Dina. 2001 – 2009.
I lost my best friend and my family’s guardian this weekend and wanted to write about Dina. I’m not a wordsmith so please excuse the random text. I do want to say thank you for providing a place I can do this – there seems to be little acceptance in society for loss of a family pet and its effect on us all. We lost part of our family, I have seen my children & wife morn a friend and cry a river, I can’t shift they empty feeling and the feeling of loss yet few understand how ‘just a dog’ could upset us this much. Dina was not ‘just a dog’ – she was part of our family and we miss her. Her pictures are here. http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pi...6&id=688413103
The day we picked Dina up from the breeder we had no idea of the journey that was in store – no idea that this small bundle of fluff would change our lives forever.
Dina passed away this weekend, she was only 7. She was not her usual energetic self on Saturday morning and decided to take her to see the vet. I should have known it was serious when she walked into the surgery instead of bounding in, bounding on the reception desk and demanding a hug from the nurse (that was always given).
From a pup Dina was extremely energetic – which caught us, inexperienced owners, off guard and without knowledge of how to control this. Several dog training classes later we were still no further on and Dina was leading us a merry dance with all the puppy energy she had. Dina’s temperament was superb; she was confident, friendly, loving and fun - just a ball of energy.
We stumbled across an ex-police dog trainer – Tony - who within minuets of meeting Dina told us we had a very special dog and needed to channel her energy – she was born to work. He advised to look into SARDA (Search and Rescue) work and he helped us begin. Dina approached this challenge as she did everything, whole hearted and with a smile. She was tracking within a couple of weeks and air scent within a month. She had it cracked and exactly as Tony had said, she taught me how to do this.
For the next couple of years we had many adventures and she loved the work side of life but she loved home life more. Our children were 2 & 3 years old when Dina arrived and she walked them through the next 7 years of their lives teaching them how to really play, how to forgive, patience, how to love and how to fall asleep on her as if she was a massive pillow. She listened to all their stories and never judged; she sat through all their tears and understood: She became their guardian and they always came first, we knew the length she would go to protect them and in return they loved her unconditionally and she knew that everyday (although some days I’m sure she would have swapped the noise for a quiet house!)
The vet knew by looking at her something was very wrong on Saturday – he wanted to complete some X-rays so we agreed to sedate her. The process was going to take an hour and he asked me to come back later.
We never saw Dina aggressive or annoyed – she would alert and bark but never aggressive. It was not in her nature to be aggressive. She must have been disappointed at me when I let her down at times but never showed it – if she missed a walk because I was working or being lazy it was not a problem. If the kids did not want to play – there was always tomorrow. If we ignored her for our busy lives she would always be patient and wait for us to come around. She taught us more than we will ever know. She never let me down, ever. She knew I would let her down often; she seemed to understand I’m human and one of my faults.
As I went back into the surgery I knew by the look the nurse gave me things were not good. Dina was well known and loved in the surgery. The vet called me in and slowly put the x-rays up on the light. Her stomach had twisted over night and there was a tumor present. She was in a lot of pain and would not survive 24 hours nor would survive surgery. As he uttered the words ‘it’s best to put her to sleep’ I broke, I slowly walked away from the table and cried like I have not cried in many years. I’m a 38 year old 15 stone guy and I was weakened to my knees. I went through all the stages of grief in record time. I asked a thousand questions – what were options? What are the chances of surgery? How did this happen? Why did this happen? Did he have it wrong? All the answers were there and there really was only one option. We spoke for half an hour and then agreed.
I could never see her suffer – that was never an option and I had to do what was best for her - but while making that decision I felt I had let her down. She trusted me and it was my responsibility to make sure she was safe and now I could do nothing. The emotions that you go through are not to be underestimated and I think it’s important you make the right decisions for you as well at this time. I decided to hold Dina as she died – this is very emotional but now as time has passed I’m glad I did as I know she died peacefully, not in pain and with some comfort of a friend being there. Even then, she taught me something – and gave me strength.
Coming home and telling my wife and the children was incredibly tough but we cried together and then swapped stories about her... The kids love talking about her and cry and laugh as they do. They have printed out 60 odd pictures of her and making a collage and them added photo’s to face book - each photo generates a story – even in parting from us Dina manages to create a family bond. I have been on a rollercoaster of emotions since and questions many things. Today I went back to the Vets and walked through everything again – as I had convinced myself I had made some mistake along the way – things were clearer today and I’m glad I went back to talk to him. I know most people reading this have been through exactly the same situation and for that I’m truly sorry – its something very difficult to deal with.
I really hope that when people lose a loved pet that they are allowed to grieve and not be distracted or embarrassed by the ‘it’s just a dog’ mentality that can be experienced – you’re grieving a friend, a loyal loved friend.
The house is strange and the loss is felt within. Our other dog – Ella - is lost – she does not understand only knows Dina is not here. I have lost animals and dogs before - but never felt a loss like this. I’m trying to work out if it’s because she helped raise our kids or maybe because she was always watching out for us – I can’t explain – but I do know she was special, she was our friend, our family and will be sorely missed but never forgotten. Sleep well Dina.