Friday, September 23, 2011

the legacy of a lifetime dog


I've spent the last four and a half years paying attention to dogs and dog owners. And I can easily spot now when the connection between that dog and that owner has developed beyond the standard "This is my pet dog and I love him". I think most dog owners would agree with me, that there are times when you see an owner and their dog and you can tell that they are completely intertwined in each other's lives...that they speak a secret language with one another. You can tell that the right owner found the right dog at the right time and that something truly magical happened. And those are the "lifetime" dogs.




After my last blog post, I received a fair bit of email regarding this notion of lifetime dogs. Just to clarify, Jon Katz, my favourite author, is the one who coined the phrase and idea...but it is a notion that has stuck with me as I believe he has articulated a very real truth within the world of pet ownership. It has also stuck with me, because I know that Sophie is my "lifetime" dog and when you know that fact and you know that you are already in the middle of your all-too-short-time together, it can start to weigh on your mind how much time you only have left together and how you will cope when she is gone.



Anytime a cherished pet is lost, owners experience loss and grief and a heavy sadness. But when an owner loses a lifetime dog, I imagine that they must feel something on a completely different level...that a piece of them has gone missing and is never coming back. Because I feel that already, when I think about a world without Sophie in it. And it's in my nature to prepare myself for the inevitable by thinking about it in advance....and it knocks the very breath out of me everytime. But I can't change the inevitable. So, even in this instance, I take a lesson from Sophie, a lesson from our dogs....focus on today. Live in the moment together and know that whatever happens in the future, she and I will face it together. Because even once she is physically gone...and my heart is broken...her lessons, her love and the changes she brought in my life will comfort me and will endure....and that is the legacy of a lifetime dog.

10 comments:

Louise Ducote said...

What a jewel of a post; much to ponder. It must be difficult to write those words, but please know that you are helping those of us who have been blessed with a lifetime dog give a name to it (albeit via Katz), and to prepare for the heart-shattering inevitable. Thank you.

laurie said...

thank you for writing this. boscoe is my forever dog, but he is nearing the end of his life and it is killing us. he is 16 and three months, he's been diabetic for two and a half years, and now his kidneys are starting to fail. it's so hard. so so so hard.

laurie said...

ps thanks for visiting my blog--i've been much away from the blogs i love and i've missed yours.

Jan said...

It's possible to have more than one lifetime dog. My first dog I got when I was three and she lived to be 15. Everything about my childhood somehow involved her. Death wasn't meaningful to me then, but losing her was.

I've had dogs since then, but one of my present four is another lifetime dog. She sees into my soul and heart. As my daughter said, "Misty IS you."

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Most likely a hard to write post, and hard to come to terms with, but such a blessing.

I feel for Bootsie like you feel for your dog. Yes I know he's a cat, but somehow there is this intense connection between us....

When you see them lounging on the bed in the patch of sun, it just brings to mind how we too should live in the moment like they do.

Thanks for reminding us that what we have right now, is what we have. Not the unknown future...

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Hilary said...

What a beautiful post. The connection that you and Sophie share is magical.

TMarie said...

Very beautiful post. I have missed visiting your blog and writing. We often call our lifetime dogs, our heart dogs.

WildBlack said...

Very touching post!! I miss you both :(

Nileydog said...

I just stumbled across your blog and I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I lost my "lifetime" dog Niles back in 07' and it still hurts whenever I think about him. He is the reason I started my dog rescue and everything dog related that I do. I miss him every single day but I hope his honor lives on in all that I do. Cherish the moments you have is the only way to go.

Jackie said...

I've been fortunate to have a truly special lifetime dog. He passed away back in 1999 - strangely, it was the ninth day of the ninth month... and he went on his permanent sleep at 9 minutes after 9am. I'll never forget him.

Now I have my own dog - the first that I've owned myself that wasn't the family's dog - and she is another lifetime dog. She arrived on the scene on the eve of one of the worst times of my life. Someone brought her here to help me though it. She's been a true gift of love.