Yesterday, in came an email that brought a tear to my eye:
I came across your blog this morning and saw the post on ‘We shall not forget them’ to pay tribute to our fur babies.
My black Labrador, Max, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on November 28th. He’s on my mind all the time and I have constantly been trying to do little things that make me feel his presence.
I was hoping I could pay a tribute to him on your blog. Please find a small poem and a portrait of him that I had penned down earlier. This is the original picture I sketched of him.
The email came from Samyuktha Sridharand it is a wonderful honour and privelege to offer Sam’s tribute to Max.
Max, our dark Prince
by Samyuktha Sridhar
Max, our handsome black labrador who was eleven and a half years old crossed to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge on 28 November, 2016. We miss him like crazy and it hasn’t yet fully sunk in.
There is no way we can make the pain go away, but we need to move on and learn to live with the beautiful memories. Every person has a different way of dealing with loss and sadness. I like to put my thoughts on paper. It helps me get things out of my system.
So here’s what I did..
If memories could bring us closer, if tears could bridge the gap
I’d cross the oceans to see you, in warm wet hugs we’d wrap
I opened my eyes to reality, to warm wet tears instead
The pain in my heart was real, as the voices in my head
Echoed, “No teary goodbyes were exchanged, no words of farewell spoken,
Would it have made it easier, if we had that chance?” I’m torn!
If I knew t’was the last time, that you’d look into my eyes
I’d have cradled your head upon my lap, stayed by you as you lay.
Were you in pain that fateful night, when the big brown clock struck three?
Sadly I’ll never know, would I? If you’d reached out to me.
With every breath you took you filled, my heart with so much love
You took a piece of my heart with you, the piece that belonged to you.
Again and again we are reminded of what our dogs mean to us. So beautifully expressed by Sam.
Please, if you want to offer a tribute to your dearly departed dog do share it on these pages.
She grew and filled our lives with joy. We loved her Boxer curl and the way that she would sit on the couch with us and just lean against our sides. Then around her 7th year, we noticed that she lost her appetite. Concerned like any parents, we took her to the vet. We received the worst news possible.
She had cancer that had metastasized in her liver. Her last few months with us were precious.
This could be the most important lesson we learn from our dear dogs.
Our immediate neighbours to the South of us, Larry and Janell, lost one of their dogs last Saturday. Here’s the email that was sent out by Larry:
Bad day at the ranch
We lost Clyde today. A neighbor who is a veterinarian came by this morning and did the deed. He had cancer in his shoulder, we had a tumor removed a couple of months ago but there must have been some left because his left front became totally unusable and then his left rear started to go too. We tried everything that the vets could come up with but it was starting to eat him up.
He was born in central South Dakota at a cattle ranch where I got him in April 2004, a six week old black bundle of wrinkles. He learned his manners from Barney, who we lost a little over 2 years ago from cancer as well. Barney and Clyde, what a GREAT pair!!
We still have Baxter the Aussie, who has pretty well recovered from getting hit by a car and severely injured the beginning of last month and Bob the cat.
I will miss Clyde terribly, just like I have ALL my labs! They are wonderful dogs. Just thinking that I’ll probably never have another big floppy eared pal like that makes me want to just cry my eyes out!!
One of the fondest memories of my life is/was going bird hunting, especially ducks, and having a well mannered lab as my partner!! I’ve shared time and my lunch with some good ones!! I so very much wish/hope that there really is a “RAINBOW BRIDGE”!!
Jean and I obviously knew Clyde and can confirm that he was the most gentle, kind-hearted dog one could find.
I wanted to treasure the memory of Clyde, on behalf of all the dear dogs in the world, and asked Larry and Janell if they would be comfortable with me publishing the email. They replied without hesitation that it was fine and then sent me some photographs of Clyde to include in this post.
So the easy course for this post would be to leave it at this and move on. (And, please, if you are not up for a degree of introspection from yours truly, then do stop reading at this point!)
But when I awoke this morning (Tuesday), a little after 5am, Jean still asleep next to me, three dogs likewise across the bed, and knowing I would be writing about Clyde later on in the day, I started to reflect on life and death and was there a lesson for us humans in the death of our beloved dogs. When Jean awoke an hour later, I asked her how many of her dogs had died over the years. She replied that there had been at least twenty dogs that had died and that she could remember each and every one of them.
