Saying Goodbye to My Sweet Girl Red

Red in her stroller in Spain

Red enjoying the sun in Spain

One week ago today, on May 18, 2018 at just after 11:00am UK time, I said goodbye to my sweet girl Red.

This is not easy for me to write, especially because I never discuss my feelings, but it’s spilling out of me and I can’t stop it.

What inspired me? While there have been some lovely condolences expressed by my incredible Facebook group members, one I saw this morning really hit me and the words started flowing.

Saying Goodbye to my Sweet Girl Red

Her name is Paula Busch (Paula I hope you don’t mind me mentioning you), and even though she has said goodbye to her much loved dog Ramsey she still stays in the group to help. There was something about the way she asked how I was doing that opened the floodgates…so rather than just replying “fine thank you” I realised this post needed to be written, and for people to know the impact Red had on my life and others.

How am I doing? Not well. I’m heartbroken, I hear Red coming down the hallway and pushing against the hallway door to come and see me. I find myself just about to tell my husband to not bang the door because Red is sleeping, and I’m still surprised when I don’t see her bed on the floor next to mine.

I’m having a very hard time checking in with the group at the moment, but I’m forcing myself to offer a bit of advice when I can. You’ve all done such a great job of keeping things going the past week, I’m so grateful, but I also feel responsible for things as well.

I managed to write a couple of articles, but that’s only because they were mostly written and just needed “tweaking” but I’ve lost my enthusiasm for my much loved website.

I’ve lost my muse and feel like a phony both with my website and my group. Yes the years of experience I have caring for senior dogs is with me, but I feel like “who am I” when I don’t share my life with an old dog at the moment. Jack isn’t at the “senior” category yet!

Sightseeing with her dad and brother

In the past when I was living in Florida and lost one of my “oldies” I would go back to the shelter where I volunteered and bring home another one. Although I’m no longer there, sadly there is no shortage of old dogs that need homes, yet I can’t offer mine just yet.

I loved Red more than words can ever express, yet I would be lying and deceiving you by saying it was all a bed of roses and nothing but a love fest. For most of the 9 years we spent together it was, but when I realised she had dementia 2 ½ years ago, that’s when the really challenging and stressful times began. When her dementia progressed and her selegeline was no longer helping like it had been (that was about a year ago), the stress was pretty much constant.

She was blind when I adopted her, obese with a heart murmur, and over the years she developed many health issues but they were all managed thanks to my wonderful vet Lubo. It was the dementia, and more recently the chronic pancreatitis that make things extremely difficult at times.

I had no problem making her the centre of my universe, and having my life revolve around her. I adopt old dogs and with that comes the responsibility, and of course the joy of caring for them…whatever that means.

The financial strain was enormous as well. She was on a lot of medication, and some of it was crazy expensive even buying online.

The worry she might have another seizure, the panic she would need emergency care in the middle of the night with no hospital near me and no car to travel, and the dread when she needed a vet and mine was not working that day absolutely took its toll.

I still feel the same worry and stress, I guess they’re residual!

Snoozing with her foster puppy

I have been able to take the pee pads off the floor and now I walk into my home and I see just carpet…a high price to pay. I admit I’d rather see pee pads than a stain on my carpet, but they were always messy and made me feel disorganised.

I knew the day was coming when I would have to say goodbye, and I was sure it would end up being a quality of life decision because of dementia. The type of decision I’ve only had to make once before and haunted me for months. Did I wait too long? Should I have waited a bit longer? Every day in the last few months I would think about it. Red was never in pain and I always knew as much as she had my heart, I would never allow her to linger because I didn’t want it broken.

I prayed for a bad test result one day, because then I knew my decision would be “easier” to make. There it is, black and white, nothing else to be done and then last Thursday I got that bad test result. I was shocked, devastated and relieved knowing it was pretty much made for me. I could have said goodbye that day but I would have felt like I rushed something, and that kind of decision can tear you up inside and haunt you if you aren’t sure.

When I took her home and she didn’t eat I made the call for the next day. Did she eat later? Of course she did. Did she eat that Friday morning? Of course she did. I brought her to the vet anyway and we had a conversation.

