In my last blog entry, almost six weeks ago now, I explored how I’ve jumped into new experiences at various times without being fully prepared or understanding what they would entail. I ended that blog by thinking lovingly of Mac, our older dog and wondering if maybe I didn’t have something to learn from him.
Well, it turned out I did, although it’s been a very painful road we’ve walked down since then. In early June Terry and I began to work through the difficult challenge of accepting that we needed to say “good-bye” to our beloved canine companions, Mac and Ella, our two border terriers who, like my children, shared the same mother. They had been our children for 15 and 14+ years, and our life was structured around enjoying and caring for them.
Making a sad story short, we lost them on June 10th and since that time have lived day-to-day feeling a large void in our lives, as well as gratitude for all the unconditional love they gave us for so many years. In the end, instead of saying good-bye only to Ella, who probably should have been allowed to leave us some time ago given her various age related problems, we decided that we needed to do the same for Mac. He was deaf, essentially incontinent, on paid meds, on liver function medicine, and also suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction.We decided that it would be inhumane to keep him alive longer than Ella because it would only increase his confusion and pain to suddenly realize that she, his life-long companion, was gone; we decided that we needed to hurt instead of our beloved canine companions. And hurt we have.
I enjoy blogging but stopped as soon as this all happened. I didn’t want to be maudlin and all that was on my mind was sadness and emptiness and the quiet house….although I will have to admit that Terry and I both acknowledged that not having furry balls of stuff like tumbleweed floating around everywhere was OK—although we would gladly have it all again could we have our doggies back younger and healthier.
I did finish the special socks that I was working on—they went to a special friend instead of the person I was intending that they’d be for. That will take another project, soon to be launched. Here are the finished socks on the legs of the special friend who seemed to really like them:
They were great socks, but they weren’t exactly what I’d planned. I knit them from On-Line Step with jojoba (beautiful and nicely fuzzy) and with stranded colorwork in Mini-Mochi. The result was so soft and cozy—but a bit too fuzzy and soft for the special person I had in mind. Back to the drawing board for that!
The proud owner of the special socks came for the weekend after we’d lost the dogs and Terry was gone with friends to attend some car races. It was wonderfully therapeutic to have her with me at this time, as she’d just lost her beloved cat Elizabeth and understood about the grief that comes from losing a companion animal. We pretended we weren’t hurting and made many visits to Portland area yarn shops—-yarn therapy works even if you don’t buy much!
I need to thank two friends for helping me get back to blogging—-Chris who always can make me laugh and who is also a dog-lover and Connie, a long ago Springfield,IL friend who called me today after trying to reach me on the e-mail address linked to the blog. Both of them said that they enjoyed reading the blog… which reminded me that I also enjoyed writing it but had been afraid of putting finger to keyboard since the big loss…….And I guess what I learned from the old dog that I ended the last blog thinking about was that at times we must do things that are very painful in order to fully express the love we feel. We didn’t want them to hurt so we did instead.
Life is full of wonderful gifts, as well as pain and sadness. And in the end, it’s all worth it, seems to me. So, I’m back and will catch you up with what I’ve been mindlessly knitting in the meantime—–therapeutic knitting, of course.
And to end this, I want to share pictures of Mac:and Ella:
Ella always hated cameras, and I have no idea how I ever got this photo of her. When she was younger, she earned her championship and was always very happy and comfortable in the ring and with cameras. However, Mac was the photogenic of the two—-he was always very laid back in front of a camera as well as everywhere else. We miss them so.
My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. We have two wheaten terriers, Teddy (8) and Shayna (2) and have had others before them whom we needed to part with..sadly. Our pets seem to wrap themselves around our hearts in a unique way. You were so fortunate to have Mac and Ella in your lives and I feel certain you made their lives rich with love, too.
It seems silly to say, but time does help to heal. Just know that lots of us understand your pain. This cyber space can be a great way to communicate about life and knitting! Be well and know we are thinking of you.
Thanks for your wonderful words. Wheatens are so wonderful, too. When I get back from this trip I’m about to take, we will begin our next dog search in earnest. I’m giving a lot of thought to what sort of dog we should share our life with next. We love border terriers—-or at least we loved Mac and Ella. We will look to see if we can find a border who is beyond the puppy stage, house broken, and in need of or available for another home. Given that we have recently grieved their loss, I don’t think we are ready to take on some very senior dogs, although I learned that senior dogs are so special and so very sweet. We will probably be looking for a puppy quality border a couple of years – 5 or 6 years old. And we’ve also seen some interesting poodle-terrier mixes that we want to check out. We know that whatever we end up with, it must have some terrier in it. Mac and Ella were the first terriers I’ve ever had—–and what wonderful and devoted dogs!
