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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Grieving for Sesi

I don't know if you remember me or not but last year I was in your leadership class and agility with my red siberian husky. She was the one with epilepsy and had a few seizures at your place. She always wanted to please and was such a good dog. Unfortunately we lost her in November. I just read about Atlas and I again shed a few more tears. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. After 6 months we got a new puppy, just a few weeks ago. My husband couldn't stand to get another husky (we have one left) so we got a Havanese. A smaller dog. (I amnot a small dog person). It was the worst decision for me, but the best for my husband. I cry harder now for my lost Sibe, Sesi, than I did the day we lost her. The puppy is such a good dog and we've been working with her... but I feel nothing. Are there any books that you recommend for grief? I never thought I would be the type of person that could not get another dog after losing one but Sesi touched my life like nothing ever before. A true gift from God.

First of all, thank goodness that we as a society have moved past the point where we have to hide or downplay the grief we feel when we lose our pets.

Of course everyone handles grief differently. There are, however, patterns that we go through during the process. I think the important thing to remember is that it IS a "process," which means there's a logical progression to an end result. You can't rush it. But understanding the process sometimes makes it more bearable because at least you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, even though you can't see it quite yet.
Here's a website sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association. It lists many grief counseling hotlines around the country, some of which are toll-free. They operate only at certain hours, but are staffed generally by vets or vet students trained in grief counseling and helping
you through the process.
A Havanese certainly is a 180-degree different dog from Sesi. Am curious as to why your husband chose that breed--not typically a "guy's dog"! Is there any chance you could handle a third dog? I would suggest a rescue. You mentioned not feeling much for the new dog and I can understand that. When you rescue a dog, I think it's different. Think of Sesi and how she could have been an abandoned or neglected dog. That's a painful thought, but it could have happened. There are so many others out there in similar circumstances. Wonderful, innocent dogs with kind eyes and grateful hearts. If not for you, they could meet a bad end. To me, saving a sweet, grateful dog was the key to my being able to accept Atlas' imminent death. Lizzie fell into our was not planned, it just happened. I couldn't have picked a better dog for me if I'd designed one. I was able to put a lot of time and energy into training her and she responded so well. I used everything that Atlas had taught me to help make life extraordinarily good for this poor little abandoned puppy we got out of a Safeway parking lot on a rainy day.

It may not be right for you...but if it's worth considering a third dog, take a trip to the animal shelter and just look. If there is one who is right for you, he/she will speak to you. If not, go again on another day. You know they will not be Sesi. But they will be needy. When you lose the love of your life...someone who was so dependent on you for her safekeeping and special need someone else to NEED you. You need to be needed. The Havanese doesn't need you, not really, not in that way. But a rescue dog will.

We now have only two dogs. Our house is deathly quiet, almost boring. At one time we had six large dogs, and it was like the Brady Bunch all the time. Hectic, but fun. We need at least one more, and possibly two more, to liven up this place. I would suggest the same for you. More dogs will mean you're busier than ever and have less time to grieve on the surface. The process will still be going on, but it will be much less painful than it is now.
Keep an open mind about this, and best of luck.

P.S. The book pictured above on "pet loss grief recovery" is available on ("ROAR" is an acronym dealing with the grief process.) Although I've only read the sample pages provided online, it looks like an EXCELLENT book that would benefit many of us grieving for lost animals.

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