I could have waited a few days but why? I couldn’t reverse the test result, she was still so skinny and barely eating, how would postponing my heartbreak help her?

First place in the dog show

I have devoted the last 9 years of my life to caring for and loving her. Did she stop me from taking vacations? Not when my pet sitter was around. Did we take lots of day trips together? Absolutely. Was she a very well traveled dog? You bet. She came from Florida, flew for a couple of short visits with me to Toronto, and made quite a few trips between our places in Florida and England. Did she bring me incredible joy? No question about it, and now I am paying for it with incredible sadness.

It is because of her I started my website, and because of my experiences with her and those who came before her, I created my group as a way to help others who may not have the support and access to information they need.

In the aftermath

I’m lost. I always thought when I didn’t have Red to care for, all the extra hours would be spent writing even more articles and helping even more. Sadly I now have all those extra hours, but I struggle to have the strength to fill them. I wander aimlessly, turn the tv on during the day (something I never, ever, ever do until the evening) and get through the day.

I’m hurt. I understand it’s probably a generational thing, public displays of emotion, every thought bared on social media, and condolences offered. Okay but don’t I deserve more from a family member who did nothing more than respond to my notice with a sad emoji?

enjoying a walk in the park

My 2 “friends” who like to tell me how important I am and that we’re like the 3 musketeers have disgusted me. One of them replied to that same notice on FB with a “so sorry babe you were a great mum” but how about a private message? She knows I turn inwards in grief, but how about a text to tell me she’s thinking of me or here for me? She’s my neighbour so I see her around, and she knows I don’t want to talk about but how about some flowers?

When she had surgery or broke her nose in a fall recently, how many times did I check on her?

My other “friend” was away for 10 days, but news travels fast where I live so I assume she knows, certainly the first friend I mentioned would have told her. Let’s say she didn’t know – she’s been home 4 days and no text to say hello. If she did know it’s even more upsetting. When her mother died did I not express my condolences to her right away? When she had surgery recently was I not checking on her every day, asking her husband how she was doing? Did I not prepare a basket for her so she wouldn’t be bored during the day?

I have been called self-absorbed and I agree to a certain extent that is true. I’m not always the most thoughtful person, but I certainly have been to them.

Nothing can excuse what they’ve done, or haven’t done, and although I may be friendly when I see them, our coffee mornings and get togethers are over since I can never ever see them in the same light. As comfortable as a topic this is for all of us, there is no excuse for not even sending a simple “so sorry thinking of you” text.

Snoozing with her foster puppy

My plan

I’m slowly starting to get back to my website and my writing, and I will do my best to spend more time in the group.

Today has been a really bad day, I’ve been crying most of the morning, even during my acupuncture session!! It’s expected of course, but Red’s ashes will be back with me soon enough and I will take hers and Saffy’s and put them in a memorial urn necklace I have, to carry them with me always.

I will adopt another senior dog, quite possibly from Serbia. My husband and I would like to go away January and February (if we can figure out what to do with Jack) so ideally it wouldn’t be until March. Having said that there’s no way I can wait that long to care for someone else that needs me. We’re going away in 2 weeks for a few days and perhaps I’ll foster some kittens that need to be bottle fed.

I wasn’t blessed with this level of compassion and not always have an outlet in which to express it.

I have no idea if this made sense or not but I wanted this to be straight from the heart as the words flowed.

 

I love you Red more than words can ever express. My heart is broken, I know in time it will mend, but I will never forget you and the joy you brought to my life, and by extension the good you did in this world.

Saying Goodbye to My Sweet Girl Red

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40 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to My Sweet Girl Red

  1. I’m so, so sorry about Red! She looks and sounds like she was an amazing friend. I so dread the day when I have to write a similar post on my blog. I know when my dogs pass it’s going to shatter my heart into a million pieces and I’m not quite sure how I’ll find the strength to deal with it. It makes me tear up now just thinking about it, and both my dogs are currently healthy at my feet. There are just no words. I’m sorry you were disappointed by your friends at such a difficult time. I think some people don’t really know how to react when it comes to death. Especially when it involves a beloved pet – not everyone understands just how profound their loss can be. Hopefully your friends are not uncaring, but perhaps just don’t know what to do/say to best help you. I’m sorry again – I hope your happy memories of Red bring you a lifetime of smiles. It sounds like you gave her an amazing life.

