Struggling with grief…

After what seems to be forever, I finally picked up a sharp HB pencil, dusted it off, and with trembling fingers, placed lead on paper. I managed to draw a few curves and lines but couldn’t see what it was I was drawing. It didn’t take the shape I wanted it to and no amount of erasures and retouches could capture the spirit or form of my subject. My vision began to blur as tears gathered in my eyes. I was trying to draw Beans, our beloved six-year old Labrador Retriever who passed away a little over six months ago.

Our sweet, funny and loyal boy passed on after almost a month of suffering from kidney infection. My husband and I panicked and worried about him endlessly and lived several miles from our trusted vet. We had relocated over a year ago and had difficulty finding pet clinics and vets that were up to par. When Beans’ kidneys failed, we took him to a recommended vet who did a very bad job with his surgery and post-surgery care. We will always regret that decision made in a panic. We didn’t know where else to go.

After much prayer and tears, we put our baby Beans to sleep and buried him in a compassionate friend’s backyard. We do not have soil or a garden where we reside in now. My husband stayed up with Beans the whole night and just soothed and comforted him while I fell asleep crying.

It has been years since I last sketched or drew anything. It’s what I had done and known all my life and the inability to get back to it due to depression has ridden me with guilt and anger for many years. I thought that starting over with a picture of Beans would help me and be therapeutic, in a way. It wasn’t. Or maybe it was.

I still couldn’t draw, but crying my heart out again helped. I miss our baby Beans. Hubby and I find it difficult to talk about him without breaking down. But we need to talk about him. We need to look at his pictures – and are we thankful that we took a lot of them! He was a very willing subject. He was willing to do anything to please us.

A good friend gave us our new pup Eloise, a Jack Russell Terrier, two months later. While she brings us much joy and is possibly the most affectionate kisser, the void Beans has left in our hearts refuses to be filled. Our little Peanut (a feisty min pin we’ve had for more than four years now) also continues to be my” little one”, but I will always miss our big boy.

The dark marks on our wall will remain untouched for a while because they were left behind by Beans. Perhaps my sketchbook will remain untouched as well for a few more months. I haven’t recovered. I don’t know when I will, but I’ll give myself permission to grieve some more, and I won’t set any deadlines.

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Getting a dog?

My husband and I love dogs. You could say we’re “dog people”. And it riles us to see dogs left behind in yards without much shelter, tied to a chair or post, without much human contact, looking very unkempt and forlorn. I’m no dog expert but I do believe I’m a responsible dog person. And as such, I have learned to always consider the pointers below before thinking of getting a new dog. These are tips I wish I could just print out and post on the doors of all our irresponsible dog neighbors.

Peanut & Bulldog the toySo if you’re thinking of getting a dog, or any pet for that matter, do consider the following tips:

1. Do your research.

It’s pretty simple, really. The internet is loaded with information about all breeds available and their proper care, so there is absolutely no excuse to be ignorant.

2. Know yourself.

Do you really want a dog, and if you do, can you really handle the responsibility? Can you afford it? What type of breed will suit your personality and lifestyle?

Please, people, a dog is not a show-thing, a status symbol or an alarm system — it’s a pet. It is very disheartening to see a teacup-sized Chihuahua tied to a window outside our neighbor’s house. It’s a toy dog, for crying out! Let it stay inside your house and take care of it.  It needs love and attention, just like we do.

Don’t forget the bills you will incur from buying dog food, vet visits, pet sitters, and what not. It can all add up really fast!

Are you the type of person who loves to take long walks in the park? All dogs love to take a stroll. Are you out of the house for eight to twelve hours, six days a week? Be sure to get a dog that does not require a lot of exercise and is content to be left at home for long hours (though I still wouldn’t recommend a pet at this point). Are you OC about your house and furniture? Then get a dog that doesn’t shed, or that sheds very little.

3. Be ready to train your dog.

If you want to enjoy your pet to the fullest, train it or have it trained. No one wants urine and feces all over the carpet! A well-behaved dog is a joy to have.

4. Socialize your dog.

If you want your dog to get along with everyone in your household and your immediate community or circle of friends, introduce it right away. Expose your dog to different situations with different people — on leash, of course.

5. Love your dog.

Our dogs give us so much love (their way of loving) and dedication, mostly undeserved. Let’s love them too. In fact, let’s love them first. It is a joy to come home to wagging tails and excited jumps. All the effort on our part will be worth it.