Curiously, I find writing about my dogs as calming as holding them and caring for them.
When he died, I left you hanging, promising to tell you how I learned about the grave importance of grieving for your pet.
Leigh Pretnar Cousins in her endlessly captivating blog here at Psych Central, Always Learning, recently explored this theme when writing about grieving for her cat Luna. Losing a pet, a member of the family, is emotionally shattering. No matter how many pets you have had or what type of animal your pet is.
The animal-human bond is like no other. When you lose an animal you’ve loved and with whom you are interdependent ~ it’s psychically traumatic. Don’t let anyone ever minimize that.
I learned this through Murphy. His death eventually led me to a new (to me) breed of dog ~ an old, rare and endangered Scottish breed. We joined an active community of engaging people equally besotted by Dandie Dinmonts.
After Murphy died, living dogless for the first time in 14 years. I felt lonely. Empty.
Now our menagerie a trois was a duet…
I was working at home in side-by-side offices with Marty. We were together 24/7 and still in honeymoon mode ~ which remains today. We’re both writers. (Fiction for him. Non-fiction for me.) He’s my closest friend, confidante and companion. We are symbiotic. Emotionally bonded. When I’m upset, he’s upset.
But Marty is no dog.
Let me tell you about one dog I will never, in all my life, forget.
Back in the early 1990’s Murphy, barely out of his puppyhood, and I became enamored of a strange-looking dog who moved into our neighbourhood.
This Dandie Dinmont Terrier, was like no dog I have ever seen…
This dog’s name was Angus. One day, we chanced upon him whilst walking in the little courtyard outside my apartment on our way to the park. He was walking, or rather, dawdling alongside his young red-headed owner. Angus was very slow.
“He’s blind,” his red-headed owner said. “He has glaucoma.”
Angus was also very old. His white, grey and black coat was matted and scruffy. It was obvious he hadn’t seen a groomer in a long while. He seemed either very sick or very old. It turned out to be a bit of both.
Angus was the family dog, his owner said. She had inherited him when her parents sold their home and moved away.
I was beguiled by him. He was intriguingly appealing…
He was very long and low to the ground with big floppy ears and an enormous large head, dominated by a big black button nose, enormous black eyes that gazed directly forward. His face seemed human and although his vision was clouded, he was very responsive to me. Murphy instinctively treated him gingerly, like an elder statesman.
He was a Dandie Dinmont Terrier, a breed unknown to me. He had the most exquisite face I’ve ever seen in a dog. It was love at first sight. I vowed then, silently, that if ever I were to have another dog it would be a Dandie Dinmont Terrier.
In late November 2003, when Murphy was diagnosed with lymphoma, his vet told me wouldn’t live for more than six weeks. I was on a death watch. Murphy was trying to be brave, but I could see him deteriorating each day. His collar got looser and looser. He wasn’t himself.
One morning, sitting here, contemplating no longer having him in my life, which seemed unthinkable, I started thinking about Angus. I found myself looking for information about Dandie Dinmont Terriers online.
Within five minutes, I was talking to Mike Macbeth, the president of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier Club of Canada. Mike is also an international show dog judge. She lives just northeast of Toronto.
I’ll never forget that phone call. I told her what was happening to my dog, and all about Angus. She listened intensely. She answered my questions about Dandies, which she had bred for many years and her mother before her. She was also a well-known business journalist, but only to support her passion ~ her Dandies. I’ll never forget her kindness.
At the end of our conversation, she said I could call her anytime.
Continued in Living the Dandie Life ~ Part Two…