I’ve written this post several times now but can’t seem to find the right words.
On 17th August 2020 we lost our little dog, Holly.
I’ve been dreading that day for several years now because she was the grand old age of seventeen.
It doesn’t matter how you try to prepare yourself the pain is agonisingly raw.
I promised her I would be strong.
So that is what I will be!
Not many people can experience so many years with a dog and I am hugely thankful for that.
It also comforts me to know that she never experienced pain, never went to bed hungry, shivered from cold, or felt unloved.
There are thousands of dogs who sadly never had that luxury.
2002 – 2020
It would have been easy to overlook Holly because she really was such a good little dog. She saw many dogs come and go, many stayed for a few weeks until they went on to forever homes. Others lived by her side for years.
Holly and Alfie were a totally bonded pair so when we lost him suddenly I didn’t think she would survive. Instead, she showed strength like I couldn’t believe and gave us all the courage to face life without him.
She took absolutely no prisoners in life, if another dog upset her she would let them know. However, she only ever acted in complete fairness and moved on as if nothing happened.
One thing is for sure, I will remember her every time I cook sausages. She knew within minutes if they were in the oven and wouldn’t leave the kitchen until she got her slice.
Mornings won’t be the same without that little body yapping at me to wake up and start the day. I’m not much of a morning person but her enthusiasm was infectious, she was just so happy to wake up and enjoy her day.
It was always a little a joke in our family that I never got to train Holly any useful commands. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, but she was adamant that dog training wasn’t for her. We did have a secret code though, she would catch my eye across the room and stick her little pink tongue out and I did the same back. Then she would wiggle her nose and I found myself doing the same. It took me a long time to realise that she was actually training me!
Considering she was such a small dog she has left a massive void in my life. Somehow home just doesn’t feel like home anymore. I keep wondering where she is all the time. I think for months my mantra has been “Where’s Holly?’. She would potter in the garden happily for hours, the rain and cold didn’t stop her ( unlike her brothers, who refuse to go out if there’s a hint of drizzle!)
She was always happy just to be close to me, usually perched on the sofa just behind my head. Recently I noticed her distancing herself from me physically. It was extremely subtle but didn’t go unnoticed. I think she was preparing me for this time when I have to continue without her, waiting for the time to be right.
This year has been so, so hard. Not just with the fear of a global pandemic but family heartbreak and my own health struggles. Holly stuck with me throughout and now she leaves me, far from alone…but scared and lonely.
Wherever she is now, I hope there are tummy tickles and sausages at the click of a paw!
Cuddle your fur babies tight. Don’t be grumpy when they get under your feet and walk mud on your kitchen floor.
Because, they’re not here forever.
This is a poem I wrote for Holly.
The Empty Chair
Not large in stature but strong and wise
With a curly tail and soulful eyes
A face that always seemed to say
‘Don’t worry, it will be okay’
A silent presence at my side
Guiding me through this bumpy ride
A reason to smile, laugh and cry
Together we watched the world go by
Throughout it all, you were always there
Soothing and guiding from the back of the chair
My mentor, my anchor, my port in a storm
My little protector, gentle and warm
Every pet loss is different and everyone copes differently. We still go through the emotions of deep sadness, guilt, and even anger, just like when we lose close friends and family.
I have lost a dog suddenly, through old age, through illness, I even had a foster dog die in my arms…but they all hurt just the same.
If you are struggling with the loss of a pet, these posts may help a little.
Please feel free to comment below about the wonderful dogs who have sadly passed away.
As a tribute to Holly, I would like this post to be a place to remember and share grief for dogs who have been a massive part of our lives.