Losing a pet in middle age

Losing a pet in middle age

We are on spring break checking off some life bucket list items. Yesterday we split up and had a mid day nap break (more on how to happily travel with teens in the next blog post). So imagine my surprise when my daughter barges into the bedroom screaming for me to talk to daddy. Then the husband told me that our dog had collapsed while playing in the dog yard and died. Smooch has owned that boarding facility since she was a puppy, so my only consolation is that she died happily playing with friends and was not in any pain.

But then came the guilt. Why did we go on vacation without her? What if I had exercised her more instead of letting her get chubby and lazy? Then I realized the benefit of not having to watch her die. I watched my mom die, and those images still haunt me years later. Seeing someone you love take their last breaths is rough. So, as much as I would have loved to have been able to say goodbye, I will chose to remember her trotting to the back office at the boarding place looking to steal treats (she knew where all the good stuff was and not ashamed to help herself to whatever she wanted). She was actually kicked out of the first boarding place we tried, but she was truly loved 110% at Companion Camp.

So here I am on the other side of the United States trying to process my grief. Thankfully the husband (AKA vacation task master, Clark Griswold) gave me the day to myself and is doing all of today’s tourist activities with the kids solo.

I think I need to start with how Smooch came to be in our family, which I think will help you understand why her loss is so hard for me. Her name if you check out the blog post picture is pretty self explanatory. The girl had the biggest tongue, and she used it to lick everyone she met.

Around the age of 40, the husband and I were trying to decide if our family was complete with 2 kiddos. We could never get on the same page at the same time, but the one thing we did agree on was that we would not grow our family unless we were both 100% on board. After all, another kid meant we were officially out numbered. We could not decide on more kids, so I started collecting animals. I had this need/desire to take care of things, so in a 6 month time span I collected chickens, 2 cats, and a puppy named Smooch. We joked that it would have been easier to get pregnant and parent a toddler at 40 than be a good parent to my Smoochie. She was smart and stubborn. And a big, big girl.

Here are a few of the most memorable moments with Smooch –

  1. Her love of the door bell. She was not a vocal dog, so we taught her to ring the bell at the back door if she wanted to go out. She over learned this skill and would ring it every single time the husband would go outside to check on whatever he was smoking on the Big Green Egg. And that was about every 15 minutes.
  2. Her love of toilet water. She preferred a fresh bowl to drink from, so if she had drunk the water all the way down, she would slam the lid down to indicate I needed to come and flush a fresh bowl for her.
  3. Her love of the cats. She so desperately wanted to be friends with them, but neither reciprocated. That did not deter Smooch.
  4. Her love of being wherever you were. Literally, she wanted to be a lap dog but would settle on sitting right next to wherever I was sitting.
  5. Her love of lakes. She was my lake buddy, going with me on every lake trip I took in the last 6 years with the exception of one trip. I think she loved the water almost as much as I do.

So here I am, a mom of 2 teenagers grieving the loss of my giant 120lb baby. I dread going home. There will be so many reminders of my Smooch. And the house will be so quiet without her there. I am not sure how to process it all except that I know in my heart that Smooch had an amazing life, full of love and happiness.

I will close with some of my favorite pictures of my baby. And please comment with ways you have grieved the loss of a pet in the middle age years. I am going to need all the help I can get.

holiday card Smooch
party Smooch
Smooch and Fireball

Lake Smooch

4 thoughts on “Losing a pet in middle age

  1. Having recently lost a family member myself.. someone I used to look up to for support , I understand the feeling…..

    The constant thoughts of “ Did I do everything possible “ or “ what more could have I done” keep coming to your mind….

    But finally realized that you cannot change what is reality… the best way is to cherish and remember the happy memories together!!!!

    God Speed!

  2. When I lost my Tusie two years ago, I grieved for months. I think I’m still grieving. My goodest girl had been with me 29 years. She saw me from teen angst through a devastating divorce. I truly believe she lasted that long to see me get back on my feet and happily into a new life. When I had to make the decision to let her go, it was an easy though painful one. My barn manager/friend, the vet, the kids, and I all sobbed. She was the perfect horse for a crazy teenager when she was young, then the perfect horse for little kids when she was old. She was always an amazing friend.

  3. I still miss my Maggie. She was my first pet that was truly mine — I got her at 8 weeks old. I was just going to see the kittens, I wasn’t getting one, but then the little black girl with the beautiful green eyes fell asleep on my foot. How could I not take her home? My now husband came into my life a few years later. Maggie never liked visitors — she would usually hide. But this one, she sat in his lap the first time he showed up and I knew “damn, I have to keep this one.”

    She never really liked kids, would growl at the trick or treaters and my sisters noisy boys. When I got pregnant the question was “what will you do if Maggie doesn’t like the baby” – and my answer was “find someone to take the baby”. But she loved her. Maggie was old by the time our daughter was born, but she put up with being dressed and hugged and chased and everything in between. And when the day came that it was time to go, she came and looked me right in the eyes and I knew she was done. So the decision was “easy” but I’m crying now even to think about it.

    Don’t let anyone tell you Smooch was “just an animal” get over it. The grief will be just as strong as losing a human family member. And that’s okay. You loved her. You’ll miss her. Tell her story so she won’t be forgotten. Hugs to you.

  4. I got my Maggie as my last baby for similar reasons to you. She was all mine. She loved my babies, was my constant companion, fiercely loyal, and quite a character. She died suddenly this past summer a week after my uncle who raised me. I was devestated – crushed immobilized with grief. I still grieve. I don’t know what helped really. I talk about her all the time. I keep pictures. I cried – a lot. I still have moments of deep sadness. I decided I don’t need to justify my grief or qualify it. She was my best friend. My forever baby who was gone way too soon ( 71/2 years). I do believe she got the very best of us. That helps me a lot. Just last week I was at the beach and I cried because she and I never got that trip together. Recently I gave myself the gift of one last big dog. I am a dog person- and felt ready. He is nothing like Maggie – and that was on purpose. But loving him has helped the hurt lessen. Fynn is on his way to being a 90lb furball and I think of Maggie often during our adventures and smile a lot more then I use to.

Leave a Reply