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Farewell, My Furry Kids

Posted on 25, October 2011

in Category Love, relationships, Uncategorized


Farewell, My Furry Kids/uncategorized relationships love

Our last family picture on Ivy & Hunter's last day with us.

Well the time came this past weekend. Our two dogs, my wife’s and my first “children”, graduated to the dog park in the sky. Ivy (16 year old Blue Merle Australian Shepherd) and Hunter (14 year old Black Chow Shepherd mix) lived long, relatively healthy lives, and in the end we felt that we had to assist them along their journey to allow them to leave with dignity and not wanting them to unduly suffer. Both Ivy and Hunter were adopted after an early life of abuse. Ivy sprung back very well, after she adjusted to her new family. From the day we found her in the shelter on my 30th birthday, and she jumped up on me and then my wife and wrapped her front legs around each of us, she was full of life and spunk. Hunter always had a tougher time escaping his early childhood trauma, and he was full of craftiness, often trying to see what he could get away with. In many ways, I looked at them both as if they were traumatized kids, who needed our patience, structure and love, and overall, they did very well with this approach. Ivy and Hunter both gave us so much in their unique ways, and even though Hunter could bring me to the brink of rage with his defiance and manipulative nature, we loved him just the same, and I learned to have more patience. I used to take them to the office, and Ivy had the incredible sense to know when a client was in emotional pain, and even in a deep sleep she would awaken and jump up next to them and look right through them, telling their soul it was going to be okay. They taught my wife and I that we could be parents to a human child, and helped us to become the parents that we are today. They cared for our daughter as if she was their own, and their patience with Grace, as she was growing, was admirable for any older sibling. Grace reached into Hunter’s heart in a way that no child ever had, and while he felt afraid of so many other children, he warmed up to Grace like holding a hot cocoa on a wintery night. She would dress him up, and he would take it, as well as many pictures we will smile at forever. Ivy on the other hand was Grace’s older sister, who let her know the limits and kept her in line. She tolerated Grace’s attempts to love her in her sometimes rough and tumble way, but had her line of dignity that Grace could not cross. We had let Grace know over the past six months that the dogs were getting older and knew that the day was coming when we would have to likely make this decision. After losing both grandfathers this year, we did not know how Grace would handle it. When we told her of our decision the night before we made arrangements, she cried like we had not heard her cry before, and just like a 6 year-old can do, she was asking for another dog in the same sentence she was saying that they were her best friends ever. It was okay and good for her to grieve. Death is one of the lessons a child may be fortunate enough to understand in an environment of trust and love, and we wanted her to know that her feelings were her own through this, and she has handled this Gracefully. What I told Grace when she asked about getting another dog, was that when we lose a person or a pet, we need to give our heart time to heal so that we don’t try to fill that empty space with something or someone else. This is a powerful life lesson. I told her to let her feelings be known and honor the memory of her dogs, and one day it would be time to get another dog. We would all know when. We all feel that we are better people because of Ivy and Hunter, and even their death happened for us, not to us. Their last day was filled with quality time, play with their doggie friends, a Frosty Paws ice cream party and cooked meat for dinner. When it came time, our Veterinarian came to our house. I did not want the dogs’ last moments to be feeling fear and unfamiliarity. Grace chose to be a part of the process, and we had discussed the process numerous times, and she helped where she could, to gain some power over her feelings of helplessness, handling the situation Gracefully and respectfully. A child’s view of death is often channeled through the parent, and we want to Grace to not fear it, but instead see it as a part of life. Death does not have to be morbid or scary. It is a transition – another life lesson. My wife held Ivy when she went to sleep, and I held Hunter. It wasn’t until the next day until it really hit me what it may have meant to Hunter for me to be holding him as he looked in my eyes when he went to sleep, “Here is my caretaker who raised me, loved me, fed me and gave me limits when I needed them, and in my last moments of life, he is holding me and loving me as much as I loved him – a much different reality than I came into this world with.” Well maybe he didn’t think that. “Maybe he was just thinking, this was a really fun day. I wonder what we are going to do tomorrow.” But I think that is what his eyes were saying. Hunter, I say this to you, “I hope we helped you to heal your soul in this life from what happened when you were young and helpless.” To Ivy, “Thank you for reaching into the hearts of so many and finding their smile.” You will both always be in our hearts… indelibly. Respectfully, Dr. E…