My dog is gone. Nala died. It happened a week ago and ever since then, I cannot pull myself together. I try so hard to keep moving on, to not think about that gut-wrenching moment of seeing her soul fading away as she took her last breath, but it’s just too damn hard.
I still see her in my dreams. That confused, exhausted look in her pretty little brown eyes looking for reassurance and shelter is a memory that will always be here to haunt me.
We had her for 10 years, however, a half a year ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. So, you know exactly how the story goes. We did everything that we could, she fought hard, we prayed for the best, but life simply wasn’t on her side.
Some of you out there probably think that grieving the loss of my pet is an overreaction. Because, after all, it is “only a pet”. But the people who experienced the inexplicable joy of being unconditionally loved by their dog will understand my pain. Because they know that having a dog has nothing to do with just owning a pet. Dogs are family. Full stop.
So, let’s see. Why are these extraordinary creatures so special to us?
Well, dogs are the only animal that has evolved to be our faithful companion and our beloved friend. They have transformed from grey wolf predators into socially skilled and emotionally attached animals whom we gladly consider a part of the family. The truth is, our bonds with our dogs can sometimes be even more satisfying than the relationships we form with humans. The main reason for it is that dogs compared to humans always provide us with positive, unconditional feedback.
It has also been discovered that dog owners score higher on the scales of wellness because they are much happier than people who own cats or have no pets at all. It’s no doubt that being around dogs triggers the flow of endorphins in our body. For example, there’s nothing else that can brighten my day more than feeding strays and petting them.
But, did you know that they feel the same way about us?
MRI scans have shown that dogs respond to praise more strongly than they respond to food. Moreover, these amazing creatures can recognize our face and understand our emotional state just by perceiving our facial expressions. Although they are just animals, dogs comprehend our intentions and they really try to be helpful to us. Another sign that these intelligent creatures are loyal to the grave is the fact that dogs also tend to avoid or attack people who don’t treat us well.
So, now you see. These precious, pure and loving beings will never be just our pets. That is why it’s no wonder that we miss them so much when they are gone.
But, why does the grieving period after the death of a dog is so intense and gut-wrenchingly painful?
According to some experts, when we lose a dog, we are not losing only our beloved pet. The feeling is intensified because we lose multiple things at the same time. It feels like a part of ourselves is being taken away because, we also lose a primary companion, a creature that has given us nothing but unconditional love, a protégé in which we sought emotional comfort and a ‘life witness’ who has provided us with strength and security for many years.
The death of a dog significantly disrupts our daily routine. To your surprise, sometimes even more profoundly than the loss of people we know.
So, I really hope that now you understand. I have no words to explain how much I miss her… But I know that this won’t stop me from finding another life companion. For life without a dog beside you is a life diminished.