THE LOSS OF A BELOVED PET
I always knew that my beloved dog Lucky wasn’t going to live forever but you just kind of hope, don’t you? Well he wasn’t destined for this world as long as I wanted. He died in November and my heart broke into tiny little pieces.
When I was 11 years old my parents told me they had finally decided to bring a dog into our household. I was over the moon as I had been begging for one for years. They told me that the dog would come from a rescue centre which at 11 I didn’t really know what one was but I didn’t mind because I was super excited. When the day actually came around I pulled a sicky off school (I know naughty and my teacher knew because she asked me the next day how the new dog was) and waited at home while my parents went and fetched the new dog. When he came home he was a bundle of joy and my parents told me his name was Lucky and that he needed a lot of love and attention. I was so excited about owning my first dog.
I had lots of time with him up to the point where I came to university. That’s what hit me that hardest leaving normality with my family and my dog to being on my own minus dog. But I did get to see him every weekend when I went home to work and he loved it. He would always be around my feet wanting cuddles and fuss which I gave him plenty of. I thought he would make it through my whole university experience and then be there when I moved back home after. I was wrong.
I knew the end was near in April. My parents phoned me asking me why I wasn’t in my flat. Little did they know I was in town killing an afternoon. They told me that they were outside my flat and they needed to speak with me. Instinct told me something was wrong. At first I thought something had happened to my Grandma but then came to the conclusion my Mum wouldn’t be here if that was true so then I knew it was something to do with Lucky. I rushed home from town and let them in to my flat. There was small talk in the lift which made me super uncomfortable because they wouldn’t tell me what was wrong. When we arrived in my room my Mum took a seat on my bed and my dad stood in the kitchen. My dad told me there was something wrong with Lucky. My heart sank, I thought maybe it was something that was fixable but no it was cancer and he only had a few months at the most to live. I burst into tears and my mum hugged me and told me that I could come home tonight if I wanted to. I told her I had a lecture the next day and couldn’t. She told me that she would run me into uni so I could explain the situation to the lecturer. I decided that would be a good idea, so I went home to see my beloved Lucky.
When I got home he was so happy and you wouldn’t have been to tell that there was anything wrong with him, he was still his bubbly fussy self. I just sat on the floor and he came over to me and I cuddled him and burst into tears. He couldn’t understand so he just sat there and let me hug him. When everyone went to bed I went into the kitchen where his basket was and just sat there looking at him. He was loving all this attention and came over and climbed on my knees and just went to sleep there. I just couldn’t understand how I was going to have to live without him.
After a few days I went back to uni and kept in contact with my parents constantly making sure he was okay. I had a nagging feeling that I was going to wake up one morning and my mum was going to show up and tell me that he had passed. 7 months later and I made it into my final year and Lucky was still going strong. I kept thinking ‘just make it till christmas’, I wanted one last Christmas with him that’s all.
The Tuesday during reading week I received a text from my mum saying that Lucky had been collapsing all morning and they were taking him to the vets and he may have to be put down. I was in shock. I had seen him that weekend and he seemed normal, a bit more sleepy but I’d put that down to old age. And here I was at uni unable to go home as I had a trip the next day that was compulsory and all alone with my thoughts. I waited until I got another text message. The vet had said to give him a couple more days to see whether he improves. I phoned my mum immediately and asked her honest opinion on whether it was fair for him to suffer. She told me he could barely walk and was really struggling. I told her that maybe the best thing was to maybe put him down.
This was the first grown up experience I had ever really had to deal with on my own. I had to cope with never being able to say goodbye to someone who had been in my life since I could remember. I had a little cry in my room but tried to keep my mind busy.
The next day I went on the field trip and decided to phone my parents at lunch to find out whether they had done it or not. They told me they had done it this morning but weren’t going to tell me until after the trip. That was it, he was gone. I was a wreck on the inside but couldn’t really show it on the outside as I didn’t want people to think I was being a fool over a pet. But he wasn’t a pet to me, he was family and as far as I was concerned I had lost a family member. One of my friends came out to see whether I was okay and I told them and they comforted me and told me a story about when one of their pets passed away. It was a comfort to know I wasn’t alone. My mum told me she would come and get me when we got back from the trip but I told her that I had too much to do and would come home at the weekend. I know she was trying to help but I needed to process this myself.
It hit hard when I went home and he wasn’t there but I didn’t let it show. I broke down at night when I was on my own because no one needed to know that I wasn’t coping with it.
Anyways we’re now 4 months on and recently adopted another rescue dog called Alfie. My parents didn’t push me into adopting another dog but the house felt empty especially at Christmas and like my mum told me when I wasn’t a 100% sure whether I could cope with Alfie because of Lucky, ‘We had Lucky for a whole 13 years and we showed him so much love which he might not have gotten if we hadn’t adopted him. I think he’d want us to adopt another dog who needs that love as well’
Those words got me through the whole adoption process and now we have Alfie, he’s a handful but I remember a certain little dog being like that when we first got him.
My story is not that unique and a lot of people suffer from pet loss while away at university. Don’t do what I did and keep it in. Talk to someone because for all you know they might have experienced it too and if they haven’t they should be good friends and understand that it hurts. Pets are part of the family too and they should be mourned in the same way.
Like many others I will never get that closure of saying goodbye but I am getting a tattoo in memory of him because he was not just my pet, he was family and my best friend.