The Best Way to Remember a Dog is to Love Another One Again

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Written by Leeanne Rebic Hay

12.5.13 - Love Another Dog
stock photo of a Schnauzer mix.

 

In addition to this season’s holiday celebrations, my family also kicks off “birthday season.” Six of seven of us have our special day in the first half of the year.

Last year, we started off on New Year’s Day, singing our family’s original rendition of “Happy Birthday to You” to our terrier-schnauzer mix, Marty, who turned 13.

A shelter puppy of great intelligence and deep love for our family, our wonder dog died after a brief illness in October. My companion when getting the mail — and my little fluffy sous-chef who stood by me as I cooked dinner every night — was no longer there.

Marty, who watched the Westminster Dog Show with me, will not be by my side on the couch in February when I celebrate my birthday. In past years, I would talk at length to him (and anyone else who cared to listen) about the breeds I liked and who would be a suitable “baby sister” for him in the future.

But always, in the end, I knew my heart belonged to Marty and all shelter dogs. No pure-breed purchase could compare, nor ever would, with the joy of saving the life of a dog so extraordinary. When he died, even his veterinarian specialist (a big, hard-nosed guy) told me, “We’re trained to be emotionally immune to this kind of situation, but not this time. … Marty was a great dog.”

I cried even harder and vowed I would never go through this again.

This Christmas, many families will be adding a dog. And, as someone who loves all dogs, I hope everyone will look to the many amazing humane societies, no-kill shelters and rescue organizations. They all have a wide variety of mixed breeds and, yes, even pure-breed dogs looking for loving homes.

Many of these dogs are already house-trained and socialized by foster families who have nurtured them to provide an adoption that is easy and successful. In my community at the Plano Animal Shelter, you can adopt a dog for a top price of $80, which includes all shots, spay/neutering procedures and even a micro-chip.

During the first few weeks after Marty died, I spent a lot of time online looking for support with this search phrase: “grieving the loss of a dog.”

I found an article published in Psychology Today titled “The Grief Over the Loss of a Dog and the Joy of Remembering” by Stanley Coren. In it, Coren shares a letter written by the famous playwright Eugene O’Neill, who owned a beloved dalmatian named Blemie. I couldn’t imagine a the man who wrote such intense, dark plays could possibly provide an uplifting commentary. But he did.

O’Neill, to demonstrate to his wife that he could cope with their aging dog’s passing, sat down and wrote a “Last Will and Testament” from Blemie’s point of view.

In it, Blemie says, “For love of me, have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now you cannot live without a dog.”

One of my favorite pictures of Marty is of him in my daughter’s car with his snout hanging out the window. I captioned it, “Sniff long. Sniff hard. Sniff often.”

And I am struck by another thought now. What Marty would tell me:

Love long, love hard, love often.”

Your Shelter Puppy

 

Leeanne Rebic Hay of Plano is a business professional and a frequent Voices contributor. Her email address is [email protected] 

Article originally published in the Dallas Morning News.

 

8 thoughts on “The Best Way to Remember a Dog is to Love Another One Again”

  1. I have read this many times trying to comment respectively. In my life with dogs and a cat, I couldn’t imagine my life without them, or my life before them. I haven’t always cared for so many pets but my heart longs for more. I would never allow my love to fade away as I might just outlive my precious pets. This curse of living out of time is my heart’s nemesis. I do promise to love again, cause I know many animals, need a place to call home but as I’ve discovered over pet ownership, my heart sinks, and time and time again, I need them more than they could ever need me. Pets=Love

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  2. I can’t imagine not having a pet in my life. They add so much, and take so little from us that the grief we feel at their passing is little enough to pay for their love. Some are harder to let go than others, but all that matters is to love the next one too.

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  3. I lost my beloved Sasha in Nov this year of old age. I have cried day an night because I miss her companionship so much. My first reaction was never again do I want to feel this pain. I don’t know what posessed me, but I started to look online to find out how to maybe foster pets thinking it would help get over the pain of this loss. In doing so, I came across a picture of a puppy who looked just like my good and sweet sasha when she was puppy. I thought I must have her. Then I thought…I am older and a little sickley…what if she outlives me? I asked my daughter if she would take her if anything happed to me as well as asked a friend in case something happened to her “god forbid”. They both agreed to give her a loving home and then I went with my heart and am making arrangements to get this beautiful little puppy. In the meantime, I still cry and deeply miss my beloved sasha, but think she would be happy that I am going to give a lot of love to another dog in her loving memory.

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  4. I love your story, it reminds me of what my mom said when her dog died. I had to convince her that our pain for their love is heartbreaking when we live past their capacity but are
    we more human than we are capable of, loving many and more. It’s a great place to be when you are able to care and love to so many that need us. I can’t imagine being too heartbroken that I quit. My point being is that love is a beautiful gift. Giving love over and over is humanity at its best. Nothing can replace what you once loved but any animal worth your love would be flattered if you managed to do it again. Pets=Love

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  5. Little over a year ago, I lost my best friend Ellie to cancer, I was devastated. I soon rescued another. A rundown worn out mill mamma named Marigold. She was a mess, I gave her every ounce of energy I had to rehabilitate her. I taught her how to run free and be a dog. She died last week from cancer, after only one year with this sweet baby my heart is crushed once more. But, my heart also tells me to find another. Why? Because there is a hole on my heart that calls out for a lonely animal in a cage or kennel, one that needs my love….I am now looking, I started looking the very next day. And soon will have another snuggle bug by my side….

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  6. Valerie, thank you for sharing your pain and love. Please rest assured that you have a gift of giving, the gift of love. Many people are confused that this impulsive emotional behavior is only to be given to other humans, and to only those that can reciprocate equal emotional value. But you have to understand that every life you care for on this planet and in you lifetime is purposeful and superlative. Your story brings pain to loss but hope to you and others that know love is a battle only won by those who can survive the loss, and rise to love again. My best wishes to those you will love ,and those whom will carry your love. Pets=Love

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  7. I had t put my Buddy Boy to sleep in May. It’s tough. Not sure how long it will take to shake my grief.

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