Completing the Grieving Process

By: Jessica Aldred

Grieving the loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult things we will go through in our lives. In my life, there is no exception when it comes to my fur-babies. After five long months without my beloved puppy girl, and an unexpectedly difficult grieving process, I finally felt compelled to visit the animal shelter we had originally adopted our her from over a decade ago. Not all people can understand the significance of this step- not only me, but for my family as a whole. My husband and I had grown up with at least one family dog all our lives, so to be without for these past few months has been awkward to say the least. I often heard a bark in the distance or caught something out of the corner of my eye that instantly sparked a memory. I even had a moment around the holidays when I literally thought I’d forgotten to get her a gift, only to sadly realize it was not necessary that year. So, needless to say, today was a big day!

I packed my family in the car and drove the hour and half to the shelter we know and trust. The children were aware of where we were going and we discussed names as we drove along. My stomach churned with a mix of excitement, nerves and sadness. I honestly wasn’t sure how I was going to react when I went in there. Some of the puppies we’d seen available on their website looked so much like my girl. The strangest part is that they were all conceived right around the time that we lost our girl. I’m a realist, but I couldn’t help but think it was a soul circle and she was finding her way back to us.

When we pulled up to the shelter there was an unexpected line of cars. I looked at my husband with fear. Had I dragged my boys there with the hope of bringing a new puppy home only to disappoint? There were way more cars than the number of dogs I knew were available, so the fear was real. We received a number and waited for our turn to meet a puppy. As one after another was removed to go to their forever homes, we found ourselves standing in front of two cages. The dog that we had been eyeballing online was spoken for by the woman directly in front of us. As I turned to see what other options remained, I crouched down and found myself nose to wet nose with a gorgeous brown-eyed girl. She was the last of her litter, a calm and sweet little lady. When we were asked if we’d like to enter her cage and get to know her my children jumped at the opportunity. All five of us piled into a small cage and crouched down to meet this timid pooch. She looked nervous, and so was I. Would she like my crazy children? Would they like her? Would her temperament be a good match for three very active little boys? Would my old girl approve? As the minutes went on she warmed up to us. She crawled into my eldest’s lap and began sharing kisses. She allowed my rambunctious middle man to pat her and didn’t flinch at his enthusiasm for life. She even let the baby gently tug at her fur. As she nuzzled up to us, her new family, I knew in my heart that she was our match.

When we finally got her home, with all her puppy things in tow, she started to open up as she explored her new home. This puppy, who had only known shelter life, had hit the puppy jackpot! A warm home filled with cozy beds, lots of toys and treats, and a busy family eager to play with her. She by no means replaces my previous dog, but represents a big step in making peace with the loss. As I chase babies and puppies in opposite directions, I remember doing all these things for her. I can only hope that our new girl will become such a loved member of our family as we train her to be a good family dog. I’d love to hear how your family has dealt with these significant losses and moved on?

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