Pet Matters: Losing a best friend and gaining perspective

Pet Matters: Losing a best friend and gaining perspective
Trubo lived a short life but his memory is invaluable. (Pablo de Loy, de Loy Artz Photo)

On Christmas Day a year ago I received devastating news from home. My adorable bichon mix, Baci, was very ill. About 14 years old, Baci enjoyed a very full and happy life. She passed away just a few days later. Baci was our first rescue, a wonderful pet, smarty-pants, diva and love bug. Losing her was heartbreaking. My mom’s house just isn’t the same without her in it. We are not the same without her in our lives.

This holiday season, I had to say goodbye to my dear friend, Turbo, a sweet pit bull who was the subject of one of my earlier columns. Turbo fell ill a couple of months ago, and after numerous frustrating veterinary appointments, we learned he had cancer.

At only 5 years old, we were hopeful he would beat it, but one of his vets estimated he had less than two months to live.

His owner tried chemotherapy, but it was too harsh on Turbo’s body. Knowing that the chance of success was minimal, Turbo’s owner opted to let him live out his last days in the comfort of home. He spoiled him, loved him and spent lots of time with him, exactly what Turbo wanted.

Turbo took his last breath while resting in the arms of his favorite human on his favorite spot on the couch. He went in peace and surrounded by love. He was a lucky dog and devoted best friend. A great driving companion and fishing buddy, Turbo will surely be missed and remembered by all of us that had the pleasure of knowing him.
Saying goodbye is never easy. I bawl my eyes out at the mere thought of having to say goodbye to my dogs. Titan and Sox are my family: We walk together, play together, and even dance together. Those two make me smile like nobody can.

Loss tends to inspire me to do better as a pet parent. Losing Baci and Turbo is no exception. Even good pet parents have room for improvement. I don’t know how long I will have Titan and Sox in my life, but I do know I will give them more of myself in 2012.

I will get them more exercise, allow them more social interaction with other dogs and do everything I can to remain an informed and proactive pet parent. I will spoil them with my presence and dedication rather than chew toys and treats. They will get longer tooth-brushing sessions, more time with the Furminator, and I may even develop the courage to cut their nails myself — reducing the number of trips to the groomers, which I know they would appreciate.

I will be more patient with Sox when she shows signs of fear aggression and more tolerant of Titan when he is begging to get on the couch or savor a taste of my dinner. I will celebrate the love we share for each other and make sure that, while I have them, Titan and Sox are the happiest dogs they can possibly be.

So when the time comes to say goodbye I will know I gave them the best life I could. And it will give me comfort and maybe even an ounce of joy during what will certainly be an overwhelmingly difficult time.

My heart goes out to anyone who lost a pet recently. May the memory of your pets and the special moments you shared help you as you mourn their loss.