Thursday, June 12, 2008

how soon is too soon?

My sister was in the room when Heidi passed. Part of me is really glad that I am on the opposite side of the country. Another part of me really wishes that I had been there for my family. After all, Heidi was the family dog for over 10 years. Losing her has hit us all hard.

When I heard that Heidi had been put down, I rushed home after work and nearly hugged the life out of my kitties. It has really helped me to have them around. Whenever I start to think about how sick Heidi was, all I need to do is look over at Gracie and Nicky and I'm instantly distracted. I don't want to remember what Heidi was like in the final year of her life. I want to remember her as the happy, playful doggie she used to be.

My mom was talking to me the other day about her feelings regarding Heidi and her absence. Neither she nor my sister can bear going outside to the back yard, knowing that Heidi won't be there to greet them. My sister can't stand to look at Heidi's food bowl and toys. My mom can't bear to touch them or put them away. My mom seemed surprised by the hurt and pain she is feeling. "I didn't expect to feel so sad about losing Heidi. But it feels like we lost a member of our family," she told me. Maybe because we did.

Gingerly, I mentioned the idea of getting another dog. Heidi could never be replaced, nor would I suggest that. But perhaps rescuing a needy pup might fill the void that Heidi left. My mom considered the idea for a moment and then said, "I don't know if I can have another dog. Just to think, you spend all of this time loving and caring for a dog and then they go away and you're left with so much hurt. Why would I put myself through that again?" Touché.

Hmmm...methinks this is all part of the mourning process. I've said the same thing to myself many times after a failed relationship. But isn't that the point of life, to take a chance on love, hoping that someone will love you back? Isn't that what we all strive for in our pursuit of relationships (whether they be platonic or not)? And yeah, human love is different from the animal form, but isn't it sometimes better (I'm referring to the unconditional love that pets give)?

I've been spending a lot of time on Petfinder, looking for a new dog for my mom. There are so many animals in need. And I firmly believe that getting another dog is just what my family needs.

But how soon is too soon to fill the void Heidi left? How long does mourning need to be? I know I'm certainly not over Heidi's passing, but it certainly helps to come home to two precious kitties every day.


Capitol Hill 20210 said...

I think everyones level or mourning is different and getting a new pet comes with time or sometimes immediate.

I know after the hell I went through this week I can't wait to see my 4 little furheads and will hug them to death :-) I took Monday off from work just so I can hang out all day in the house with them. If I have to come back to California - I will drive out here with them all in tow - my little minions.

We totally need to do coffee sometime :-)

Lexiloo said...

We had a dog named Sophie, she was a Britney Spaniel. We got her when I was 4...she was put down my sophomore year of college. She was just so sick and it hurt all of us to see her that way. Our other dog at the time, Oliver (who has since joined her in doggie Heaven) really missed her- you could tell. My parents got another Britney that spring, named Meggie...

I am always tossing around the idea of getting a dog, I want one so much, but I also wonder if it would be mean of me, since I live in a Capitol Hill efficiency...

kob said...

It is so incredibly hard.

I had one family member whose dog passed at age 7. That was some five years ago and the heartache was so difficult that she hasn't been able adopt a pet since, even though she knows that there are other pets out there that need a family.

Another adopted another pet in two weeks, and it has worked out perfect.

The only unifying thread is the pain of it. But pets have a way of forcing us to live in and treasure the moment and what a wonderful thing that is.

lizzie said...

CH 20210--yes, i'm sorry about what happened with the pet sitter. i'm serious about the offer i made earlier. you have my email. :)

and ditto on the coffee (altho, i've quit now so it'll be tea for me).

lexiloo--i'm sorry about sophie. and poor oliver. i'm sure he missed her. seeing that bond b/n my two kitties, i know that animals can feel strongly about each other (in a good or bad way).

you know, if you're not sure about getting a pup full time, you might want to consider fostering. it's a limited time commitment and it will give you an idea of whether you are able to take on the full time commitment of pup ownership. i'd be happy to recommend some great rescues you can work with.

KOB--mourning is different for all of us. thank you for sharing your family's experiences with this.

the pain sucks, big time. in my opinion, avoiding the pain (or potential pain of losing a pet) does not outweigh the benefits of having a pet and the happy times we have with them.

i hope my mom will realize this soon.

ByTheWayBetch said...

Sometimes I consider giving up my life and moving home just so I can be closer to my dog as she's getting older. It's a special bond. Sorry about your puppy :-(

Emily said...

my family dog, a golden retriever, is now seven years old. he's up in philly with my family, and i miss him dearly. my mom says whenever i'm about to come home for the weekend, she tells him, "jack, emily's coming home," and he goes and stands by the front bay window and watches the driveway. he'll do it for hours. then when i finally get home, he jumps around like he's a little puppy again. i can't even begin to think about how sad i'll be when he's no longer with us. i have my own puppy now, who i love, but jack will always have a special place.

lizzie said...

bythewaybetch--thank you for the sentiment.

emily--awww...that's so sweet. in heidi's younger years, she would wait for me by the back gate near the driveway. as soon as she heard me come out of the car, she would whine and cry for attention.

take advantage of every moment you get to spend with jack. and take LOTS of pictures. i wish i had. i've learned my lesson and i'm taking pictures of anything resembling a kodak moment with my kitties.

Anonymous said...


I'm very and truly sorry for your loss. I've been there and it was one of the darkest days my life when I had to put down one of my cats, Rusty 6 years ago. I will never forget that day. The pain of losing a furry companion who has loved you unconditionally cannot really be measured in words. On the same token, the comfort and companionship she provided me outweighs the sadness I felt for weeks and months.

On the same token, her loss has drawn me a lot closer to my remaining clan and I try to spend as much time as possible with them. Frankly, even after they pass on, I will always have a pet, as I have had for most of my life.

As for your mom, we are all different. Some people need a lot of time to mourn, while others may not require as much. I also think the idea of adopting a pet is fantastic. I believe when the time is right, you will find the ideal dog.

True, no dog can take the place of Heidi, just as is the case with someone losing a spouse. However, when she is ready, a relationship with a new dog can be formed, while at the same time Heidi's memory can still be treasured and cherished.

Gil, Aka MMA fan