Grief. I can’t even pretend to understand it. It hurts. It’s hard. It completely and utterly sucks. I’m starting with what feels like the easier of the three – my dog Sally (the others being my Grandma and my sister-in-law’s dad).
I’ve grown up with pets. My family has always had a dog… and usually a cat as well, sometimes rabbits too. I’ve had many, many pets in my life. As an adult I’ve had rats, mice and fish. All of my pets have died, but somehow.. well, I push it away, stop thinking about them and remove any reminder of them from my life. I’m pretty good and shutting things out, ignoring, avoiding etc. I have a talent! Although… maybe that’s not a good thing.
We got Sally when I was… maybe… seven or eight. I really don’t remember what age, I just remember the house we lived in, some friends I had, the school I went to. My friend Jessica’s family had four terriers, all Fox Terriers or Foxie crosses. I remember one dog was called Pip, that’s about it. One of them had puppies, only three or four. I was over at my friend’s house a few days after they were born.
I remember Sally as a puppy – she was tiny, so soft, smooth, and 100% cute. I don’t remember her mum’s name but she had the same wiry coat… and was mostly a tan colour. We didn’t have a dog at the time. Our last dog, Sooty, had bitten a family friend who put his hand through the gate to open it… he was put to sleep, because, uhhhhh, he “wasnt well”. That was the story my mother told us in the car park at Coles after school one day.
So one day, whilst at my friend’s place my parents came to pick me up and told me I could choose a puppy. I didn’t have to think about it, I wanted Sally from the start! My friend’s family had called her Lassie and I still wanted to call her that. My parents, I think, decided on Sally.
At the time I was obsessed with animals. I wanted to be a vet (and did until I was fourteen or fifteen). I’d play with any cat, dog or other animal I could. I’d play with the neighbour’s kitten that would run away from everyone else. I once encouraged home a stray cat from the neighbour’s farm… he stuck around, was treated for fleas and was quickly named Tom.
Sally though, Sally was special. I don’t remember what happened to many of the pets we had. I remember having them but don’t know why they didn’t stay with us for years and years like Sally did. I blame DID for that. When she died, Sally was at least thirteen, probably fourteen or more. She did incredibly well.
I know I spent a lot of my teen years crying silently into her fur or curled up with her in my bed. As lame as it sounds, I could tell her anything. I’d spend hours and hours walking her… an escape from the crap at home, exercise for me in my crazy, ED addled headspace and exercise for her.
I actually can’t remember much of the time I spent with her, but I know she was always there. I fed her, walked her, trained her, groomed her. She was my dog.
It’s not likely I’d visit my parents any time soon… but if I did she wouldn’t be there. It’s knowing she’s gone, that I will never see her again that hurts. I miss my dog.