“I want a dog or a baby”

I remember saying that to my parents when I was 8 years old and then hounding them about it until they finally surprised me when I was 10 with “Chips” a long haired Jack Russell Terrier and I have been in love with them ever since

“Right” said Dad “ You have to look after him OK?? Feed him, pick up his poo, walk him OK?? “He is your responsibility” They had relented because they thought that getting a dog would teach me how to be responsible, and what better way than caring for another they said. That and it also stopped me asking for a sister!

Many years and a few dogs later Mr Grub came into our lives and what a dog! Another JRT of course.

I had always referred to Grubby as my furry boy child because he was born on my husband Mark’s hand and I cut the cord!

But looking back, it was more like Mr Grub was some sort of loving mini teacher. He was the best at calming me down and was the only company at the 2 am baby feeding shifts. Not to mention rushing from where ever he was to “comfort” me if I cried out in pain when stubbing a toe.

When the kids were little he even taught them how to treat him with a little growl, or a small nip, a sharp and bloodless reminder if they were getting too crazy with the ear pulling and hugging, and they soon learnt………..

Is this the purpose of a dog? I mean they are not here for a long time are they? They breeze in and they breeze out of our lives leaving a lot of love and unbearable pain in their wake when they are gone. But, you have to get over them, and quick it seems because after all it is “just a dog” right?

A dogs lesson on grief

Grief, it’s that deep ache that you get every now and then, like the wind has knocked the breath out of you delivering a swift blow to your solar plexus. Or you find yourself holding your breath, knowing that once you have let it out the lovely memory goes too, and you are left with a painful emptiness, and you want to fill that up quick because you just don’t want to feel that pain of loss.

But you have to breathe eventually right?…For now.

I had been lucky in a way as I managed to get to 50 years old without any major loss of life in my immediate close circle. By that I don’t mean I hadn’t known the touch of death, I have had grandparents die and other people that I had known. But no one that was in my life every day. Until Mark’s dad died, then Mr Grub and then Justin my first boyfriend. BAM pretty much all within 18 months.

Justin’s role in my life was by this stage only a memory of my youth with a few loose ends and was neatly tucked away somewhere in the importance of my life story. But his wonderful treatment of me made me expect that of every boyfriend there after.

Mark’s dad, was a dear man who championed his grandson, who adored his granddaughter, who saw me as his daughter and made me feel special. He also told the worst cheesy dad jokes ever and we laughed anyway, because we loved him and his laugh made us laugh.

And then Mr Grub, “my heart” did I tell you that? He was my heart.  I used to go around telling people, “You wanna know what my heart looks like?” “there” and I would point to Mr Grub who would rush over and give me a kiss or 50! He was loving like that. He would kiss me after Double U’s (Shhhh don’t say the Walkies word) clever bugger worked out that the letter W pronounced “Whuh” meant his favourite thing in the whole world (apart from me of course) “Do you wanna go WHUH???” ……….and then after his much loved walk, would thank Mark and I with kisses, he was loving like that, did I tell you that already? I could tell you lots about Mr Grub I could talk about him forever……………

I now know that Grubby’s major life role was to teach me how to keep living with joy after the world as I knew it had crumbled. He had been going about his days preparing me for the inevitable, expected but not ever thought of eventual truth about life. That we are all going to die so you had better live with joy while you can.

I don’t think Grubby believed in life after death, no he definitely didn’t, he only believed in living his life to the full! So off we went the two of us head long into the fun and joy of life together for 18 years and dragging everyone one close by with us!

But now he is gone and I still have lots of life left I hope. So how do I cope without my “teacher on the joy of life”?

All this recent loss seems too much to bear really, and not just the death of my close loved ones but also the death of my youth and the death of the simple world we lived in, as it has become so complicated with all the wars and weather changes, not too mention the reality that I have only got a few years left to live, phew! maybe 30ish if I am lucky and I want to live it happy!

Mourning your Grief

Coping with the death of Grubby’s is teaching me………….How to cope with great loss of EVERYTHING yet to come, my youth, the decline of my physical self, the loss of friends who have drifted a way and made me feel unimportant, the loss of my babies now they are growing into adults, and it will teach me how to cope with the loss of my parents and whoever is next………….I wonder how I can find joy in the next half of my life knowing all this loss is possibly ahead of me?…………and then I realise that Grub is helping me just like he did when he was alive, quietly teaching me that I can still feel joy through the sadness even though he has gone, still plan for the future even though he is not in it. I am learning that this little ache that I carry around with me may have to stay, I wish it didn’t but I realise it is never going to go away. It is like a scar, a little bit of ugly amongst the beauty.

Yes, the loss of him is the little bit of ugly amongst the beauty of my life, no doubt more beauty will be added and the scar will stay and will get added to as well because I am getting older and loss is now expected.

Now that he has gone it occurred to me Grubby had been teaching me how to cope with life, ALL his life, like that was his purpose!

I may only have 30 more summer holidays, and maybe only 10,000 paintings to paint if I do it every day! So I had better stop chatting and get on to it!

Thanks for reading and I would love to hear all about what your dog has taught you so please leave a message.

Christine Butler from Scribbledogs.com