How To Deal With Pet Loss & My Story.

by - 7:16 PM

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” ― Will Rogers

I lost my best friend almost more than 3 weeks ago... my adorable little Bambi. She was the best dog a mother could ask for. How does one surpass the loss of their partner in crime, their little companion, and the light of their life? Bambi was way more than my chihuahua, she was my baby... or as the internet likes to call them "Fur baby". Dealing with pet loss can be extremely difficult and to be honest, it's not something you "get over" probably ever... you have to pull your inner strength together and find a way to move forward. I don't think our little babies would want us to go on with so much agony forever. I debated writing about this topic at all because I'm still very much in the mist of it all and having a bit of a hard time... I'm slowly feeling a little 'myself' again. I thought that since I love writing, it would be criminal of me to not express what I'm feeling. Also, hopefully it will help someone who is suffering through the same emotional shit storm and make them feel like they can start coping one minute, one hour, one day at a time. 

My Story
One Summer I went to visit my father in the Dominican Republic and I wanted a chihuahua. I saw Bambi and thought she was pretty darn adorable. I remember I waited a day to go pick her up because I wanted to give it some thought. That night I went back home, snuggled under my bed sheets and pictured my life with that little 6 month old baby I saw earlier in the day. I even called my boyfriend in NY to ask for his opinion! A dog is a big responsibility. I often think what if I didn't go back? It might have been one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. My life would have probably felt so empty and perhaps I would have never experienced the limitless amount of love my little gremlin faced baby gave me. That limitless love that I will probably always feel in my heart despite her absence because her memory is so vivid in my mind I can still feel her little paw imprints on my chest. The next morning I happily power walked down very hot and tropical streets and picked Bambi up. After I picked her up, I got her a little doggy passport and we exited the Dominican Republic. We were on our way back to New York! My whole family fell in love with her. 

I can't tell her whole story here, I could seriously write an entire novel about her, but I will share a few highlights. This big eyed beauty made my heart whole. Absolutely complete. She had such a positive impact on my life and made me want to be a better person. She gave me butterflies. She was a lap dog mainly but she had a lot of energy and definitely knew I was her mother. She wanted to be with me at all times and was extremely affectionate. You would have thought she was born glued to my hip. She rewarded me with a million kisses, slept with me almost every night curled up in croissant formation and to top it off, she was always so warm which made her my personal mini-heater. She always protected me and kept her guard up. If she didn't know you, she didn't want you close to me, period. Why would she? I think she believed it was her job to be my body guard. Bambi had a Napoleon complex for sure and demanded respect from everyone. She always had her head up high and gave you the impression she knew every ounce of greatness that lived inside of her. We spent time together in Dominican Republic, New York, and Las Vegas. She was my travel companion. Bambi enjoyed chasing pigeons on days when the sun shined bright and sported a coat during the winter like no other. Total fashionista! She was always toasty and smelled like fresh baked bread even when she hadn't shower for weeks. She was OBSESSED with cheese. The only thing she may have loved more than me was cheese. It was an intimate love affair. She knew when you were unwrapping it and would hit your legs until you gave her a piece... either that or she'd dance for you until it was hers. Belly rubs were one of her favorite pass times and she loved getting massaged in the little crease right between her eyes. She loved her family so very dearly. She had special relationships with her dad, uncle, and grandmother. It was heart warming for me to experience her time with them because she brought everyone so much genuine, innocent happiness. Her dad was always playing with her and keeping her on his tippy toes, her uncle was one of her closest friends and sleeping partners when she was in town and her grandmother spoiled her rotten sneaking her tiny bits of food all the time. Lack of affection was never a problem this chi-baby had a face a day in her life.

Bambi pranced like a true little deer. She had this real elegant skip to her and made the crunchy leaves sound way much more gratifying during the Fall season. 

(Bambi and her Dad sharing meaningful conversation as they often did)

When I brought her to NY her first sister was named Honey. An adorable little mix of about 3 breeds I rescued from the North Shore Animal League but was too young and reckless to care for properly in those days. Thankfully for myself and Honey, my brother Daniel took ownership of her and she was the first dog blessing my household ever had. I loved her very much. Bambi learned a lot from Honey. I think she learned a lot of patience, empathy, and persistence. She also learned to be tough! Honey wasn't always warm with Bambi but Bambi never, ever gave up. She always tried to play with her and keep her spirits high. We lost Honey due to cancer many years ago unfortunately but she was another one who lived a beautiful life. Honey is a legend in this family and I hope Bambi is hanging with her at her prime with restored health in doggy heaven.

