It’s the kind of heartache you can feel in your bones.
Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone knowing you’d never see them again? Someone that you loved and loved you back and captured your heart like you couldn’t believe?
How do you find the “good” in goodbye then?
It hurts. It hurts me more than I could have imagined.
We recently welcomed a new addition to our family. Most of you who are near and dear to me and also those that follow me along on social media will know who that special family member is.
Chloe, our sweet and loving new puppy.
She was a Cavapoo – a mix of Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a Miniature Poodle.
We researched and prayed and planned for months before deciding to make the monumental decision to welcome a new fur-baby into our home. Planning for a family pet is not something that one suddenly decides on; it takes proper planning and it requires a lot of your devotion and time.
It’s a huge responsibility and one that every family member needs to be part of.
I work from home and my kids are both headed to school so we knew a family puppy would be met with open arms. I had the time to train and care for her while my husband was at work. And when he came home, he would take her for her evening walk with the kids and settle her down for the evening.
We found a great breeder, visited the litter and instantly fell smitten with Chloe. We took her home and planned to surprise our kids the following day when they returned from a sleepover at their grandparents. We took her with us to the local pet store to shower her with all her puppy essentials and needs to make her transition into her new home a pleasant one.
We were ready.
When the kids met Chloe, the overwhelming amount of love I felt in their hugs and happy cries made my heart want to burst. Chloe was at home and she was ours. Our baby. Our first puppy love.
I never met such a puppy with her calm and sweet temperament. She rarely barked and only whimpered when she wanted to go outdoors or to be close to her humans.
She was just learning to walk around on a leash in our neighbourhood like a good girl without jumping excitedly on her two hind legs when her big sis and brother were walking ahead of her.
She successfully crate-trained and already let us know when she wanted to go potty outdoors.
I still remember the way she would sit by the foot of the couch where we all sat in the living room by our legs and feet just waiting for us to pick her up and cuddle her. The minute she was in our arms, she would lick us gently and then lay her little head on our arms letting out a little sigh of relief and calm as she nestled into our chest. She felt safe and peaceful and loved immensely.
The days past and our love grew. Chloe was really taking to her new home and family and routine.
We were getting use to her own little schedule and tuning into her needs effortlessly.
It was perfect. Well, almost perfect, until the unexpected started happening.
My eldest daughter has always had horrible allergies.
We knew that she had bad seasonal allergies and past experiences showed us that she seem to be allergic to some animals. Dogs included. But we knew this when thinking of adopting a puppy and decided we would go with breed that was hypo-allergenic. We heard that these breeds would fair well with those that typically are sensitive and have allergies.
The first day of her meeting Chloe, nothing happened. So we thought we were in the clear.
The second day, her eyes began to swell and she began to get welts around her eyes and face.
My heart sunk knowing the cause.
I dusted and cleaned vigorously that day. We researched and spoke with others with pets and a physician to get their thoughts. We knew of HEPA filters and more frequent dog baths, etc. to help minimize allergens/pet dander. We really wanted to make sure Chloe wouldn’t be a health concern for our daughter but we also, of course, had our child’s well-being at top priority.
Days past and it only got worse. Her breathing got affected and I couldn’t keep giving her allergy meds to reprieve her pain. If only there were a magical medicine to remove the affliction we all felt knowing that we had to make a really, really sorrowful and wearying decision.
We only had Chloe for a very short period of time but it felt like years. Who knew that this little precious thing can affect us the way she did so quickly? It’s a pain I don’t wish on anyone.
We found a family that lost their family pet after 16 years late last year. They were in the city next to ours and eager to meet Chloe right away. When they met her, the kids couldn’t be there. I couldn’t either, it hurt that much. My husband bravely handled the situation alone and knew right away that these folks already loved Chloe at first sight, just like we did. He knew they were the ones. Much like Chloe did.
Me and the kids made sure to say our proper goodbyes before Chloe’s new family arrived. I watched from the window as the couple piled all of her belongings in their vehicle, Chloe’s new mom cradling her in the comfy brown blanket we gave to her. Chloe’s tail wagging with happiness gave me a peace of mind. Dogs feel energy, you know. They know goodness when they see and feel it.
It was bittersweet. My husband held back tears as he said his last farewell (his bond with Chloe was probably the strongest from us all as he slept with her the first nights on the couch). Something you didn’t know either was that my husband lost his first dog as a teenage boy so the crippling feeling of loss re-emerged for him making it more heavy and hurtful to deal with.
The hours following Chloe’s departure was agonizing. It was quiet. Very quiet in this house.
The kids also rarely spoke and stayed cooped up in their bedrooms.
My husband stayed in the same couch he use to sleep on with Chloe. Until he moved to the dark bedroom staring blankly at Chloe’s gold heart-shaped dog tag with her name and our numbers etched on it that we just got her the day before.
It was the last physical thing we had of her.
I cried like I never cried in years. All of us did. We were all trying to cope with this in our own way.
Even now, when I think of sweet Chloe or see other dogs walk by with their owners, my throat closes up and I feel the tears burning ready to come out. It still hurts. It hurts because our time was so short and she was so perfect. I don’t think we will find another like her if we do ever decide to have another one when the kids are older (and hopefully we get to the bottom of our daughters’ allergies with rigorous physician testing).
It also hurts because I wonder if she felt like we were abandoning her in some way. If she was wondering where we were and why she was in a whole new place. I can’t even type right now thinking about that. I’m such a mess.
It’s still very fresh.
But I take heart in knowing she’s in good hands and getting all the love she deserves from a family that also understands the pain in losing a family pet. I feel a little more better knowing how much joy and happiness Chloe has and is bringing this family.
Someone told me that dogs are very resilient and adapt to their new environments very quickly.
I really hope so.
We are not quitters. We don’t ever quit on family. Chloe is our family. But sometimes we need to make decisions that are best for all even if they hurt. We beat ourselves up thinking we made the wrong decision. The first hours she was gone, we even considered getting her back.
The feelings of loss, shame, and guilt caused by rehoming a pet is very traumatic.
This was certainly a rough time for me and my family and to this day, we still grieve.
But each day is getting better as we learn to cope. But we have each other. My daughter is healthy and happy and that’s what matters a great deal. Yesterday we laughed and danced to music together. It was therapeutic and the start to a, sort of, new beginning for a us as a family.
Chloe, we will love you forever and thank you for allowing us to love you and for loving us back. You showed us a special and new kind of love that we never knew existed. We hope one day our souls will connect again in the future, in one way or another.