Life after losing your dog
Earlier this year, my golden Labrador, Peanut, went missing. Unless you are a regular reader of my blog, you will be unable to fathom just how much Peanut meant to me. Peanut was my son; he was my pillar of strength when I was down, my shadow as I moved about the house, my constant companion as I pottered about and muttered to him words of kindness or of anger.
So if he meant so much to me, how could I let him out of my sight long enough for him to be lost. A valid question, yes.
Well, the truth was that at the time the puppies that Peanut had fathered with our German Shepherd had just been born. The puppies grabbed all of my attention, as puppies will do, so that all day I devoted my time to making sure they were alright and keeping Peanut out of the room so as not to upset the mother. In the same line of thinking, therefore, I let him out of the house while I tended to the pups; it wasn't the first time, I'd let him out by himself several times in the past and he'd made his way back home. Except on this day I'd had one glass of wine too many and fell asleep so that it was 7am by the time I realised that Peanut hadn't come back home. Perhaps he had come and found that the door wasn't opened for him, went hunting for his home at other locations. I have only myself to blame.
So first comes the cold realisation that your dog, your beloved non human child, is gone. You go out and look for him in a cold panic. Steeling yourself against the growing realisation that you're never going to find him. Or that he's never going to come back home. Your brain, of course, rationalises the situation and tells you that of course you're going to find him; he couldn't have gone too far. So you ride through the neighbourhood, calling out his name, looking for his familiar shade of coat against the cold metropolis. Nothing. So then you fear that perhaps someone has taken him and that is why he's unable to make his way back to his home. So you put up posters offering a reward; you spread the word on your social networks - your Facebook, your Twitter, whatever works. You will of course gain lots of sympathy during the course of these events.
Still nothing. That's when your old dark fear comes true: Your little boy had never been happy with you to begin with. Whoever dognapped him, and whichever home he landed up in, is keeping him much happier than you ever had. Which is why he hasn't come back to try to find you, which is why you cannot find him.
Never, never, admit to yourself that he may be dead.
So in the midst of this morbid tale, how do you survive? You cling on to the hope that he may still be out there, looking for his way back home. You never stop glancing about you as you leave home or return, in case you catch sight of his glossy coat. You keep checking the lost pets section of a Facebook page or newspaper in the hope that he may yet turn up.
And life does go on.
Life after giving away a dog
By 'dog' in this case, I will be referring to puppies that you helped to raise. My lost dog was fortunate enough to have fathered seven pups. Rather, we were fortunate enough to have them born in our home as little reminders of him. But raising seven German Shepradors is impossible when you live in an apartment, so off they had to go to find new homes.
Now, when my German Shepherd went into labour, we did not take her to a vet. Partly because there are no competent vets nearby, but mainly because I am already familiar in the art of canine midwifery, having served as apprentice midwife to my aunt when our pom was whelping. So from the time they were blind little rat-like creatures being popped out in their amniotic sacs, to the time they began ripping around the house tearing up everything in sight, I had these pups in my sights, making sure they were well fed and happy. You can imagine, therefore, or perhaps you can't, the searing loss that comes when you have to give them away. You know it is in their best interest to go to a better and bigger home, but it is a terrible thing to have to give away what has come to become such a lively part of your life. We have since given away four of the puppies, always making sure that the new owners were loving and knew what they were letting themselves in for. But I will still remember little Prilo's loving toe-licks, Rajjo's simpering gaze, Django's hyperactive bounding at the merest whisper of your voice and Yogi's easy attitude.
No, it isn't easy having dogs. Not because of the effort involved in their care; but because it simply hurts too much when you have to see them go.