Family | 3 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Leaving pawprints on our hearts
Our beloved nine-year old Golden retriever Rheya, has passed away this week (October 2009). We sadly said goodbye to her, after Rheya succumbed to the pain of cancer. I am eternally grateful for the nine wonderful years that Rheya gave us, full of excitement and Love, and a wonderful friendship that we’ll never forget.
There is no easy way to deal with losing a furry love. Our lives take on new meaning when we are enveloped by their ever constant love, companionship, and soulfulness.
When I think of the many Goldens’ whose time here with us is not as long as we’d like… I wonder why? It may be that they are able to give all the goodness they have within them, to us, and do it so well that their mission here is over faster than it might be for other dogs. Perhaps, like an evolved soul, they don’t need to live as long to learn what they would here on earth. They already know most of what they need. And they are experts at bestowing their presence on us in a compacted period of time. So often, they are like mentors and can impart the lessons which will teach us many extraordinary things, by the simplest, kindest gesture from them.
I think Goldens unfurl their wings when we are not looking. Have you ever noticed an expression they have, especially when they smile, that gives hint to something wondrous and grand? As if they have the most incredible gift they are hiding behind their back but you can tell they want so very much to show you what it is. Well, when I see that expression I could swear I feel the flutter of their wings in my heart.
In the song “Real Life”, country music artist, Jeff Carson, expresses the pain a child feels when his best friend dies like this…..
“I was young, she was old, we both were the same age…
Every day playing fetch, shaking hands, she’d lick my face.
I wasn’t aware the day would come.
Then she died…
For the first time I knew what real pain was.
I was never the same again.
From that moment on, Real life began.”
As our animal companions are forever dependent on our care, they assume those roles typically assigned to children. And, there is no greater despair than to endure the loss of a child. Research indicates that after experiencing the death of a child, it may take three to five years for one to move on or begin to live their life again.
We believe the same holds true for our furry children. The amount of pain we experience when a loved fur child dies is also a function of the level of the relationship. If you were the person responsible for your dog’s needs, the one that your sweetheart cherished most, the one who was always there, then you will need more time to deal with this loss. All of that time that went into building this unique bond with your dog needs to be worked through. It can happen, but it takes time. The grieving process is an important one, despite society’s demanding pace to move on.
We can never forget or replace the radiant place that our furry loves hold in our hearts. But, we can hold on tight to the memories of how they taught us to live, love & laugh. “Life is not a journey to the grave, with the intention of arriving safely, in one pretty and well-preserved piece, but to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out and shouting ‘WOW…what a ride.’”
That is what life is all about. I don’t want to dwell but look to the future, knowing that our Rheya is having a wonderful life over the bridge, and that we will all meet up again someday and be reunited.
Here is the old poem I posted few years ago, when I lost Dina, “my” first Golden retriever… she was “the light of my life.”
When you were just a pup, and you were new to home and heart, I used to laugh so hard and pick you up and hold you squirming and struggling my arms and whisper to you “I love you this much”.
And I smiled a lot as you grew and decided that squirrels were indeed evil, and that there was no really good reason for cats; that every dog in the neighborhood posed a potential threat and needed to be sent packing.
And I was delighted when you discovered children, and you found they were much like you—they liked to run; they liked to play; and there was an endless quality to the day when they were around.
You and I as adults together developed a deep and abiding respect for one another. Your constant devotion made life’s valleys a little less deep, and there were times when I needed you: to listen, to love and to lick away the tears…and you were always there.
You liked Chinese food, spaghetti and cheese. Lettuce and pickles and heartworm pills were for other dogs. We adventured, you and I. We camped, we fished, we hiked, and we played ball. Oh, did we play ball. And through all those years, you gave so much, and I could only hold you in my arms at the end of each day, and we’d both smile, and I would whisper “I love you this much”.
And now we’ve come to this. I don’t believe I have the strength to say goodbye, but you tell me it’s time. Neither one of us has smiled in a very long time, and the only part of you that doesn’t indicate pain is your stubby little tail. I cried when the doctor told me, and I railed against the Powers That Be, and all the platitudes in the world and all the comforting friends can’t make up for the undeniable fact that you will no longer be with me. And I don’t think I can do this. I envy those with ones who passed so quickly. The shock must numb the grief.
But now, as I have done so many, many times before through so many, many years, I fold you in my arms, lay my head upon your velvet cheek, and whisper, one last time, “Rheya, I love you this much”.
For all who have had to make the decision. ~ Penny Cary 1996
August 29th 2000 ~ October 27th, 2009
Passed away at the age of nine. Rheya had many friends who will miss her and remember her always.
Have a good and healthy season.
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