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Pet Ways to Ease Stress
with Jessica Loftus, Ph.D. & Jack Murray

Roscoe’s Stress from Grieving a Lost Love

Having gone through the wringer of love and loss, let me tell you my story. Roscoe is my name and being a mutt is my trade.

I was perfectly content before I met …. her.  That was before my world collapsed. I lived in a small house with my owner and his wife, a nice couple who take very good care of me. They always make sure I have fresh water in my bowl and plenty to eat, sometimes even meaty scraps off the dinner table! In return, I give them all my love and affection. A more loyal dog than I could not be found.

Lucky to have a lush back yard to play in, I roll in the grass or bark at squirrels and rabbits, who wisely stay far away. Plenty of trees yield good places to “do my business.” Flowers attract honey bees that I like to catch in my mouth and eat – they taste so sweet.

Usually well-behaved, I rarely get scolded for chewing up one of my owner’s slippers. Never once has anyone suggested that I attend obedience school or see a dog whisperer.

Then She Moved into my Life

Life was good. But then one day … she moved in, right next door. Her owners opened their back door and out she came. She was lovely, about my age and size with a coat of long blondish hair, long eyelashes and the furriest tail I ever saw. She was too much; I couldn’t even bark at her. I caught her gaze and scampered over to the chain-link fence that separated our yards. I gave that irresistible whimper of mine and she slowly, gingerly, walked over to me.

Our snouts touched each other’s against the fence. I made the first move and began licking as much of her face as I could reach. She shyly reciprocated as we stood snout to snout, getting to know each other. Her scent drove me wild. Soon her owner yelled, “Missy!” and she had to go in. She gave me one last sweet look before she obeyed her master and trotted into the house. I dreamt of her rolling in the grass that night as I slept at the foot of the bed.

The next day and every day after that, we looked for each other every time our owners let us go outside to play. It was an idyllic springtime getting to know Missy. How I wished that darn fence didn’t separate us. Sometimes, though, our respective owners took us for walks at the same time. We were able to smell each other up and carry on to our hearts’ content for a few, brief moments of bliss.

The Stress of Grief

Then one day, a rival for Missy’s affections moved in on the other side of her yard. No mere mutt like me, Prince was a pure-bred poseur who managed to use his wiles to attract Missy away from me. Tragically for me, a life with Missy was not to be had. It was their snouts that now touched, and his face she licked. It was to his fence that she ran to when let outside.

Never have I felt such loss. The anguish of jealously made me feel sick. Losing my appetite, I could not touch a bite. I chewed on my bones to the quick. Sleep was a stranger. I lay in my doggie bed all day whimpering, dreading going into the backyard, where I was certain to see them carrying on. I didn’t want to play fetch or catch the Frisbee in my mouth, games I used to love.

The stress of terrible grief had its stranglehold on me. My owner grew so concerned that he took me to the vet, who couldn’t find anything physically wrong with me. “I think there’s something else going on,” the vet said of my sadness. “Have there been any changes in Roscoe’s life?”

“Aha,” my owner said. “I think Roscoe is in despair after losing his puppy love.” He took me home and did everything he could to cheer me up, but it just made me feel sadder than ever. Life looked so bleak and I couldn’t face each new day. Weeks past, during which I felt no better.

Lessons Learned

Then one day, to my surprise, Missy came up to my fence and barked for me to meet her. Then she shared her unhappiness with Prince, turned off by his arrogant air of superiority. When she admitted that she missed me, her plain and simple little mutt, I couldn’t believe my perked-up ears. With my tail wagging and for the first time in weeks, there was a smile on my face. I don’t remember feeling such joy!

The stress was gone as my pain lifted. Missy and I cuddled our snouts together as I spied Prince looking dejected in his backyard. Who knew life could feel so sweet. My appetite returned with my newfound happiness, and I could sleep again. Dreaming about Missy, my nightmare of loss had ended.  Strangely, I had even more appreciation for her, and avoided taking her for granted.

So here is what I learned:

  1. Loss occurs often in life. We need to experience our feelings of grief deeply even if they cause stress.
  2. Situations may change. The darkest storm often gives way to the brightest rainbow.  We need to learn to practice the art of patience.
  3. Perceptions may be illusory. We need to evaluate ourselves and others realistically.
  4. Pain can be a growing experience. We need to become more focused on gratitude.

I did not live “happily ever after” with Missy, but we learned to respect, cherish and support each other through life’s storms.

Image is under license from Shutterstock.com

Roscoe’s Stress from Grieving a Lost Love

jloftus

Jessica Loftus is a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor with more than 20 years of counseling experience. Jack Murray, is a former award-winning journalist who currently works as a freelance writer. View their website at https://easywaystoeasestress.com/


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APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2018). Roscoe’s Stress from Grieving a Lost Love. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 10, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/ease-stress/2018/09/roscoes-stress-from-grieving-a-lost-love/

 

Last updated: 23 Sep 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 23 Sep 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.