    1. Hi Michelle, thanks very much for your condolences. Yes Red was amazing and I loved her like crazy!! I have been extremely disappointed by so many people this week, I’m very hurt by all of it. The friends I spoke of are definitely not uncaring, and while I understand it’s a tough topic no one knows how to handle, I’m afraid I’m unforgiving in this case because it isn’t about them. When I offer condolences I always add words to the effect of “I don’t know what to say.” Too uncomfortable, send a text. Sadly I can’t forget the lack of compassion, but the kindness shown by fellow bloggers and members of my FB group have been incredibly heartwarming.

  2. Hi Hindy – not a problem mentioning my name! I certainly hope it was helpful to write this article, it had ME in tears for sure! I know when I’ve lost a dog, the dog groups I belong to understand much better than my own family and friends. When I lost my parents I found there were people who felt comfortable talking to me about it and others who would avoid me – which I understood – because they just didn’t know what to say to me. Everybody grieves in their own way and time. Love the photos of Red! Take care…..

    1. Thanks Paula and like I said, your kind words asking after me inspired this post. I don’t share my feelings with anyone, and I can never excuse those who haven’t expressed any kind of interest or even a quick text to see how I’m doing. As uncomfortable a subject as it is, they’re adults and it’s about me not them. I know I sound harsh but it’s something I feel strongly about.

  3. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. It sucks that you’re not getting support from your friends. Mr. N had a health issue recently and I struggled with that same lack of support. And you still have a lot of knowledge to share even if you don’t have a senior dog anymore!

    1. I’m sorry you’ve experienced a similar story, perhaps you’re more forgiving then I am but my feelings for them have changed and I can’t see them ever being what they were. It’s true the knowledge is still there, I just hope I get the passion back!

  4. My heart goes out to you. Again my condolences on your loss of sweet Red. I definitely can relate to everything you’ve expressed. From getting used to an “empty”house and dealing with a new morning routine, it’s an adjustment for sure. To add it’s really disappointing when friends don’t respond or offer support the way you hoped. That’s a hard lesson I found out…some people are just oblivious to the fact that pets ARE our family and the pain is indescribable. Being that your loss is so fresh give yourself time to go through all this emotions. It’s a roller coaster. Try to take one day at a time. I really commend you for even having the strength to update your posts. I was a mess when my Dusty passed. From one pet parent to another >hugs< Sending you only positive vibes and prayers for comfort during this time. I'm sure Red is still close by… I think that's why our heartache is everpresent..the love remains.💕

    1. Thanks for your hugs and prayers Kamira, they mean a lot. I still have my other dog Jack but it’s getting used to all the extra hours in a day, and remembering to feed him his afternoon meal!!

  5. Oh man, this hit me right in the heart. I originally started my blog when our Ginger girl was diagnosed with cancer, and it was brutal to keep on in the beginning stages of working on it after we lost her in June. It’s coming up on the one year mark and I still feel her brush up against my leg. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. Hugs.

    1. Thank you Natasha, and it’s nice to know you understand. I’m very sorry about Ginger and can imagine how tough it was to force yourself to sit in front of your laptop, never mind being able to put words together. I can so relate when you talk about feeling her brush up against your leg. I had a dog named Bailey who looked so adorable as he walked down the hall, and after he died I swear I saw him walking down that same hallway for quite some time.

  6. Oh wow, what a brave move to write and publish this article <3 I do feel for you from afar <3 Being a caregiver can be such a strain, and then the pain of loss on top appears to be such a cruel combination 🙁 If those around you can't relate, do keep turning to "strangers" who can relate, that's the good part about our social media world, that we can connect regardless of distances <3 all the best for you <3

    1. I am not one to share emotions, but I couldn’t keep the words in!! Most people around me can’t relate to me at all, so it’s nice when I can find it even if it’s in the ether!!

  7. It took me four years to regain my equilibrium after Dash was killed. Even now any cat in distress reduces me to tears and I am determined to help cats like abused Tuna and friend Kathi take her friend’s cats to their new home. YOU will continue to advise and help senior dogs. WHY? Because of your immense and deep experience and your love for Red. I am fighting back tears as I write because I know how much Red meant to you.

