Losing my dog, losing my guilt

January 29th, 2013
My dog, Emmet

Emmet, age 13

One week ago, my 14-year-old dog, Emmet, who’d spent nearly his whole life with me, was euthanized. Since then, I’ve been plagued with regret and guilt over all the many ways in which I deprived him of a happier life. I didn’t take him for enough walks, I got frustrated with him too often, I didn’t recognize soon enough that he was getting tired with age (rather than just being stubborn), and I spent a good chunk of his life resenting the fact that I had a dog at all, especially a terrified, fear-biting dog like Emmet. Every thought, every memory, was of my betrayal of this sweet dog who loved and trusted me completely.

This morning at 2am, I woke up with a sudden thought, “I’m making a choice to think this way. This isn’t the only narrative.” Much like any historical account, you can string events together in vastly differing narratives, putting emphasis on different events, and assigning cause and effect to help support your claims.¬†After I had this thought, I told myself another version of Emmet’s life, and it sounded just as true, if not more true.

Emmet was a dog in need with behavioral challenges that made him unadoptable through common methods. I took him in and gave him the best home I could. I made mistakes, I was sometimes selfish and lazy, but I always, always kept him safe and healthy, no matter what. I loved him more with every passing year, and gave him a better and better life with every passing year. In the end he was a much better and happier dog, I was a better and happier person, and at least in part we owed that to each other.

Now I can think fondly of little Emmet and I can miss him. And it’s no longer unthinkable for me to some day open up my heart and home to another dog in need.

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4 Responses to “Losing my dog, losing my guilt”

  1. Ravenlea Says:

    Ah… I heard myself in these words. It’s so easy to slip into the first view and so wise to adopt the 2nd, which is also the most true view.

    It’s a good message for me as I struggle with Angel and me adjusting to having Chloe around.

    I Love You and I admire you,
    Aunt Kathie

  2. Julie Sauvageau Says:

    Hi Vegan Girl,
    I’m a pet sitter and want you to know that your Emmet loved you unconditionally. He would never had wanted you to have any regrets. He loved you and because he had special needs God put you together for each other. He may never had had what he had with anyone if it wasn’t for you! Shelters are full with unwanted dogs. Thank you for being Emmets mom!

  3. Vegan Woman Says:

    Thank you for sharing. I know what it was like to lose a pet and rest assured he knew you loved him. Take care!

  4. Jeannie Says:

    It isn’t easy to share such an honest view of one’s experiences and struggles. You honor Emmet in this way. If we accept the experiences we have, the good and the bad, every being that comes into our life makes us better for the next being that touches our lives. The lessons that little pooch taught you will come back around again, maybe with another pet or a human counterpart. You loved him, and you didn’t give up on him, Diana. Thank you for loving him and giving him a safe and warm home.
    Warmest thoughts.

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