Monday, August 2, 2010


Friday morning I finally realized what emotion I was feeling...and it came about it a pretty strange way.

I was walking out of our building and ran into a neighbor from upstairs who offered his condolences about my dog that died about a month ago.  And right there, in the middle of downtown, while I was already 10 minutes late, I cried.

It's still hard.  And I guess I feel silly about that.  I mean, she was just a DOG for goodness sake!  One of the last things I wanted to do was to post about it here...because I recognize that I kind of come across as "That Crazy Dog Lady Who Can't Get Over Her Dog's Death."  I vowed I would never be HER.  And yet here I am, a month and a half after she died, still crying.

Logically, I realize that it's because she was the dog I always wanted to have - both in breed and temperament.  Logically, I understand that Great Danes don't live long (7 years is average and she only lived 5).  Logically, I know that she had a lot of special needs, ones that required more than the usual being home every few hours to let her out.  She needed medications two times a day, needed very special food for her allergies, and because she was unwell, she had to be watched closely for any signs of discomfort. 

I miss her, I miss our routine. I miss taking care of her.  I think of her several times during the day: when I see a bag (I want to take it home for a poop bag), when it's time for her medication, when I make plans right after work (which I normally couldn't do, because who would let the dog out?), when we invite people over, when I come home after a long day (and expect her to be there), and when I see other dogs.  I'm sad because this is the case.

She was like a big, mentally handicapped child - one that looks to you constantly for YOU to make the decisions.  In the same way, she had a joy and innocence about her that was pure.  She doled out pure love and pure acceptance wherever we went.  Since she was so big (160-180 pounds during the last year), she got attention every where she was.  She was in the way A LOT and whenever we were around people, I needed to constantly monitor where she was.  She'd lean on people if they pet her, so I'd have to warn them of her strength.  Living downtown and seeing people constantly, we had no anonymity.  People would stop and take pictures.  I was defined as "that big dog's owner." So, being her owner was, at times, all consuming.  Not to mention very expensive when she had medical issues, which she had a lot of.  So my life, in a lot of ways is easier.  And I feel guilty about that.  Actually, I feel horribly guilty about that.

Two feelings - loneliness and guilt - are feelings that I've had all to often in my life.  I suppose that's why I turned to food when I wasn't hungry - it's what I've always done before.

Once I recognized the feelings, I was better equipped to work through them.

I received so many helpful comments - and I can't thank you enough for all of your suggestions and kind words - both here and via email.  I am SO lucky.

When you've used food to numb uncomfortable feelings, such as I have, it's hard to realize that you're feeling uncomfortable feelings.  The only tip off I have for that is that I eat without being hungry.   And then it took days of me questioning WHY I was eating like that.  I know better.  I know I feel better when I don't eat like that.  But when you don't have the answers, it's maddening. 

I honestly didn't think that anything was wrong - I couldn't figure out my feelings...which is SO frustrating.  I mean, even 4 year olds know their feelings.  And here I am, at 33, not able to figure out why I was eating when I wasn't hungry. 

So now, I have part of the answer.  I know what I was feeling.  And I learned that when I eat when I'm not hungry, there IS something there - I just have to dig deep enough.

Friday night, Joe had plans with a friend and I spent the evening doing things that I wanted to do.

I found the best route to run downtown without running into heavy traffic areas....and I did it.  I ran just over three miles - and at the end of the run, it started to rain.  It felt like freedom.

I returned home soaked with sweat and rain and felt immensely better.

My reboot button is exercise and crying, as silly as it is.  I need to remember that.


SkippyMom said...

You don't come off as "that crazy lady...." Honestly I would be surprised if you still didn't cry for missing her - I still cry for Boomer and he has been gone 4 years. Not as often, but I couldn't get through the first six months without at least one good cry. That's how our pups touch us and the legacy they leave in loving us.

She is such a pretty girl. It does get easier, but I don't suspect it ever completely goes away when we have been gifted with such a special pet.

Take care and you're looking awesome! [nice pic']

SkippyMom said...

**I meant that to say one good cry A DAY. :)

Jams said...

Go you for digging deep enough. It's not crazy that you still miss your dog after a month. You took care of the dog for 5 years! You shouldn't be expected (or expect yourself) to get over that in just a few weeks.