When my darling Mandi became ill it was the most painful decision of my life to let her go. I still miss her every day. A friend lost her little fur baby yesterday. This is what I told her. “We give the gift of immortality to those we photograph. Through pictures and memories, those we love live with us forever.” Bailey was a Maltese. A 13 pound Maltese. Whenever she had him groomed, she saved his hair along with the hair from his brother Beanie (a Coton de Tulear). She had it spun into yarn which became a sweater for Bailey when he finally had to begin wearing his hair very short. It is a beautiful soft white yarn and made the most amazing little sweater!
I too have a girl who is difficult to photograph. The very minute she sees my camera she starts searching for the reflection from a flash. I have many photos of the blurred top of her head! LOL
So happy to have you blogging again!
Good for you that you’ve been saving beautiful Maltese hair. My daughter had a Malamute-Samoyed mix for 15 years, from the time she was 15 until she was 30. He was such a wonderful dog (maybe I need to blog about him and the yarn spun from his undercoat sometime!), and “his yarn” is lovely. It’s an interesting idea to spin a dog’s undercoat into yarn to be made into a sweater for the dog when he’s wearing his hair short!! Keep watching and waiting. I did get a few nice pictures of Ella—-although she had an uncanny knack for recognizing a camera—even when I thought I was concealing it behind my back!
I’m so glad you’re back to blogging and so sorry for the loss of your little friends. For a long time after we had to let our two basenjis (Obi and Maija) go I would hear their toenails tapping on the floor, or the slap of the flap on the doggie-door. I could sense them still around and would look to the floor before turning in case they were underfoot. It has been 5 years now since Maija died and we haven’t replaced them. I do miss the unconditional love and their snuggly warmth.
I know what you mean. Every time we drop a crumb on the floor or a little piece of food, it occurs to both of us that we’d better just pick it up as there are no furry ones with good noses who will rush in to clean it up! And we, too, occasionally hear them. Also, although it’s sort of nice to not have fur balls floating around, when we do see a larger than usual dust farfel, it takes us back to when they were with us and regularly dropping them everywhere! I can see how time can pass quickly and suddenly years have gone by since the loss. Initially my husband said, like Poe’s raven, “nevermore.” Then he said he’d made a decision: “This time we’re only getting one.” Stay tuned!
I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss – saying goodbye to a pet is so hard but hopefully you can find comfort in the memories of the years you shared with them.
We did and 4 months later we “adopted” a 5 year old female border terrier, Fennel, whom we loved and had for 5-½ years before losing her to cancer. It was another heartbreaking experience, but in retrospect again, we agreed that the joy much outweighed the grief and we have so many happy memories. We now have another female, “Mimi,” who was 18 months old when we adopted her 18 months ago. What a joy she is to us…..so lively and really keeps us on our toes. We love her very much!
I have been concerned about you, given your absence from your blog, and now I know it was with good reason. Thank you for sharing your experience. I too am facing that decision soon for my beloved West Highland Terrier, and know that I am measuring his remaining life in days now, not years. Nothing will ever erase the joy he has been to me, and I love him too much to let him suffer. What a responsibility we take on when we choose to let a pet into our lives. I will be thinking of you. Thank you also for the pictures; those dogs are still bringing joy to others!
Bless you. I know how difficult it is to make the difficult decision that is soon to face you. It’s all about putting those we love first—and it’s still hard because we love them and don’t want to lose them and suffer the pain associated with that. And yes, you will always have the joy and wonderful memories. We were fortunate to have understanding friends and family, who understood and didn’t minimize our loss because “they were dogs.” Hopefully you have a wonderful vet that you trust who can help you navigate the difficult path you are on.
Belated thanks for your concerns. As I mentioned in another reply to Laura above, I stopped and then didn’t get back into the blogging habit again. But I’m ready to do it again. Wow! How fast 8 years pass!
I am so sorry for you huge loss. The love of a dog makes such an impact on your life. I’ve worried about you, though I don’t know you, I enjoy your blog so much and there was a hole for me when you stopped writing. You are making a positive inpact on this earth. Hope you find a way to adjust and keep walking even though the two motivaters are walking elsewhere. Peace for you.
Thanks for your wonderfully supportive message—and I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the blog. We’re getting there. My life has been measured by a number of wonderful dog relationships. And we’re looking forward to finding the next special furry soul to share our home and lives with. It’s so much better to knit with a warm, furry body tucked in beside you!
A belated “hi” to you, Laura in Hawaii. I stopped blogging in 2010 in part because I wanted to blog and share pictures of creative work I’d seen Estonia. I was cautioned not to post pictures of others’ artistic creations, and I maybe overdid it being so careful that I posted nothing! Two dogs later, I am getting ready to go on another knitting adventure and plan to begin blogging again
Betsy, I’ll really miss seeing your dogs take you walking about town. Have good memories and take care.
Stay tuned! When I get back from trip to Europe with daughter, the dog search will get into high gear……and then sooner rather than later, you’ll see us walking the next dog child.