Saying goodbye

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It happened again. Three weeks to the day of losing my Luke, I find myself mourning another of my dogs. This time it’s Dolce, Tarkom Sugar Diamond Delight. Dolce is an Italian word that means sweet, and is often used to describe dessert items. My girl earned her name because of the soft, sweet temperament she displayed from the time her eyes opened.
This loss is a first for me. TarKom is my kennel name, and Dolce was a lab I bred. She was the result of hours spent studying pedigrees, photographs and health clearances to choose her father. She was the firstborn daughter of my heartdog Gemma. She was mine from the moment of conception. She was born into my hands, and I cut her cord and cleaned her off.  She was my purple ribbon puppy, and was my dog every moment of her life. I’ve never shared a dog’s entire life before, all my other dogs have been at least a few weeks old when they’ve joined the family. This is a unique pain, and a different kind of sadness. Since Dolce’s loss, I’ve had several people express variants of, “How can you stand it?” It’s a fair question.
One thing that helps is that I know I did everything within my power to keep her here with me. Dolce was seemingly very healthy and fit. She was 11 ½ and was slowing down, certainly. She needed to go out more frequently, and slept more.  But she was still goofy in the mornings, eager to have her share of treats, and anxious to claim more than her fair share of my affection. She put up with the younger dogs and happily teased her littermate sister Dazzle. When she showed brief signs of illness a week ago, I took her to the vet and medication seemed to solve the problem by the next morning. When I saw she again wasn’t feeling well, I had her back to the vet immediately. There, everything that could be done for her was done. My husband and I spent more than an hour with her before her surgery.  We hugged her and kissed her and told her we loved her. Sadly, on the table an inoperable tumor was discovered, and we didn’t have them wake her back up.
Knowing that we did not overlook or ignore medical symptoms, and that we did all we could to treat her, helps with the loss. I don’t have to second-guess decisions I made or wonder if I’d done something else if there would have been a different outcome. Even the size of the bill doesn’t discourage me; I know everything possible was done.
Fully trusting my vet is another thing that provides comfort. I have a relationship already in place, and have confidence in the treatment and care Dolce received. I don’t have to worry that a vet I chose at random when something went wrong didn’t have the skill to save her.
I am also comforted by the fact that Dolce was given excellent care throughout her life. She was fed properly, received preventative health care and was given tons of love and affection.  She was one of the “bedroom dogs” and while she slept on the floor, she ended every night by sleeping in the bed with me once my husband got up. He usually boosted her up first, so she could take her preferred spot with her head on his pillow. She knew nothing but love and kindness in our home. I don’t have any guilt or sadness over the way she lived; I know it was a great doggy life.
Your dog may be one you purchased from a breeder, adopted from a rescue, or found along the roadside. You may not have the comfort of knowing that every moment of your dog’s life has been idyllic. You can, however, take steps now to help mitigate your grief when the awful time of goodbye comes.
Find a vet you have confidence in, and build a relationship. Feed your dog a quality dog food. Spend time with your dog doing whatever your dog enjoys; throwing the ball, playing games of chase or just scratching his belly.
Take the time now to love your dog fully, so when the time comes when you do lose him, your only regrets are for your loss, not for things left undone.
Karlene Turkington, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is a lifelong animal lover who has been training dogs for over 20 years. Readers are welcome to send their questions to: info@TrainMyK-9.com. Information provided here is a basic overview of issues. Specific health or behavioral concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian or qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.

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