On Crying…

When I first brought him home he’d make me cry frequently — incorrigible, aggressive, dominant. What is a little puppy doing confronting an adult with a full aggressive pucker? Get in your crate. I’d made a mistake — I’d call the breeder, I’d talk to the vet, I’d consult trainers.

Eventually I even changed careers – he taught me a lot about dog training, dogs, dominant behavior and aggression.

Smart…he was an eerily smart dog. I used to make jokes that he was an ex-lover from a previous life, spurned and now returned to make my live miserable. For revenge.

The puppy and young dog that caused so many tears and frustration, as he matured, didn’t like me to cry. He’d sit close to me, and if a dog could look worried he would.

So as I held you knowing the vet would be coming in to give you the final injection, I did my best not to cry…I choked back sobs and my throat tightened. It mostly worked, just a few tears ran down my cheeks and landed on your head. I whipped them away, you snored peacefully — I knew it was the right thing to do.

You had cancer, you were losing feeling in your back legs, beginning to chew on them – you were such a proud dog not letting me help you down the stairs. Still going on your daily walks but beginning to fall more and more often. I didn’t want to put you on another medication, didn’t want you to suffer — I let you go when you could still walk, still smile with that handsome canine grin. Brave soul no more suffering.

But I am crying now – often. I vacuumed your hair off the mats that I had put down so you could keep your footing on the hardwood floors and I collapsed into a ball, sobs shaking my body, calling for you. I have never cried so hard or often not when friends or family members have died. A dog. Silly and Bliss worry about me now they sit close. Luna looks for you — the parrot calls your name. I walk and think about you and cry, I’m driving and I start to cry…I cry now writing about it all.

Nearly 14 years is a long life, and 14 years is a long time to have you by my side at home, at work.

And I cried when I picked you up…my beautiful dog now residing in a cardboard box. Not fair, not right – surreal. The flowers the vet clinic sent are almost completely withered – still I grieve.

We are so informed by pain – nothing seems to inform us on how to live like pain does, like loss does we are reminded to be appreciative, to be grateful, to live in the moment. I am so glad I loved you this much – to miss you this much. And there will be a time when I will hurt less but right now it does not feel like I will ever shed the last tear.

Galway Kinnell, “Crying”

Crying only a little bit
is no use. You must cry
until your pillow is soaked!
Then you can get up and laugh.
Then you can jump in the shower
and splash-splash-splash!
Then you can throw open your window
and, “Ha ha! ha ha!”
And if people say, “Hey,
what’s going on up there?”
“Ha ha!” sing back, “Happiness
was hiding in the last tear!
I wept it! Ha ha!”

I think Mr. Kinnell was thinking about ex lovers, not dogs when he wrote his poem.


7 Responses to “On Crying…”

  1. Crying is natures was of healing. I truly believe there is a direct correlation to the amount of crying one does to the amount of love one felt.
    My dear sweet Labrador Retriever is 13 and I know I am facing the same feelings of loss and grief that you are going through at the present time. My Johnny has taught me so much about so many things. He is practically deaf and blind but when I leave the house for even one minute he waits patiently for my return and is always happy to know I am home. I took him to the vet a couple of days ago and he could not manage to get in the car when were to come home. I lifted his 100 lbs body in the car and cried all the way home. As I said…..a direct correlation and I am crying just typing this.

  2. There is just not enough chocolate in the world for these circumstances. Everytime I lose a pet I say I will not do this to myself again. But, of course, then I get the call about another in need animal. I guess the trick is to enjoy the time we do have together and accept the hard reality of mourning.

    Many, many hugs and tissues.

  3. I lost my 12 year old Rottie mix a few years ago to cancer. Your post made me bawl like a baby all over again. Two people said things to me that helped a tiny bit;
    1. It won’t get better, but it will get different. The bouts of devistation will never end, but they will get farther apart. (this has been true)
    2. if love could have saved her, she would have lived forever. (also true)

    I am so sorry you lost your friend.

  4. Thanks all — crying does not come easily to me (well it does) and it doesn’t.

    Grief is such a strange thing and I have suffered through many losses we just plow our way through to the other side.


  5. TaraDharma Says:

    big hugs to you, janet. this kind of grief hurts so much, but as you say, it is borne from so much love. you have a big and generous heart.


  6. Janet,

    I could have written this. When I put my dear old Oscar down this summer, I remember vividly standing there, with him on the table, knowing..knowing I was doing the right thing, but feeling like I needed to run away with him in my arms. I didn’t. I stayed, I held him in my arms as he drifted away from me. I still cry. He is in a pretty carved wooden box in my closet, I cant bury him yet.

    I don’t know if it gets better, what I do know is you get more used to the feeling of them not being there. I had Oscar in my life for a hair over 18 years, through two marriages, the births of my kids, fights with my friends and the loss of a parent. He never left me. How do you let that go?

    All I can say my friend is you have written a beautiful tribute to Walden, and I wish so much I could do something to make you feel better, but as we love our pets, we have to let them go as well, and be grateful we had that soul in our life.

    Many Hugs,


  7. I’m so, so sorry Janet to hear of this loss. Please know that my thoughts are with you. I’m sure this beautiful dog’s spirt is right there with you now and always will be.

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