Affairs of the heart.

Those four-legged affairs, that is!

In my recent post where I updated you on our longer-term findings of using hemp oil, I included a couple of recent photographs of Pharaoh. As in:

A shot taken of Pharaoh walking past me.
A shot taken of Pharaoh walking past me.

and

Cleo watching Pharaoh come away from the house.
Cleo watching Pharaoh come away from the house.

Blogger RoughSeasInTheMed commented, in part,

How lovely for Pharaoh. It’s a good age for a GSD.

But as delighted as we are with how Pharaoh is combating his weakening rear hips there is no disguising the fact that the day of his death is getting closer all the time. (Not just for Pharaoh, but for all of us!)

So I cherish each day with Pharaoh as, indeed, I do with all our dogs. Both Jean and I have love affairs with our dogs that almost defy description and it’s a not an infrequent reflection between Jeannie and me that as they come to the end of their days each and every death is going to be extremely painful. Jean still mourns the loss of her dogs from many years back.

So on to this beautiful post that was recently published over on Mother Nature Network.

ooOOoo

7 reasons you will never forget your dog

For many, the loss of a dog is harder than any other. Here’s why.

Jenn Savedge October 25, 2016
he passing of a pet leaves a hole in your heart — and your life. (Photo: mythja/Shutterstock)
The passing of a pet leaves a hole in your heart — and your life. (Photo: mythja/Shutterstock)

It’s been three years, but it was only a few weeks ago that I was able to pull my old dog’s bed out of storage and look at it without crying. Otis wasn’t just my dog; he was my friend, my workout partner, my first baby and my stalwart protector. In our 14 years together, Otis was there for me through the birth of both of my daughters, five moves, one tarantula infestation and countless bad haircuts, which he endured without skipping a beat.

It’s no wonder his death left a giant black lab-sized hole in my heart. Anyone who has ever lost a longtime pet knows this feeling, and many also understand completely that the loss of a pet can be as hard as the loss of a close friend or family member. Here’s why you’ll never forget a loyal dog:

1. You may be closer to your dog than you are to some members of your family.

A 1988 study published in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling asked dog owners to create a family diagram placing all their family members and pets in a circle whose proximity to them represented the strength and closeness of their relationships. Not surprisingly, the participants tended to put their dogs as close as or even closer than family members. In 38 percent of the cases, the dog was closest of all.

2. You dog’s world revolves around you and your happiness.

If there’s one thing that your dog loves even more than chew toys, cheeseburgers and chasing squirrels, it’s you. His world literally revolves around you, and he will do anything at all to make you happy. There’s no other being in the world that will give you as much nonjudgmental love as a dog will.

3. Your pet is your stress reliever.

A study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that contact with pets can help to reduce stress by lowering levels of stress hormones, calming the heart rate, and even elevating feelings of happiness. Losing a pet is like losing a friend, counselor and yoga-instructor all in one.

All it takes is a quick scratch to make your dog’s day. (Photo: Wisut/Shutterstock)

4. Pets appreciate your every effort, no matter how small.

At the end of the average day, I will have cooked, cleaned, run errands, worked, shuffled kids from school to after-school activities and home again, paid bills, worked some more, rotated laundry, and organized a playdate , a fundraiser or a closet all without anyone in my household even noticing. Yet my two current dogs (Henry and Honey) are seemingly overjoyed by any effort I make — no matter how small — to keep them fed or happy. It’s easy to feel like a superhero when you see the love in your dog’s eyes reflected back at you.

5. Your dog understands you.

Honey, my energetic running partner, knows well before I reach for my shoes whether or not it’s time to get ready for a run. Henry knows when it’s time to play and when it’s time to dog pile on the sofa for popcorn and a movie. And it’s not just your mood that dogs understand. New research shows that your dog probably understands much of what you say — and even the tone of voice you use to say it.

6. Dogs are loyal to the bitter end.

For all of the good days we had, my boy and I had our struggles, too. Yet Otis never judged me for the days that I forgot to feed him (or myself,) or when I walked around the house like a zombie while caring for a new baby. He didn’t object to squeezing into the middle console of a two-seater truck when we moved across the country. He forgave me for all of those missed walks and harsh words when I struggled to juggle the demanding tasks of caring for a growing family.

