Titan Crosses the Rainbow Bridge
“The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be.”
Today, my beloved Titan crossed the rainbow bridge. As I have done many times before, I weep at my profound sense of loss. And, as I have done many times before during other difficult times, I write this blog post as therapy to help myself.
Why is it so painful?
Titan’s love for me was unconditional. He didn’t care how he appeared to others when his excitement at seeing me after a long day at work caused him to pee all over the floor. And even if I was out of the room for 10 minutes, he’d thump his tail vigorously upon my return. If only our human relationships were so unconditional! Our egos and anxieties can dictate how we behave and what we expect from one another. Titan never judged me or my imperfections. He accepted me in ways no human ever has or probably could.
In many ways Titan was like a child to me. He had a lot of problems in his life, including constant anxiety, early incontinence, and hip dysplasia. Taking care of him wasn’t easy but he needed me and I needed him. Many people don’t understand the dedication and work that goes into taking care of a dog. To me, there was never any question that I was responsible for his well-being and happiness. After all, I would never abandon a child and Titan meant every bit as much to me. Losing him is just as traumatic.
Titan helped me get through some very difficult times in my life. I adopted him soon after my first husband died and he consoled me with hugs, kisses, and companionship – and he never complained. When my daughter moved out, Titan gave me stability and comfort. When both of my parents died, Titan was always willing to let me hold him while I wept. He never pulled away.
My life will change now that Titan is gone. The first thing I did upon my return from the vet this morning was to put his bowl in the garage. Titan loved to eat and I will miss him inhaling his food and asking for more. His favorite activity, especially in his later years, was a walk to the community mailboxes. He was on constant lookout for squirrels and rabbits, and I loved watching his exuberance at walking in the ditches after a good rain. Once a lab, always a lab! While these lost daily routines will be missed, the thing I will miss most is Titan’s unfailing love and loyalty. No matter the time of day or night; no matter how tired he was; no matter how much pain he was in; Titan never failed an opportunity to show his love. What a good dog!
How Can I Help Myself?
The best medicine for me as I grieve for Titan, is to hug Chucky, my Welsh Terrier. Usually, Jim and I don’ allow our dogs into our bedroom. But today, we let Chucky lie in bed with me as I wept over my loss. I know that Chucky misses Titan too and we consoled one another. There’s nothing like doggie kisses on a tear-stained cheek! And he listens when I talk about how much I loved his big brother.
Having been through this before, I know that I need to be patient with my emotions. Meditation will help me to acknowledge and let go of painful emotions. So will talking with at least one person I trust with my emotions. For me, that’s Jim, my husband, and Judy, my sister-in-law. If you lose a pet and don’t have such a person in your life, I recommend calling your veterinarian and asking for the name of another pet owner who recently experienced a lost, or look into joining a support group specifically for pet loss.
Blogging and writing have always been helpful to me during tough times. This post and the last one about the many dogs in my life allow me to not only share my memories but to honor them as well. When we mourn and remember other humans, we engage in rituals, such as funerals, memorial services and anniversaries. Having a ritual for a pet can be just as helpful in the grieving process. I plan to plant a tree as a living tribute to Titan.
Julie Axelrod gave the following advice to those of us who are grieving a pet loss. She said, “What would your pet do if he or she found you sad and in pain? The answer is clear: give you love, give your comfort, and stay with you as long as it took. We can all take a lesson from our animal friends.” (https://psychcentral.com/lib/grieving-the-loss-of-a-pet/). I hope the following poem brings you peace, as it does forme.
“THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS”
by Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.