Sitting in Limbo

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By Eric Gillaspy, CPDT-KA

People say that saying goodbye to our pets is the hardest part.  A lot of times they are right. But, sometimes waiting to say goodbye is even worse.  Sometimes, we have to make painful decisions about our pets and sometimes those decisions are thankfully not necessary.

I have had the pleasure of living with my American Pitbull Terriers for almost 13 years now and I have loved every minute of it.  They have been easy to live with. They are both sweet, joyful and adventurous dogs. Allegra and AlleyGator, accepted me into their life when they were 2 and 3 years of age and I love them with all my heart.

But sometimes the waiting to say goodbye is the hardest part.  I have watched both dogs age with grace and only hope that I can do the same.

We lost Allegra a few weeks ago after asking ourselves everyday, “Is this the day we have to say goodbye?”  It seemed like it went on for months and months of asking that same question.  We wished she could tell us but we knew of course she couldn’t.

Gator misses his friend and looked for her for a few days but he seems to have bounced back as much as a 16 year old pitbull can bounce back.  He sleeps a lot and walks very stiff and we still ask ourselves everyday, “Is this the day?”

We have done a few things to help him thru this time that I think have helped.  My wife has taken amazingly loving care of him.  She has his food and medication schedule perfect, down to the minute.  I leave our other dog Lulu, a 6 year old Boxer home to be with him.

We are using an adaptil collar for him to help lower his stress levels and I think that all these things help to make his last few weeks easier for him.  But still, everyday, we ask “Is this the day?”

I have read a lot of articles on the grieving process of humans. Some of them help and some seem to make me even more sad.  The one idea that seems to make the most sense to me is that the grieving over a pet is more difficult because we see them in most stages of life.  We see them as a puppy then a young adult and so on.   This is just one of the differences in our relationships with pets compared to our relationships with humans.  We rarely see our human friends or family in all of their stages of life.  This may be why it seems so much more difficult to lose our pets.

These ideas are certainly a good explanation for our emotions but it doesn’t help when you are asking that question everyday “Is today the day?”

So, I will celebrate every stinky breath kiss, tail wag, snort, snore, sleep-bark,  lean, snuggle and breath while I am siting here, waiting in Limbo.

Check out Adam Clarks article on Psychology Today and learn more about Pet Loss Education & Support.

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