Friday, August 18, 2017

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

EIGHTEEN DAYS AND COUNTING


You can bet that Clark was probably eating something
as he took this picture of Duke. Look who's REALLY
interested in looking at Clark (not the camera), lol

Right after Duke crossed the rainbow bridge, I thought I wanted to write a book documenting the days immediately before and after his death. Why? I wanted to share my grief with others who were going through the same thing--to let them know that they weren't nuts, and that there WERE others who had also struggled with the death of a beloved pet. When I was growing up, our family usually had dogs, often dachshunds. I felt sad when something happened to each one of them, but never to the degree of my grief over Duke. Some pets come along that become far more--I like to call them soul pets, much in the same way we have soul mates in friends or spouses. Duke was my soul pet.

Society has not totally accepted such grief over a mere pet. In my research, I am finding that this attitude is changing, and for that, I am glad. Therefore, I sat down yesterday and brought all my blog posts and other notes together to paste them into one Word document for my rudimentary manuscript. As I did so, it got harder and harder to continue, so I finally stopped, in tears. You see, it is just too soon to go back over all that pain and grief: his illness, his suffering, and most of all, his passing. It's more than I can deal with right now.

Therefore, the 8,000+ words I have for that book-to-be will have to wait, because I am simply not ready to shape it into a manuscript right now. The pain is too fresh, the tears flow too easily, and his suffering is still too real. Perhaps someday I'll be able to handle it, because I truly believe there is too little material out there for grieving pet parents. There are even pet grief meetings, similar to grief care meetings when people lose a loved one. I don't particularly want to attend those, because I know I'll be fine eventually. I'll never be the same as I was before, because the death of a loved one, be it of a human or a pet, changes you in ways you never imagined.

Duke barking at something in the
yard--probably a squirrel or a bird
I loved Duke far more than I realized before all this happened. I counted on him for his companionship when Clark subbed (substitute taught) several days a week, so it was just Duke and me all day.  He knew how to give it abundantly, as most dachshunds do. Dogs are just special in that way! As I sit here typing this post, I am reminded that Duke was always on the bed over there, as I've written in a previous post. Sometimes he would nap (he wasn't a "morning dog" after his puppy stage). Sometimes, if I kept working on a manuscript too long, he would stretch, crawl over to me with his back legs stretched out behind him (doxie lovers, you're familiar with that doxie stretch), and stare at me. If I took no notice, he'd let out a little bark or whine to get my attention: he was ready for me to play with HIM or rub HIS back--not sit there staring at the computer screen. I suppose he often wondered what I was staring at!


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Duke at age two or three
Friends and family have been very kind--both here in town as well as across the country and on social media--if some think I am nuts right now, at least they have kept that thought to themselves, and I appreciate it. Others have called, sent us beautiful sympathy cards, and I know they've prayed for us. As a Christian, I know the Lord cares for us and desires to comfort us in our grief, and that is worth far more than suffering alone! After all, He created these lovely animals and put them in our care. Dogs, in particular, have loved/been loved by us for centuries. In addition, people have had all sorts of other animals for pets, too: foxes, wolves, horses, deer, goats, sheep, cows, pigs, turtles, snakes, lions, tigers, monkeys--even spiders (shudder)--although it's debatable as to how much love some of those show to humans!

In any case, so many types of animals apparently want to show love to humans. I recently saw a video on Facebook of a diver who encountered a seal while diving, so he began scratching its belly and rubbing its head. That seal loved the attention! It rubbed its head against the face of the diver, doing all it could to show friendliness. I've always thought their faces looked like dogs, anyway. I've gone off on a tangent here, but I believe we've only scratched the surface of the amazing animal kingdom and what they know and understand about us. I do know that dogs can sense our moods and emotions, often catering to our sadness or sickness, seeking to comfort us. Duke always knew when I was upset or ill, and he stuck right by my side until I felt better. He would lick my hand or my face, his way of showing he cared and that things would be okay.

Clark is subbing for a half day today, my first at being here alone. Our grandson was staying with us last week when Clark subbed for the first time this school year. Oh, I'm a big girl and generally never mind being by myself--it's just the "Duke thing" that makes it so hard right now. EVERYTHING reminds me of my doxie:

when we:
  • leave the house, he isn't here for us to make sure he'll be fine while we're gone;
  • come home, he isn't here to bark his joyous greeting and wag his tail, so happy to see us;
  • eat, nobody's staring at us, begging for a bite (or more) of our food;
  • finish our meals, he isn't here to lick out our plates (he considered that one of his privileges) so well that we COULD put them back in the cabinet, and nobody would be the wiser (no, we wouldn't do that!!);
  • have family here, there's no Duke to do the happy dance welcoming them into our home;
Well, you get the idea, and you could probably add dozens more situations to my list.

My corner in this office dedicated to Duke is growing: I've added a smaller photo of him, and will add his footprint plaque when I decide how I want to display it. There are several more photos I want to print out and frame, so I'll add those as well.

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people sitting, dog and indoor
The grands, Duke, and moi:
they were spending the night
at our house
I've learned in these eighteen days that grief has its own timetable. You think you're gonna beat it, then some tiny little thing you see or hear will remind you of your pet, and you're back to where you were at the beginning. Each day I wake up, I feel fine until it hits me: Duke isn't here--I'm not over him yet. Those first three or four days were the worst I've ever experienced: the physical pain of grief is unbelievable to anyone who has never experienced that. Other pet lovers tell me that they have never gotten over their loss--they have just learned to live with it. That's what I'm still working on.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, FALL 2017



How, I ask, do grandchildren grow up so fast?? At least, that's how it seems to us about our grands. They are already 13, 11, and 7. Being the doting grandma that I am, here are photos of their first day, which happens to be TODAY:










Grandchildren . . . you gotta love 'em!

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