Living

Carol Reiter: Pet losses are always tough to deal with

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.

I keep telling myself that. It's been a tough year, and another loss slammed me this week and made me ask why I keep doing this.

I lost my dog Hope. She was almost 15, and she had a long, good life.

That doesn't make it any easier. I think it's almost harder to lose the old dogs, the dogs that have changed from the rotten puppies that they started out to the good dogs that were hidden under all that puppy badness.

Hope was a perfect example of that. I chose her as my pick of the litter the day she was born. She had a lot of white for a border collie and a super cute face. She was the last puppy born, and I knew that she was the one.

As it ended up, I actually kept Hope and her sister Meg. For a long time, Meg was my favorite. She started working sheep at 6 weeks of age, while Hope absolutely refused to even acknowledge the existence of sheep for months.

In fact, I started calling Hope 'Hopeless' because I felt she would never work.

But Hope and Meg were bred to work, and the day Hope turned 10 months old, she went to work like she had been working her whole life. She ended up much better than Meg, although I hated to admit it.

My friend loved Hope, probably more than me. She took Hope with her when she went up north to help work sheep, and Hope was a tough little dog, never giving up. I didn't worry about her, because I knew that my friend would take care of her, and I knew that Hope would love working sheep.

Then I lost Meg. She went outside one morning and never came back. I searched everywhere, but despite the fact that Meg had a collar and tags and was microchipped, we never found a trace of her.

All I had was Hope. Oh, I had other dogs, but not from that litter. I loved Hope, but not like Meg.

Then things started to change. I realized that Hope was a little love bug and had been overshadowed by her sister for years. I had treated Hope kindly, but she just wasn't special to me. But thank goodness, that changed.

For the past four and a half years, Hope has been my shadow. She slept on my bed until she got too old to jump up on it. She was happy with her bed on the floor.

To the end, Hope was always a good dog. Slowly, I started to realize that I had overlooked a little gem. I stopped calling her Hopeless, a name that had stuck with her through the years, and only called her Hope.

She gave me a scare earlier this year, when I thought she was dying. But it ended up to be a virus, and she popped right back, stronger than ever.

But for the last week, Hope had gone downhill. She still ate and drank, but she started looking terrible, and was getting wobbly.

Then I came home one night, and Hope couldn't get up. I knew it was time to let go, and I did. I cried all the way to veterinarian's office, and I said goodbye to one of the best dogs I've ever owned.

I guess that I have to give thanks for realizing that Hope was the dog that she really was. My friend knew that, she always told me that Hope was better than Meg. I now know that Hope was just as good. It took losing Meg for me to finally realize that.

These past 15 years have gone by too fast. It seems like just a couple of years ago that I helped dry off Hope and named her on the day she was born. She was my hope for the future, and the dog I had always wanted.

And that's what she turned out to be. There was a purpose that I had Hope, to love and cherish a dog that was a good soul.

And like the Bible says, there is a time to be born and a time to die. When Hope was born, I rejoiced and held her close to my heart.

And there was a time to die. Once again, I held her close to my heart and told her goodbye. Although I was sad, I think that Hope was ready. She had a long life, and I know that now she's with her mother Gwyn, and it seems like maybe Hope is in a pretty good place.

This is my time to heal. It's difficult, but it's getting easier. I have videos and pictures of Hope, and she will never, ever die in my memories. She was truly my Hope.

Reporter Carol Reiter

can be reached at 209-385-2486 or

creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

  Comments