Friday, January 4, 2013

Coping with the Loss of a Beloved Pet

Eve in my Mama's garden

(This is an excerpt from an old journal I have)

I don't even know how to start retelling the most painful event in my life so far. Most people would agree, especially animal lovers out there, that losing your most beloved Pet is as painful as being heartbroken, or having lost a family member. Because that's what they become, a part of a family.

She was the pride of our house. Everyone knew us when they saw the big white dog, proudly parading her long shiny fur in our neighborhood. Our house was referred to as, Eve's House, and that we are the people who lived in Eve's House. She was the first "Member of the Family" I introduced my first boyfriend to (who is now my partner for life). She came to live with us when my family first acquired our own house. Until I got married, got a house of our own and I volunteered to take care of her since then. I promised my husband I will take care of everything when it comes to Eve. I will give her baths, I will take her out to walk, pee and do her thing. But you know what, my husband who is so not into dogs, eventually came to like her. They were inseparable as he does her bathing and scheduled walks after every meal, which I prepare as its the only thing I was left to do for her. Except of course, occasional spa treatment I give her (grooming etc).
My husband said he'd  never been this close to a dog before. Eve really caught everyone's heart, even my in-laws were crazy about Eve. He loved her weird qualities. I took care of a lot of pets when I was growing up and I am telling you, I have never met a stranger dog in my life so far. Like what her profile says, she gets nightmares all the time, she sticks out her tongue like a nut while asleep and moves her legs back and forth as if running away from her dream. She is crazy about bread and I meant crazy addicted, with matching bloodshot eyes and dripping saliva. She is as quick as your next door puppy when food is served but when it's chill time, she moves in a slow motion pace, like your resident sloth. I guess it's a bit common for dogs to get anxious when they hear firecrackers but you should see how she reacts to even the faintest of firecrackers fired from miles away. Her line of defense? To go as high up as she can go to drown out the sound, or maybe get away from where the sound is. She went upstairs one time (alone, you gotta give her credit though, she'd done it all by her slow self. When she saw me in front of the computer upstairs she climbed on my lap and struggled to find a way to get on top of my head. I went, what do you want Eve? Do you want to be on top of my head?
Things like these are what reminds us of Eve, her weirdness. She usually sleeps in our bedroom, I feel touched whenever she does this, always following us where we are in the house. But I thought then, was it us or was it really the electric fan she follows. She sleeps with her legs propped up, it can be really humid here sometimes.

Eve lounging with Furby (who only speaks Japanese!)

I always thought we would be with her for a long long time but she didn't stay for long..she got a tumor in her ovaries and it became so enlarged that we had to clean up after her several times a day, as it was slowly rupturing. In a months time it went from a lemon to a melon. I created a cone of shame for her, we use a stretchable bandana to conceal her wound and her tumor.
When they took her blood sample they scheduled her surgery for next month, she had to take the medicines she needs to take for a month prior to surgery. I was hesitant to give her those medicines. She still moves around like there is nothing wrong with her. By this time, her wound had become so big that the stench was so overpowering. The tumor ruptured severely, it's like seeing flaps of liver. The house wreaked with the awful smell and we can't even masked it with room sprays. Imagine we had to clean it up several times a day, with Betadine and Hydrogen Peroxide. Good thing we discovered a violet antibacterial used by the vet, it was really effective because it really took care of the foul smell. When I gave the meds she no longer would eat, she started to show signs of weakness. She can barely walk and lift her lower legs anymore. She hit her chin hard on the pavement when she tried to push her lower legs up to pee. As she was doing this, she lost control of her body and fell chin and head first to the ground following the rest of her body. I can't help but really feel sorry for her. And I can't help but notice her feeling embarrassed herself. Eventually she no longer wanted to go outside. She just pees on the yard. One day we woke up with her poop all over her behind, she's not capable of doing this on all fours now, so she had to do it lying down.We cleaned her up and changed her gauze and diapers. I went back to the bed with a clear view of Eve outside. She stared at me, the way she does all the time when she wants to do mental telepathy version of me-want-food. But I guessed what she wanted, she hadn't eaten a full meal and has been drowning water for days, but she doesn't want food though, I think she wants me to bring her inside our bedroom. I stared back at her like I have done once in the past trying to decipher her code. She looked at me like she wants to tell me something but is unable to speak. She looks to you like she knows your soul, like she was once a human. She looked at me like she wanted me to hug her like I did when she was healthy. She's very human in so many ways I can't explain. My husband and I would argue all the time whenever we change her gauze, about her 9K surgery. I guess she doesn't want us to argue anymore. I didn't realize all this till about quarter to 9 in the morning, my husband woke me up from the nap, telling me that Eve is gone. I rushed past to see her body all shriveled up, I didn't realized how thin she got, minus the life out of her now, she's like a dog with no insides. I hugged her still, there's no more life there, no more Eve, no more weirdness, no more happiness, no more pain. It was June 19, 2010. And I can't believe it, I didn't realize that the look she gave me was that of goodbye. That she was grateful for all the 9 years we spent together. All the years we took care of her, now realizing that she too, took care of us. Safeguarding the house, keeping the peace, bringing plenty of good vibes and happy memories. I don't know but I guess she really wanted me to bring her in he bedroom so she can sleep at the foot of the bed like she used to, for the last time. I guess she was thinking how crazy we all were giving her all the weird nicknames, Eve, Eva, Evie, Etha, Eev Eev Eeve. I wanted to think that she may have been glad to finally let go of the pain. I felt sad because I haven't bought her the comfortable bed for dogs. I felt she could have at least seen us with a baby, something that she won't be able to see now, I guess cause she was our baby. I think she still loved us despite all the missing parts. She loved us because she lets us rest our feet in her furry body like carpet and she wants the belly rub anyway.

