’m doing better each day but the most unexpected things trigger more tears. I think you identified the most difficult part, that of, “losing your constant companion.” It’s too quiet, too lonely, too calm and that takes getting used to. I appreciate your kindness, hugs and love to you! 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I started a plant based diet to try and calm down my psoriasis but that’s not happening with all this grieving and stress. Like you say, grieving is the priority, plants just don’t satisfy so the diet’s on a long term hold! I’m taking it day by day! 💕C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I get it! You’re allowed to cry, be sad and miss your baby terribly. In time, your time, you will be able to remember with joy but for now, don’t be too hard on yourself. Sending you hugs and wishing your family a Happy Thanksgiving Day! Best Wishes, Leigh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Leigh, it feels so indulgent to give yourself permission to grieve but it’s essential! I’m just taking it slow and trying to listen to my own needs while I struggle through this. I so appreciate the love and hugs Leigh! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! Much love, C

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Leigh, your candid reflection and thoughtful share is healing. I celebrate the love your family and you have for your Shaggy and for each other. Write on.

      Liked by 2 people

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