The Holidays Are Hard After Losing A Pet

The Holidays Are Hard After Losing A Pet

This shouldn't be a lonely time, but there were Christmases when you were mine.

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On October 18, I said goodbye to my best friend. My family adopted my dog, Daisy, when she was less than a year old. She lived to be almost 15 ½. Daisy was more than just a dog to me. She was my constant companion when my friends left me and boys broke my heart. She was always able to cheer me up with her unfaltering cuteness, big brown eyes, and a little wet nose. Her kisses had healing power. When she left me so suddenly, who did I have to cheer me up? It was and still is, difficult to cope with her being gone. The holidays only make it worse.

Thanksgiving came when the pain of losing Daisy was still pretty fresh. I had only been home once before the break because I knew I would feel her absence even more. The first day of break was the hardest because the rest of my family was at work and I was all alone. Usually, on such occasions, I would cuddle with Daisy in the recliner while I did homework. Not having her next to me made me feel empty. The whole house felt empty. My parents had packed up nearly every trace of her, but they couldn't cover the hole she left in our hearts when she passed.

It had been my tradition on Thanksgiving Day to sit with Daisy, drink coffee, eat spice muffins, and watch the parade until we inevitably fell asleep. I was able to distract myself this year with a paper I had to write. I replaced the pain of Daisy's absence with the pain of an analysis paper. I still couldn't forget.

Callie Spencer

I go home for Christmas soon and I know it'll be a difficult time. Daisy had a way of making herself a part of almost anything we did as a family. Christmas was no exception. She'd lay on her bed under the Christmas tree, stalk the dinner table when we ate, ride with us to see Christmas lights, and open presents with us on Christmas morning. She had her own stocking. A couple of years ago, we even did a Christmas photo shoot of her at our house.

Callie Spencer

Last Christmas was technically my first Christmas without Daisy. I was studying abroad in Israel and didn't get home until January 5th. thankfully, my family waited until I got back to do presents and dinner. Still, I wasn't with Daisy on December 25th. Spending four months away from her in Israel didn't quite prepare me for her passing. What kept me going was that I knew she'd be there when I got back. That's not true this time.

Callie Spencer

I am blessed to have people who have supported me during this painful time. I will always have fond memories of Daisy, and I am incredibly grateful for the years we had together. No matter what you're facing right now, Merry Christmas and God bless you!

My Playlist Dedicated to Daisy

Red-Taylor Swift, The Night's Gonna Trick Me Again-Jamie Scott, Chasing Cars-Snow Patrol, Sad Song-We The Kings, Good Grief-Bastille, Vanilla Twilight-Owl City, Half a Heart-One Direction, Let Her Go-Passenger, Fix You-Coldplay, See the Sun-Dido, My Heart Will Go On-Céline Dion, There You'll Be-Faith Hill, Your Long Journey-Robert Plant, Iris-The Goo Goo Dolls, Who Knew-P!nk, A Song That Never Comes-Cass Elliot, Memories-Shawn Mendes, Just Want You to Know-Backstreet Boys, Christmases When You Were Mine-Taylor Swift, Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)-Michael Bublé

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5 Ways Impulsively Getting A Dog Saved My Mental Health

Those four paws are good for a lot more than just face kisses.

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Shortly before my husband and I officially moved out onto our own, he surprised me with a puppy in hand on the morning of our anniversary. Moving out, tackling college, and everything in between, I thought another huge responsibility was the last thing I needed. However, in reality, Oakley, the lab/Australian shepard/collie mix, was exactly what I needed to get back to "me."


He provides emotional support

One of the most obvious reasons is how much emotional support dogs, (and other respective animals) can provide. His paws have been accidentally stepped on, and he certainly isn't a fan of the forced flea/tick medication doses, but less than 30 seconds later, he is without fail immediately by my side again, tail wagging and ready for more kisses. Although he is not trained or certified as an ESA, it's without a doubt he has effectively (and unconsciously) combated random anxiety attacks or feelings of being alone.

He requires being cared for

You'll heavily judge every crazy fur mama, as did, I until you become one. Getting Oakley immediately got me consistently back on my feet and forced me to ask myself, "What does he need today?"Even simple, easy tasks like taking him out to run/go to the bathroom had me excited and forced me to find a motive in the day to day activities. I loved no longer having even the mere choice to be unproductive. Don't want to start your day? Well, Oakley needs his day started, so let's get moving.

He serves as protection

It's no surprise how far a dog's loyalty will go to protect their owner. For decades, specially trained dogs have had life-saving responsibilities assigned to them. Even being married, my husband and I's schedules vary significantly to where it is not uncommon for me to be alone. The slightest sound or shadow from outside our door immediately initiates barking. In the bathroom taking a shower? He's there. Knowing that Oakley is looking out, even when I get carried away with tasks like cooking dinner, always calms my nerves.

He's become something to look forward to

The nice thing about having Oakley is regardless of how my day goes, I know exactly how it is going to end. Whether I passed an exam with flying colors or got the lowest grade in the class, I know what waits for me when I open the door at home. After a long day, nothing resets my mood like walking into a face that is just as happy and excited to see me!

He encourages bonds with others

If you want your social interaction to sky rocket: get a puppy. No, I'm serious. You'll have people wanting to come over and visit "you" (let's be real… your puppy), like it's your last day on Earth. For me, this was exactly what I needed. Getting Oakley had family members constantly checking in to see how he was growing, learning, etc. Not only did this encourage more interactions with family and friends, but it also "livened" my husband and I's home life. Instead of the "normal" weekend nights consisting of Netflix and MarioKart, (which are enjoyable in their own respective ways), spending our nights playing Monkey in the Middle with our new four-legged friend has proven much more entertaining.

So ideally was it the right time to get a dog? Probably not. However, adding Oakley to my small little family combated anxiety and depression in ways I wouldn't have ever thought possible.

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.

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A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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