Losing a pet is never an easy thing. Before we lost our dog Rex I had only lost one other pet and I was in college and the world revolved around me at that time so it had little impact on me. But last week we made the gut wrenching decision to put down our beloved pet Rex. It was probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make. We had him as a puppy and he was one of my boys for 12 years. He sat at my feet when I worked in my office. He followed me around the house, I was his mamma and he was my fur baby. We gave him incredible vet care that would pay for a year of college at most universities. How could we not, he was one of us.
When we went to pick him out as a puppy I knew the breed of dog that I wanted. After I found the breed I went to the kennel and held him in my arms and he snuggled right into my arms, just like each of my boys did when they were born. He was a part of our family from day one. The boys had picked out his name from a Junie B. Jones book even before we saw him. He was named Rex, a tough and fearless name. But he was anything but tough.
Watching each one of my children and husband say goodbye to Rex in their own way was especially difficult. I have had lovely cards and flowers sent to me as well as a treasured book about losing a pet. But I learned many lessons from Rex, not just how to love an animal as if it were your family, but so many more.
1. Be excited to see whoever enters the house. I was always greeted with a wag of the tail and a happy to see you look. My husband said he missed that greeting now that Rex was gone. It is a good reminder that each time someone enters our home, we should take a minute to greet them like a puppy. Take time to say hi and let them know that you missed them!
2. Pick up after yourself. We could never leave things on the floor. As Rex’s eyesight began to fail, we always had to make sure that things were not left on the floor as he would take a tumble over a book or a pair of shoes left laying around.
3. Be on time. Rex was an insulin dependent diabetic dog and he needed to have insulin shots twice a day 12 hours apart. We were rarely late and always made sure that someone was home to give him his shot. We needed to be on time as our dog’s life depended on it. We couldn’t forget and let time slip by. When the morning alarm clock went off on a weekend morning and we wanted to sleep, we could sleep, but after the shot.
4. Push in all chairs. This ties into the one with picking up after yourself. When you are nearly blind, leaving chairs pushed away from the table makes for a dangerous obstacle course. So push in those chairs! Also don’t leave cabinet doors open or the dishwasher!
5. Close closet doors. Nobody wants to see your dirty laundry dragged out by your dog, so make sure that the doors to your closet are closed or you never know what guests will be exposed to when they come over.
6. Even the tough will cry. I took my oldest son with me when we put Rex to sleep. I watched his heart ache along with mine. He took me in his arms and gave me a strong hug after we were done. He is my tough kid who buries his emotions down. I saw his emotions that day and it gave me comfort.
7. Don’t leave your purse on the floor. Purses don’t go on the floor and Rex knew it. He had a super sniffer and was able to find gum like a blood hound. He will riffle through your purse like a thief and find that gum.
8. Don’t let food sit out. Rex had an ability to jump very high. He could grab a pan of brownies off the counter like he was four feet tall. He was a small dog, but you would never have known it. If you gave him a chance, he took it. So we learned early on to never leave food sitting out.
9. Intuition of an animal is always right. There were people that my dog didn’t like. Those same people I didn’t care for either. And then there was his intuition of wanting to crawl in someone’s lap who was having a particularly hard day. He just knew who needed some love. Pay attention and ask what is going on with that person who suddenly finds themselves with an animal in their lap. You may be surprised at what you hear.
While we go though this transition of being without a pet, we are learning so much of how our daily routines revolved around Rex. We couldn’t be selfish as we had someone who depended on us. Hats off to those of you who are pet owners as I had no idea of how hard this would be. They really are not just pets, they are our children with fur.
To Joyful, Simplified Living,