The Stubborn Gladness of a New Dog

When the dog that is your everything; the one that carried you through life changes, the one that grew with you, the one that slept heart-to-heart with you amidst loss is gone, you are left with an irreparable hole. There is absolutely nothing braver than opening your home and your life to another dog after losing one that was the oxygen in your air. When to do so is personal; sometimes it takes years. Other times mere days. 17991807_1492945460715849_7858839027791170242_n

For me, I flew across the country to get Felix with a gaping wound in my chest. I had lost Kelso just months prior, and I was still regularly crying myself to sleep, bursting into tears at random throughout the day, and struggling to find the joy in my work or my hobbies. When I unzipped the sherpa bag at my gate in the airport and Felix crawled out, up onto my chest, and snuggled into my neck I knew with certainty that my healing was about to begin. I am not sure how I would have survived that loss without the bright spot, the angel, that is my Felix. He seemed to say, “I know you’re hurting, Kelso sent me to help.” 18010610_1492945397382522_6753965440826532171_n

My sister and I got dogs at the same time a decade and a half ago; hers a lab mix named Yoda and mine my beloved Kelso. She lost Yoda almost three years ago, about a year before I lost Kelso. We have shared in a deep, deep grief for some time. Finally, just a few days ago, she saw a puppy posted on Facebook by a local shelter and something stirred inside her. That puppy is now in her home, taking over her life, and stirring things up, indeed.

Loving a dog is an infinitely vulnerable venture. When we give our hearts over to one of these creatures we agree to losing them. In all likelihood we will experience a devastating grief as the price for this experience. To sign up again, to get a new dog while your heart is still aching from this inevitable loss is the kind of bravery this life must be made of. It’s the fierce refusal to be destroyed by the pain that is the price of the only thing worth living for. 18011160_1492945440715851_164604164378834057_n

So if you’re grieving now, know how many people share in the ancient pain that is losing a dog. If you have a puppy or new dog, know we also recognize how brave it was of you to sign up for this experience, yet again. For me, I’m giddy with joy because my sister has a fuzzy little miracle in her life. I’m proud of her because we share in our stubborn gladness, as poet Jack Gilbert puts it:

We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world.

Welcome to the family, little one. I’m so happy you’re here. 

IMG_3761.JPG.jpeg


4 thoughts on “The Stubborn Gladness of a New Dog

  1. Thank you for expressing everything I have felt, and worry about for the future. I was clinically traumatized after the death of my last dog, and also flew across the country to get my new dog, it was very stressful but I could not face life without a canine companion. I often wonder about the wisdom of this, knowing the loss will come, but they are part of my soul. Thank you for sharing the grief and necessity, it makes me feel that I am not alone in this journey.

  2. Thank you for sharing this. I can only imagine youur grief (having not yet lossed a dog, but with great trepidation knowing the day will come), but know it must be deep and big. What you write about bringing Felix into your life makes a lot of sense and is beautiful. I think he will indeed heal your heart, one face-lick at a time.

Comments are closed.