10 Realizations You Have When Your Pet Is Dying

10 Realizations You Have When Your Pet Is Dying

You never thought this day would actually come.

This past week, I found myself saying goodbye to my first and only dog of almost 15 years. I was only 7 years old when my family and I picked him out as a puppy--I can't even remember a time without him around. He was a chocolate brown Bichon, Shih Tzu, and Toy Poodle mix with cream spotting. He was playful, happy, and full of energy.

Now, over a decade later, he has lived a long and fulfilling life. His quality of life has deteriorated drastically due to tumors, cataracts, and a bad hip. Within the last year, he's grown almost completely deaf. Recently, he hasn't been able to control his bladder, jump up on the couch, or run around freely. You'll even find him whimpering in pain while he sleeps. It was obvious for us all to see it was time to let him go. As I've worked through the heartache of saying goodbye to one of my best friends, I realized some things along the way.

1. You have to allow yourself to mourn.

Grief is the final gift of love. Some need time to let themselves be sad. Some will just deny everything that's happening. Others experience the five stages of grief. I've learned there's no "right" or "wrong" way to grieve. Everyone handles death differently and that's okay. I found myself to be entirely heartbroken--more than I ever thought I would be.

2. You'll wish you were more patient with them when they didn't understand.

Too many times I found myself frustrated and annoyed when he would whimper at my feet. What do you want? I just let you outside. You have food and water. What do you want? I never considered that, you know, maybe he just wanted to be loved and have my attention for a minute.

3. You'll wish you never took their presence for granted.

For years, he was always just there. That's just how it was. He would hear the door open and sprint to greet you like it was the best part of his entire day (honestly, it probably was) and I would just say hello and keep going with my day. When I walked in the door to my mother's house to say goodbye last week, it was different. He wasn't there to greet me. He couldn't hear the door open. He couldn't get up the stairs by himself.

4. You'll think about the unconditional love they gave you--even when you didn't deserve it.

Every single day. His love for me, my siblings, and my parents never wavered. He was fiercely loyal and loved each of us unconditionally.

5. They'll have more of an impact on you than you thought possible.

I can't even remember all the memories I've had with him over the last 15 years. He was there for all the good and all the bad. Dogs gift you with patience, commitment, loyalty, and friendship. They touch you in ways you don't necessarily notice when you're just taking their existence for granted.

6. You'll realize they're irreplaceable.

He was my first (and only) puppy and he'll never have that taken away from him. He'll always be with me in my heart.

7. You'll wish you took more photos of them.

Because one day you might find yourself writing an article about your puppy dying and realize you don't have any pictures of him. Take pictures when they're being playful, when they're just being plain cute, and even when they're sleeping. You'll want them for the memories.

8. You never thought this day would actually come.

Obviously you know that dogs can't live forever. Anyone could tell you that. You just never think that today will actually be the day you're forced to say your goodbyes. You couldn't even fathom this day for years. Now, it's staring at you square in the face.

9. It really is for the best no matter how much it hurts.

No matter how heartbroken you are, you'll be able to see how much more they hurt than you. At the end of a dogs life, they live each and every day of their life hurting. They deserve more than that. They deserve to be freed from the pain they've come to know all too well.

10. He knows, too.

Dogs are smart. They know and understand more than we give them credit for. All we can do is keep them close to our heart and cherish the time we had with them--all while hoping they enjoyed their time with us, too.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn Rademacher

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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The Old Oak Tree

A short poem about returning to one's childhood home.


Looming over the burned-out house is an oak tree,

Hundreds of years old at least.

The smell of smoke is gone, but skeleton of the house remains,

A mere speck when compared to the tree.

Whose branches reach out to me like hands,

Begging for me to come closer.

I do.

I sit under the tree like I did when I was young.

The ground is damp from the rain,

I feel the sogginess soaking through my jeans.

I remain.

It is cooler under the branches,

A limitless amount of leaves shades me from the daylight.

I stay there. All day.

Staring at the charred remains of my childhood home.

I stay there until fog begins to form in the crisp night air,

Cold and sharp against my cheeks.

No longer able to withstand the cold, I take my leave looking back once more.

It's nice to know that even when I'm gone,

The old oak tree remains.

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