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Yesterday, I was talking to my sister on the phone while I was walking my dogs. In my case, there should be a law No talking, while walking because my dogs are able to sense that my attention is elsewhere and usually act out. Vern takes every opportunity to go right, when I go left and Fudge ups her hunting skills to expert level. At some point in our conversation, I told my sister I had to go because I needed both hands free and I told her to remind me that I was never getting another dog after Fudge and Vern. She started laughing and said no one believed that statement and it was as absurd as me telling her earlier that I was cutting back next Christmas. Who needs the truth from a sister, so I wisely hung up?

 

Recently on DK we have lost many of our beloved dogs. At the end of the year, I am reminded of the In Memoriam part of the Oscars where they bring out a beautiful singer and show the faces of the famous who died that year. It is starting to feel like that on DK and I don’t like it one bit. Just like the Oscars make you start to sense your own mortality, the list of our precious Doodles who have passed on start making you think about your dog’s mortality.

 

Rarely do our dogs outlive us and so many of us have lost a dog in the past, yet we are willing to put ourselves through it again and again. Do we even think about it when we go to pick out that cute puppy? I know I didn’t. I just knew I needed a dog and then another dog. Why are we willing to put ourselves through the business of getting a dog, falling in love with a dog, and losing it before we are ever ready? The only answer I can come up with is because there are just dog people who only feel complete and settled if they have a dog.

 

I know when I lost Hershey, I declared it loudly and often that we were never getting another dog. Hershey didn’t get the best of me and I often feel guilty about that. I didn’t want a dog at that time in my life, but because I was stupid enough to make a promise to our oldest daughter, we got a dog. Of course, despite all the promises that Megan would do everything for the dog, it quickly fell on me to add taking care of a dog to the long list of things I had to do. And without any training or much effort, Hershey turned out to be the best-trained dog I have ever had and the easiest dog of the ones I have had in my adult life. She became my youngest daughter’s best friend and will always be her heart dog. When she died, I was done. It took a few weeks for me to start looking for another dog and that brought crazy, and I mean truly crazy, Honey into our fold. When she died, I was so done. I wasn’t getting another dog ever. It was too much work, too much time, too much worry, too much responsibility, too much heartbreak, just too much.

 

Now, I have two dogs. Why do I keep getting myself into these situations where I know it can’t end well? The odds are I am going to outlive Fudge and Vern and the selfish part of me is glad about that, because no one could love these dogs like I do and know how to take care of them like I do. Whether that is true or not, I totally believe it. So, here we are. I have given my heart away to these dogs and because I understand how completely that can happen, I share the heartbreak with my friends when they lose their dogs. I guess I have to ask the question again…why do we do it?

 

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it when I was much younger and have never forgotten the ending. “There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcarol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain… Or so says the legend.” 

 

To me, this is the answer. What a dog brings to our life is worth all the pain in the end of losing him or her too soon. It’s why we are willing to risk our heart time and time again. It's also the beauty of the human heart.  It can bend and stretch to make room for all the dogs that find their way to us. 

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Comment by Laurie, Fudge, and Vern on January 15, 2018 at 8:51pm

Thank you, BG!

Cheryl, You are too kind!! I am so sad about Oliver and all the wonderful Doodles we have lost this year! Love you, too!

Bonnie, I love your Kona. What a special nurse and friend Jennie has when she needs it! The thought of him smiling makes me smile. I have to laugh about your Owen. LOL Sometimes, my Fudge just plucks my last nerve. She is so darn bossy and pushy, but I love her to pieces. Fudge and Vern are my heart dogs, but I still think I may be done when they go. 

Comment by Bonnie and Kona on January 15, 2018 at 2:24pm

Laurie, I will probably never say I will never get another dog. I have said I will never have four dogs again. And three dogs again. Right now we have two. I don't know what I will do when 10 year old (almost 11) Kona dies. He is truly my heart dog and will remain so. Since Jennie has been so very sick, Kona now stays in her room any time he is in the house. If the door is closed he lays down outside her door and waiting to get in. He always slept in our room at night, but sometime about a year and a half ago, he has moved into Jennie's room to sleep. If Jennie happens to be well enough to sit on the couch, Kona smiles from ear to ear and everyone needs to move so he can lie down with her. To my relief, he does seem happiest if both of us are on the couch with him. ;o) Owen is a stinker. He is as naughty as the day is long and is 7 years old! He has developed the lovely new habit of yowling and sharply barking when things are just not perfectly to his liking. He has a way of getting on my last nerve. And yet, do I love him? Of course. Will I cry when we lose him? Uncontrollably. I have known since I was a child that dogs love unconditionally. It doesn't matter who you know and love, no one loves you better than your dog. I love my dogs and they love me and losing them is so incredibly painful that the only way to get any sense of comfort or peace is to get a puppy. 

