To Lost Friends and Fallen Comrades

To Lost Friends and Fallen Comrades


It is a sad reality that sharing a life with dogs almost invariably means grieving for them, these best-est of friends, our fallen comrades. We are always aware, of course, of their comparatively truncated life spans and the rapid passing of time, yet, so wholly unimaginable is their disappearance from our lives that we suspend thoughts of their passing. We push this knowledge aside and revel in puppy-sharp teeth, the terrible twos, and even canine acne; we try to ignore the poignancy of sweetly graying muzzles, slowed gaits, weakened bladders. Our forgetfulness is a blessing. Like our dogs, we should try to inhabit each moment, looking neither forward nor back, and rejoice with them in the beauty and possibility of life, for there will almost certainly come a day when we will have to shepherd them from this world to the next. And we will be—temporarily, at least—lost. Left unmoored without the structure of thrice daily walks and deliriously anticipated mealtimes. Bereft, solo on the couch, lap un-encroached upon, feet un-warmed and reminded of this Missing by a million markers: empty dog beds, chewed-up toys, unheralded door bells, and, worst of all, by far, a firmly established walk habit now undertaken alone.

The completeness of this sadness will go largely unrecognized. Non-dog people, the unenlightened, will never understand the totality of the loss; how, following the departure of a beloved dog, everything falls…flat. That may be the best word for it, entailing no poetics nor histrionics, just blank space occupied by a heavy sadness, like one of those weighty gases that creep along the floorboards. Their absence is felt keenly, like a lost limb, in more ways than one would think possible. You ask yourself: how did I not realize that my dog’s schedule was so intertwined with my own as to be inseparable? And: how does one get out of bed without the drill-sergeant punctuality of an enthusiastic dog with a schedule to keep? But life proves to have its own demands and you find yourself blinking in the daylight, and it’s there you encounter the network established of your time spent together. Our dogs, by and large, are goodwill ambassadors on four legs, forcing even the most misanthropic among us to lend a friendly nod to cooing passersby, to forge a connection of shared experience with fellow dog-park patrons. It is the latter who will weep for you when the world at large can’t yet fathom the grey grief dragging at your ankles. They will understand that, despite all this sadness, it was worth it—all of it, even the heartbreaking final moments. Joy, love, and devotion are in short supply in this world and our dogs are an unrivaled reminder of these qualities, even in memory.

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Comments (13)

This is the best I have ever saw or heard , we lost our Shepherd last November,we had her for 13 1/2 years ,so long but yet to short,we now have 2 nine month old German Shepherd pups that we found 4 months after the pasting of Ginger. S,Brown
Fri, 07/27/2012 - 05:30
So true are the words of this article. We lost our Boston Furbaby in March. It was heartbreaking. I kind of wish the picture was showing them going up and not down. Something bothers me about it. I know my guy is up in heaven.
Tue, 04/02/2013 - 17:36
I lost my sweet Boston Charlie a year ago (this week) and his Boston brother from another mother, Chico, a year before that. I rescued them both but in truth, they rescued me more than I them. They showed me how to love again and were the best friends that a girl could ever ask for. It's never easy to say goodbye but yes, it was all worth it..every since second. Thank you for the touching words, every single one of them true. xoxo
Tue, 04/02/2013 - 18:45
Lost our Gracie 3 weeks ago tomorrow - not our first loss but it never gets easier and its true - we are all unmoored without the Diva and her stopwatch to keep us in line. Thank you for the perfect words to describe our grief. Our male is still looking for his auntie, the boss of all of us.
Tue, 04/02/2013 - 19:06
I lost my girl Bella, last night, quite unexpectedly. I could not have written a more accurate, more profound article to describe how incredible the loss big the void is. Though I cried my eyes out reading and rereading every word, I know you understand and somehow that made it a little bit better. Thank you.
Tue, 04/02/2013 - 19:08
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Tue, 01/01/2019 - 08:04
I lost my standard poodle Myloh this past Oct. He was my inspiration to get moving every day and to start my own dog hiking company. I now wear his hiking bells on my belt and his dog ID tag hangs on a chain close to my heart. I started a facebook page in memory of our lost family members. Please feel free to join and take a look through my photos on my hiking page.
The links are as follows:
Wed, 04/03/2013 - 08:16
There is nothing like loving, and being loved by, a dog and alas, there is nothing like losing a dog. We lost our beloved lab after 16 wonderful years. He now has a 9 mo old successor. Thank you for this lovely article.
Thu, 04/04/2013 - 10:13
This really hit home. I lost my beagle and best friend Cody 11/24/12. Its been 6 months and I still hear his nails tapping on the hardwood floors. They become part of your family and there are no words the sadness you feel but reading this helped to know I'm not alone, Thank you!!
Sat, 06/01/2013 - 17:39
I lost my beloved Abby last Saturday. This article describes my emotions to a T. I turn around expecting to see her. I wait for her to cuddle up to me at night...I miss her so much that I can't fathom this world without her...but I do know it will get better and this flat world of mine will eventually start to turn again and my memories of Abby will be deeply cherished.
Thank you for an excellent article.
Thu, 07/11/2013 - 09:07
So well said - "flat". We grieve for our best companion, and we grieve that our lives will never be the same without this missing piece of our heart. Zelda's departure changed the direction of my life completely and I created a new life in my pursuit to honor her memory:
Thu, 01/16/2014 - 15:51
Thank you for those touching, so very loving words! They've made me cry and I keep rereading them again and again. It's the most beautiful tribute to our beloved four-legged furry angels anyone could ever write... Full of love and gratitude for every moment of their presence, the daily joy and comfort they gave us even in the darkest moments of our lives, the unconditional love only dogs are capable of. I've lost my sweetest, dearest dog last week and there's a huge hole in my heart. I'll never forget her and she'll always be with me...
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Tue, 11/27/2018 - 12:29


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