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Losing a Pet - Grief & Gratitude

Forever isn’t long enough.

Denny loved playing tug of war, fetch, and "get me".

I’ve had to take so many breaks writing this because I keep crying.

He loved to bury things - bones, treats, stuffed animals, you name it. He was the only dog I've known to actually dig holes and bury his treasures.

Denny passed away 10 days before I left on a 6 month trip. I think he knew I was leaving, and I think I knew he would be leaving me too. After I started packing my suitcase, anytime I left the house he slept right beside it. Although I wish he could have lived forever, I am so grateful that he passed away while I was still home and not while I was travelling.

Here he is with his favourite stuffy. He loved to cuddle with it, I did not. It was smelly. Very, very smelly.

14 years is like a blink of an eye in the big scheme of things. When I think about our time together, it just seems to have gone by so fast. How is he just not here now? We’ve been through so much together - the silly little fur ball has supported me through some incredibly difficult and challenging times through my life. He was my best friend.

The nicest boy.

I will literally miss him forever.

I could always count on my Lil D to laugh at my jokes.

His passing was quick. It was a Monday when we were out for a walk when he first collapsed and was unresponsive. I took him to the vet and they did some tests - I knew as soon as I walked into the room to see his x-rays that I’d be saying goodbye soon. His pericardium (the sac surrounding his heart) was so filled with fluid that the walls of his heart were almost touching his rib cage on both sides. The culprit - cancer. The vet advised I’d probably have a week.

This is one of the last pictures I took of him. He fell in love with James's bean bag chair. In his last days he spent a lot of time here. I moved the bean bag to follow the sun beams (he loved lying in the sun).

I spent every single second with him from that moment until he passed away on Thursday. He very quickly started to lose the ability to walk around and move because of the strain on his heart. I carried him everywhere. James took a mattress down from one of the bedrooms upstairs so we could sleep together down in the living room.

Mommy and Denny sleepover central. Harry Potter and Goldfish all-nighters. Total party animals.

Denny loved to be held “like a baby” with his little head resting on my left shoulder. He died in my arms in his favourite position. It was peaceful. He wasn’t stressed or scared. I tried my hardest to stay calm because I didn’t want him to feel me stressing and try and make me feel better. Because all you dog owners out there know - they know when we are upset. I didn’t cry until he passed on and then I cried hard. Shaking, snotty uncontrollable grief.

He was obviously a ladie's man. I mean, look at him. Clearly the coolest kid on the block (sorry Coop!)

A few days after he passed away I had a dream about him. It was very real and left me with all the feels. When he was alive, Denny followed me around like a little shadow. Even if I went to the bathroom, he had to be in there with me. If the door was shut, he would sit outside the door, scratch and whine until I let him in. It was the same thing if I was in the shower.

When he was a puppy he actually used to climb into the tub while I showered. I know I’m going off on a tangent, but memories! There were so many times where I would be showering and have that feeling like, “It feels like somebody is watching me” and turn around to see him getting soaked with a happy little grin, “Hi Mom!”

A perfect example of Denny needing to be by my side and see me at all times.

Anyways - back to the dream. I dreamt I was in the shower and when I got out of the shower, he was sleeping on the bath mat as usual. He looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry Mom, I’m still here!” And as much as my heart broke when I woke up and realized he wasn’t here anymore, I feel like somehow it was his way of telling me he really was still with me as my little shadow, my little guardian angel.

I took this pic right before I left to go for a walk with my friend, Lisa. I think he is giving her the "she is mine and you can't have her" look.

I’m so grateful that he didn’t get really old and sick, or suffer for very long. He was his usual spunky self until that Monday, and even then, he still showed his unique personality by begging for his favourite snacks - goldfish crackers.

"I still feel good enough for Goldfish Mom, I know they're up there. Lemme at 'em!"

I’m so grateful that I got to spend 14 incredible years with the little munchkin, because I know so many pet owners don’t get that long with their furry loved ones.

Baby Denny and almost 14 year old Denny. Talk about aging well.

I’m so grateful that I was able to spend every minute of the last moments of his life with him. He started to go deaf about a year ago, but I still told him how much I loved him, how much I was going to miss him, that he didn’t have to be scared and that I would never leave his side. I told him stories of all the fun times we had together and how much I loved his silly little quirks and his smelly kisses. I said everything I would have and could have said, and I know maybe he couldn’t hear me and understand what I was saying, but I know he felt my love. Without a doubt, I know he felt loved, safe and protected.

Ugh. That face. I simply cannot. He's so cute. Those eyes. That smile. That floppy tongue.

I think if Denny could have told me in his own words, he would have wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and being cuddled in my arms, eating goldfish and talking about the good times we had together.

One of our last cuddle puddles. Reminiscing about the good times. There were so many.

Finding gratitude during such a painful situation almost felt wrong, but it has helped me deal with the grief of losing him. If he had died after I had left, it would have been so much more devastating - for both him and me.

What I wouldn't do for just one more of those smelly kisses.

I don’t know if I will ever have another dog. There will definitely never be another Denny, that’s for sure. He was so lucky to be so loved by so many people. His googily eyes and snaggle tooth definitely gave him a “look”. He was a left-pawed, smelly-breathed, squeaky-toy loving, bone-chewing, cheese-loving, mama’s boy.

This is one of my all-time favourite pictures of Denny. I think his little (huge) personality shines through so much. He reminds me of a little Ewok here.

Denny - I will love you forever. I will like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. I know you’re up in doggy heaven right now, stealing all the other dog’s toys and bones (not giving them back either), chilling in the sunshine and living it up. I can’t wait to see you again buddy. I look forward to those world-class snuggles and hot-garbage-smelling kisses. I know you know how much I loved you, and still do. Until we meet again my little love bug XOXO.

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