My dog died on a Sunday morning in September 2016. I didn’t cry. My precious friend had gotten out of his run and took his chances on the road. He was knocked down. My neighbour came to tell us that he was on the road across from her house. I couldn’t believe it. Myself and my son got in the car and drove up the road to investigate, hope in our hearts that it wasn’t our pet. You see, I had gotten this dog as a puppy six years earlier after my father died. My dog was an important part of our healing process and signified a huge loss in our lives but also a huge gain.
He was a friend and companion. I didn’t cry though. We all enjoyed walks with him, treks through the woods and sometimes even just going for a drive with him sitting in the front seat with his head stuck out the window enjoying the breeze in his face. Dogs all have their own quirks and personalities, my dog definitely had quirks and personality. He didn’t like swimming but would run through streams like he was Braveheart. He only learned to jump into the car when he was 4, and this was perserverance on my part for a year…he refused point blank to go through the rungs on a gate – it had to be opened for him. Sometimes I did wonder what sort of an ejit he was!!
The day my dog died was tough, but I didn’t cry. I watched my 15 year old son cry bitterly over the loss of a friend, a friend to whom he told all of his secrets. I watched my mother cry, mourning a different loss – the death of our beloved pet of course, but also the significance of why and how we had gotten this pet. I laid him out and brushed his lovely coat, closed his eyes and went to the shed for the shovel. We all took turns brushing him and fixing him. Then I had to decide where would we bury him. I went off with the shovel to find a nice place, close to us and started to dig. The ground was too hard and I didn’t have the heart for the job, so I called into a friend and asked would they help.
The grave was dug and our little friend was laid in with care and love. I didn’t cry. And then it was filled in! He was gone and that was it. There was a lonely silence in the house, one which I remembered from a few years before. And then we talked about him, how we loved him and what great company he was. We talked about how we would miss him, miss walking him and talking to him, and should we think about getting another dog in the future. And I still didn’t cry.
About 3 weeks later I decided to go for a walk up the road, the daily walk we used to take with our dog. I walked alone, I looked around and thought about the many walks I used to take with him. The time he sat on the ground and wouldn’t move no matter how much I coaxed him – I ended up carrying him home. The time he took off after a rabbit in the ditch and I landed beside him in a pile of nettles. The time we sat on a bench in the cemetery and watched the blossoms fall in the breeze, quiet and content. And while walking alone on that road, I cried.