Losing a dog is a terribly painful and difficult experience. We recently put our dog Buddy to sleep after he developed some severe health issues, he was 15 years old.
We had an amazing life with Buddy and he lived a life full of adventure, love, and plenty of mischief. Throughout this process of grieving his death, I've found a few "life lessons" that I think he wanted to pass along. Buddy will be forever missed but the lessons he taught will be with me forever, and hopefully, these 3 lessons will help you have a more enjoyable life with your pup.
Lesson #1 - Have Patience for Your Dog
In some of those final moments with Buddy, I ran through a lot of the regrets I had. One that constantly popped up was the times I got frustrated or became impatient with him and his mischievous deeds. Buddy LOVED to get into things. Especially things with food in them.
Even in his final weeks, he was still scavenging and searching for snacks (whether he was supposed to have them or not). It can be very difficult to have patience for our dog's "bad" behaviors, but you won't regret being more patient with your pup. It has been a good reminder for me that dogs truly are that... dogs! Yes, they are family, but they also love doing "dog" things. So when your dog knocks something over, gets into the trash, or gets overly excited on a walk, try to remember to be patient and let your dog be a dog. Our dogs give LOTS to us, so giving them some patience in return is a pretty fair trade.
Lesson #2 - Take More Photos and Videos
Buddy has been around for quite a long while, even before Instagram and iPhones were around (seriously). His early years didn't have a lot of photos, and it's quite a bummer! Of course, your camera roll is probably 90% pictures of your dog, but honestly, I would still take more.
When my wife and I start to miss Buddy (pretty much all the time), it is very comforting and enjoyable to pull up pictures and videos of him when he was healthy and running around! Capturing your dog's quirks, funny moments, and fun tricks will be something you will enjoy for years to come, even after they pass away.
Lesson #3 - Enjoy the Small Moments
As Buddy aged, he slowed down physically. A walk that would normally take 5 minutes would take anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on how many times he wanted to stop and pee. In some of those final weeks, he all but forced us to stop and slow down. It got us noticing things in our neighborhood we'd never seen before and gave us opportunities to chat with strangers (who of course wanted to pet Buddy).
Our dogs can be a lot of work, and often times that work can seem repetitious or boring. A lesson Buddy passed on to me and hopefully to you as well is to savor the small moments. Buddy took his time on walks, sniffing every cranny and finding the most obscure places to pee. That wouldn't have happened if he was always sprinting by.
Although the passing of Buddy has been one of the most painful experiences of my life, the experience as a whole has taught me some powerful lessons. I hope these little lessons will help you have a more enriching and powerful relationship with your pup. Remember that our dog's lives are short, and we really need to enjoy the moments we have!
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