I have some sad news to report. My best friend passed away yesterday. My fur child. My fur-ever companion. My darling baby girl, Lola. She was very ill for the past few months. At first we thought she had a ruptured disc in her spine and that is why she was slowly losing her ability to walk and function, but in the last week the doctor did some more exams and noticed a cancerous tumor growing on her spine. She noticed it before but it was tiny compared to what it was now and believed it to be nothing. But then it rapidly grew, overtaking her with it. Within days her health declined. She was in so much pain and suffering that I was forced to make the hard decision of putting her to sleep.
I’ve never had to make this choice between life or death for any animal. I’ve only had one other dog before, but he was killed by a hit and run driver, so while still difficult to deal with, it was a faster goodbye. With this I had to see her suffer and slowly wither away. I had to hold her in my arms while she cried in pain feeling helpless that I couldn’t do anything at all to stop it.
I’ve had her since she was a baby. My ex boyfriend and I picked her up from a friend of a friend. She was abandoned by her previous owner so he decided to sell her to someone else. I didn’t even have the money but she was so beautiful and small that it was love at first sight. I scrambled up the money to buy her and took her home.
It was a year after my other dog died so my family wasn’t exactly ready for another pet so soon but I couldn’t help it. I needed a new companion, little did I know she would leave a deep imprint on my heart forever. As soon as I brought her home, everyone else fell in love instantly. That’s how she was. She had this curious charm and beauty about her that made her lovable to just about anyone. Lola. She definitely was loved more than anything.
She was like my child. I spoiled her. I gave her the best of everything, but yet she was also very humble at the same time. Never asking for much other than the occasionally belly rub, dog biscuit, and some time in the sun. That was her favorite – sun bathing. She would sit out there and squint her eyes soaking in the warmth. She seemed so happy and it was almost like you see a grin appear on her face while she was panting.
Over the years, she grew with me. We went on so many adventures together. We moved from place to place and she always adapted so well. She got a long with every human, as well as other dogs. I dressed her up for Halloween. I gave her Christmas presents. I even would make it tradition to spoil her extra on her birthday (May 10). She loved being in the car, especially if she could stick her head out the window and other times when it was just her and I taking an adventure, she would sit in the passenger seat completely at ease; like she was born to be my co-pilot.
She was smart though. It was almost like she had a human spirit in a dog body because sometimes I swear she understood every word I said to her. And I remember the nights when I was struggling with my anxiety or stress, crying in bed, she would come and try to lick my salty tears as if to say, “it’s ok momma, I’m here with you.” She always knew when I wasn’t feeling my best and she was always patient and loving whenever that was. A dog’s love is different than a man’s love. A man’s love is usually conditional, no matter how much they say otherwise, it is never perfect – but a dog’s love, it’s almost as perfect as God’s. A dog will love you unconditionally. They will never judge you, never turn their back on you, never say mean things or only like you if you give them something in return. They never expect, they always give. And they are always happy to see you even if you’ve only left for five minutes. That is real love and real acceptance. That is what she taught me.
She changed my life for good. She brought me so much more than just friendship, but taught me that there are so many beautiful things in life to celebrate if only we stop and look for them. I miss her wet kisses the most. How every time I tried to do yoga she would somehow take it as a cue to run up and lick my face. And I loved how she would “talk”. She had this silly whimper that sounded almost as if she was trying her hardest to speak. It was adorable and I’ve never seen any other dog do anything similar. I’ll miss holding her in my arms. And I’ll miss the way she would cuddle up in my “pocket” as I’d call the small circle your legs make when you lay down. I’ll miss staring at her soft bug eyes. I’ll miss poking at her tongue that slightly stuck out because of her missing teeth.
I’m very sad but I guess this will be even more of a reason to practice self love for myself during this time of grieving. It’s going to take time to feel normal again, but what makes it a little easier is knowing she is not suffering any longer and her spirit is probably surrounding me right now.
I guess this is an informal post and wasn’t really meant to be a self love challenge but maybe the self love challenge for today can be for anyone who is grieving anything or anyone.
The Self Love Challenge: Treat yourself with kindness and compassion as you are grieving your loss. Everything you feel is normal.