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Grieving For The Death of A Pet

Dear anyone that has owned a pet — As you walk into your house, screaming at the top of your lungs, grunting and cursing the world — your pet greets you with its tail wagging so hard she literally piddles on herself (and the floor) as she jumps on you like you are the best thing since raw meat.

As you lay down on the couch after a hellacious day, hoping to become invisible and trying not to deal with anything else — your pet licks your face from ear to ear leaving slobber dripping down your chin. You throw your phone across the room pissed at your partner — Fido brings it back to you thinking it’s all a game. You have tears rolling down your face with your breath heavy and labored like a boulder is compressing your lungs — your pet begins howling in a sobbing tone to match your despair.

You leave your pet for 12 hours, alone, in a dark room, forgetting to leave a light on — Fluffy is forgiving and acts like you left 3 seconds ago. You leave the house to throw out the garbage — your dog mauls you seizing every and all opportunities to greet you with unadulterated excitement. You yell and scold your four-legged creature for destroying your new favorite (expensive) pair of heels– Buck plops down at your feet like you praised him for being the best dog ever! 

Our fur babies never care what we say or what we do. They only care how you say it — they live for our squeaking, high pitched inflection and respond to it like the flutes of snake charming that lure and mesmerize them in a hypnotic state out of their basket.

If you own a pet or even know one… You get it! The unconditional love of a pet is like no other. Unlike people, with pets there are no disagreements, no discrepancies, no talking back (sort of), and NO judgement! Animals show up just as they are. They are totally present and in the moment. They are not keeping an internal score card of all the ways we have screwed them over in the past or worried if we will leave them in the future. They do not ask us to change, be different or better than exactly who we are.  

It is not a secret to anyone in this world the soothing, tranquil, benefits of being around animals. They melt our hearts and grow our love. When we first become a pet owner, we swear we will not be one of “those” kookie, obsessed weirdos like other people! I always grew up with a family dog, so I sort of got it. But now, after owning my own dog for 17.5 years. I get it. I really get it. I can proudly say I am one of those cray-crays.

I adopted my first Italian Greyhound 17.5 years ago. I named her Oli, like Olive Oil. She was petite, slender, with long legs and soooo damn cute (what puppy is not). Those who knew me did not advise me or express strong opinions for me to be a dog owner. But you know, opinions are like a-holes, everyone has one and besides, I was not exactly one to conform to what others thought I should do. Hence, I was right in the middle of a perfect life storm making life-altering choices as frequently as changing my underwear.

I was just out of an 8.5 year relationship, beginning a new career, starting graduate school, traveling the world working on cruise ships, and floundering with the meaning of true responsibility and autonomy. If Oli could have talked, she would have had some really good and juicy stories to tell. Oli and I shared 17.5 years of laughter, tears and abundant love. Yesterday was Oli’s day to transition after almost 18 years on a journey together of dating, a doctoral program, five houses, three cities, marriage, two children, three fur siblings (one she outlived, and two she broke in) and everything else in between that we encountered, endured, and conquered. After 6387 days together, Oli no longer awaits my return home, but is forever in my heart.  

Pets are our silent heroes and saviors. This is a shout out to all our four-legged, furry babies that have kept us grounded and content through change, PANDEMICS (our pets love us being home!!), and transition. Fur babies make our houses homes. Our pets are our people and our family. Pet grief can be more intense than people grief. We do our best to prepare and justify the passing of our animals. Heck, you could even have a back-up team or like we did, with two “new” pups on reserve to prepare for the day. There is never any preparation for the transition of love but there is gratitude for the journey traveled. As Alfred Lord Tennyson so eloquently put it, "'tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all".

With gratitude to my Oli and all our fur babies that touch our lives~

Warmly,

Your no bull-shiFt, advice giving, shame-abolishing, doggie loving, Mom, Psychologist and wife, 

Dr. Dara

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