The Time Between

IMG_3559 2For the past few weeks, our house has been far too quiet.  No one is barking at the back door, letting me know that she has waited exactly five seconds for someone to let her in and she’s deeply unhappy about the delay.  When I’m working at my computer, no one is laying by my feet, snoring loudly.  I don’t hear the repetitive squeak of dog toys, or the click of canine toenails on the hardwood floors.  Our house has been peaceful, quiet, and almost entirely free of dog hair…..and I don’t like it one bit.

Lots of people have asked me if we’re going to get another dog.  That question always surprises me a little, because I would think that anyone who knew me at all would realize that of course I’m going to get another dog.   If I should spend my final years bed-ridden in a nursing home, I’ll most likely have a chihuahua hidden under the blankets and be bribing the staff to bring it food and take it for bathroom breaks.  I’m not the sort of person who wants to live a dog-free life.

But I also know that it’s too soon to bring another dog home.  My husband and I are still grieving for Lucy.  It’s still hard to remember to walk in the house and not call out, “Lucy, I’m home!” (One of the best things about having a dog named Lucy was being able to say that.)  When I’m away from the house for several hours, I still think I need to go home and let her out.  And just last night, we realized that we still had her dog food stashed in our pantry, right below the box of dog treats.  The simple truth is that we aren’t quite ready to open our hearts and our home to another dog just yet.

IMG_3983So these days, I get my “dog fix” when I walk the shelter dogs, who are always very happy to get the attention.  My son and daughter-in-law’s dogs also come visit, making themselves instantly at home at “Grandma’s” house, as they explore every nook and cranny and scope out the furniture for the best napping spots.  And they don’t seem to mind too much when we make it clear that their sleeping choices are limited to the floors and the dog beds.

One way or another, we are getting used to our life without Lucy, and coming to terms with not having a dog of our own anymore.  I know that this particular phase of our life is temporary, and that the time is coming when we’ll begin to look for another dog to join our family.  Until then, I’m really grateful for the shelter dogs and my “grand-dogs” for making this time of transition just a little bit easier.  And for reminding me of just why I love dogs so much in the first place.

80 thoughts on “The Time Between

  1. Your thoughts on having “dogness” (That’s what my middle daughter called it when she was around 4 years old.) around you once again reflection my vision of how I will be. Shorty is 8 years old and I would prefer that I go before he does. Then again, my mom had a dog who was one month shy of 18 years old. They’re just part of our hearts.

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    • Yes, I think all of us who have lost a dog, or any other pet, know this feeling. But even so, I think the pain of loss is just the price we pay for having a dog in our heart in the first place. I wish Shorty a long, long life!

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  2. I can completely understand Ann. It took us a long time to get over Blue and I remember that everywhere I looked there were reminders of him. We waited nearly a year before we got another one, he was so special and it didn’t feel right (my daughter got rabbits instead!) Take your time and allow yourself to miss her, she was a special part of your family. At least you have the shelter dogs. ❤️

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    • Thanks, Miriam! The shelter dogs do help, a lot. And I know we won’t wait too long, but it’s just not time right now. Sometimes I see people at the shelter looking for a new dog, and they are literally still crying about the loss of their old one. I think that is too soon, but of course that is their own personal decision. I honestly think we’ll know when we’re ready.

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  3. yes. And you’re dealing. I agree that the coming in and going out of the house and not greeting the critters is a difficult and regularly experienced part of loss. And I laugh that you did the same Lucy I’m home greeting that I also used. Loooooocy!

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  4. ❤ People asked me the same thing, but answer was opposite. There was no way I was putting myself through all those emotions again lol, but it's been about three years, and I'm starting to warm up to the idea of another dog. How long do you typically wait?

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    • Honestly, it kind of depends. At least a month or two, although I guess since I’m at the shelter so much it might just be when I see a dog I really fall in love with. I’m not sure how this will go, but that’s okay. I honestly think this is something that everyone does differently, according to their own feelings and their own situation. Friends of ours used to get a new puppy as soon as their current dog became a “senior” which meant they had two dogs for a few years. They said the old dog helped train the new one, and then when the older dog died, the grief wasn’t quite as overwhelming. I don’t know if I’d do that, but their system worked for them.

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  5. Well said, Ann. Both Kevin and I have frequent flashes that make us think Liam is still here. They are like a still photo inserted into a video, recognizable, but vanishing in a second.

    I was visiting a neighbor who adopted a dog seven years ago from HSMO. It was one I had recommended to her and I simply loved just petting him. He was an older dog and is now fourteen. My guess is that his time may be limited to a couple of more years. I sure wish dogs lived longer.

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    • Oh, Dena, I know you and Kevin are in the same boat. I’m sure you see reminders of Liam everywhere. He had a great life with your family and always knew he was loved. How fun that you got to see one of the shelter dogs you helped place!

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  6. I so understand! It is a hard time, but needed. You will know when you are ready, and that lucky dog is in for a real treat when they realize how wonderful a mom and home they have! ❤

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    • Oh, thanks, Jodi! I know a dog lover like you understands. We’ll get a new dog when we can be truly happy about it, and not still half expecting Lucy to walk into the room. Some things just take time, and how much is hard to say. And that’s okay.

