Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Do You Say to a Grieving Dog Owner?

Asia, minus her dog pal

I don't know what it is, but lately I've been talking to a lot of dog owners about loss.  Last weekend it was a man in Boston's North End.  He was walking Asia, his one dog instead of the usual two.

And yesterday I caddied for a nice fellow who put his friend of 13 years down just a few months ago, and quickly bought a new Lab to replace him.  He had such joy talking about his new puppy, but it was clear my golfer was still grieving the other one.

After the round, I shared with my loop part of what we wrote in Follow the Dog Home, because in many ways he was feeling similar to how my 10-year-old daughter and coauthor Samantha did a few years ago.  Samantha came home and discovered our 12-year-old German Shepherd, Tiffany, dead on the floor.  A few months after that, we got a new German Shepherd--Beverly.  I thought all was well.  What I didn't realize was Sammy's feelings of joy for the new dog were tempered by her concern that Tiffany would think we had abandoned her.   I never would have known this had she not expressed it in her writing.

Tiffany (dog) with Amanda (left) and Samantha

So as I was saying goodbye to my golfer, I wanted to leave him with something.  I told him what Lebanese Philosopher Kahlil Ghibran wrote about in The Prophet; something that we included in Follow the Dog Home.  Sorrow carves away at your being so the vessel can be refilled in whole when joy returns.  It's like a tall glass of cold lemonade on a hot summer day.  Were we not parched in body and spirit before, the replenishment wouldn't be as refreshing.

Beverly (dog) with (L to R) Samantha, Kevin and Amanda


  1. Sure, you bet. We've had some practice, fortunately and unfortunately.