Saturday, July 25, 2009

When It's Time To Say Goodbye

When a new pet has entered my life, I have made a spoken vow to each of them, to give him or her a safe, loving home. And when the time comes for them to leave, I will be there and help them, that they won't have to suffer. It's easy to make that promise when you're holding a fat healthy puppy or kitten and it looks like you have all the time in the world to be together, but we all know that pets age much too quickly and our time together is short.



Many people have asked me, "How will I know when the time has come?" My answer must seem unsatisfactory to them. I tell them to watch and listen and their pet will tell them. It might be a look, a sigh, a head in the lap along with a whimper. It may be that the dog who would eat anything, now doesn't want even special treats offered by hand. It might be a certain light that no longer is visible in the eyes. Some pets try to be alone or to hide. Whatever the signal, it'll be there and it's your job to see it.

I was there with each of my pets when they died. I held them and whispered familiar words in their ears. I felt I owed it to them to be there. They would have done the same for me, if the situation was reversed.



Then comes the almost unbearable pain and the second guessing. Did I do the right thing? Was it too soon? Should I have done it sooner? The tears start up at unexpected times and non-animal people don't understand. They brush it off as if a close friend hadn't just died. But we know better.



How do we get past the pain? Some people say they'll never have another pet, it's too painful to say goodbye. Some people say they need time before they get another pet. Both those solutions are acceptable. I handle it a bit differently. When I've lost my dog and feel depressed and sad, I need a puppy. I need to laugh at the silly, stupid antics of a puppy. A puppy demands my attention and leaves me tired at the end of the day. It makes the pain of loss feel a little less sharp. I need to feel the warmth of a small living being tucked against my neck and to smell that sweet puppy breath.



You may be wondering why I'm writing this now. My dogs are all healthy at this time and I'm not personally dealing with a loss, but two friends of mine are and it's been on my mind a lot recently. Everyone who has experienced the joy of living with an animal has to face this eventually and we all handle it in our own way. This is mine.



My thoughts are with you and what you're dealing with. You are not alone in your grief.

16 comments:

soulbrush said...

thankyou for this...i often wonder how i will deal with myself and my feelings when snuffles dies...

momsue84 said...

The tears are slipping down my cheeks as I read your beautiful post. You are spot on in everything you have said. The pain for me is unbearable at the time of the parting. DH and I take about 4-6 weeks to grieve, and then seek out the newest member of our family. Somehow, God always places a wonderful dog in our care, and we become, once again, geared up for lots of fun, love and care. But, we never forget. Never.

the 4 Bs said...

saying goodbye to our bestest friends is very difficult. we don't want them to leave us, but we don't want them to suffer. we don't think you ever truly get over it. you just go on, the best way that you can.

woofs.

Maggie and Mitch said...

What a wonderful post this is! Mom is wiping away tears.

Love ya lots
Maggie and Mitch

GoldenTracks said...

Beautifully stated, Sue. brought tears to my eyes.

Nicki said...

Well, I had not cried not much today but now I am. What a lovely post, you are right and we are just waiting for the sign. I know he will tell me. He always does.

Dianne said...

You are so very right. They always tell you when the time is right. I dread that day...

Channon said...

Yesterday was my crying jag, so I'm afraid I couldn't read all of your words, but I did admire the beautiful dogs you've loved.

bbes tribe said...

Thank you! You are right on in everything. No one wants their special friend/s to suffer. They give us so much and are family. None of them can ever be replaced but they leave behind special and happy memories. The new friend/s bring with them a whole new set of special memories and happiness.
Ernie & Sasha's Mom

Trish said...

Wow Sue. You have the gift of eloquence. It's nice knowing other people actually do feel the same way. I am sad for your friends....they are in my thoughts and prayers.
And we all (hubby too) have been talking more about a puppy latelly. I could use one after reading that.

Brownie said...

What a wonderful post. Saying goodbye is so difficult. I try not to think about it...

dreameyce said...

*hugs* Beautiful.

Honestly, I wish after loosing Kiwi, we'd been in a position to get a new puppy. I think it can help, for some people, in the sorting, and healing process. Not everyone of course, but some people.

After my daughters cat Nibbles passed, she was devastated, and heartbroken, and cried herself to sleep. A heartbreaking thing to see a 4 year old go through. In feburary she met Ropey, a kitten from a litter my friend bred, and there was an instant connection. My friend decided Dea needed Ropes, and Ropes wanted to be with her.

Ropes now takes the place Nibbles left in bed, and as her best friend, and she no longer cries herself to sleep, or wakes up from nightmares.

She still talks about Nibby, and makes artwork of Nibbles too. She asks how I think Nibby would like Ropey, and we say, they'd be best friends. She says Nibbles gave Ropey to her. I believe it too. I have that sneaky feeling, sometimes our loved ones, when they go, send new loved ones into our lives, whether soon, or later.

The OP Pack said...

That was a beautiful post and Mom says she so wishes she hadn't just been through it and hopes she isn't on the brink of it again.

We will keep your friends and their beloved pets in our hearts and prayers.

Hugs, the OP Pack

gaylen said...

The only thing I've ever asked is to be strong enough to do what is right for my dog. I'm not sure I have it in me - but I'll call you if I need help.

thank you for the reminder that they do so much while asking so little of us. :) g

Ellie's mom said...

Great post. I haven't yet had to make that decision, and I am not looking forward to it. I really hope it is easy tell to when it's time to let them go.
I left you an award on my blog if you would like it!

Tee said...

I worry about each and everyone of them constantly - while they are up to all sorts of mischief. Keeping them safe, keeping them healthy and happy ... and yes, watching them as they make me laugh.

I dread the moment when one of my pups faces eventuality.

Am never good at goodbyes ...