Keep an eye on yourself and keep on doing what makes you smile...

Karen@WaistingTime said...

I'm so sorry about your dog. And I understand the guilt part. We lost ours last year after she had heart disease. She really declined in the end and I also felt guilt at things being easier. I'm glad you found your reboot.

Lesia said...

You are allowed to cry over the death of your dog. I have one and I will be a blobbing idiot when its his time to

Debbie said...

I am a dog person myself and if something happen to Freckles I would be heart broken. I have had her 5 years and she sleeps with us. So I understand. She was a beautiful dog. Hugs to you. :)

Janell said...

This is a beautiful post. It really reminded me of missing my x. It's been a year now and you talking about the bags for poop and the "mentally handicapped child" and the big decisions. When you live with someone and cook for them and care for them, just because it walks on four legs does not mean you grieve less.

Reading this post was like I was reading the story of my life through your post about grief and your dog. Only mine was grief over a human (I think). Grief does not run on a schedule and just because she was a dog does not mean you grieve less. Between your dog and my X, I spent way too long grieving over him and you still have a ways to go.

Grief brings up things other issues of grief too - abandonment, previous grievances, deaths. I'm glad you were able to identify the feelings though sometimes I wonder if you just ran them away? At least running them didn't add pounds and frustration on top of grief.

McCulley's said...


Lanie Painie said...

awww. . .it's okay to be sad.

Great job not body slamming any vans on your run.

Margie M. said...

She was never *just a dog*. She was part of your family. I understand totally about your sadness and the need to grieve. You are still in this process. It may take a while longer. You had her for 5 years so you can't expect to feel *all better* in a week or two. Posting about your feelings is one way to work through the grief. Hang in there. Feel it but maybe don't dwell on it. You'll never forget Chassie but time will heal. My Thoughts and Prayers are with you!

Kris said...

And, I am with Margie....She was NOT 'just a dog'. She was your friend, companion, confidant, pillow, blanket, walking partner ect....I think you would be weirder if you did not miss her at all! And you---you are wonderful!

Lala said...

oh, please don't worry about coming off as the crazy dog lady. I think anyone who loves a pet knows what you are going through (or can imagine it). I am just amazed at how much my cats add to my life. I had pets growing up, and I was very fond of them, but there's something different about owning a pet, caring for it, and making sure it is well and happy. I had a lot of thoughts about your other post, but I've been so overwhelmed lately that I read it and just thought about it rather than responding. In any case, I am so excited for you that you had this realization, and sorry that you are grieving about sweet Chassis. But, don't feel like there's a "normal" timeline for grieving. Just let yourself feel what you feel.... that's when you stop eating to stuff down the feelings :-)

karen said...

When my Aura (half european lab/half greyhound) has to "go" we just let her out the front door into the yard. Even though there isn't a visible barrier or one of those silly electric underground fence things she knows her property and boundaries and never leaves the yard unless it's with one of us ... or her "boyfriend" (who happens to be our mailman). Someone asked me today when she was out if we were planning on getting another dog after she passes and it stopped my in my tracks. I just can't imagine her not being around. Tom and I brought her home just a couple of weeks after he moved in and just a couple of weeks before we found out I was was pregnant with John. I want to cry just thinking about when it will happen ... no need to feel embarrassed because you cry after it actually did. Just because they have four legs doesn't make them any less ours *hugs*

Miz said...

I love what you said about the reboot being the crying and exercise as Id never thought about it that way.

yesterday I had a good big uglycry and felt worlds better afterward as well.



beerab said...

I'm sorry about the loss of your dog- she was not "just" a dog though. She never will be "just" a dog.

Heck I cried when my hamster died- I loved that little guy and spent 20 months with him. I still get teary eyed thinking about my little Marshmellow. And now I think about my two pets and know that I'm getting so much joy out of them now and it scares me to know one day they will die.

What got me over my pets deaths was always to get another pet. We have so much love to give and when we can't give it anymore it hurts. When Pepper died and my husband took me to get my Broccoli (yes that's her name lol) I felt like the void was filling up. I had someone else who needed me- maybe you need to be needed again, in your own time of course.

She was beautiful btw.