Life After Death

It's So Hard to Lose a Beloved Friend

One week ago today, Suzanne and I took Dolce to Soundview Vet clinic to say goodbye. It was a most difficult day and, while the grief is still with me, I know it was the right thing to do. I've stopped teaching classes (for now) on Saturdays and the weekend went very slowly.

Now the grief comes in waves. I see her face in the usual places and at the usual times - in the back seat of the car while driving to and from work and appointments, in her bed at night, lying in the backyard enjoying the surroundings and at the front door watching for passersby. I know she's in a better place free of cancer - chasing her squeaky ball without knee or back pain, eating to her heart's content.  I just have to get used to life without her. I call on Justice to help with training and while he's eager to perform and tries his best, he's not Dolce. She was the best training assistant I've ever had. She made all the tricks look incredibly easy.

Speaking of Justice, this has been a hard week for him as well.  We thought about having him in the room with us when we euthanized Dolce and decided against it. I think if I were to do it again, I would bring him in to see her afterwards - to sniff her and get some understanding that she is gone. This week has been an adjustment for him as well. The two had been joined at the hip since bringing Justice into our home when Dolce was two years old. This is a time for him to get some extra love and attention.

Last week, after the first posting about Dolce, our daycare manager, Kate Cataldo told me how nice it was to see pictures of Dolce as a younger dog. She said she'd never known Dolce to have a rounded back. She'd only ever seen her after her back had developed a flat, almost table-like affect as a result of arthritis. I had increased her pain meds and she never complained in any significant way about the pain, but her incessant panting was a clear indication that the pain was ever present. 

In some ways, I'm going through the motions of life after the death of a beloved pet. The pain will soften over time and her face will appear less and less in the usual places and times. I won't stop missing her or thinking about all of her endearing qualities, but when I do, I have a beautiful portrait of her that was painted by a local artist/client long ago.  I hung in my office at the new facility in Tacoma, and In it, she's smiling her big "happy to see you" smile and it brightens my day and lightens my heart. Thank you to Jena Marks for painting it years ago. You captured her spirit, her intelligence and her sweetness. I'll cherish it always.