Dealing with the loss of a dog. It’s never easy.
Saying goodbye and dealing with the ensuing loss of a dog is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with in my life. Loss is never easy. But I have come to learn that how we deal with the loss is equally as important as giving and receiving the love we shared from our precious, 4-legged kids.
This is Bubba, also know as Bubba Boo. Bubba arrived on my doorstep 8 days after Jakey Foo and I said “so long for now.” Bubba was an owner surrender. And while my heart ached and I felt a tremendous loss after Jake’s transition, I knew that I could come to love Bubba and fill HIS heart with the love he needed. While our journey together was shorter than I would have hoped for, just 18 months, I wouldn’t change a thing. This big headed, big paw boy was full of laughter and love. He made the house come alive again, during a time of such sadness. And while this site was inspired by Jakey Foo and our journey together, if it hadn’t been for Jake, I would not have come to know and love Bubba.
You see, after Jake had left, I was devastated. And swore I would never have another dog again.
The loss was just too much. But then I remembered all of the laughter and friendship that I and so many others received from Jake. And I just couldn’t deny another dog the feeling of love.
At first, it was difficult because my pain was still so raw from losing The Foo, and I felt myself participating in Bubba’s life at arm’s length, out of fear. I just didn’t want to experience that type of loss ever again. It really was an odd situation to have found myself- grieving the loss of my beloved Jake AND trying to help heal a beautiful, spirited boy who had been somewhat neglected.
Well, it didn’t take long at all and Bubba won my heart. He had this spirit that was so full of love and happiness and silliness that anyone who knew him couldn’t help but fall in love with him.
There were times I felt guilty and hoped Jake didn’t think I was trying to replace him. But over time I realized that, just like with 2-legged kiddos, Jake and Bubba were their own dog, with their own experiences to have, and I was just lucky enough to be along for the ride.
We all grieve so very differently, and no two situations are alike.
It’s been over 2 years now since Jake and I said so long for now, and I still have moments where I break down and cry and miss him. The same is true for Bubba. But what I do know is that my life is better for having known and loved them both. And in those dark moments of loss, when my heart ached more than I had ever known it to, I would look at a photo, a stuffie, a bed or recall a memory, and in those dark moments, if even for a brief moment, my heart smiled. And over time, my heart smiled more. I didn’t want the loss to overshadow the great life we experienced together.
While Jake and I had 11+ glorious years together, Bubba and I had much less than I would have hoped for. Almost 18 months to the day from when he arrived, he transitioned. And it was harder than I had anticipated. You see, this 54-pound, wrinkly, smoochable boy burrowed deep into my heart and left his paw print. Just ten days before Bubba transitioned, I found out that my precious Bubba Boo was diagnosed with a very advanced case of Cardiomyopathy, but hoped through proper care and treatment that we could manage his condition and get more time together.
Sadly, the Big Guy upstairs had other plans.
Thankfully, I was home when he transitioned and was able to spend those last few moments with him. And when I say I was shocked, it would be an understatement. I was in my office working and he was doing his very favorite thing, chewing his bone. I heard this gasp-like sound and came running around my desk, yelling his name. He was on his side, eyes glazed over.
I immediately started CPR but knew it was futile because I knew it was his heart. And as much as I wanted to give him a peaceful transition, I was yelling his name and telling him not to leave me. In later weeks, I regretted that. But in the moment, you panic. And a million things race through your head and you’re screaming and trying to do whatever you can to save them. I wasn’t ready yet to lose him in that moment. Yes, I knew he was sick. But I honestly thought we’d have more time together. I beat myself up for not giving him a more peaceful transition, but in that moment, your spirit is tested to its core. Over time I forgave myself knowing that it came from a place of love. And, in time, I knew that Bubba was with his angel brother, Jake, at the bridge. He was safe. And he was ready for his next journey.
I wrote a tribute on my Facebook Page for him and in it said the following,
“The worst part of loving is the loss. But the best part of life is the love.”
I wanted to share this particular quote from what I wrote because it pretty much sums up life. Sometimes, during the good times, we forget to stop and smell the flowers, and then, just like that, it’s too late. Luckily for me, I rejoiced in his life every single day, as I had Jake’s. Coming from a background in photography, I take TONS of photos of my kids. Even if it isn’t a great photo, it’s a memory. My poor iPhone is pushing 15k photos, 95% are dogs. Oh well….
Don’t be afraid to love and open your heart because you fear the hurt and loss.
Without love, life just becomes a wasteland of missed experiences and opportunities. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to fill someone else’s heart with love and joy. Because even through the heartache and loss, there are tremendous smiles as I recount my times together with Bubba. And I wouldn’t change any of it. Not even the heartache. Because it is in the depths of the heartache that I have come to know my humanity, my compassion, and my heart.