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SILVER DOG: THE LAST GOODBYE

By July 19, 2015 11 Comments

SILVER DOG THE LAST GOODBYETheir deaths gutted our world. Each one passed away as a result of cancer and died in our arms.

The associated grief was surprisingly intense. It was so intense that I was embarrassed I could feel so deeply about pets – Tammy…Sprite…Silver.

They were Goldens and like family.

Is that normal? Is it healthy? Am I saying that pets are on par with people? Of course not.

The Passing of a Pet

Some people assume that pet loss shouldn’t hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not understand because they don’t have a pet of their own, or because they are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet can provide.

The sudden and unexpected death of a good friend’s dog brought to mind the passing of our Silver in 2011 – which seems like only yesterday.

Silver came into our family as a 25th wedding anniversary present for my wife. She was a pure bred from Lloydminster, Alberta and she was pure joy. We probably did everything wrong in raising her.silver

Failing Obedience 101

Silver slept in our room; begged at our table; barked when she shouldn’t have and failed too often to retrieve. She flunked out of obedience school but we loved her just the same, knowing it was more our failure than hers.

When she was left alone as a pup she expressed her separation anxiety on our drywall. Her hair was the literal “fur” in our furniture. She came at the expense of friends with allergies.

Seeing her expectant face at the window after even a short absence was an unrivaled welcome.

She was a confidant, companion, counselor and comforter.IMG_0119

Down This Road Before

One warm September morning in her seventh year, she laid in the shade on our patio and was reluctant to come inside. That was out of the norm for her, so with deep trepidation it was off to the vet. We’d been down this road before. She was filled with cancer.

We took her home for one last night. She was medicated to relieve some of her pain. There was no medication for our grief.

We stayed up all night, wishing the morning would never dawn. We remembered her as a pup and were grateful for all the goodness she brought to our family. Even knowing this outcome we would have chosen the same path.

The vet was empathetic, compassionate and gentle. Our final goodbyes were said. We held Silver as she received the injection and then in what seemed like seconds she was gone. We knew we did the merciful thing but if that was the case why did we feel so cruel?

The Test of Friendship

Our vet gave us a poem as we left her office. One stanza reads,

“If it should be that I grow frail and weak,
And pain should keep me from my sleep.
Then will you do what must be done;
For this, the last battle can’t be won.
You will be sad, I understand,
But don’t let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.”IMG_0147

The Firsts

Writing this simple memory brings unexpected tears.

The drive home that day was in silence. There was too much silence for the rest of the day. That night there was two of us in the home but it felt empty.

The first night without her…
The first breakfast without her…
The first return home without her…
The first walk without her…

It wasn’t until the first Thanksgiving without her that we laughed again at remembering her devouring a previous Thanksgiving’s turkey when we were preoccupied with taking a family photo.

It was her way of getting into the picture…one that would last forever.

(This one was for you, Rayleen.)

RESOURCE: An excellent article on helping family members and especially children, cope with the loss of a pet. “Coping With Pet Loss

APPLICATION: Have you felt the loss of a pet? Please share your story below. Thank you.


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 27 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 38 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

More posts by Bob Jones

Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Faye Marie Dombrowski says:

    About 5 years ago we lost our dog, Sheena. She actually started out as our son’s dog but ended up as more my dog. We got her in March/99. We found out she had been born Jan 6 – the day my Dad had died. Finding that out I knew she was a special gift from God for me. She was my protector. We went for walks in the Sturgeon Valley together & I knew if we met a coyote she would fight it to protect me. She loved attention. Yes, she barked at people who came over but if they put their hand out to her she was their immediate friend. If she sensed they were afraid of her she would bark & growl at them. She died the summer of 2010. There were a lot of thunder storms that summer & she seemed more frightened of them than usual. I think she had a heart attack. I really miss her. I have only gone for a couple walks in the valley since she died. She’s not with me as my protector any more. My Dad loved dogs & I often think that he is enjoying Sheena in Heaven.

  • bob jones says:

    Thanks Faye for sharing. I see you most every Sunday but this was a grief of which I was not aware. Sheena has quite a story in connection to your dad. I’m not sure about you but the sadness/grief we felt was so strong it felt inappropriate. I wrote this because I don’t feel that way now.

    We walked the same trails with Silver as you did with Sheena. Even now when Jocelyn and I run on the Trails and we see people with their pets, fond memories of Silver come back to us.

    Just like you I have a loving companion in marriage. I don’t need a “companion” to take their place. But Silver for me and Sheena for you offered a different kind of companionship. There is room in our lives for more.

    Silver was definitely Jocelyn’s dog but I got the benefit of her presence. We miss her.

  • Janet Kelly says:

    We got Jake as an 8 week old puppy in 1999 and at the end of April 2015 he took his last breath as I held him in my arms. We had 16 years of fun with him. He was the best dog ever even doing a commercial for the Brick when he was young. We miss him every day. I was happy to see this post from you Pastor Bob as so often we feel that people think ” why are you upset? It was just a dog”. They don’t always realize how much that dog is a part of your daily life.

  • bob jones says:

    I am glad you liked this post. I hoped it would start a conversation and allow people to express their own long held, silent grief over the loss of a pet. 16 years is a long time to get to love a dog. “Best dog ever.”

  • bob jones says:

    Aw, Sue. Everybody’s got a story, eh? Its the eventuality of another broken heart that may keep us on the sidelines as pet owners..at least for the short-term. We’re glad you have “Misty.” Bold step. Good on you. Misty’s lucky. Thanks for entering the conversation!

  • Saying good-bye to two legged friends, and four legged friends is difficult. The process is the same for both. Some of my best friends have two legs, or four legs.

  • bob jones says:

    Grieving with you…

  • Amber says:

    When I lost my last dog I was devastated, looking back now I regret that I waited so long to do it. I let her suffer hoping God would take her, not wanting to be responsible for her death. I finally did it and it was probably one of the hardest things I have and will ever do. Afterwards I tried to find solace in the word, but couldn’t find any reference regarding what happens to animals after they are gone. I called the Crossroads hotline hoping that they could help. The man who answered was sympathetic, but told me that animals don’t have souls and therefore can’t get into Heaven. This hurt even more, I think he was wrong. (I hope he was wrong) Everyone who has ever had a pet knows they have a soul-they must. Right?

  • bob jones says:

    Making the decision to end the lives of 3 of our dogs were some of the hardest things we’ve had to do. I’m glad you found the courage to help your dog. Thanks for sharing your story, Amber.
    One of the things I believe about heaven is its a real place created by our Creator and Saviour. Jesus came to show us what God is like and to make a way to heaven. God’s vastness is incomprehensible to our human minds and that’s why some people can’t conceive of anything but humans being in heaven. I like to leave God’s inclusiveness to Him.

  • Adena says:

    Just reread this post. So helpful to know that others understand the deep grief I’m feeling. Sometimes I’m so embarrassed to still be so incredibly sad. I brought Griffin’s ashes home yesterday. As I drove, I kept him on my lap, close to me. We hung a plaque from the neighbours in our yard. Still grieving daily. Feeling like my rhythm of life is out of sorts.

  • Bob Jones says:

    God created Griffin for a purpose. He became a vital part of your family and was loved and gave love. He did well with his purpose and so did the Lowry family.

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