On The Beach With My Dead Dog


All week long my dead dog and I hung out on the beach.

Except she wasn’t dead.

And it wasn’t bitter winter.

It was that glorious time, mid-September, when the world bathes in amber sun poured from the cosmic alignment of earth being right there.

We were both so much younger, thinner, more agile.

We were the only ones on our favorite beach.

We skipped circles around one another, down sand as soft and gray as rabbit fur.

The Insight Timer app I purchased offers guided meditations.  I did a six minute guided meditation about accepting and loving my inner child.  I chose it because it was only six minutes.  The woman’s silky voice prompted me to imagine a safe place, so I went to the beach.  Then she prompted me to imagine someone I love who brings me joy and comfort.  My little, black lab mix suddenly appeared.

My dog died three years ago, after spending 16 years with me as my beloved companion.  She was like my sister.  She knew all my secrets.  She was with me through more loss, loneliness, and drama than I care to remember.  In my memory, her presence softens those years of confused dissatisfaction.

I struggled with her when she was elderly.  Already caring for a busy and head strong toddler, I was challenged to remain compassionate towards my dog when she lost control of her bladder and bowels and crapped all over my carpet multiple times daily.  Sadly, I was not always compassionate towards her.  There were times when I was blatantly exhausted and mean and I didn’t want her to be my friend anymore.

If there is hell and I have to go there, I will be forced to watch myself be mean and angry towards my dog, over and over for all eternity.

When she finally died, it happened in my arms.  It was really peaceful and loving.  I guess you could call it a good death, but her passing left me with the most profound sense of loss I’d ever known.  A week later I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was my dog coming back to me in another form.  Maybe it was just the universe smiling on me, or maybe it was just equilibrium reestablished.

Regardless, I felt terrible full-body pain of losing her for months.  I don’t know if I ever fully “got over” her death, and I think a lot of that had to do with how frustrated I was with her as an elderly animal, how limited I was in my ability to care for her the way she needed.

When meditation returned her to me, it was immediate and unexpected joy.  It was such a contrast to the guilt and pain I normally experience when I think about her.  She was smiling, in that way dogs smile.  She skipped around me in circles as I leapt and pranced down the beach.  Even now, remembering this exquisite vision, I find the corners of my mouth twitching up in a smile.  I’ve been able to go back there, too, anytime I want to just close my eyes and be with her.

It’s like a little pocket of peace and happiness in my mind.


10 responses »

  1. I am crying too. Thanks to the time difference not at work 😉 My cat is 16 years old and doesn’t move a lot anymore, he has difficulties to wash himself now and has his hair stuck by applesauce… I try to spend time with him but my schedule is hectic. Thanks for reminding me that he is my oldest friend and I have to take care of him

  2. Yes, I’m crying as well. Thank you for this beautiful, true post. It’s only been 6 months since my darling dog died at 17 years and I can relate to everything you have said here – headstrong child and then child number 2 and an elderly dog who needed a lot of my time as well. She was such a special friend to me. I think your post is helping me to work through some more of the grief over her death. Thanks again 🙂

    • I am so sorry to hear of your loss. . . it really does throw you for a loop at how real it is, doesn’t it? Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment and let me know that you relate. It means so much. I hope your heart finds peace and that the universe brings your special friend back to you in one way or another. I have a friend who says our dogs always return to us one way or another, and I really believe this to be true. I know I am always on the lookout for my old girl and sometimes I hear a noise that reminds me of her, or find her in my daughter’s love of cheese. Someday maybe we will find other dog companions, but I don’t think anything will compare to that first canine love. And btw, the folks at the vet college at Tuffts University have an amazing pet grief and loss support hotline. It gave me and my family tremendous comfort. Momaste to you, and hope to hear from you again.

      • Thanks, Charlotte. It is so real. Luckily I have friends who understand, and there are other people around like you who understand that losing a pet involves such a lot of grief. I have been looking at other dogs – dogs that are not anything like her (I’m looking for a black lab actually 🙂 but nothing will ever replace her. The memories of the wonderful times together over those 17 years will always be there though.

        Thanks for your posts – I love your writing. Take care, Julie

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