Home is Where the Dog Lives
I’m still grieving for Reggie.
If you were to walk into our home, one of the first things you’d see on the floor by the balcony doors is a dog bed. First, it was Buster’s bed and then it was Reggie’s.
We had to put Reggie down on December 19, 2015. He was between three and four years old. Three months earlier we discovered that he had aggressive lymphoma. The vet told us it was equivalent to stage four cancer in a human and there was nothing we could do. We had only adopted Reggie a year earlier on December 5, 2014.
My first dog, Buster, who was five when I adopted him and with me for six years, passed away from leptospirosis on September 29, 2014. When you do the math you’ll see I lost two dogs in the course of about 15 months.
So why is the dog bed still on the floor almost four months since Reggie passed?
I’m almost ready to wrap it up in plastic and put it in storage for whenever we adopt another dog.
It took well over a month before I could bring myself to put away his toys and blankets. Christiaan didn’t want to put them away either.
He was only three and a half years old. That keeps stabbing me in the heart. We adopted him together as our first dog and we only had him for a year.
It was the first time I’ve ever seen Christiaan cry, that awful Saturday night, that last visit to the vet. First, the sedative and watching Reggie drop to the ground, completely relaxed. Then the administration of a high dose of local anesthetic to stop his heart.
My heart broke when his stopped beating.
I didn’t publish anything on my website after Reggie died. I wrote a status update on Facebook. What Christiaan wrote was one of the most meaningful, thoughtful, and heart-felt pieces of self-awareness I’ve read.
It was interesting how Facebook helped me to grieve. I needed public support from people who knew me. I needed kind words from strangers who were members of the Boxer Rescue Ontario private Facebook group.
I was reminded of this while browsing Facebook this morning. One of my friends liked an article titled, “Most people aren’t resilient to life’s hardships, researchers find.”
What resonated with me were the results of the study that showed,
“…it takes most people several years to return to normal after a significantly stressful life event. And (the study) suggests that simply giving people time to heal by themselves might not be effective…. it shows it can be far better to intervene and help people cope with negative life events.”
Some people may wonder why I’m still thinking about Reggie; why I’m still grieving. I’ve come to love the companionship of a dog. I learned so much from my first dog, Buster. He helped me to grow into a much better person. He taught me patience.
If you have ever had dogs you know what it’s like to cuddle with them. You know what it’s like when they run around with glee, playing silly with another dog or a toy. Those anthropomorphic ego-free moments were reminders to me to relax, to let go, to be more playful, and to be present.
No, I’m not ready to put the dog bed away. As I turn from where I’m sitting where I can see the box of Reggie’s ashes, I’m reminded of what a wonderful influence he was in my life. What a wonderful influence he was on my relationship with Christiaan.
I desperately want another dog.
When I said that out loud a few weeks ago I realized it didn’t feel right. In truth, I want Reggie back, not another dog, and that tells me I’m not ready for another one.
Both Christiaan and I agreed that we would wait — for many good reasons. But my ability to move past this ache that still exists in my heart will only be fully healed when I adopt another dog.
The pain is much less with each passing day. When I look at pictures and videos of Reggie I smile and I am happy that we were able to give him a good home.
That’s what this is all about. Home. Home for me includes a dog.