The Border Collie Chronicles

Observations from (arguably) the World's Smartest Dogs;
(but, without question, the bestest friends!)
or, Life As We Understand It, as told from dad's shop.


 Posted February 25, 2016

 

One of the hardest things about …

Being Owned By A Dog![i]

By The BC Crew (and dad)

 

 

Through the course of our lives, those of us who have dogs, have to ultimately face their death ... the sad fact is that, our Buppies just simply do not live as long as we do.  Maybe it’s because that they accomplished – every day, while here on earth – everything with 100% (or more) passion and enthusiasm – playing, eating, sleeping and loving!  They do more in their short lives than many of us do in our much longer lives.  They don’t waste their time hating, whining or feeling sorry for themselves.  Yeah, that might just be the reason that they get to get to heaven quicker than we do.

 

Many people, even our closest friends and brothers, may feel uncomfortable (or they are trying to avoid bringing up emotions) about talking to us about the death.  Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we most need support.  Our society, in general, does not often acknowledge that the loss of a bupp is a significant cause for very much grief.  However, we need to realize that the loss and grieving for our bupp is a normal (and perfectly acceptable) part of our lives; the grief is real, valid, and appropriate and that it is ABSOLUTELY OK if your pain is expressed.  Once we accept this, then we can begin the process of healing.

 

Grief is defined as the emotional response to a perceived (hear us out on this!) loss.  It does not have to be the response to the actual death.  In fact, grieving can easily involve the loss of many different things.   Bereavement refers to a state that follows the loss, which is often the death.  Culture usually determines what is considered appropriate reason for bereavement, and bupp loss is not usually included in these discussions.  Mourning is the outward expression of loss, including all of the associated rituals and customs.

 

Grief may be complicated for many reasons, and may make it harder to resolve your feelings.  This may occur if you have other unresolved losses where you were unable to express your feelings honestly, you have little social support, there was a particularly complex or ambivalent relationship with the deceased, feeling guilt, where the death was untimely.  Also deaths that are sudden and unexpected, and deaths that occur after long illnesses can lead to complicated grief.  There can be many other factors involved in this as well.

 

Worden, a prominent researcher in the field of grief, has identified 4 major tasks involved in moving through the process of your loss.

  • To accept the reality of the loss;

  • To experience the pain of loss;

  • To adjust to an environment in which the deceased is missing.  This definitely takes time.  So many of our thoughts and actions are automatic – we assume that things remain the same.  For example:  It can be a shock each morning to realize that there is no need to refill the food bowl;

  • To withdraw emotional energy and reinvest it in other activities.  This may involve considering getting another dog.  (when YOU decide that YOU are ready … be sure and look at the bupps on ABC Rescue!)

Certainly, not all people react to the death of their bupp in the same way – every person, buppy and that relationship had its own unique components.  This loss doesn’t involve simply the physical presence of your bupp - the psychosocial benefits of living with a bupp are well documented and the emotional bond we have with our bupps is truly special.  These are part of what you are grieving.  You will be reminded of the special things that your bupp did with you by their absence.  The losses may not be tangible – they may be the emotions that your bupp elicited from you.  You may have lost the good feeling you had when your bupp put her head on your lap, or when he wagged her tail at the sound of your voice.  The laughter that came when he did something silly, and the “assistance” you received when weeding the garden.  The warm feeling when you arrived home to find her waiting at the door to welcome you.  So the degree of daily interaction you had with your bupp will influence the number of losses, and therefore the degree of grief.  There are no rules about how much we should grieve and we should not minimize how much our friend meant to us.

 

All grieving is painful, and for those of us whose bupps are an integral part of our lives, the loss of a bupp is not any different at all than that of the loss of a close friend.  However there are some aspects of pet loss that are not common with the loss of a human, and some of these may make your loss more difficult to deal with.

  • Loss of a dog may often involve decision making about when to end the life.  How comfortable you are with the decision will affect how you grieve.  This decision can be a terrible dilemma for some people.  “Did I make the decision quickly enough?  Did I let him suffer?  Should I have let her keep going?  Did I give in too quickly?”  However euthanasia is the most loving gift for a dog that is suffering, has lost her quality of life and has no chance of improvement.

  • Another aspect is the simple fact that we gain so much support from our canine friends – they can be a source of unconditional love that will help us through our difficult times – and not only do we have to deal with the loss of the dog herself, but her support is no longer there to help us.

  • Not all people around us appreciate the integral role that a beloved dog may have in our lives.  There may be some around who may minimize your loss, and expect you to get over your grief more quickly than you are ready to.  Ensure that you seek others who value their companion animals as you do, and who can allow you to express your feelings honestly. There are many who feel as you do.

  • Another factor is that while the ritual of a funeral marks the death of a human loved one, losing a dog does not have such a custom.  Rituals have important functions in allowing the bereaved to proceed to acceptance by acknowledging your loss in a supportive environment.

Allow yourself time and tears.  There is no magic thing that can remove the pain completely.  With time the feelings will become less intense.  However there are activities that may help you to focus on the happy memories you shared.  Some people might find the following useful:

  • Writing poetry or a letter for your dog to express your feelings for him or her;

  • Arrange photos in a special album;

  • A memorial page on the internet (we would always be honored to help you remember your Buppy right here on this site! – we did!!!);

  • Plant a rose or tree for your dog;

  • Sponsor an animal in the zoo in memory of your dog;

  • Read a self-help book.  There are many available on grieving.

The decision when, or whether, to get another dog is a very personal one - and should be done in your own time when you feel comfortable.  There is no “right” or “wrong”.  You may feel ready soon after you lose your bupp, or you might choose to wait for a long time.  In either event, be sure that you are happy with the timing – some well-meaning people may try to give you a dog or puppy in order to replace your previous dog.  Others may try to talk you out of getting a dog when you feel ready.  (Just saying though … when YOU are ready – please consider letting a dog rescue you! Remember that ABC Rescue has a number of potential candidates!!)

 

The path through this grief isn’t easy.  Each one of our bupps is unique and is also irreplaceable.  However, Life and Death are two sides of the same coin … just like Love and Grief.  It is fine to grieve until that time that you reach the point where you can remember your Buppy with more smiles than tears.

 

Following is a well-known poem that we found helpful when thinking of our Buppies (and Mother and Sisters) who have died.

 

 

 

 

Rainbow Bridge
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Just this side of heaven is a place called 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 of 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 who 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 quivers.  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 Rainbow Bridge together....

 

Author unknown...

 

 

 

 

 

Dedicated to Ms. Maggie[ii] and her people!  Love and Prayers going out your way!!!

 

Ms. Maggie

 

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[i] In all honesty – we took many of the thoughts and format (including the “Rainbow Bridge”), but edited it pretty hard and tried to put our own spin on it, from http://www.dogchatforum.com/sadness-grief-when-dog-dies.htm .  There are a lot of personal thoughts/feelings put into this article; and there is also a LOT of great articles on the ol’ www on why your pets die.

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[ii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM5aW83L_DE

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ROY G BIV dont'cha know ... first person to give Gall the right answer gets a six-pack!

 

 

 

 

 

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