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Posts: 19
I didn’t even like dogs when Smiley, an unwanted puppy abused by an older autistic child I worked with came into my life. I promised to foster and find him a home, but nobody wanted a pitbull—not even one with a little lab in him. I ended up loving him so much, it hurt to imagine that day in the far distant future when he’d get old and feeble and need the needle. I planned to bring him chocolate cake, should it happen. I noted that he loved other dogs, so I took in a second puppy, Gator, the same way. Clearly it was meant to be. They were the same age and both white with cute floppy dragon ears. Smiley was playful and watching both of them chase around the dining table really made me smile. He was a great host with guests, a little shy but funny and big spirited, dropping a ball in their laps. Being a speech therapist, I taught my dogs words and how to vote by nugging the hand I shook when I said the item they wanted. He was a fast learner, emotional and smart. I could feel him thinking of me and missing me when I was away. When I was sad, he’d flash me worried eyes. When I was happy, he’d prance around holding a ball, of course. He was a diplomatic wonder at the dog park. He’d gently teach the scared dogs to play. He’d invent silly games like finding a big stick and partner to run with it. I was devoted to him and created a happy world where he would be safe and protected from all the ignorance, abuse, and hate against his breed. He was safe and innocent and he trusted me. I went to Colombia for a wedding this summer and he died from painful hemorrhagic gastroenteritis at my parents’ house. I had a bad feeling before I left and I ignored it. What I wouldn’t give to go back to holding my bags and crying that I feel I shouldn’t go—and not go. What hurts the most is that he was bad for three days and they didn’t tell me anything. Rather than going to the vet, they just banked on him getting better. He screamed for three hours in the end and he died. I felt it physically. I couldn’t eat for days. I paid a vet to tell me what happened and they concluded it was heat stroke. I feel horrible for not being there when my sweet, innocent, trusting, shy dog died a scary death. There was no cake and he was only four. My parents did say he wasn’t eating and he chased a deer. But I never got on the phone and begged them to get him medical attention. I was distracted and having fun. I assumed they would take care of him. The experience of coming home to a dog simply missing and not even a lock of hair and even his collar buried in someone else’s yard, it’s one I cannot even describe. I couldn’t be angry. They didn’t understand how fragile his life was and they really loved him and grieved him. Back at home and day to day, I awake in a flood of agony every morning. The alarm clock licks and sniffing checks are not there. Gator must be thinking of that, too, because he cries at that same moment. I never knew dogs did that. I thought he was having seizures or hiccups, but a vet visit assured me it exists. With Gator the bond with just me is not the same, so it’s kind of awkward but we’re both working on it. There’s a heavy sadness in my house. It’s like the spirits themselves are aware of the beloved dog who went out and never returned. I cry and think of him constantly. I’m grateful for a job that lets me do therapy with ten minutes in between because sometimes grief hits you like you need to use the bathroom. Being grateful in general is helpful, since the let down is so overwhelming. I remember the short four years with such fondness. I was a workaholic who cared about the furniture being perfect. I never took breaks and I was a grouch. So, I think my four years with my Smiley were the happiest years of my life! And so I look at his photos and remember the dog I initially thought I didn’t want and how now I want nothing more than him. It should give me constant comfort that he is a real angel now—but actually it sends me into a panic sometimes. I am sad that there’s a divide, that I am here doing our old routines and my once happy dog is floating out there sad and missing me, all alone in the ether.

Posts: 11
So sorry for your loss, and the way it occurred. That would be very troubling to accept, and worse, to forgive.  You'll need a lot of time and strength to begin to forgive such a thing.

I wish you strength, and peace. 

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