Eve, wishful thinking

It was the weekend, a Saturday. It's like perfect timing for her, I called up our immediate family to gather up in our house, told everyone that Eve's gone. I set up a small wake for her. Our entire family was there to bid Eve goodbye. We covered her in my pink blanket. We put her things beside her, her clothes, her bowls, her chain / leash, her cone of shame. We buried her in our garden. We made a grotto for her.

Garden of Eve

I have to keep her close to me. I guess I just wanted to tell her how much I loved her dearly. I didn't know how to say goodbye to her. I still look for her every time I wake up. I still call her name. My husband lit a candle in her grotto for several nights after she died. He loved her too.

After the move-in, celebrating my husbands birthday, Eve is ready to party

We missed her a lot that year and the following year, and the next, and years after, we still missed her so much. My husband even thought of that movie where they clone their pets, like Re-Pet i think, that's why whenever we see traces of her fur around the house, we keep it, just in case the clone thing happens in the future, we can have her back.

Eve, outstretched

We watched Frankenweenie recently, I always liked animated movies. Especially when there are dogs in the movie. I never thought it would happen again but in the end of the film, I cried like a child, my husband had to hug me and tell me everything is gonna be fine, well, he cried too. We were deeply reminded of Eve because of Sparky. I can totally relate how completely desperate Victor Frankenstein was to raise his dog from the grave, you have to watch the ending to the film.

I dreamt of Eve today. We were in our old home, where she was born. She followed me outside of the screen door, she was freshly bathed. I can still feel her fur on my legs all wet and smelling nice. Her hair looked as if it has a grown a few inches after a major shave. She sheds several times a year. In my dream, I felt she was happy. I told her to get inside and follow me upstairs, she wags her tails and I didn't realize this was a dream until after I woke up, I would have hugged her tight and never let go.

Eve with a party hat

My husband guessed maybe she wants to send us a message saying that she is doing fine where she is in heaven. I believe she lived a full life because she was loved by so many. Adored by a lot of people. It's a dogs mission in life. Eve's mission was cut short but she did an amazing job. Sleeping, yeah, eating, peeing and pooping check but nonetheless she gave us a valuable lesson in life. Unconditional love. That's what she gave us. And it's really very simple. All she wanted in return were 3 things. A belly rub, a belly rub and a belly rub. We love you Eve! We miss you! Enjoy your new home in heaven! Run like the wind Eve!


I have come to accept the loss of my beloved dog Eve, but I still get pretty emotional whenever I reminisce. But here's a few tips that may help with coping for a pet loss. I could have sworn I must have needed these back then, but read on, I did all these things myself back when I was in total grief. Hope you find that you are not alone.

Prepare for a proper goodbye
- Acknowledge the loss of your pet and prepare for a proper goodbye, don't let emotions ruin this day for your beloved because you owe it to your pet to at least give them a decent burial.
- If you have the luxury of getting your pet interred to a pet cemetery, do so and as much as possible get your loved ones to be with you around this time, it would help in getting through this day.
- Some have not accepted people treating pets like humans, some people may not understand how deeply emotional you are right now, don't let these things get to you. It is completely normal to feel devastated after losing a pet because it is a personal relationship between the owner and the pet, so it is a 'personal' struggle.

Gather up all pet memorabilia's / personal things and reminisce
- Pick a day to reminisce about your pet, watch an old video, see old pictures and remember how good those memories were with your pet. Let the tears roll by. Cry your heart out, have someone with you during this time as well so you can have someone to discuss your feelings to, specifically someone who understands what your going through or have gone through the same thing themselves.
- Get a journal and write down all you can remember about your pet (same as I did, I created this from an old journal from the day my pet died) pour out all of your feelings to that journal, you can even write a letter to your pet so you can say how you feel about losing them and how much they mean to you.

Pray that you will be able to move past this
- Losing a pet is like losing a family member, prayer is what keeps us afloat and faith that we can move on with our lives despite of our current situation would help in one's recovery.

Don't Get a New Pet Just Yet
- Let the wounds heal first and remember that you are not getting a new pet just so you can move forward
- Let getting a new pet mean that you are ready to take care of a new one and not as a replacement for the one you lost, it would be unfair for your new pet.

In Getting a New Pet
- If in any case you get a new pet, don't ever compare, don't get a look-alike, don't give the same name.
- Don't force your new pet to be like your old one.
- Be fair to your new pet and let them develop their own personality

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