• Deborah A Allen

Not a pair of shoes...

June 2016 will be remembered by many people for things, like the Orlando shootings in which 49 people lost their lives in a terrible hate crime against LGBT people and of course for the UK’s in or out vote in the EU referendum but for me imporatant as they are those things take a back seat to my own personal feelings.

On June 10th 2016 my husband and I had to say goodbye to the last of the three wonderful dogs who have been with us and part of our family since 2001.

Oscar was the first, he arrived in Oct 2001 on my birthday and we said goodbye on Oct 29 2012.

Remy was found by my son, he came to live with us in 2006 and died suddenly on Aug 28 2015 ..

Which left us with Benny who came to us in 2002 when his previous owner decided there was no way she could get this strong willed male Beagle to conform to her wishes for him to be a lap dog!

So it was that less than 1 month after his 15th Birthday (which we celebrated with a special cake and treats for him) that the day came which we dreaded. He had been unwell for only 2 days although obviously he had been getting somewhat frail but saying goodbye was heartbreaking.

That we are devestated is no surprise to any animal lover, they know you simply cannot share your life for that long with a pet and not be heartbroken when the time to say goodbye finally arrives.

So it is to the non-animal lovers/owners that my first blog entry is directed.

What you absolutely do not do when someone tells you that their beloved dog/cat /bird has passed away is to direct them to someone you know who has a dog/cat /bird for sale.

You may wonder why not? Well how would you feel if while you were at your child or partner’s funeral someone pointed you in the direction of an adoption agency or a singles club and told you not to worry because there were plenty of replacements available?

Luckily it was my husband who was approached by an idiotic neighbour less than five hours after we had left Benny at the funeral home, saying ‘so , your dog is dead …well I know where you can get a puppy if you like’ My husband remained polite and said no thank you… If it had been me the man would have needed his teeth removing from his throat which is where I would have shoved them….

A few days later the wife of the same neighbours begun to harp on about puppies ..Good grief people, Benny isn’t cold in his grave yet, grow a little compassion and feeling.

Then another lady who meant well but had no idea started to inform me about a rescue she knows who are always trying to place dogs rescued from Spain or Greece or somewhere.. I gave her my very best drop dead look, said NO and then walked away without another word.

I’m not saying there will never be another dog in our lives, I don’t know what we will do, at the moment I am still floundering in this new empty world I find myself in. No early walks, no late walks, no forest walks ….no walks; it’s a strange quiet dog-less limbo I’m in.

But for the time being there is no dog. I am still expecting to see Benny waiting for me when I get in , I still expected him to beg for a bit of my Wednesday jam doughnut, this week I ate my yogurt and without thinking held out the carton for him to lick (yes bad habits but he loved it) I am still adjusting.

So when someone tells you they have lost a beloved pet, offer comfort, offer a hug, speak soft words of sympathy and acknowledge their grief even if you don’t understand it, but don’t offer a replacement, never ever offer a replacement.

A pet is not a key fob or a pair of shoes, for those of us who have been lucky enough to love and be loved by a pet they are as much a part of our life and family as your child or partner.

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