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    • You’re the second person who has said they are hoping their beloved pet outlives them! And you’re right, I think animals accept death better than we do. They grieve, but they also move on much more quickly. But whatever happens, enjoy Max while you have each other!!!

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  7. I had to smile because I believe that the dogs find us instead of us finding the dog. Lucy was the right dog for you at that time. Another dog will appear and you will know it is the “right” one. Like love, there is no reason to force it or hurry it along… It will come when it is the right time. Hoping you are found by your “heart” dog soon!

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    • Thank you! And I think you are right about the dogs finding us idea. It certainly does happen that way sometimes, and that does mean it was meant to be! Dogs do know what, and who, they want!

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  8. Ann,
    I know your pain all too well. I actually lost my beloved pet in a divorce and then she was given away. I use to “see” her everywhere in other dogs for years. It made me sad. But, then one day I “saw” her being walked each day by the cutest boy in our neighborhood. They were always happy walking and playing together. Then I would see the other family members walking this dog that looked a lot like my old dog. It makes me happy each time I see it in the neighborhood. I too struggled for years over losing her and maybe replace her but I just haven’t made the jump as I still feel I let her down by not fighting hard enough to keep her from parting from my care.
    Thanks for sharing and touching all of us with such honesty about our pets.

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    • Oh, I’m so sorry! I think what happened to you is worse than having a beloved pet die, because you were left with unanswered questions and guilt. But please don’t blame yourself…divorces are hard enough, and I’m sure you did what you could. I can see why that was so hard to get over, and I’m glad that it made you happy to see families walking dogs that looked like her! Take care….

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    • Thanks! The shelter dogs do help, and so do the granddogs. The more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe the reason I’m feeling a little bit guilty for waiting is that I do walk the shelter dogs three times a week, so that means I’m seeing lots of dogs that need a home. Which, technically, I could give them now. But I also recognize that my husband and I need time to grieve and get used to Lucy being gone and that it wouldn’t be fair to bring another dog home now. We couldn’t give it all the attention and love it deserves just yet.

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  9. Thinking of you as you grieve for your Lucy! I have a dog that is ten years old and the time has gone so fast since we got her. Our last dog lived to be sixteen years. No matter how long we have them though, they have a place in our hearts only they can fill. There will never be another Lucy. But when the day comes and you are ready, a new dog will come to live in your house…and your heart. And that one will be a one of a kind also. Dogs are wonderful and they give us so much joy!

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    • Thanks so much, Linda! You get exactly what I’m talking about. We will never replace Lucy, but the time will come when we’re ready to open our hearts and home to a different dog and that will be a happy occasion indeed. But for now, we wait and process our feelings. And I know you are enjoying every minute with your ten-year old pup, and I hope she has many, many more years with you!

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    • Thanks, Neil! Yes, for some of us, a house isn’t a home unless there’s at least one dog wandering around. For others, it’s cats or some other critter. And for still others, they are perfectly happy living without a pet. It’s all good!

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  10. I appreciate your sharing your thoughts on this subject. I also do think it’s wise not to get a new dog too soon after losing one. Maybe this is a little simplistic, but I always wonder if the expectations of the new dog or puppy might be unreasonably high when one is still grieving the loss of a beloved friend. Nothing can make up for that loss except time, and a new dog doesn’t necessarily fix anything.
    I wish more people would consider why it might be good to wait. I think it’s thoughtful and smart of you and your husband to take your time, and enjoying other animals in the meantime obviously helps fill the void. When the time finally comes, you’ll be ready!

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    • It’s not simplistic at all, Des, it’s actually sensible. When we get a new dog while we’re still actively grieving the other one, we cheat the new dog in many ways. We expect it to behave just like the old one, when of course, it doesn’t. And then we are disappointed and don’t bond with the new dog as well as we should. I think we have to wait until we are emotionally ready (although how long that takes varies from person to person) in order to make the transition of the new dog into our household as smooth as possible.

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  11. Ann I’m only just returning to WordPress after a much needed break this year, and so I wanted to say how sorry I am to read of the sad passing of your beloved Lucy. I truly believe that our pets choose us, and so I know when the time is right, an intervention with the arrival of a new bundle of joy will appear. Cherish your Lucy memories in the mean time, she was a part of you too. ❤ xx

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  12. That question about getting another dog has always bothered me. I understand that the sentiment might be in the right place but it always feels like you’re quickly dismissing that which has been a special part of your life so so long. Maybe it’s just me, but I always felt it was a little insensitive. It must be hard.

