It’s been just over a week since we had to say goodbye to our beloved golden retriever, Murphy. He’s been part of the family for 11 years (almost to the date), having arrived just a couple of weeks before my son Liam’s second birthday. An (active!) toddler, an exuberant puppy, a full time job and a busy life.
There was puppy training, potty training, play groups and doggy daycare to squeeze into an already packed life. Then there was everything I’d read about dog food and decided I better make my own which was no small task. I worried over teething and sleep schedules. Again. For isn’t a puppy so much like a baby in many ways.
But here we are, a blink of an eye and it’s eleven years later. A teenager and an elderly dog whose time has come up much too soon. How do you say goodbye to an integral part of your family? At 100 pounds and no longer mobile, I called a vet who makes house calls. It was time.
It was a peaceful and gentle process. The vet as compassionate a man as I have ever met. He has called, emailed and sent us a sympathy card, making sure that we are all doing ok. Even checking on our cat Stella who is no spring chicken herself.
But a pet death is not like any other. A close bond forms over the years with the primary family members. Murphy loved people, giving his tail an enthusiastic shake at the mere approach of anyone new, and people loved him too. No one knew him like we did though, and the grief is like a tight knot holding us together. The fact that he’s no longer holding his post by our entrance door, a constant source of pain, a phantom pain, that reminds us each time we come home of his absence.
It’s a time of grief, to be felt for as long as necessary until it dissipates little by little as time goes by. Keeping the memories close, sharing our heartache, restitching our sense of family.