Note: Thank you to Kathleen Chamberlin, author of “Marcy Mary: The Memoirs of a Dachshund-American Princess, The Early Years” for sharing her thoughts on losing a pet. Her book is about the adventures of a dachshund puppy adopted by a suburban family. You can learn more about Kathleen and her book at http://marcymary.com.
The loss of a loved one is traumatic, a time when many of us call upon our faith. Pets are loved ones and I’m convinced that faith is meant to sustain us when a pet dies.
I was reminded of the depth of a pet’s loss as I watched a “fifty something” woman with huge tears glistening in her eyes. She was telling me about her childhood dog, Petey. This faithful collie walked her to school every morning and was waiting to walk her home when the school day was over.
Although Petey, who had become Old Pete, died many years ago, his loss was still keenly felt in the heart of a schoolgirl who was now a mature woman.
Recently, my husband and I were walking our two dachshunds, Noodle and Archie, through the neighborhood. A woman was walking toward us. When she spotted the dogs, she put her hands to her mouth and uttered a heartfelt “oooh.”
Within seconds she was greeting the dogs, petting them and silently crying. We were soon joined by her husband who could not keep his hands off Noodle, an auburn mini with a gray muzzle. Noodle was lavishing this stranger with many wet kisses. They told us that Tootsie, their auburn mini had died just a few weeks before.
They took out a cell phone and showed us a picture of Tootsie. She did indeed bear an uncanny resemblance to Noodle.
Was this a chance meeting? Perhaps. I will say this: these people were visitors in the neighborhood who just happened to be outside when we were walking the dogs.
Last year, a dear friend from across the country was visiting us when his cherished cat died. We supported him with listening, love and prayer, but the visit was touched by the deep pain of his loss. As he spoke of Sprocket, it was clear that the bond he had with his feline companion was very strong.
A few months later, I received an e-mail from this friend. He and his wife heard Sprocket walk across the hardwood floors. At times, my friend said he sensed Sprocket’s presence.
I didn’t think much about this at the time, thinking it under “maybe.” But then I had a similar personal experience.
My husband is a pragmatist, very down to earth, and not given to unusual experiences. But we were sitting on our sofa, with Archie and Noodle snoozing contentedly between us, when we heard the sound of a dachshund flapping its ears — a very distinctive sound.
My husband went to investigate. No one was in the house and no one was outside. Was it our beloved Loopy-doxie, who had left us not long before? Does the special bond between us and pets that have passed sometimes breach time and space? I simply don’t know.
As the stories above illustrate, the loss of a pet is particularly poignant. Those of us who believe in a hereafter may wonder if our pets will join us there. We envision a place of happiness, fulfillment and joy that a benevolent Creator has prepared for us. Here we will rejoin loved ones.
I am certain that a Creator, who cares enough about us to prepare this wonderful place, will also reunite us with our cherished pets. This belief helps me tremendously when memories intrude and I need to hold Tigger the cat or Loopy the dog — our dearly departed — just one more time.
Kathleen is pictured with her dachshund Trixie-Noodle.