That then opened up a much deeper reflection on death and whether our dogs really can offer us a lesson in this regard. For I’m not ashamed to admit that at times I feel scared about the future. I’m 70-years-old, seeing the signs of what the medics call ‘cognitive ageing’, have a few minor challenges in the areas of prostate, blood pressure, thyroid, and know how terribly unprepared I am for the second of life’s two certainties: death.
Jean’s view was that dogs have the ability to live so perfectly in the present that, except in very rare occasions, they don’t grieve for the loss of a loved one. Clearly, a significant difference between dogs and us humans.
Then it was clear that we humans only grieve for the death of someone we knew. That within the family that rarely extended back beyond our grand-parents. That seemed to offer some philosophical help. For if it comes down to the memories that others will have of us, after we have died, then it behoves us to live the best life we can, doing our best at every stage in our lives. Accepting that it is impossible not to make mistakes and end up with regrets, yet so long as we try to be true to ourselves then that’s all that matters.
It was then a very small onward step to love and the potential for the greatest learning from our dogs. For dogs so frequently show us the magic of unconditional love.
Back to Clyde.
Here are two other photographs of dear Clyde, separated by the words in Larry’s covering email.
Paul, here are a few pictures of Clyde. Feel free to use what you like. We always said Clyde had a big heart, big stomach and no ambition as evidenced by these pictures! At one time we were nursing an orphan lamb in the house, Clyde adopted the lamb, Pearl, and looked after her, Larry.
I know that when our Lilly dies, she is 17, Jean will weep many tears.
I know that when our Pharaoh dies, he is soon to be 12, I will weep many tears.
But those pictures of Clyde remind all of us that it is in life that it is important to love. Important, almost beyond words, to be kind to others, to offer and receive love, and to treasure the present.
So, yes, we must shed a few tears of the heart yet thereafter we must treasure the memories.
“For if we cry at losing the sun, our tears will hide the light of the stars.”
Learning from Dogs has been running since July 15th, 2009. Between all of the authors and contributors there have been 813 Posts presented. None has had more comments than the Post published on the 12th January, 2010 about the loss of our dear Mexican rescue dog, Corrie. So for all our sakes, I just wanted to highlight the love that Corrie’s death has mirrored by reproducing the comments added to that article.
From Rosemarie and Joe (see the poem later on).
We are so sorry to hear of your loss of beloved Corrie. This is a beautiful picture of Jeannie with her girl! Our thoughts are with you both!
I know only too well the grief of losing such a beloved friend of our most loyal of animal kingdoms.. My heartfelt thoughts are with you both. Her soul goes on, and she will be forever faithfuland stay close to those who gave her back the unconditional love she gave you.
From Becky Bains.
Our love and thoughts go out you guys. When we lost Susie we were heartbroken. One of our friends posted this to us. I hope it brings some comfort. Love to you. xx
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
I just wanted to say my girl Free is there, running in the meadows and playing with her cousin.
I saw her many times after she left this earth. She was happy in my very clear visions until one day when I was so sad. I was crying over missing her. I saw her that day in my living room. Her head was leaning to one side, as if to say she didn’t understand, and I heard her spirit questioning me. I didn’t hear words out loud, but I heard her message –”I thought you promised you would be okay.”
That day, I met my girl Ruthie. I’ve never seen Free again, not so clearly, not like I did in those weeks before I found Ruthie. I know it sounds off the wall, and it is, but it sure happened.
Sometimes, I still see a picture of Free in my mind. She is always smiling and happy. I promised her I would remember our good times and as hard as I imagined that would be, every time I think of her, I nearly laugh, just like I am as I write about her.
She continues to give, even though she had to cross that bridge.
Peace to you and your family.
A poem sent in the mail to us from Rosemarie and Joe.
When God had made the earth and the sky,
The flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals
And all the birds and bees.
And when His work was finished,
Not one was quite the same.
He said, “I’ll walk this Earth of mine,
And give each one a name”,
And so He travelled land and sea,
And everywhere He went,
A little creature followed Him,
Until its strength was spent.
When all were named upon the earth,
And in the sky and sea,
The little creature said, “Dear Lord,
There’s not one left for me.”
The Father smiled and softly said,
“I’ve left you to the end,
I’ve turned my own name back to front,
And called you Dog my friend.” Author unknown.
That’s all for today, but tomorrow I want to add a further thought about the power of love that has come out of Corrie’s sad but meaningful death.