When Bambi moved to Las Vegas for a little over 3 years, she acquired a little sister named Nala. Nala is a Chihuahua Jack Russell mix. The two of them were inseparable. It was love at first sight. I think Nala needed the company and she kept Bambi young and vibrant just as Bambi did for Honey a few years prior. Bambi & Nala would run circles together all over the living room, they looked like cartoon characters and seriously made me dizzy. It's like the were on autopilot of something but you'd get stuck in a trance watching them. They always stole each others treats and would play fight all day. I think their favorite pass time was taking naps together on the balcony on the 34th floor and enjoying the skyline view. They probably caught a few doggy tans up there and gossiped all day. They would knock on the balcony door if we didn't have it open for them, it was pretty funny and cute. They usually choose who they would sleep with at night, myself or there dad but they liked to roll together in the same bed. I couldn't be happier about the way they got along. I've been making sure to give Nala extra love and attention now that Bambi is no longer with her.  

Anyway, like I said before... I could go on forever. In an effort to wrap up the "My Story" portion of this post, I will say Bambi left this world due to heart complications. She was almost 11 years old and I thought I would have her a few years longer which made it hurt so much more. Decisions had to be made and I didn't want her to feel pain. How could I let her live in pain when I feel like she saved my life in so many ways? She gave me much more than I could have asked for and surpassed any expectations I could have had by far. She always knew when I was upset too, it's crazy. If I was crying, sick, feeling down or anything at all... there isn't a time I could think of that she wasn't there to make me feel better, not one. 

Even though everyone tells me I made the right choice, I couldn't help but feel like guilt was eating me alive. You always feel like "What If?". What If I could have done something sooner? What If I made the wrong choice? Could this have been prevented? What if she would have made it longer? I don't want to get into details but I was told I couldn't have done too much for her... it's crushing. It's hard not to feel guilt. I will tell you one thing, she left this world just as gracefully as she entered it. I was insanely crying at the veterinarian's office and she was licking the tears off my cheeks. I almost felt like she was telling me "Stop crying mom, it's OK." Nevertheless it's hard to overcome making that kind of decision. She was a champion! She lived and loved ferociously. She LIVED. She was so, so happy and would always give me this little smirk. She was my muse. I wrote a children's book about her I'm hoping to illustrate in the future, I started drawing chihuahua cartoons because of her, her and Nala have their own instagram, and when I wasn't with her, I was out on the town talking about her. Some might have called it an obsession but I didn't give a flying fuck what anyone thought because she was one in a million and no one could ever tell me any different or make me feel bad or weird for loving her the way I did. A true dog or animal lover understands.

Please love your pets dearly everyday. I know it's hard when life gets busy to give them the attention they deserve but please try. They are seriously angels sent to us by a higher power that grace our lives with no hidden intentions. 

Here's how I'm dealing and what has helped a bit... 

1) Give Yourself Alone Time.

When my dog was no longer at my side and it finally sank in, I had an intense panic attack I tried to hide from my family. My boyfriend had to help me out. I almost fainted in the middle of my hallway. I just wasn't fully there, I couldn't comprehend how everything happened so fast. I cried. I think I cried in a way I may have never cried before. I don't think my eyes have ever been that swollen. I had a serious breakdown and that's okay because I'm not a monster and I have feelings. There's never any shame in feeling. I locked myself in my room with the lights off for a week and barely walked out for anything.  I barely even ate and when I did, I threw up almost everything because I was sick to my stomach. All I did was cry, feel guilty and watch documentaries about super random things to try to distract myself. I felt so much weight in my chest and my body felt soul-less. I was in SHOCK. Allow yourself this grieving period. Most people that love you will check in and respect your wishes to be alone for a while. The memories and moments you will think of are sad but inevitable. I believe it's important to try to analyze what happened and what had to be done on your own first or you won't want to listen to anyone else later. 

2) Don't Give Yourself Too Much Alone Time. Start Talking To Others.

My family had already thought among themselves that they wouldn't let me stay alone in my room for over a week without trying to get me out or talking to me more often. You have to talk to friends and family eventually because too much alone time with bittersweet thoughts can quickly down spiral for the worst. Your alone time isn't always going to be helpful and you might not be rationalizing properly due to your situation.

DO NOT surround yourself with people that say ridiculous shit like "You're feeling like this over a dog?" In fact, you should feel bad for those people because they haven't been fortunate enough to make a special connection with a little soul like the one you had. They're also probably evil humans... might be serial killers... who knows?!? I don't. Those people suck and you don't need that crap in your life. Cut them from your life. They lack empathy and perspective. Period. 

