I knew this day would come. Since early 2019 when my dog faithful companion and alter ego was diagnosed with Dilated Cardio Myopathy (DCM) our days were limited. I realize that I had been living with and feeling what is now known as anticipatory grief. It’s like living under a weight, which one does not know when it will fall, yet you know eventually it will fall.
This is a story about a relationship between a woman and her dog. Many people can relate to it especially if they have an animal that has become more than a companion, in my case Cocoa not only lived in my home, she worked with me as a therapy dog and always ready walker. Dogs give us unconditional love and acceptance while flooding our lives with boundless energy and endorphins. I believe God made dogs for people to show us a glimpse of how much He loves us. (smile).
Most recently I found myself visiting and having a consult with a tattoo artist I had decided a while back that this great relationship must be honored in body art permanently. I know this may sound strange to some but to others you get it. Grief is a strange companion and bedfellow especially when you are anticipating it.
You may find that you go through periods in your mind of imagining how you may respond to things how you may feel and what you may think. I had someone ask me what do you think you’ll need from others when Cocoa goes. How can we help you? I actually have no idea and I did not know how to answer the question.
After having spent an awesome weekend hanging out at home playing with Cocoa watching her swim and really seeming to enjoy herself. I was quite surprised when two days later she was barely able to move. She seemed to have no appetite and she had great difficulty from a prone position. Additionally her heart rate seemed very rapid and her breathing seemed labored.
I knew and believed that the end had come. I went through on my head all the things that I said I would do such as as get some paint so that I could get a pawprint, I had the words in my head ready to say to goodbye, in addition to my frequent prayer to God for help to get through this difficult time period. On this August night my husband and I carefully loaded Cocoa into the car I on what I now call her magical chair mat. She allowed us to carry her into the car barely making a sound and barely moving. I had steeled myself and prepared for the worst. The emergency clinic staff loaded Cocoa away on a gurney while we waited and waited.
Eventually a Vet Tech came in and told us that when they attempted to put Cocoa on the scale she ran away from them. We all found ourselves laughing a sigh of relief because surely if she could run away she wasn’t going to die that day. Cocoa survived the scare in August and continued to thrive and live her best life.
I don’t know that one can properly or ever prepare themselves to say goodbye. It is a deeply personal and dreaded thought. But yet nonetheless it is something that we all must face whether an animal or a person. Part of loving someone or something is being prepared to let it go.
We can always choose to lean in to the experience and to appreciate each each moment as an opportunity to love more and to appreciate and value more. In this instance I have chosen to lean in and I have learned more about aging, vulnerability, loyalty, presence and commitment. It is important as we go through this process that we truly show up with the person or in this case with an animal that the trust is there, that the acceptance and respect of the vulnerability is there.
I made the decision a while back that my dog had been such a great companion to me and comfort to me, as well as a therapy dog to many of my patients whom she converted to dog lovers. I wanted her to fully live out her days in love and comfort the pandemic afforded us a great deal of time together to create memories.
Another lesson that I’ve learned is the importance of a quiet and being still Fully mindful and fully present. Our fur baby left us on November 18, 2021 and we along with a few close friends were able to celebrate and honor her life right up to the end. And yes, I was able to get my body art pawprint while we could enjoy it together. Cocoa has forever changed our lives in so many amazing ways. The house is much quieter now and we still look fondly to see her swimming in the pool she loved. Cocoa was Diva, she even has an Instagram account at IG:@Cocoadivadog
Get a dog they truly are our best friends. Dogs are good for us and we are good for them. Dogs help our blood pressure self esteem, self confidence and ability to love beyond ourselves.
Rest baby girl, you earned it.
Therapy Unchained http://www.therapyunchained.com