Mourning the loss of my dog

At 1:55 a.m., I woke up. I don’t know why. Did the universe prod me awake so as not to miss an important event? Did Sasha make a sound? I don’t know.

At 1:55 a.m. I woke up. Sasha took two deep breaths. I reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. The breaths changed to gentle ones, with longer pauses between each.

Breath.       Breath.                 Breath.                              

Within two minutes, she was gone. Whether as a gift from the universe, or a request from Sasha, I was awake and present for the passing of my dog. I left my hand on her shoulder and felt her body tingle through the transformation.

Since then, as I sobbed beside the body that used to house Sasha’s soul, as I woke up my husband and we sobbed together, as we broke the news to our children and close friends and sobbed again, as I write this post and sob some more, I have become aware of how unconsciously conscious I was of my dog in every moment.

I have to restrain myself from putting dog treats for her on my breakfast plate like I did every day for nine years. When I go outside, I still close the door carefully behind me so a dog that no longer lives here doesn’t get out. I fight the impulse to get ready for our morning dog walks when we would go to Bruce Pit and she would run up and down the sand dunes so fast she’d do a perfect front flip and then keep on running.

Now there is silence instead of the click of her nails on the hardwood. There is absence instead of the presence of her cute face looking up at mine. I feel a hole in our family fabric.

I am also conscious of the fact that I’m writing this on 9/11.

On this date, other families had holes blasted into their family fabric. No love-soaked gentle passing in the night for them. Their family members passed from a violent act based on hatred and a lack of compassionate acceptance. Even as I mourn, remembering 9/11 gives me perspective and helps me to find the gratitude I need to move on.

I’m grateful that for nine years I had a dog-shaped bundle of unconditional love in my life. I’m grateful that she had a gentle passing surrounded by love.

The gratitude helps me to believe that right now Sasha is in Bruce Pit running up and down the sand dunes so fast that occasionally she does a perfect front flip and then keeps on running.

20 thoughts on “Mourning the loss of my dog

  1. Bob

    I’m so sorry for your loss! Our pets become like our children, apart of our families and lives. There presents always there, not needing us but also needing us at the same time. I’m so glad she past peacefully. Your tears of saddness are really the tears of joy she brought to your life. For that I am happy for you!
    Your Friend,
    Bob

    Reply
  2. Jeannette Monahan

    I’m so, so sorry Arlene. I feel your pain and understand On Sept 11, 2001, I was wrestling with the decision of having to euthanize my 13-year-old dog. I cried so much that week for all the horrible loss, I thought I’d never have tears again. You are right that 9/11 puts things in perspective, but it doesn’t diminish your personal loss. I’m so glad you were able to be with Sasha and that she went naturally. I will be thinking of you and wishing you strength and dreams of Sasha.

    Reply
  3. Jen

    Oh Arlene…I am so very sorry. I don’t think anyone really understands unless they have been through it. The pain is fierce and strong but each day will get better…. I always remember our minister saying to me, the only way to avoid the pain of loss, is to never love…so in that sense, the pain is worth the love…stay strong and hang in….it will get better! My sympathies.

    Reply
  4. Joanne

    Arlene, as I read your blog, it brought tears to my eyes, for you, your family and for Sasha. The pain of losing a loved pet is so very real, and unless you are a pet owner/lover, is not always understood by others..My heart aches for you and your family. I know that she will always be remembered and loved by you. When I lost my best friend, Kipling, a friend sent me this poem, and I pass it on to you.

    And if I go, while you are still here…
    Know that I still live on,
    Vibrating to a different measure,
    Behind a thin veil that you cannot see through.
    You will not see me, so you must have faith.
    I will wait there for the time when we can soar together again, both aware of each other.
    Until then, live your life to the fullest.
    And when you need me, just whisper my name in your heart,
    …I will be there.

    Reply
  5. Doreen

    Arlene, I am so sorry for you and your family. I know the pain too and I cried as I read your blog; tears for you and for the memory I have of my own Totchie’s passing. The cherished beings we call dogs just snuggle in so tightly into our hearts, forever to be mingled with our thoughts and always with love.

    Reply
  6. Sheila

    Our last dog died when he was 16 and I still lived at home. I still remember him to this day. My first cat died over a year ago and even though I have a new one, I still miss my Lucky. Sasha will forever be in your heart. The tears will slowly dry and I’m sure will be replace with many wonderful memories of her. I’ll think of you and your family in my prayers tonight.

    Reply
  7. wordsurfer

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    Our dog broke down a few weeks ago and during the time when the vet was still examining him, we thought the worst would happen. Luckily, he’s more or less healed again, but that episode has made me more aware that the day will come when we’ll have to say goodbye and I try to appreciate the time we have with him, play more, walk more, cuddle more…
    I’ll be thinking of you and your family!

    Reply
      1. wordsurfer

        Thank you so much! I hope things are getting a little bit easier for you every day. I also like your blog very much, and for that, I have nominated you for two blog awards (you can have both, or only one, as you choose): the Booker Award for book bloggers (and writers!) and the One Lovely Blog award. You can find out more here: http://crestingthewords.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/updating-the-blog-part-1-or-the-honour-of-receiving-and-the-joy-of-passing-on-awards/

  8. Linda Kettelhut

    Thank you for your heartrending story. Several years ago we lost our darling cat,Sadie. She was only six years old. Our hearts were broken. On August 20, 2012 we lost our youngest son, a truly beautiful and kind man, Dustin. He was only 43 years old. Our anguish is unbearful. If it were not for God’s promise that
    one day we will be together there would be no hope. We cling to that promise. God bless you and us all. Your story meant so much to us.

    Reply
  9. kittenkins

    I honestly know what you are feeling i have just put my baby boy down, was your little girl ill? thankfully i still have one old boy left, If you want to chat let me know. maybe we can talk about the highs and lows of our two lost friends ❤

    Reply
    1. Arlene Somerton Smith Post author

      The number one question we’ve been asked is, “Are you going to get another dog?” Not just yet, that’s for sure. We’ll honour Sasha’s memory in full first. Then, when my husband retires, and he can do all the early morning dog walks, we’ll talk.

      Reply

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