Something’s Missing

20 comments

I miss the clickety-clicking of paws on the hardwood floor when I walk in the door. I miss seeing the sad eyes begging for pizza crusts on pizza night. I miss my canine Hoovers–Now I have to vacuum crumbs off the floor for myself. There’s too much room in our bed at night without those guys hogging all the space. There’s no one there for belly rubs. (Trust me, the cat’s an asshole about that.) Something is missing in our house.

Rub ma belly!
Rub ma belly!

When you spend 12 years sharing your home-your life-with two giant dogs, something is missing when they are gone. It’s not just the sadness that surprises you. After all, they were just dogs. But that’s not exactly true, is it? My dogs taught me about kindness and the gentleness of a soul. When my husband brought home Maggie, an 85-pound pit bull mix, from the animal shelter, she opened our eyes to the pain, suffering and loneliness that many animals in the world experience. We looked into her eyes and wondered how a human being could let themselves be responsible for such suffering. She is the reason that my husband and I started our journey to become vegans.

Maggie was our first; a loving, free spirit of a dog. She was gentle with everyone even though she was big enough to knock most people over. The first night we had her in our home, I was afraid of her. I was raised with small dogs and didn’t quite know what to do with this giant beast. I made my husband keep her on a leash that whole first night because I was afraid she was going to…what, I don’t really know. After about ten minutes on that leash, that ferocious beast was curled up on my husband’s chest and they were both fast asleep. Lesson learned, Maggie.

You've never been kissed until you've been kissed by a pit bull. Just sayin'.
You’ve never been kissed until you’ve been kissed by a pit bull. Just sayin’.

A year later, we thought Maggie would like a friend, so we found Remy, another pit bull mix. He was a smaller, fuzzier version of Maggie. He was a stray, found roaming the streets of New York City. A real tough guy, he looked like he was always ready for a fight. But in reality, he was a marshmallow. His favorite pastime was sleeping. I mean, he slept 23 out of the 24 hours. A real professional.

When we brought Zoey home from the hospital the first time, we worried how the dogs would react to this little squeaking stranger intruding on their lives. It was love at first sight. One sniff of her in her car seat was all it took for both dogs to become her guardians and playmates. And as she grew, she became their food source. When Zoey was about three, she couldn’t figure out why Maggie kept chasing her around the house. And Maggie couldn’t figure out why the little squeaker kept running away with HER bagel.

Don't mess with my baby!
Don’t mess with my baby!
sandwich
“I smell bagel. Did you just eat a bagel without me?”

 Maggie left us first in the winter of 2012 and Remy followed her about a year later. We all felt the devastation of those losses. We still do. When will I stop expecting to be greeted at the door by Remy, holding one of my sneakers in his mouth? There is definitely something missing in our house. There is a sense of quiet that was never there before. I didn’t realize how much I talked to them until they weren’t there to listen.

How do you fill that hole? How do you comfort your child who still, after a year, cries that she misses her dog, when you feel the sadness still too? I never thought I would miss a dog this much. I always thought that when one pet left, another would be there to take its place. But it’s not that simple. I see that now. So for now, I’m going to let that hole stay empty.

goobers(3)

 

20 comments on “Something’s Missing”

  1. Believe it or not, there are two spots for Remy & Maggie in my heart too! Always believed they were kindred spirits of my girl India; don’t think we ever really do get over losing them, but somehow, someday another little space is born, just enough room for a new friend:) so love seeing those pictures…xoxoxo Tra

  2. I love this Kriste and I can totally relate. Our house is so empty right now and I can’t imagine ever trying to fill the emptiness with another dog. Cute pics!

  3. I lost my beloved springer/lab mix when I was a freshman in college. She was such a special dog. So intuative. She really did care and she knew just when you needed a friend. I got her for my 11th birthday after begging my parents for a few years to have a dog. I named her Milkshake and I loved her with all of my heart. Even though I am in my thirties and now have a very lazy/adorable beagle, I still miss her. I think about her every now and again. Like people, dogs fill a little space in our hearts that also needs time to heal when they leave us. The healing will help to mend the wound but the scar will forever be there and just like any great story/adventure most do leave a scar so you will always remember. In time your family will be ready for a new adventure but until then try to remember all the happiness they brought to your lives. They were lucky to have such a wonderful family.

  4. Aww, man. This left me teary. I definitely understand the hole a dog leaves when they leave your family. A big hug to you for giving these guys a chance … And a home full of love, comfort, snacks, and cuddles. You get lots of good karma for that.

    1. Thanks Tara. I often say that if I reincarnate, I want to come back as a dog that lived in our house! They certainly had the life.

  5. Wow, how tough. I’m sorry. The depths to which we can and do grieve can often take us by surprise. So glad you’re letting the hole stay empty for a spell. Thinking of you all.

  6. I have been through this so many times and it hurts so much. I vow never to get another dog but then I do. Right now we have 2, down from 3, because I’m not ready yet to fill the void Simon left in July 2012. When you are ready for another dog, you will know. Or Zoey will let you know!

    1. I’m not sure if I can fill that hole. I thought I would want to but I don’t know. I’m happy for you that you can keep your home and heart open to your guys. Lovely! Maybe you’re right and we need to let Zoey tell us when she’s ready. Thanks Randi.

  7. Only a dog lover would understand this. This is beautiful and you showed what a beautiful spirit your dogs had. It left me in a puddle of tears.

    1. Aw, only a true dog lover would be left in tears from that. I’m sure you can imagine that it only scratched the surface of their spirit! Thanks Jenn!

  8. Oh this hurt my heart. Those photos are wonderful. I’m not sure how to fill the hole but it’s wonderful you have such great memories with your dogs. Hugs Kriste. xo

    1. Thanks Michelle. I’ve been trying to write this piece for a while now. Just recently we started decorating our house and putting up some photos of the pair. It’s dredging up some stuff for me.

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