I suppose it’s not very professional blogger like to reply in one swoop, instead of to each individual comments… thank gawd I’m not a professional blogger and I can break all of the rules at will.
This is a subject (referring to my last post) I didn’t really want to touch, in fact I have yet to proof read the post, or to even read it a second time. But I had to publish something… had to let go.
I’m a poor sport when it comes to grief of any sort. I’m the one who shows up at a funeral because I’m asked, but stands at the back giving the sympathetic smile to those who have lost. I can’t force myself to say, “I’m sorry.” when someone has lost a loved one of any sort… it just never feels sincere enough. But the right words never come to me. I can hug, I can listen, I can be there… but I never can say a word… that’s just me. (the feelings are there)
Which brings me to my next fault and or issue. I can’t take sympathy. I don’t like being the target for sympathy. See, I said target. I grieve alone… that’s how I cope, without a crowd and nothing more than me and memories. Posting this was entirely difficult, because I knew people would feel, and I couldn’t blame them for that… eh, it’s just a hard thing to explain.
But I can explain the title, the main theme, the thought of “Just a dog”. I know he was never that, just a dog or anything of the like… none of my animals are just anything, they are all unique, all special, all worth dying for. I was born needing them, and them needing me. (yes I’m claiming to have a special “thing” with most animals, deal, lol) The theme came from my chosen career for the past 12 years. 12 years of being in the canine industry, from working at a popular kennel in every aspect, to being a vet tech, to finally running my own dog training business. I’ve seen every aspect of the dog. Birth and death. Easy deaths, horrid deaths. Health and disease. (you might want to grab some coffee, I have a lot of rambling coming) One year into my career I had to develop a wall, a barrier against the heartache. With over 300 dogs at anytime within my view, 40 plus hours a week… you see things nightmares are made out of, not because of where I worked, but because the very nature of the beast.
One can not attach themselves to every snout that they meet… not if you want to sleep at night. Which sounds awful and cold, and terrible, but I imagine Doctors develop the same walls. You care, you fight, you feel, but you must have a switch. Every client I get, I love instantly, every last one of them… even the ones that want to eat me. But one simply cannot open fully to over thousands of true loves… even if I can still name each one by name at this very second.
People over years have looked to me to be their rock in hard times with their four-footed kids. I’ve held their babies as they took their last breaths, I’ve held their hands as they’ve made that call… they look to me to be strong.
I have to be strong, always, it’s my job.
But then the strong have their own pets, usually more than the average pet owner, even though they know too well what will come to be. My dogs are my kids, but also my business partner, my companions, my classmates. The ones I have now attended school with me. We got here together.
A year ago this last winter I spent every waking moment with a new-born and our German Shepherd. He had crossed paths with a terminal illness at the young age of six. I spent every moment I could force feeding him, giving him shots, giving him all I could… I made the call. I still at night look over every action I did, wondering if it was right…
So when I say, “He was just a dog,” it’s my defense, my nature, my hope to carry on. It’s not the way I have ever felt, not even about the strange dog I never met, whom I didn’t know the name, who passed amongst 500 other dogs at the kennel… that dog still weighs heavy in my soul and always will. It’s how I’m expected to react, I’m supposed to be the strong one… the one who has held the needle to the rainbow bridge. No animal has ever been just an animal.
Gus was special, perhaps more so than my other pets. My first dog that I picked out, the first dog I ever got to call my own. At one and a half he had his first seizure, declared to be an epileptic. The vets at two different clinics gave him just years to live with his mix of Great Dane Blood, epilepsy and a constant dose of the liver killing drug Pheno. But he lived on, through moves and changes, agility and my novice training… 13 years, a far cry from the seven-year at best prediction. I’m not sure if that made it easier or harder, I think I had convinced myself that he was immortal. When I began my own family my mom asked to keep him, he made her feel safe, the big black dog that was scared of everything. He passed suddenly in her arms Saturday night. I thank God that he was allowed to go with no dementia, no blindness, no hearing loss… no issues at all. He was a picture of health, I could only wish that for so many others. He now rests on our land, and finally last night I got to say my goodbyes without anyone looking to me for strength.
I’ll still cry, looking upon his grave… he meant the world to me and always will… but life goes on… and I fully plan on giving God a reaming when I get to heaven on Why he gave us best friends that only live such a short time.
Moving on (before I enlarge the bags under my eyes even more). I won’t be getting anymore dogs anytime soon. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, my dog training program required me to own five dogs. Add in the fact that I married another trainer from the same school…. we have four dogs currently. Four dogs, a goat, two cats, two parakeets, fish and 9 chickens (do we count the moosen goosen and the bears?)…. I have plenty. And even though I dream of the day of being able to fly off into the sunset without having to hire someone to tend to my “flock” I’m sure we will always have a zoo here… it’s in my blood. Even when I hate it. Even when it kills me.
Point being, and me trying not to drag this out even more than I have, I do appreciate every comment, every sympathetic ear, but I personally cannot respond individually… that’s just me. I don’t do well with the group hug. I do well with the unheard cries at night… that’s just me. But I have read every comment and appreciated them all. Thank you.