Saying goodbye to Josh and welcome to Tucker
So many of you reached out to share your condolences and words of wisdom in response to my post about losing Josh. I am honored that you felt comfortable sharing your beloved pet stories. In our shared grief, I found healing. In particular, I treasure these words from one Facebook connection, “Know that if love could have saved him, he would have lived forever.”“Know that if love could have saved him, he would have lived forever.” Click To Tweet
“Know that if love could have saved him, he would have lived forever.” Isn’t that true for all of us? If love could have saved my dad, he would still be with us. Great love doesn’t stop the inevitable from happening. But when you are ready, a great love can leave you open to a new relationship and loving again. The question is, when is it time to move on?
This is such an emotional question with no single answer to fit everyone. There was a time not long ago when widows were expected to be in mourning and wear black for a full year. In the 1960s, the Catholic church published very specific mourning etiquette guidelines. Things are different now, but many people still have expectations of how you should handle your grief, how long you should grieve and when it is appropriate to move on.
Personally, I think there is no “right or wrong” answer to this question. If your loved one has been mentally and emotionally gone from the relationship because they are living with dementia, who am I to say that you have not already gone through some, if not all of the five stages of grief and are ready to move on? If your loved one has been ill for a while and during this time you have been going through anticipatory grief, who am I to say that you did not give yourself enough time before moving on?
I have loved and lost many people and pets in my life. The grief for each was real but different and the time I needed to mourn and let them go said as much about me as the place they had in my life.
Which brings me to Tucker the new puppy in my life.
Why did I decide to open myself up to this new pet so soon after letting Josh go?
I knew in January of 2019 that I was on borrowed time with Josh. The anticipatory grief I felt at his coming death, particularly in the last four months, allowed me to work through some of the five stages of grief. It allowed me to think about what a future without him would look like.
As an adult, I’ve shared my home with four different dogs. After every loss I’ve waited less and less time to bring a new dog home because I’ve learned I can love more than one dog in my lifetime. I’ve learned that a new dog doesn’t diminish the bond I had with the others. I’ve learned that opening my heart to love again is healing.
Why did I decide for the first time in my life not to rescue a dog?
For me, a home without a dog is not a home. I know how long it can take to find the right rescue and frankly, the thought of not having a fur baby through this next resurgence of the coronavirus was unbearable. I started looking at rescues not long after Josh died. One of the bright spots of the pandemic is that many families brought a dog into their lives while we were in lockdown. But the result is the type of dog which would meet my criteria and mom’s were in short supply. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that NJ has a law requiring pet stores to work only with breeders. Suddenly, there were additional options.
Then there is the fact that I will be 63 soon. I’ve always rescued male dogs that topped in around 60+ pounds. I know that as I get older a strong dog will be too much for me to handle. Male or female didn’t matter, but it had to be small enough that if needed, I could pick the dog up and carry it home. In addition, the dog had to be one that mom could see which meant light in color. As much as she loved Josh and all my other dogs, they were not small lap dogs that would cover her in kisses. We spend a lot of time with her, so for her sake, it needed to be small enough that she could cuddle it in her lap.
Mom has been without her own dog for two years now. We tried for over a year to find her a rescue but her age worked against her. We finally gave up and trust me, she looked forward to seeing Josh more than me on the weekends I am her caregiver. When I called and told her Josh was gone, she was devastated. I got Tucker for mom as much as myself and as you can see from this picture, it was one of the best things I could do for her. She has a new lease on life. The first week he was home, she called me as soon as she got up to see how her grand dog had done during the night.Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional. Jump To Top
Deb is available as a caregiver consultant. She will answer the question: “Where do I start?” and find resources to alleviate your stress. If you would like to invest a half hour to learn how she can help you, please schedule yourself for a free half-hour consultation at: