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One Year Later

by Elizabeth Holland
It’s been a year since my family said goodbye to our dog Holden. I suppose it’s no surprise that we still struggle with strong pangs of grief. I still think of him EVERY SINGLE TIME I open the door when no one is home. My sons well up with tears at least once a week. They are sad about Holden, sad about Hairball, sad about Victor (the monarch butterfly we were caring for that died this week).

Grief certainly is a roller coaster. And life certainly is precious and fleeting. I can’t say I’m unhappy that my children are learning this at a young age because it will serve them well, but it sure hurts to watch.

I suspect our path through grief is different than some because so far we have remained a home without a dog (and what kind of home is that!!???).

For those that read my blog about Holden, you may recall that he was a “challenging” dog. He wasn’t all that loyal... or obedient, but we loved him fiercely.

There is no doubt that I am the one preventing my family from adopting another dog. I know first-hand how much work it takes, and truthfully, I know who in our family will need to put in that hard work. So until I know I have the time, I am holding off. But I miss my dog. I miss his smell. I miss his tail wagging. I miss his unconditional love.

I have had some seriously heart-wrenching goodbyes at the clinic recently. So much that I told my husband just the other night, “I’m not sure I can do this”. Compassion fatigue is a catch-phrase in our industry and though I think it is a complicated issue, I can fully admit I am struggling right now.

The decision to end a life is seriously BRUTAL. As I have said time and time again, it can be a gift, but it is a BRUTAL decision to make. And it's also devastating to watch others face it.

Someone asked me recently if euthanasias affect me differently and of course they do, but they ALL affect me. And today, I’m just sad. Sad for my family that goes without a dog. Sad for the many families I have recently helped say goodbye. Sad for the horrible news of tragic human losses. And sad because I don’t have a stinky, naughty dog to lick my tears.

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