A member of our family came to the end of his life a few days ago. He was my in-laws beloved Cody, an energetic Havanese who lived every moment of every day with such exuberance that you couldn’t help but smile when he was around. To watch him play was to see pure joy in action.
Cody was completely enamored with our pug, Vienna, although she wanted nothing to do with him. He never gave up on trying to win her affection, though. No matter how many times she snapped at him for getting too close, he would just back away and have a seat, gazing at her from a safe distance. He was devoted and she could do nothing to deter him. I’d give anything to have him here again, irritating Vienna, marking every vertical object in our yard, and eating all the cat food. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll never get to see him again, but I’m certain that the love that Cody shared with all his people will live on in our hearts forever. My tough-on-the-exterior father in-law (tattooed and frequently wearing shirts with skulls and cross bones), had a bond with Cody so strong they may as well have been father and son. We would tease him about how odd it looked for this guy always dressed in black to have a little, long-haired white dog. It was all in fun, of course. We know very well that the gruffest exteriors can be concealing the biggest of hearts, as is true with him. His love for his dog was palpable.
Now my in-laws must navigate many emotions as they move through their grief. We must all deal with the loss of a pet in our own unique way. As we mourn, it may be very beneficial for us to have someone else to share our feelings with; a close friend or relative can help us cope. Other available options are provided by Washington State University, which offers grief counseling over the phone (866-266-8635), and Dove Lewis in Portland, which offers Pet Loss Support Groups that meet several times every month. These are good ways for grieving owners to have an opportunity to connect with compassionate people who understand what they are going through.
When dealing with the loss of one of my own pets, a good hug from someone who loves me always made me feel a little better. Of course no amount of hugs can ease all the pain, but having people around you (or a phone call away) who understand what you’re feeling can be comforting in such a difficult time.
In loving memory of Cody. We will carry your light with us always.