The sudden death of a pet dog

The sudden death of a pet dog
    sudden death of a pet dog

    The sudden death of a pet dog
    he sudden death of a pet can be particularly hard to come to terms with,  as NICOLA COLE found out when she lost her beloved Jack...

    I can still remember how normal the day had started, just like any other. That little bit of time I had before work, I was cuddled up to my gorgeous Miniature Schnauzer, Jack. I would read, write, scroll through my phone and constantly look up and smile at my gorgeous boy. A crazy animal lover since the day I was born, my life has always revolved around animals. Jack was my first dog and he had absolutely made my life. Always by my side, nothing made me happier than our ‘struggles’. Little did I know that this very normal day would become the worst of my life.

    I am a dog groomer and was just finishing my first dog of the day. My parents returned from taking Jack out for a run in the park. When my mum entered the room, the look on her face was not good. That alone made my insides freeze – I felt like someone was slowly ripping out my heart and filling me with ice as she went on to say, “He’s not right, something is wrong.” My little baby had gone from running in the park to just collapsing. They’d had to carry him. We rushed to the vet’s, phoning them to let them know we were on the way, and he was operated on immediately. They could give us no answers at that point.

    How could this be happening? Everything had been so normal that morning – he’d had his normal endless appetite, normal toilet behavior still wanted to play, still jumped on my bed... He had been his absolute normal self. We had an agonizing wait before the vet rang us. My baby had a tumor growing inside him. I wept and wept as I told them to go through with trying to remove it while they talked us through the complications. If they were successful today, we would have to wait six weeks to see if it had spread.

    We canceled all the rest of my clients and the agonizing wait continued. And then my world came crashing down. I will never get over how horrible it all was. For whatever reason, they couldn’t get my baby around from the surgery. They think there may have been something going on in his brain. I could never have imagined the heartbreak I felt that day. I wished I’d been taken instead. I thought I would never be happy again, as we drove to the vet, all in floods of tears. It just wasn’t fair; it was far too early to say goodbye. He was my baby, my world. I was lost without him.

    Pouring through the many pieces of dog-related reading material I had, days later, I sank further in despair. Article after article, story after story was about ‘making that decision’. People told of when ‘it was the right time’ when a dog was elderly and ‘had no quality of life’. Where were the articles about losing your precious baby earlier than expected and without warning?

    The sudden death of a pet dog

    Jack was nearly 10 years old – we should have had so much more time together. To have him cruelly snatched away so suddenly, I felt as if I’d been cheated. And there was nothing I could read to help me.

    As well as feeling upset, sometimes I would feel angry. Occasionally in my job, you meet individuals who don’t give as much care to their dogs as they should. It wasn’t fair that they should have longer together than I did with my boy.

    I would get emotional when grooming the ‘golden oldies’ – just one of the many things that set me off. I felt guilt. I should have seen something. I should have known.

    I definitely wouldn’t have coped without the wonderful people who were around me. My wonderful customers sent very kind messages and bought flowers and talked through their own experiences, and let me cry on their shoulders or howl uncontrollably down the phone. Lots of friends sent kind messages. My dog trainer friend, who was also very upset, let me rattle on for ages down the phone. And she knew exactly what to say. You will find your ‘tribe’ – those that know what to say and what not to say. Some people, mostly non-doggie people, just don’t know how to offer comfort and that’s OK – just stick to your tribe at this particular time.

    My trainer friend told me that the feelings of guilt are normal and a lot of people experience the same emotion when they lose their dog. She kindly reassured me of the happy life that I had given Jack.
    Both she and the vet said that although it was the worst way for us to lose him, with no warning, from Jack’s point of view it was almost the best way for him, as his last few moments would have been running about in the park with no prolonged illness. Although they had managed to remove the tumor, if we had been able to bring him home, we would have had to wait six weeks to see if cancer had spread. Would that have been better or worse? I think, selfishly, we all wished we could have had that extra few weeks to cuddle him, be with him and spoil him rotten. But dogs are very tuned in to our emotions. Jack would have known that something was wrong and it could have been very stressful for him, no matter how well we tried to hide it.

    The vet told us there was nothing else we could have done – the tumor was symptomless. The people on the Blue Cross Support Service helpline were extremely kind. It wasn’t until my mum spoke to one of our neighbors that she really felt someone had helped. This lady, like us, had lost her Whippet suddenly to a tumor. She didn’t wait too long before welcoming another dog into the family.

    I was inconsolable. I was barely leaving the house, but at the same time finding the house unbearable. I couldn’t live without a dog. I would have given anything to have Jack back. I wasn’t up to socializing. But my tribe of trusted friends, lovely customers, and our vet were very encouraging about a new family addition. We realized there was no right or wrong time when it came to how long to wait. We realized we could still grieve for Jack and love another dog.

    Along came Fred
    As time passed, I went from immediately getting upset about Jack to be able to remember our wonderful memories fondly. I might still cry, but as time passed, I could think of all the funny things he did and laugh. Another close friend lost her dog weeks after me. When we were up to socializing again, we were both able to tell stories of all the funny things our beloved dogs had done.

    I will never get over losing my baby Jack so suddenly. Time passed, I trudged on with a broken heart and a little magic arrived from Second Chance Animal Rescue. Along came Fred. A new dog never replaces the old, it merely expands the heart. Fred is absolutely adorable. While still loving Jack with all my heart, I immediately fell in love at first sight with Fred. He brought light back into our home again. He helped mend a lot of broken hearts and put smiles on our faces. While still having sad moments and missing Jack, I was kept busy with this new family member. Fred was eight months when we got him, but due to his time in kennels, he needed very similar care to an eight-week-old pup when it came to housetraining. And everything that could fit in his little puppy mouth went in it. Pens left out? Oh yes! And he could jump on the kitchen table – something Jack never tried to do! We had to learn new habits, such as tucking your chair in after you leave the table, like in school days!

    We put together a special memory box for Jack, personally designed with his name and the words ‘Forever in our hearts’ printed on it. This box is filled with his favorite toys, as well as a book of memories. My heart is full of both Jack and Fred. I think of Jack all the time. I cannot thank both Fred and Jack enough for everything they have given me and continue to give me. As I type this now, Fred is curled up like a hot-water bottle by my side. It sounds like such a cliché, but he definitely rescued me rather than the other way around.

    About THE AUTHOR
    Nicola Cole works as a dog groomer and has self-published a children’s book on Amazon, Rocky’s Adventure, a story that raises awareness of the horror of puppy farming.
    Source: www.dogsmonthly.co.uk

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