“You honor your pet’s memory by giving your love to another. The first time around was filled with such amazing memories that you wanted to experience it all over again.”
A good friend once told me this and it resonates within me every time I think about the loss of my dog, Angel. She was special. She was a white miniature schnauzer and small, even for that breed at a mere 12 pounds. She was smart, fun, loyal and my first dog. Angel would turn heads and I loved it!
Angel came in to my life by way of an ex-boyfriend. It wasn’t long before I was the primary caregiver for little Angel. She looked to me for food, water, treats, walks, grooming and everything in between. When it was time for us to part, I couldn’t imagine being without Angel. I told him that I wanted to bring her with me, and he didn’t argue. Off we went to begin our new life together.
Angel was not only my pet; she was my child and my best friend. She claimed me as her human and no one ever doubted she was loved. I taught her how to walk on a leash and how to do tricks. Angel was my life.
In early May 2012, on a dismal Friday evening, Angel didn’t want to go outside. She would take a couple of steps and fall on her chest. I panicked. When I tried to pick her up, she would cry. I immediately contacted my veterinarian, who told me to bring her in first thing Saturday morning.
When my veterinarian gave me the diagnosis, I was paralyzed. Bone cancer. It had grown between her shoulder blades on her spine. There was nothing that could be done besides to keep her comfortable as much and as long as possible. My baby was going to die and there was nothing I could do. After 3 weeks and a very abrupt downturn, I had to put her to sleep.
I felt a part of me was amputated and that I would never, ever feel whole again. I sank into a deep depression. I stayed inside my apartment, alone, missing my girl. I didn’t talk to people much - I felt like I had nothing to talk about anymore. I had no reason to go outside. Neighbors would come and check on me, fearing that something had happened to me. Angel was my life and she was gone.
I realized that I could not go on like this. I missed my dog so much that I felt like I had to do something otherwise I may not snap out of my depression. I started looking at the shelters in the area to see what types of dogs were available. I knew what kind of dog I needed because of my living situation and allergies. Everyone told me that I would “know” when the time was right. I held to that belief. Little did I know that my life was about to change forever.
In July, I found him. He was a little 2-year-old Shih Tzu named Panda. He was the perfect age, size and did not shed. I emailed the shelter to determine some specifics. After several emails, I decided to go to the shelter the next day to visit him.
The following day I received an email from the staff member at the shelter with whom I had been corresponding stating that Panda was still there and available. I was very glad and told her that I would be there in the afternoon to see him. She sent me another email about an hour later telling me that she had two other inquiries about him. I thought for sure I would lose him. I resolved not to despair and to have faith that if he was meant to be with me that he would be there when I got off of work. Unbeknownst to me, the lady at the shelter put a hold on him for me.
I could not have been more excited and nervous. Was this the right choice? How could I be sure?
I went to see him and knew he was the dog for me. He was playful, sweet and responsive. I adopted him, because I knew that he needed me and I needed him. He immediately made himself comfortable in my home, in my heart and in my soul. I decided to name him Oreo. The name couldn’t be more perfect.
The next day, I brought him to work to introduce him around, where he made quite the impression. He was the perfect little gentleman, greeting everyone with a smile, a wagging tail and a wiggly butt. Everyone, including me, was amazed at how well-behaved he was and how quickly he had settled in. He followed me everywhere just like I had owned him forever. Fellow coworkers could not believe that I had just adopted him the night before. He was a star!
After the loss of Angel, I never thought I would love another animal the same. I always believed that she was the perfect dog. Oreo has brought the sunshine back to my life, putting a smile back on my face. My coworkers, neighbors and family are elated that I have found love again. Oreo has taught me a very important lesson: Never give up, because love is sweeter the second time around.
This post contributed by guest blogger Jennifer Beierle. Jennifer is the member service center assistant at the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).