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    • It’s not just you, George, trust me! When my childhood dog, Genesis died, my husband and I had just bought our first house. (Prior to that, we lived in an apartment that didn’t allow dogs, so Genny stayed with my parents.) I think it was only three weeks after her death that we brought home two dogs from the shelter where I volunteered at the time, Whitney…a young dog, and Mugsy, an 11-year old dog that had lived at the shelter for two years. It took me forever to warm up to Whitney, because all I kept thinking when I looked at her was, “You’re not Genesis.” We got those dogs too soon, and it made it hard for me to accept them.
      I think the fact that I am now volunteering at a shelter and handling so many dogs that need a good home is what makes me feel guilty for not bringing another one home right away. But honestly, I’m not ready now. I may be ready next week, or next month, or next year. But this time, I want to wait until I’m ready so I can give the new dog the love and attention it deserves!

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  13. You are in my thoughts Anne. I am still missing my Princess and get teary when I talk of her at times…but you are so right that the pain comes from the wonderful love we share with our pets. I also agree the grieving process and time it takes is different for everyone. How wonderful that you have shelter dogs to love on…I enjoy loving on our neighbor’s dog and my sister’s dog, it certainly helps! I’m glad you have years of memories to cherish, Lucy looked like a very special dog, and what a cute reference to “I Love Lucy” 🙂

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    • Thanks, Jen! I always did enjoy coming home and yelling, “Lucy I’m home!” even though I didn’t have a Cuban accent. But seriously, I am just now getting to the point where I don’t look for her each time I walk through the door. It will take time, but I will get there! And I’m so sorry about your Princess.

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  14. I relate to this so much. Our lab is 14 and coming to the end of his life. I can’t bear the thought of life without him, but a decision will have to be made in the coming months. He’s just very old and in pain. He still tries very hard to be his old self most days. He “grew up” with my children and it feel like when he’s gone, the last remainder of my children’s childhood will be gone. We moved out of the house they grew up in when we moved to Oregon, and how our sweet childhood dog’s life is coming to an end. It’s just too much emotionally some days. 😥

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    • Oh, I’m so sorry, Beth, and I know what you are going through. It is so stressful to try to determine when the time is right to say goodbye. Sometimes it helps to take your pet to a vet and ask them for an evaluation for quality of life. That way, you know you are doing the right thing. And it is so much harder when a dog represents a certain period of your life. You do feel as though letting go of the pet is the same as letting go of all the other things you experienced with him or her. My thoughts are with you as you navigate the difficult time!

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  15. Ann I am just catching up on our own blogging and on reading all my favorite blogs. My heart sank when I opened this post as I knew right away that Lucy had finally passed over. My heart breaks for you as I do know just how very hard it is to lose a soul you love so much. What wonderful life she had so loved by you and so loving….

    Totally understandable to not want to get another dog, yet. Some dog at the shelter, in the future, is going to be VERY lucky indeed.

    Am so very sad for you. My heart goes out to you. Sending you lots of love and hugs and great memories of Lucy.

    Peta

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    • Thank you so much Peta! You are so kind and sensitive. We do miss Lucy a lot, but are comforted by knowing what a great life she had, and how much we loved her and she loved us. When the time is right, we will get another dog. But there will never be another Lucy, and that’s as it should be! Thanks again for your support and kindness. It really helps!

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  16. I know the feeling, and think you’re doing the right thing. As you say, you’re getting your fur fix from other sources so you don’t have to go cold turkey. And maybe in a few more months, as you’re walking some improbable critter that you wouldn’t have given any special thought to, you’ll lock eyes and it’ll be all over.

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    • Yes, as I’m typing this, my son’s dogs are lying next to my desk, snoring loudly. And it does bring fond memories! As to our next dog, I know you are right. When I feel that “connection,” then that will be the deciding factor. It could happen next week, next month or next year. But it will happen!

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  17. It’s amazing what comes out of our mouths without thinking. I’m sure those people who ask if you will be getting another dog don’t mean harm, maybe they just don’t know what to say. I completely understand the need to grieve and you should take all the time you need. In the mean time, your shelter dogs and grand-dogs are enjoying your love and attention.

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    • I agree, they don’t mean any harm at all, they are just asking. And it’s also true that some people are so devastated by the loss of a beloved pet that they never get another. But I know that I will get another dog, and it’s just a matter of time before that happens. And as you say, in the meantime, I’m enjoying loving on the other dogs who cross my path! Thank you for your kind and insightful comment!

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  18. I feel your pain, Ann. And I can understand why you and your husband need a bit more time before you open your heart and your home for a new dog. My aunt sadly never got herself a new dog after her beloved Sadie, a Prince Charles Spaniel, died, and I often thought that it was the wrong decision. Sure, she’s more free to travel now without having to work out who would take care of her dog but still.
    In the meantime I wish you a lovely time with your shelter and grand- dogs!

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    • Thanks, Sarah! I know we will get another dog, because I really don’t like living without one. We just have to let ourselves wait until it “feels right” (or the right dog finds us, which sometimes happens, too!) Meanwhile, I’m enjoying shelter dogs and my granddogs.

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  19. I’ve had cats all my life, similar to the way you’re a “dog person.” I’ve found when a beloved cat passes on, even if I wait a year, when I finally bring another cat into our home, he/she reminds me of the cat who recently died. I accidentally call the new cat by the old cat’s name for a month or two. In other words, there is always a crossover grieving period when a new animal enters my life. It does go away. I hope this helps.

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