As I’m sitting here writing this, it still doesn’t seem real that it’s been three weeks since Bella, my yellow lab of 13 years, is gone. Myself being only 20-years-old, I grew up with my dog and have very few memories without her. No matter what was happening in my life, through the waves of depression, my first kiss, my first real boyfriend, graduating high school, or leaving for college, I always came home to her. Although some people may laugh because she was a dog and not a human, she was like a sister to me. I’m an only child, and my dog filled the void of love and companionship.
And now she’s gone. She’s dead. I won’t ever get to see her big eyes staring up at me hinting that she would like a treat again. I won’t ever get to kiss her wet nose again and tickle her whiskers. I’ll never laugh to myself again as she snores lightly and twitches from her doggy dreams as she sleeps in her bed by the fireplace.
Death is funny in the sense that one day everything can be fine and the next day, it’s just not. Some dogs go slowly and drift off into death and some, like Bella, are fine, until they’re just not. It still seems like a dream– my mom waking me up in the morning, crying, when she should have been at work. The news: they had taken Bella to the vet that morning and the vet had delivered the shocking news that her body was so riddled with cancer that they couldn’t even properly view her insides on the X-Ray. She had to be put down that day in order to be humane. And still, when I went downstairs, she was as happy as ever, wagging her tail and staring up at me with those big brown eyes I’d stared into a million times. Three hours later, I caught my last glimpse of her as she sat happily with her face out the car window as my parents drove her to the vet.
And now three weeks later, I’m struggling to understand how to move past her death. I find myself asking how does anyone move past the death of a dog they love so much? Anyone who has ever had a dog that means the world to them knows that a dog isn’t just a dog; they are part of the family. They fill up your heart with all of their goodness and unconditional love that so often us humans find hard to understand.
And just before I sat down to write this, I figured it out: We don’t get over losing our dogs. Or any loved ones, for that matter. It slowly gets better and better until we go for months without even thinking about them, and then we’ll smile with a happy memory of them and suddenly our hearts swell with the same old feelings. But we never really get over losing a dog or any other pet or anything else we truly love. And we shouldn’t have to. That’s not how it should be. We are humans and we love and we are allowed to feel this love, and the sadness that comes with love, forever.
Don’t let anyone make you feel weird about being sad or missing your dog, no matter how much time has passed. Cling onto every memory and embrace every second you had with them. Fuck anyone who doesn’t allow you to love and feel as you are truly meant to and need to. And don’t feel guilty for the days where you don’t think about them. Know that everything you are feeling about the loss of your dog or pet is fine because it is unique to you.
I realize now that I was wrong to try and get over the death of Bella. I never ever will and that’s okay. If you’re wondering how to get over the death of your dog the answer is simply: you don’t.