Comment by cheryl & oliver on January 14, 2018 at 7:25pm

Laurie, you always have the right words to say at the right time, when we need a laugh, your stories make us laugh, when we need comfort your words do just that. You Laurie are a very remarkable woman..The story above says it all, all that needs to be said is Amen.....Love you lady...

Comment by BG and Gavin on January 1, 2018 at 9:03pm

Beautiful Laurie. That is all; just beautiful.

Comment by Laurie, Fudge, and Vern on January 1, 2018 at 6:13pm

Mary, I am so sorry to hear about Grover. My heart goes out to you, but I know you will help Grover in the days ahead and love him when it is his time to go. I wish I could say more that might help, but just know we are here to support you at this sad time. Hugs to you!

Comment by mary (scrappy and grover) on December 29, 2017 at 4:19pm

Thank you for this.  We just took our Grover home after a nighmare week.  He has been diagnosed with a highly malignant retroperitoneal sarcoma.....found by chance when they went in to biopsy him for IBD.  

I'm sitting here trying to make peace with it, some sense.  The pain of losing them.  But you've said it perfectly and this will bring me some peace maybe in the coming days.  

The JOY he's brought to us, can never be measured. I've had 9 years with him and I can't be selfish now.  He's my heart dog, even though I have two doodles....he never leaves my side, knows when I need him for comfort, calms me during panic attacks.  I don't know how I'll let go, but I have no choice and I need to be strong to support him.  Give back for all he's given us.  

Comment by Laurie, Fudge, and Vern on December 29, 2017 at 5:17am

Kathy, You are welcome.

Jane, I say the same thing about fostering after Fudge and Vern, but I am afraid I would then be a foster failure :) You are so remarkable with all the work you have put into Murphy. He was lucky to find his way to you. 

Ginny, I agree. DK is a wonderful place to meet people who feel the same way about our dogs and can offer support when we need it. I have 4 dogs in my house right now....I don't know how people do more than 2. LOL

DonMarie, Some days I am almost afraid to come to DK and see if another of our beloved Doodles has died. It is heart wrenching. It is also nice to have the group of support we find on here. 

Comment by Kathy and Winnie Schuyler on December 28, 2017 at 11:23pm

Thanks for this, Laurie

Comment by Jane, Guinness and Murphy on December 27, 2017 at 5:46am

This is really beautiful, Laurie.  I think we've all been there.  I remember when we lost our Dalmatian, Dave and I swore there would be no more dogs.  We knew we'd be retiring and "free at last".  I was really sick of dog hair, and vet bills, walks in the dead of Winter....no there would be NO MORE DOGS.   It didn't last long.  I was lost...it wasn't a real home without a dog.  So then I started thinking that if I could find a small, easy, non-shedding dog, it would be the best of both worlds...and so we got Guinness...and then Murph...and the rest is history.  It might be possible that Guinness could outlive me, but with all of Murphy's problems I don't think that could happen.  So I will go through that heartbreak once more.  I know for sure it will all have been worth it.  Each dog brings their special gifts that enrich us as people and make us better.  I do think that G & M will be our last dogs...but I would foster once they are no longer with us.  I know as long as I am physically able to do it there will always be a dog in my life.

Comment by Ginny Nightingale on December 25, 2017 at 6:20pm

Oh, so hard to read, yet all so true--my husband is more sensitive than I am and did not want another dog after we had had a series of 3 dogs over the course of 30 years--and now we have three and raise pups! I just can't be without one or two or three! I think that the pain of losing them is worth it--because of all the joy they give when they are here. My Mattie will be 11 and I just can't believe it--and Rio, the youngest, is 7 next Monday--how can it be? I do think about it often, especially when on of our wonderful DK pups passes away. 

The best we can do is love our dogs and support each other when they go.

 

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