3) Read Stories About Others Who Have Loved and Lost Their Pets.
The internet can be magical. There are GREAT forums for pet loss. I have read many tear jerking stories similar to my own. Some stories way worse than mine and it's heart breaking. Some of these forums have built an incredibly supportive community. I was shocked at the outpouring of support and understanding these complete strangers were giving one another. Support that for one reason or another they couldn't find in their daily lives. it's easier to talk to strangers sometimes. Some people had a VERY special connection with their pets and it's too intense for others to comprehend. It's such a delicate topic but I've found some great forums that are a judge free zone. I've read about those who feel like their friends and family don't understand them and they feel distraught and isolated. There's a lot of talk about depression too. Try not to let yourself sink in that endless pit. You never know what someone can be going through, it's important to be kind. Honestly, it helped me a lot just reading peoples stories and all the advice they recieve. You'll find yourself relating to bits and pieces of everyone's stories. I would like to write on some forums and help people out when I feel a bit more ready. Rainbow Bridge is such a special place where you can truly vent and speak freely. Check out their Grief Support Center HERE.  

4) Keep Busy.
If you're like me, thinking of doing anything for the first week or so will be physically impossible. My greatest allies have been Netflix and Music. Make yourself a sad playlist. I know it sounds a bit cliche but it helps. I try to find songs that have verses about how I feel. Songs about loss. I find documentaries are great too because they're usually so focused on a topic which makes you kind of get sucked in and lose yourself. If you find enough energy to do something creative like drawing or writing, those are great ways to vent and maybe turn your grief into something beautiful. Somewhere in the middle of week 2 I made it back to the gym even though I felt horrid. It's about effort. What motivates me to move forward and keep my head up too is my family and the memory of my dog. I know my little Bambi wouldn't want to see me depressed or falling apart so I push and try to move forward. 

5) Remember The Good You Did. Fight The Guilt.
The guilt that usually follows the decision to euthanize a fur baby can be insanely haunting. The guilt enters your brain, runs laps, and no matter how hard you try to catch up to it and shut it down, you just can't. Trust me, I know. I would be lying if I said I knew I made the right choice as I am still dealing with the guilt myself. I can say I'm slowly getting better everyday. I'm getting better by focusing on all of the positive things I did for Bambi and how much I enriched her life. When I say she was my muse I'm not kidding. In many ways she still is. All of my friends knew I was the crazy chihuahua lady. She could do no wrong in my eyes. I always made sure she had so much love in her heart and I spoiled her in many ways. The same way she protected me, I protected her. I always thought she loved too hard for her little body. I know we were meant to be in each others lives. I try to focus on the fact that I'm grateful I got to be her mother at all. As much as I mourn over her, some people may never feel the connection I had with her ever and for that I am eternally grateful. Just as some people claim to have never loved another person, perhaps some people never love a pet either. That sounds tragic to me. Everything a dog baby does for you is out of 100% pure love with no hidden intention. I was so very blessed that Bambi entered my life when she did. She lived an exciting life, had 2 sisters during her lifetime, and my family probably couldn't have loved her more if they tried.

6)Think Of A Way To Honor Your Pets Memory.
I'm still working on this one currently but I have many ideas. Some of those ideas include a video collage composed of the countless amounts of photos and video clips, publishing the children's book I mentioned earlier, creating some art, and lastly just talking about her and keeping her memory alive. I think a great way to honor her is to help others going through dog loss cope as well. I wish to publish my book and volunteer to read it at some schools to share her story.

Below is a little doodle I made and colored one of the days I couldn't stop thinking about her. She has her favorite things... cheese, bones, her family (initials) and she has a halo and angel wings about to cross over the rainbow.  

From the bottom of my heart, I hope that this post helps some of you. 

Also, know that if you see or feel your pet shortly after it's passed away you're not crazy. I've thought I heard Bambi bark and I've felt her warm little presence more than once. I think it's quite normal actually. Try not to rush into getting a new pet right away either because it won't be fair to them. Some people say it helps, but I would recommend waiting a decent amount of time so your love isn't misguided. Remember to reach out to someone you think you can trust or you feel would understand what you're going through. Please do not deal with this alone. You can even feel free to email me if you'd like. Stay strong and live a life that would make your fur baby proud. Their memory lives on forever.

Lastly, if you haven't read the classic Rainbow Bridge poem...

Xo Nubia Xo 

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