Dog Children and Grieving

Today is the first day that I have been able to sit down and type this.

On Monday, January 30, 2023, our beloved Chloe moved on to the Rainbow Bridge. John and I are still trying to make sense of this. One day she was normal and the next, we’re saying good-bye. She was only 12. Chihuahuas can live much longer than that.

Chloe was a spunky Chihuahua that we had since she was two months old. John and I had been married a little over a year and Chloe was our first “We” dog. She was so tiny but she had such a huge personality. She let us know from the beginning that she was a little Princess but she was also fragile and vulnerable and needed us for love and comfort,

Portrait of Chloe the Chihuahua.  Lavender background with fawn colored dog, pink collar looking off to the left

When you take a dog or cat into your life, and fall in love with them. You know from the first day, that you have to make ALL of the days count. When we are younger and have families, we sometimes forget this and miss bonding opportunities with the four legged family members. We forget in the chaos of life that our four legged friends are only here for so short of a time. But they wait patiently and unconditionally for that love and attention. We take them into our lives, knowing that we’ll have good times, and then we have to make the hard choices for when they become terminally ill. When you bring a dog into your life, you “sign up” for the whole enchilada; the beginning, as well as the end.

Fortunately, Chloe had the best life ever for a dog. We could work from home. There was always someone home because we also shared our former home with my husband’s parents, who lived downstairs. If John and I went out, there was Nanny and Pop pop downstairs. Two of our daughters were still living at home so Chloe always received a lot of attention.

When we traveled, many times, Chloe came with us. She was smuggled into places like Panera and fancy Italian restaurants. She watched her “daddy” drive his racehorses from the backstretch at Monticello. She’s been to the beaches of New Jersey, Virginia and Florida. She rode on a bike in Cape May, helped with horseshoe crabs on the Delaware Bay. She rode the Cape May ferry and even flew on an airplane. She’s been to Chincoteague and many hotels too countless to mention, She even traveled to Key West.

Scientists say that dogs have a limited vocabulary. That’s a bunch of BS. They didn’t know Chloe. She knew every meal related word, she knew our names, she understood so many words and when some words got too well known, we started to spell them and she figured those out, too. She would stand in the kitchen, look at us then up at where her food and treats were kept, and then back at us. “Hello, Human, feed me,” her eyes would say. When we didn’t react quickly enough, there was a sharp bark to keep us in line until the humans were trained better than she was.

She had a daily schedule and we were trained to stay on it. In case we would forget, we would get pre warning alerts. Especially for meals. We would crack up with the pre meal alerts.

She would stay, sleeping in our bed until SHE was ready to get up, then I could make the bed. She and her half brother Mack (who came into our lives a little later) had a doggie door so they could go in and out whenever they wanted to. Chloe was trained to go potty on command and then we were trained to give her a treat after she went potty. (My daughter swears that Chloe would “fake Pee” to get a treat.)

When we moved to Florida and she didn’t have a doggie door, she would walk to the door and announce that she had to go out. Usually this happened when an episode of our favorite shows were on and when we just at down to veg for the night. Chloe had a bewitching hour around 8PM where she wanted to play and move around.

She was healthy and her passing was like having the rug pulled out from under us. She was fine over the weekend. The only bad thing that had happened was that she fell down stairs back in November but she seemed ok. She had a nice Christmas. During January we noticed a cough. We called the vet to have her checked and we mentioned the fall but there appeared to be no ill effects from it. However, from that vet visit on a Tuesday, to a second visit on Thursday, to another visit on Saturday and then off to the pet ER that same day, she went from a cough to the tough decision of doing the most humane thing for her.

Her last day, we took her home, and spent the day with her. We took her for a car ride. Gave her whatever she wanted to eat, although the growth surrounding her trachea made it difficult to eat hard food. The tumor in her brain was killing her as well. We held her and loved her and kissed her and in the hour before the end, we took her to the park so she could see the squirrels one last time and then she was gone.

It’s been one two weeks and we are still in shock. We are still adjusting to life without her. We didn’t realize how big of an impact she did have until she was gone. There was no one to remind us to feed Mack. No one to wake us up early in the morning. No Chloe to keep us on schedule. No yips or yaps. No gentle snoring from under my desk when I work. No more cuddling her in bed at night. It took me a week to be able to sleep without her snores. No little doggie sleeping in the living room. It’s so quiet now.

Mack has had to adjust to a life of being without another dog in the house. He’s spent his whole life with Chloe, going from his biological family to Chloe. He used to drag Chloe, bed and all, across the floor just to annoy her or to try to get her to play with him. He used to lay in her pretty floral bed just to annoy her. He won’t go near her bed now. He comes in now and grumbles when it’s meal time. But he doesn’t sleep at my feet and I miss that so much.

The French call pets “l’animal de compagnie.” I think they have it correct. Dogs aren’t pets. They are companions and our dog children.

Don’t forget to hug your ‘animal de compagnie’ today and every day because each day you have them is a blessing in disguise.

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