Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Saying goodbye

The joys of owning a dog are many and great, but biding that final farewell can be as painful as losing a loved one. Dogs are, after all, our loved ones too.
There’s an email that circulates every now and again about a boy who lost his dog and was able to make sense of that pain in a comforting way.
The boy said that people need to live a long life to learn how to love unconditionally and live to the fullest. Dogs, he said, are born knowing how to do this and because of that, they don’t need to spend as much time on Earth as people do.
I like that.
Personally, I’ve never had one of those final goodbyes. Sensi is my first dog, my only dog, my baby. He’s not much of a baby anymore — more like an old man, nowadays — and I know that one day, we’ll have to part ways. I dread it. I often catch myself looking at him and wishing he could grow old with us and be with us always.
I know we’re on borrowed time with him. And in reality, we’re all on our borrowed time when it comes to our pets. One day, we all have to say that final goodbye, give that last scratch behind the ear, the last belly rub and receive that last slobbering kiss from our furry friends.
I read a blog post yesterday that brought me to tears. The emotion that comes through in this piece of writing is just overwhelming.
I encourage everyone to give it a read, but only after you’ve moved a box of Kleenex within reach of the computer.
Because I really, really want everyone to take a moment and read how a dog captured a man’s heart, I’m including the first paragraph. It will leave you wanting more.
It is titled Dear Oscar ...
“We lost you this week, my friend. And I’ve been missing you horribly since Thursday when you died. Writing you a letter is stupid; dogs can’t read, and even if they could read I suppose you’d have to be alive to pull that off. But I deal with stuff by writing, so you get your very own letter, big boy! To Oscar with love, from the person you adopted as ‘yours.’”
Click here to continue reading Christopher Barger’s final goodbye letter to his much loved dog.

For Christopher and all those who have grieved or will grieve over the loss of a dog, here is a piece of writing I received a long time ago. I hope it provides a little comfort in this time of grief:

The Rainbow Bridge
Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again.
The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then, you cross the Rainbow Bridge together ...
Author Unknown


  1. Today I said goodbye to my dog of over 14 years. She gave me one last kiss and we looked in each others eyes and she told me that it was okay - that she was ready to go and it was time. My heart aches, my eyes burn and my children are tucked in their beds crying quietly. We are all devastated because our friend has died. And although I know it was right, I still have guilt. I know she had a wonderful life, but could I have done more for her? I just wish I could turn back time and do it all again. Goodbye my bst friend - like I said, i will never forget you and my love for you is for always.

  2. My condolences to you and your family. I think you hit the nail on the head — it's not just a dog we lose, but a great friend. Mourn her as you would a friend and know that one day, you'll be reunited again.

  3. I am going through this exact same thing right now. My dog has been sick for a few months with cancer. We tried chemo and drugs but nothing worked. He still has an appetite but is starting to have a bit more trouble breathing and just not as happy-go-lucky as he was before. My best friend came over yesterday and said "He looks sad." My vet told me that I need to make that very hard decision within the next 2 weeks. So, I called yesterday to make the apointment...broke down on the phone with the receptionist, just sobbing - just what they needed, a 47 year old man crying like a baby on the phone. Just to have to say those words out loud was so hard. I have had my boy since September of 2002 - the year I moved into my house in Royal Oak (because every RO house needed a dog!) He was a rescue that I got at Pet-a-palooza @ Freedom Hill - I went looking for a 2nd cat and ended up with my new best friend. He has been a great friend and a loving companion - we would go every where together and he could be counted on to always be there for me. I don't know how I am going to handle it when next Thursday comes along and we have to take that final walk into the vet's office. I have been crying a little bit everyday - but just not in front of him. My emotions are just so raw. I will always love him - he has worked his way into a special place in my heart and I know that I will see him one day at "The Rainbow Bridge".

  4. Dear Anonymous,
    Cherish these last days with your friend and remember that in a way, you're lucky to be able to prepare and say goodbye. I hope that when it comes time to say goodbye to Sensi, I'll have the time to get him french fries from McDonalds and a big old beef bone — two things he's been denied throughout his life because of his allergies. I worry that I won't get that time to say goodbye, that his death will sneak up on me and catch me unprepared, leaving me with moments of "I wish I had ..."
    Be strong for your friend. I'm sure he loves you and is grateful for the life and companionship you provided him, and as you said, he'll be waiting for you until you both meet again.