    1. Of course you’re right Marjorie. Just like a huge purpose for you is caring for cats and ensuring they live happy lives, mine is to not only rescue senior dogs but to help those living with them. We’re placed to have such compassion for other creatures and I know I’m proud of that.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. This breaks my heart. I wish your friends had responded better and been more supportive. Grief can look different and you do not have to act in any certain way when it hits you. My dogs are my heart and soul, so I know how big of a hole Red has left in your heart. I’ve no doubt you can find that level of love again but it takes time to heal.

    1. Thank you Amy. Yes it would have been nice if friends and acquaintances alike had bothered to express condolences, but I’m finally over the rage and disgust I have felt. I will welcome another senior dog into my life when the time is right…or they find me, whichever comes first!

  9. My heart is breaking for you Hindy. I know how much Red meant to you, how important she was in your life. Please give yourself time to grieve and heal, don’t place pressure on yourself to write or to carry the weight of the Sr. dog group. You deserve this time to heal, and take care of yourself for awhile, and I think you need it. Most of us have carried the pain of this kind of loss so we know and understand how hard it is. Try to focus on the incredible life, love & caring you gave Red and how blessed you were to have the time together. We all feel the worry or guilt about not knowing if we waited too long or didn’t wait long enough. I’m sorry your friends didn’t respond in the way you hoped they would, it’s so common, they just don’t fully understand or know what to say sometimes. Sending you love and thoughts for healing & strength.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    1. Thanks for your kind words Cathy, they mean a lot to me. I’m lucky in Red’s case I’m not left with that “did I wait too long, could I have waited longer.” I’ve dealt with that before, and I was scared it would happen with Red. A bad test result told me everything I need to know. She had such an impact on my life, and I’m now starting to understand just how big that impact was.

  10. I so know how you feel. After Jasmine’s passing, I was devastated. So many things one used to do suddenly don’t need to get done just to remind you of the loss. You reach to do something …

    What really helped me was connecting with Jasmine through an animal communicator.

    1. Thanks Jana. I’ve been doing a lot of gardening the past few days! I guess I feel I need to bring life to where there was death. Do you happen to remember which animal communicator you used?

  11. I don’t know really what to say to help you feel better. You’ve been here before and you know we all take our own time to heal from the loss of our fur child. It’s really hard when our friends and family members don’t understand how important they are to us. My mother recently told me that she now understood how I loved my cats so much because she now has her first pet ever. My thoughts are with you as you grieve over the loss of Red. You will find your voice again in your own time. You have helped so many.

  12. I don’t have the words to help you feel better. You know you must take your own time to grieve the loss of your sweet Red. It’s really hard when our family and friends don’t understand our grief. I am so sorry you’re too close friends don’t understand. A couple of my really close friends didn’t really understand my grief when I lost my previous cat either. I don’t even think my family understood. My thoughts are with you.

    1. I’m feeling much better than I was when I wrote that article. For me it was never about anyone understanding the pain I was feeling, it was about those who never even bothered saying “I’m sorry” or the friends who haven’t bothered to send a text saying they haven’t heard from me, or miss me, and hope I’m okay.

  13. Many condolences! I’ve not yet gone through what you are experiencing right now and I dread that time. I’m sorry my words fail right now, but know my sentiment is true. Sending healing vibes…

  14. Oh hon …. give yourself the time you need to grieve. Permission to do what you need to do. I will be insanely grateful to know someone with your expertise and knowledge when the day comes and my little one (turning 8 in June) reaches a senior status …So know this… we love you. We understand. It’s OK to not be yourself. We also have faith that you will get back into the proverbial saddle at one point. Hugs.

  15. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through. The one thing I’ve learned about the “pet community” it is a great support system when going through such a loss.

    1. Thank you for your condolences. I’ve been saying all along, the support and kindness I’ve gotten from strangers has been so heartwarming, and in stark contrast to people I know who haven’t even said “I’m sorry.”

