Losing A Faithful Friend…

Gracie, our penultimate dog

The problem with getting more than one pet at the same time is that you are likely to lose them all close together.  We had a bunch of Millennium animals – Bob, Millie, Fina, Bubba and dear Little B – that by now have either died or are very elderly.

Good friends recently lost their 16 year old border collie and are adamant that they’re not going to replace him: they’re not sure they could go through the pain again, being dog less will suit their lifestyle better, it’s one less responsibility to factor into their busy lives.  Their pain and sadness is still very raw and perhaps in time they will change their minds.

When we lost Bob, our old black Lab who died just short of his 11th birthday, we knew we would have another family dog but it took six months before I could look at puppies for sale without thinking “very cute, but they’re not Bob”.

Bob died very suddenly.  A big brute of a [rescue] dog; he was rebellious and stoic, hilarious and completely oblivious to pain so when he collapsed and the vet performed an emergency splenectomy it was a shock to everyone to discover he was riddled with cancer.  We made the only decision we could and let him go. It was traumatic and I still well up 5 five years later when I remember it… and I still can’t watch Marley & Me without turning into a sniveling, snotty mess.  But would it stop me from keeping another pet? Definitely not – the joy, love and companionship that comes with a household pet far outweighs the pain of losing them or the responsibilities they bring.

We did eventually get another dog – I hesitate to use the word replace as nothing replaces a pet when they die. Gracie is probably our penultimate dog. Assuming she will live to be at least 12, we will be elderly ourselves when she dies and we wouldn’t want a beloved pet to outlive us. Last weekend we watched the film Hachi, the true story of a very loyal dog that met his owner off the train at the end of each working day and when his master died unexpectedly, continued to wait at the station for him for another 10 years. I would hate to think of our last dog pining for us after we’ve gone so unless we time it very carefully we may end our days dog-less, and that truly would be painful!