Heartbreak looks like
A wagging tail stilled
Old bones creaking slower
Stinky leavings across the floor
A childhood home without its bark
Heartbreak feels like
With the soft, smooth echoings
Of a beloved friend’s
Heartbreak tastes like
Little brown hamburger treats
Given away to a puppy
That chomps happily in ignorance
Heartbreak smells like
A comforting, pungent, indescribable scent
Washed away from the carpets
And tossed out with the matted bed
Heartbreak sounds like
A 4-year-old’s delighted laughter
A 13-year-old’s shrill whistles
A 17-year-old’s deep sobs
And a 21-year-old’s teary recollections of
The dog with the
I know it may seem silly to some to be deeply grieving a pet’s passing, but as a 21-year-old with a 17-year-old dog, I don’t consciously remember a time without Gracey. My childhood home has always been a place Gracey just ‘is,’ which made it one of my favorite parts of returning home throughout college. She has been a constant, loving presence to go home to, especially throughout the numerous lows in life.
It was not at all easy to swallow the fact that she would be put down. I always knew the day of her passing would come, but I never imagined it would be for anything but a natural reason. Past images of her entering the vet’s office shaking in fear came back to me when I heard the news, and while I knew she wouldn’t be aware of the scenario, that certainly broke my heart.
Anyone who knows me a decent amount knew how much I loved my puppy (who I later called a dingo, and then a thestral shortly before her passing, as she lost weight). I made an album for her on my phone, and in the past 2 years alone, I took over 60 pictures and videos of her (which is saying something considering I’m gone the majority of the year). Although corny, we were great friends and companions, and my favorite part of our companionship was when I’d sing at the top of my voice and she’d look at me with one ear pulled back like ‘I’m judging you so hard right now.’
Although she didn’t see all of it, Gracey sure saw most of my life. She was my buddy sophomore year of high school when I didn’t have any close friends. I crawled around on the floor in excessive amounts of dog hair just to play ball and rub her belly. I’d chase her around outside and never catch up to her, because I was out of shape and she was part-Greyhound. She always howled at the ambulances, too, like she was praying for people.
Gracey—you’re welcome. I spoiled you. I let you on my bed countless times, I fed you billions of treats, and I always got you excited about your Christmas stocking.
Some more of my favorite moments:
⁃ When I’d lie down and cry, she’d nuzzle her head in my face
⁃ We played hide and seek
⁃ We played hide and seek with her treats
⁃ Snuggle times and reading aloud to her (she loved Harry Potter, I’m convinced)
⁃ Dancing—holding onto her front paws and letting her walk on her hind legs
Lasts are sad, and potentially moreso when you’re aware that they are lasts… Over the past few days I had my last return home with my furry pal hanging around, my last walk with her, a final treat and human food spoiling, a last kiss, and the last pets of a furry texture well-known to calm my anxiety.
It’s really heartbreaking for me. It’s a long-lasting companion. It’s my favorite smell. It’s my most eager greeter after a long semester. It’s symbolically the majority of my life, all taken away at the same time.
Every time you let a person or an animal into your life you’re guaranteed heartbreak. Maybe they end your relationship, maybe they move away, many of them die… but we attach so much of ourselves to every living thing we encounter. That’s scary. But it’s definitely a good thing, not to be closed off. We were given each other, brother or dog, for a reason. We help each other through the shattered waiting room for as long as we can until it’s our time to pass on. And then we get to cheer on the others.
It’s okay to grieve and be sad about the loss of a pet. I know firsthand that I can attach just as much meaning to a dog as to a person.
And when you do so, it is such a blessing. It means you’re not afraid to love and to love well. I think that’s something our Creator wants for us very much.
Thank you to my parents for buying such a hyper, beautiful, and joyful dog. She was found on a farm, and who knew $15 would bring so much happiness and tears into my life.
Gracey Rose, I love you. Rest well, Snuggle Muffin. What a wise old dog with lots of personality.
God, do all dogs go to heaven? Because they sure exemplify your unconditional love well.