  16. It is incredibly hard to lose a loved one. You gave Red a beautiful and loving life, and that’s the best thing anyone can do. Second guessing is normal, but you did what you thought was best and acted out of love. Grieving is hard under any circumstances, but sometimes people just don’t get what it means to lose a heart dog. I’m sorry that your real life friends let you down, but please know that so many of us understand what you are going through. Sending you love and healing thoughts!

    1. Red had an amazing 9 years with me, and as far as I’m concerned the day I adopted her is the day her life began. I’m “happy” my decision was based on a very poor test result rather than quality of life, so there is no second guessing. When she developed dementia my greatest fear was that it would come down to quality of life, and having made that decision only once before, I knew it would be horrendous. To be honest I wished for a test result that would make the decision clear because I tormented myself for months with Josephine – did I wait too long, should I have waited longer. I’m so grateful I am at peace about my decision to let Red rest. Thanks for your healing thoughts Beth.

  17. I gravitate towards the seniors and special dogs, too, and lost three last year, so this post spoke to me. As did what you wrote about the two “friends”. This is what makes dogs (and cats) such incredible beings. I hate to say it, but I don’t feel the love from family & friends that I do from my dogs. Thank goodness for them, for their love emanates freely. Take care of yourself and know Red’s spirit is with you always.

    1. I love hearing you gravitate towards the same dogs I do Lisa, and I’m so sorry for such a great loss in a short period of time. I know what you mean about feeling the love from our dogs and cats more, and I think the compassion we have for them is something to be proud of. I got Red’s ashes yesterday so I’m happy she’s back home with me.

  18. Oh, Hindy…I am working through tears here as my heart breaks for you and your loss. I so understand the emotions and my heart just aches for your trying to create a new normal without your beloved Red. It has been a little over two years since I lost my dear Gibson. Even with his years of epilepsy and meds and tests and therapies…I’d love to see his big water bed here taking up all the room in my kitchen nook floor and the other in my bedroom. They may have been eyesores to others, but I miss them, because they were an extension of him. Just as the pee pads are for you and Red. I wish I could say it gets easier. It doesn’t. We just adjust our lives around the void they filled. You are an amazing doggy mom – you are not a phony. All your expertise and love and care you gave helps others. Sending you huge hugs. <3

    1. Thanks Dorothy. Gibson was not only so lucky to have you, but he inspired you to do such great things to help others, in his memory. I have to admit I don’t miss the pee pads!! I will of course welcome another senior dog into my home…just not yet. I thought I would get some much writing done now that I have all these extra hours, but I’m finding it hard to focus. I’m also finding it hard to remember to feed Jack his second meal!! Don’t worry he gets it eventually but it was always tied to Red’s schedule so it’s getting used to just him now.

  19. I’m writing this through tears Hindy and there are so many moving lines to this story but the one for me was the impact Red on your life and others. Everything you have done for her and senior dogs is just remarkable. What a legacy to leave behind. My heart is aching for you, as many people here have said you are an amazing dog mum and the help you give to others is immeasurable. I know that won’t stop the pain. Sending lots of love. xx

    1. Thank you Rachel, your words are so kind. Red absolutely had a huge impact on my life, and only after I said goodbye did I realise what I great legacy she left behind.

  20. This is exactly what I’m going through. My “friends” disgusted me when my husband died two years ago. I gave up on humans then. My Jack, who is 18, was the only being that truly knew how or when to comfort me. He too lost josh. He was with josh for 15 years. I was only with him for 3.
    Jack now has dementia. He’s got arthritis kidney failure liver failure and pancreatitis. He’s shutting down. He wants to go I think. He wants to be with josh. I know it’s selfish of me to keep him here just for me. But how can I be the decision maker of life or death. How will I ever tolerate being alive without either them? Life without josh has been unbearable. But life without josh and jack, it’s unlivable. I am dead inside already. I’m only 32. I can’t live this way. I’m so lost and broken.

    1. Lindsey I’m so sorry to hear what you’re going through. My best advice is to join my FB group, Senior Dog Care Club. It is an amazing community of senior dog parents, who will be there for you. We share incredible tips, offer advice when we can, open to all questions and most importantly, we are there for each other and support each other…often when there is no one else. I hope you will join and find the comfort you seek.

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