Sunday, June 30, 2024

The Trouble with Dogs II

In 2020, I wrote a farewell blog to my Corgi Mix, "Reina". The name means "queen" in Spanish, and she certainly held sway over my heart. What follows is an updated blog to include the entrance of a little spitfire named "Gracie".

The gift of connection is fraught with the grief of separation.

Simply put, we outlive our dogs, and it’s just not fair.

When I met my dog Reina for the first time, there was an element of loss in the joyful mix; I did not feel it, could not have identified it at the time. But there was a wiggly layer of sadness inside our first meeting, and that niggling thread would follow us through the five years we had together.

The grief would grow more insistent the day the vet told me my girl had Canine Degenerative Myelopathy, a condition which would cause some pain and possible paralysis in her hindquarters.

The sting of losing her this way, in slow dribbles, tracked us like a cold shadow. Our walks became shorter. She accepted my help getting into the car, out of the car, up the steps, into the apartment.

Many things were the same, but even the familiar rituals felt short-lived, more precious.

Brief walks along the lakeshore, lurching along like a couple of mellowed oldsters, just sniffing the breeze and hoping for polished beach glass along the way.

Lots of treats. More than necessary; lavish gifts to hold onto our good moments.

Head pats, ear scratches, belly rubs. Little luxuries to ease the pain.

Small affirmations whispered into a world of

    gifts and goodbyes,

                             homecomings and heartaches,

    rescuing and relinquishing,

    mending and mourning.

I lost her in February of 2020.

In March of that year, the world shut down.

The emptiness in my apartment became a thundering silence; a constant reminder of she’s-not-here-anymore.

The sequester was deeply solitary for me. More profound, really, than lockdown in the world of uncertainty we were dwelling in that dark year.

It’s a strange yet familiar journey, this pilgrimage with dogs. These days I have Gracie as my little sidekick, the heartbeat-at-my-feet. Like Dear Reina, I know Gracie, too, will succumb to her passage over the rainbow bridge.

And I will mourn. Once again, I will know the anguish of losing a pet. The empty food bowl, the resting leash – still hanging on the hook beside the door. Echoes of clickety-clack paws on the floor tile; recalling her unique bark so keenly, you think for a moment she has returned.

So, the question follows me like some kind of no-nonsense coach: Why would you do this over again? Why do you keep tolerating these goodbyes, only to turn around and welcome another dog into your life?

There is no logical answer.

There is only a wagging tail, an upturned face, a slobbery wet kiss on the nose. This is all we need to begin a new story.

The retelling of that story, later on, will far outweigh the pain of goodbye.


Kathy is passionate about rescuing dogs. Gracie is a rescue from Northern Chautauqua Canine Rescue in Westfield, NY. In November 2021, Gracie ran off and went missing for 5 days. Kathy and friends launched a search along the Bayfront Connector in Erie, where a Good Samaritan found Gracie – she was hungry and weary and happy to be returned home. Kathy enrolled Gracie in a wonderful dog training program, Dependable Companions Dog Training, LLC , located in East Liberty, OH. 

Due to her excellent training and confidence-building, Gracie is a thriving Corgi, living her best life. She enjoys car rides and rambling walks in the woods. She knows “sit”, “stay”, “treats”, “car ride”, and “suppertime” and is fluent in the unspoken language of steadfast devotion.