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pet loss tribute

An Angels to return home would like to say a special Thank You to Essie Arthur for her work and dedication to the "Circle Of Support" She is truly an Earth Angel. Be sure to visit: An Angels Destiny website

For some people animals are just pets, plain & simple.  For those of you reading this article, I doubt I need to tell you, they are much more than “just” anything.  Yes, they bring us joy, give us someone to play/walk with, and are good company on lonely nights.  But once we open our hearts and our souls to truly bond with them, we see much more than a pet.  They teach us forgiveness, selflessness, perseverance, and the “true” meaning of commitment.  The attributes they possess we can only dream to acquire by the end of a lifetime.  And if we truly allow ourselves to explore the human-animal bond, they not only become our friends, but our teachers. 

My fiancée and I adopted our Sheltie, Scooter, in 1992.  I was 20 years old and starting my adult life.  He was going to be at the center of that new life!  I worked very hard to get my custom broker’s license when I turned 21, so I could get that raise at work!  I needed that promotion to buy my first home. Being the fetch-a-holic that Scootie was, I had to get him his own backyard.   We went to doggie school, and he won best in class….Oh!, what a shining moment that was for a proud mommy on graduation day!  We loved to play in the snow together.  That was the epitome of pure joy! I would make up songs “just for him”, sing to him, and he’d just roll over on his back and go squirrly on me.  Maybe it was my singing? He went with me everyday to work, my fellow partner in crime!  We lived our lives everyday, together, one day at a time.  We had good times.  We had bad times.  We were family!

Then one day, a day like any other day, my baby…mama’s precious little sweet pea was gone!   Just that fast!  No more Scooter kisses, no more songs to sing, no co-pilot in the passenger side of the car heading to work with me.  No appropriate goodbye! 

Scooter was everything that captured the essence of innocence; but he was taken from me in the most unimaginable, violent way.  I was 31 years old when I lost him.  I’ve never had children of my own as I’ve never yearned for them.  I always knew from the time I was a child that my destiny was to have my animals around me and that they would encompass the whole of what the term ‘family’ meant to me.  The day I lost him, I felt like a mother who had witnessed her own child’s death.  

I had two other dogs, Smoke and Rosco…aka, the younger bro’s.   In the months that followed, I would of course, cry, cry a little more, and yes…cry a lot more.  I would hold his cremains to my chest and beg to feel his touch just one more time.  The mourning changed to depression.  This usually entailed food.  The boys, Rosco & Smoke, never received table scraps up to the point of Scooter’s death.  But alas, we were depressed! Or I was! So that meant all rules out the window!  I would come home, lie in bed, watch tv with the boys.  And then came the chips! Chips? I don’t even like chips! One chip for me, one chip for Rosco, one chip for Smoke, one chip for me, one chip for Rosco.  Well, you get the idea.  About 15 lbs later, things started to get better.  Actually I decided to harness my energy into something more positive than the potato chip bag.  I wanted to make a memorial garden in Scootie’s honor because he always lied outside with mama while I was working in the garden.  It would be a white garden, representing him…fragile, innocent, my angel!

I still battled the ugly visions in my head of his final day.  How do you make those go away?  I had cried so much and the vision just wouldn’t change.  Finally one day when opening up to my sister, she said “It’s simple.  Block it out!  It’s not healthy, it’s not your life together, it’s not your relationship.  Block it out.  It’s just the way it’s got to be.”  She was right.  Whenever a bad thought came into my mind, I instantly thought of a nice thought.  It didn’t come easy.  It’s hard to tell your brain what path to go down…it’s got a mind of its own.  

Then one very special night, I had a dream.  Scooter and I were walking on a white path where we approached each other, made eye contact, and then we tore off running to each other.  I picked him up like I always had and was ambushed with the Scootie kisses I so adored.  My baby had beautiful white hair.  It was a clean and beautiful coat, quite unlike the day we parted.  We talked for what felt like hours.  He answered all of my questions, reassured me that what happened that day was part of a much bigger picture.  The extensive conversation left me feeling as though I had found my own peace and was able to part ways and truly say goodbye.  I felt so good about being able to leave him.  It all felt so right. We split to walk our own way back down the path. I turned over my shoulder to see if he would turn to look at me as I left.  He didn’t.  He just pranced on up the path, with his chest puffed out, prancing at a good pace, like he had somewhere to get back to.  I was thrilled! I was absolutely ecstatic!  He didn’t turn to look back!!  He was happy where he was, and he was going to see me again when the time was right.  I didn’t need to worry anymore.  I bolted straight up out of bed, turned to the clock (why do people always look at the clock?), and it was straight up, 3 a.m.  I ferociously shook my husband awake.  I wanted to scream it at the top of my lungs…”He’s okay”…”He’s good, he’s really, really good!”  “Everything is OKAY!”  I was so happy.  I’ve never known that kind of contentment, solace, and excitement at once!  We got up the next morning.  I was riding that high of knowing my baby was okay, and my hubbie turns to me and says “we forgot all about it being Mother’s Day, we need to do something for your mom”.  Oh my goodness…I had no idea!  I just smiled and from that day forward my heart began to heal. 

I had many people around me who recognized the bond I had with Scooter at the time he died, unlike the other periods in my life when my other two dogs had passed over.   Where before I was surrounded by an overload of insensitivity from others, this time I had friends reaching out.  However due to the circumstances surrounding his death, even my closest friends were uncomfortable with how to let me know they were there for me, should I want to reach and grab hold.   I received so many cards and was ever so grateful for the thoughts and prayers and could feel the warmth of so many wonderful people in my life.   A friend of mine came over and she saw all of my cards and started laughing.  I had received repeat cards from many different people.  One type of sympathy card I had received from 5 people.  She mentioned wanting to send me flowers or something special, but she confessed she just didn’t know what to do.  My mind, needless to say, wandered from that point. 

For some of us our animal companions may be our beloved pets, for some they are our best friends, for some of us they may be our only friend. Some would even say when they meet the right one, on a certain level, they are their soul mates.  Why then does the person mourning their loss so often feel so alone?  Many of us just have to mourn privately because we fear no one will truly understand the depth of the relationship we shared with our animal companion.  Some of us may just choose to mourn privately due to the circumstances of the death, as in my case.  For the family member or friend of someone mourning, there were little options other than the 4 cards at the local Hallmark store.  I wanted to validate that the pain of pet loss is every bit the level of pain and heartache as when we lose a human family member or friend.  I wanted to offer gift ideas that could be sent to someone who had lost their friend that extended the condolences without necessarily having the confrontation. After the loss of Scooter, we built a website at devoted to letting other grieving pet owners know they are not alone through sharing beautiful pet sympathy gifts and memorial items.

The loss of an animal companion is the only pain I wish upon myself over and over.  It hurts immensely.  Sometimes just knowing someone else understands your grief is just the right medicine to ease the days along while waiting for time to work it’s magic.  Then down the road on a very special day, you think of your loved one, you feel no sadness, but just smile. You know you will be reunited again. Scooter was my little dog angel!  My time with him was entirely too short, but I cherish each & every day I was given with him.  Just the privilege to have him in my life is something I will be grateful for the rest of my days.  No matter what his means to leave this earth, I know it was his destiny to go back.  All angels must return home...eventually.



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