Stories of dogs giving their lives for their owners, or traveling hundreds of miles to get home are examples of a bond like no other. In today’s world with modern technology not only do we hear stories, but we see them play out right before our eyes. Recently, I saw an image on the internet that touched my heart of a military dog lying perfectly still beside the coffin of his master during a memorial service.
Five years ago, my husband, Michael, and I rescued a terrier from a shelter in Boone, NC. We were on vacation in Blowing Rock when Michael saw Bandit’s photo in a local newspaper and fell in love with him. As he traveled to his new home, Bandit was understandably nervous, but once settled in began to show his real personality. Bandit loved to play fetch and enjoyed looking for things (mostly bones) that Michael hid around the house or outside. Often following Michael to the shop behind our house, Bandit’s nickname became shop dog. When Michael passed last year, not only did the family grieve but Bandit did, too. I tried filling in the gaps, but it never was the same.
Several months after Michael’s passing I took Bandit in for his yearly check-up at Rowan Animal Clinic in Salisbury, NC. It was then I learned Bandit had a heart murmur, an enlarged heart and fluid on the lungs. After taking the prescribed medicine Bandit seemed like his old self again, playing and acting silly. Everything seemed fine until one Saturday morning a few weeks ago when Bandit woke up not able to breath. He passed away that morning at 11:00.
When I shared the news with my 95-year-old mom, she cried. Mom moved in with me earlier this fall and since then has shared a special bond with Bandit. It wasn’t unusual to see the two of them sitting side-by-side on the couch or see Mom covering him with a blanket. When she talked, Bandit looked right into her eyes. It didn’t matter if he was sleeping, eating or chasing squirrels, when Mom called, he came. I’m glad she experienced that kind of love, if only for a little while.
We all could take a lesson from our pets about loyalty and unconditional love. They don’t care what we look like, how much money we have or if we’re near the end of life, they just love us.
Bandit’s final resting place is under a pin oak tree in the front yard as a reminder of a special friend who loved and was loved. In a short span of only five years, he touched more lives than some people do in decades.
Have you ever had a family pet to pass away? How did you deal with the grief? Leave a comment below, message on Facebook or email email@example.com.
Special thanks to the staff, support staff and management team at the Rowan Animal Clinic for your kindness and concern during our time of grief.