Yet, when I needed him, he was there, without fail. It was Otis who sat by my side as I rocked a colicky baby through countless sleepless nights. When the Twin Towers crumbled to the ground, I wept silently into his collar. When a close friend lost her son to cancer, Otis walked with me around and around the block as I struggled to understand the meaning of life.

7. Even if your dog is no longer with you, he wants to comfort you.

Your dog would never want you to be sad — even if your sadness is caused by his loss.

Animation student Shai Getzoff captured this sentiment perfectly in his short film “6 Feet.”

“I based this story on my beloved dog who passed away last April,” Getzoff commented in the film notes. “She spent 15 and a half wonderful years with me and my family. After she passed away, it took a while getting used to life without her. It felt like she was always around, when in reality she wasn’t really there any more. This, for me, is a way to say goodbye.”

Grab a tissue and give it a watch.

6 FEET from Shai Getzoff on Vimeo.

ooOOoo

Let me leave you with this photograph of Pharaoh, an image that will stay with me until my last breath.

Pharaoh – just being a dog!

23 thoughts on “Affairs of the heart.

  1. Paul- Thank you so much for re-posting the article. I understand exactly what you are talking about in regards to Pharoah. Maggie will be 9 in February & although she is in good health, I find myself thinking about the inevitable day when she will no longer be by my side. 6 Feet moved me to tears. Isn’t it wondrous knowing that those who have left us will always be in our hearts? Now when I look up at the night sky and the twinkling stars I will see my old companions & smile.

    1. Susan, it’s a little after 6am. The room is still dark and Jeannie is sound asleep next to me. When I stirred 15 minutes ago Cleo, Brandy and Oliver knew I was awake and came up to the bedside and rubbed their heads against my outstretched hand.

      This happens every morning. A constant reminder of the magical bond, the powerful relationship that exists between me and our dogs. That exists between you and Maggie. Between millions of people and their dogs.

      As you say, they will always be in our hearts. Forever!

      1. Thanks. Indeed, it just crossed my mind that there could be a page on this blog where readers leave the names and a few words of past loved dogs. Would that work for you?

  2. As is the case of most of us here, I have lost many dogs over the years, and still remember each and every one of them; they are still in our hearts and always will be. Our Poppy has reached the grand old age of 17, she has arthritic back legs, blind and deaf but still a happy little dog; we treasure each day we have with her, like you with Pharaoh but she will be our last.

    1. Barb, am I hearing that after your Poppy goes you will no longer have any dogs around you? I can’t imagine what that is going to feel like as I suspect you good people can’t. Jean and I are trying hard to let the numbers dwindle here at home but we are not yet in the mental and emotional place where we think we could live without a single dog to love. But, ultimately, we are going to have to do that! (It hurts even writing these words!)

      1. Thank you Paul, it isn’t an easy decision to make as you can imagine, because we have always had dogs, but given our ages and my husband’s poor health, we know it’s the right one for us. I hope I can bear it.

      2. Please feel the love and hugs that Jean and I are extending to you and your husband. As I say all too often these days, thank goodness when we were younger we had no idea what being older really meant! (I shall be 72 in two weeks time!)

  3. A sad post but one that we who love dogs and or cats, have all shared. Pharaoh, in my opinion still looks good. Keep him boosted with B12 injections, keep giving hemp and be sure to know what is going on with his kidneys. My daughter had stem cell treatments done on her two dogs. One dog was helped and the other showed no improvement. She is now getting acupuncture for Marley who is 15.6 years old. I am anxious to see what acupuncture will do for Marley’s arthritis. Warm baths and massage I know helps some dogs so please explore all possibilities for your beloved Pharaoh.

  4. I am so pleased to know Pharaoh is doing so well, you can see his age now in his coat… Yes our animal friends are friends way beyond their passing.. And I still miss my beloved friend of 21 yrs All be it she was a cat.. .. On Friday my daughter lost her beloved friend due to natural old age.. She too had been treating with natural remedies and had seen a vast improvement in her when she began..
    I was so pleased I had managed to capture her in my artwork to gift to her last year..
    Thank you for sharing these images Paul.. Much love to you and Jean 🙂

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