On August 10th we said goodbye to our dog, Miller. As a parent, you really want to prepare your child for the loss. You research and come across so many articles with tips and suggestions. In my experience, the kids are the strong ones. We talked a lot to our kids when Miller started going down hill at a rapid rate. We told them he would be going to the rainbow bridge soon and Wrigley, our golden we lost a few years prior, would be waiting for him. He would be healthy and pain-free. Our eight and six year-old grasped it. They were sad, but they understood. When we came home from the vet without Miller, they were the ones who kept it together. They were the ones comforting my husband and me with “He’s healthy now” and “He’s with Wrigley.” It turns out more research should have been done around adults coping with the loss of a pet.
The thing about dogs and adults (especially adults transitioning into parenthood) is the relationship evolves as you grow together. Wrigley and Miller were our kids until they weren’t. We welcomed a son and then a daughter and then two more sons. The attention given became less, but the love only grew. I didn’t really view Miller as my child anymore. He was my trusted and beloved friend and counselor. Always listening with a non-judgemental face. Always by my side when tears were falling. Always willing to walk downstairs with me for those midnight and 2 a.m. feedings. Never asking anything in return except an occasional belly and ear scratch.
It’s the first time in over 10 years our house has been dogless. And despite having the love and chaos four children bring daily, our house is in its own way silent. The love a dog can bring to your life is precious. So precious, in fact, that I think it may take some time before we (my husband and I) are ready for another dog. But, when the day comes I have no doubt our hearts will be full once again.