It seems like it was a long time ago that we last talked about the journey of getting older with our dogs.

In today’s article, we touch on the importance of building memories of your dog.

We heard the heartbreaking and yet heartwarming story of a dog named Lennox and his last meal, but we’ve yet to pick up on how we can relate that story to our own personal loss.

How do we cope when we lose a dog?

What do we say to ourselves when that journey ends?

Creating and Cherishing Memories

As George Eliot said, “Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” We don’t forget our dogs when they pass on. We don’t commit their memories to the night and simply get on with our lives. When our dogs die, for whatever reason, we commit them to memory.

Doing this gives us an opportunity to not only focus on the good times shared between the dog and our families, it gives us an opportunity to remember someone who touched our lives.

Just like with the story of Lennox, part of committing a dog to memory has to do with creating those memories. Lennox’s owner wanted his dog to go out “like a boss,” eating a meal that was something special and sharing that experience with others. Much in the same fashion, we can craft memories with our dogs by making special moments with them when they’re still here.

When our dogs pass on,  we can cherish those special moments and memories of our pet and remember the gifts our dogs bestowed on our lives.

Forging a Lasting Relationship

Mitch Albom, in Tuesdays with Morrie, writes that “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

We have a relationship with our dog. This goes beyond just being a master or an owner. We treat our dogs as members of the family, as friends, as special companions.

Death does not have to spark the end of that relationship, though. We can carry our dogs with us in our hearts and minds in the form of the memories we create.

It helps to have pictures, toys and other goodies around after our dog passes to help continue that relationship in tangible fashion. Remember your dog and his or her gifts. Don’t simply attempt to remove him or her immediately.

Like with the passing of Lennox, there is no right or wrong answer. And there are no easy answers.

But we can help aid the transition and help keep our dogs cherished, loved and remembered by crafting a relationship that lasts beyond the confines of the physical world and ventures wholeheartedly into the realm of memory.

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  • Melissa Shapiro
    Reply

    When I lose one of my dogs or other pets I am acutely aware of my need to preserve their memory within myself. As you point out, I find it helpful to leave their beds, dishes, leashes, and toys where they left them. There are always other dogs to continue to use their stuff. In fact I still use leashes from 2 dog groups ago!

    I always write a long journal about each lost dog (or other pet) so I have a record of all the amazing, funny, sweet, and special things I want to remember about my dog. I write about different times in our lives, nicknames, and what it felt like to be with and have such a dog in my life.
    Then I make a little package of my dog and pack it away inside me, to be taken out and put back frequently. I find myself thinking about and talking about my sweet special old dogs all the time, pretty much every day. Since I have the responsibility of helping families through the loss of their own old and sick dogs, I have the opportunity to share my own experiences with my own aging dogs.

    With the new iPhones I find it even easier to keep my lost dogs with me. I look at their pictures everyday. After saying good bye to so many dogs over decades I’m relieved and happy to know that my dogs truly do stay with me forever.

    • janie knetzer
      Reply

      Hi Melissa:
      Thanks so much for sharing your message about “preserving their memory”. I love your idea about writing a long journal about each of your pets. What a true animal lover you are. Nice!

      Janie 😮

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