Every pet that enters our lives has a special place in our hearts, without a doubt. I can rattle off the list of the menagerie I’ve lived with and tell you stories for hours. But within that hierarchy, there is always that one special one- your heart dog (or cat or horse…), as Dr. Crosby has so aptly described it. The one who really taught you what this whole pet-having-thing is all about.
I can talk about all my departed pets with a smile and a wistful remembrance. But when you ask about my heart dog, there’s a pause first. The pause where I stumble into that little hole that time refuses to entirely fill back up. I pause, let the twinge of grief roll over me, then tell you about Emmett. I speak about him a little more briefly than I do my other pets, if you happen to notice- because I can’t get through everything I want to say about him without tearing up, even now, months later.
I wish I knew exactly what it was that makes a dog a heart dog as opposed to a dog you love a whole lot. Shared experience? Similar personality? A particular understanding that goes deeper than the usual personality descriptors? I don’t know how it happens or why, but I know it when I see it. And I know when so many of you responded in past posts on the topic that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Meet Bailey, beloved heart dog of Lisa and the inspiration for this post:
Beautiful, isn’t she?
Bailey left in July after a brief and intense struggle with a mast cell tumor. Lisa and I have a lot in common. She writes:
“My beautiful girl and I had 12 1/2 years together. We went through so much, both good and bad, during that time. Although her 2-year-old “sister” Sophie is still with us, and we have adopted a new puppy, no one can ease the pain of her loss for me. I asked her to help me pick out the new pup so that we would have a “people dog” like she was, and I think she did a great job. But I still cry for her and there is a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
I hope that time will help to ease the pain of her loss. And I hope that I will see her again some day. The memory of her loving, soulful eyes, her soft chocolate fur, and the absolute and total love that we felt for each other is indeed precious, and I know that those memories will someday take precedence over the sad ones. I write letters to her and talk to her regularly, and will love her forever.”
Hold onto your hankies, guys. Want to see a heart dog connection captured perfectly?
No need for words to get what that picture is saying.
Lisa posed the question, “How do you get over that kind of loss?” and I said I would be happy to address it. Then I realized I don’t have any idea, seeing as I am still kind of coming to terms with my loss myself. I am so glad I had this blog when I was going through my experience with Emmett, because otherwise it would have felt so lonely. There’s only so much your friends can listen to you talk about your dog’s chemo and how you can’t bring yourself to throw away the dog dish before they start changing the topic on you.
For me, sharing, and having other people respond was more helpful than anything else. I know I’ve done it once before, but it’s worth doing again- I’ll open it to the floor. Who was your heart pet? What helped you come to terms with their loss (if they are no longer with you.) I’m not going anywhere, I might as well get to know all of you better, right?
And to start: Lisa, my heart ached for you reading your every word. It’s evident how much Bailey is missed. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Dedicated to Bailey- puppy heart, soul mate, kind soul, sorely missed.