The death of my beloved greyhound Winston returned me to an emotional place I’ve visited many times before, having loved and lost many dogs in my lifetime, but my sense of loss is no less acute. I miss the twice-daily feeding routine, the morning and evening walks around Chelsea Parade, the playtime, the tap-tapping of his paw steps on the hardwood floor, and his sleep time. I miss the simple presence, the beingness, of this furry, long-nosed, blessed creature with whom my family and I shared a home — and, perhaps most of all, I miss those hound-dog eyes that looked up at me with love and anticipation.
Will my family and I adopt another greyhound? Yes, in due time. After loving and caring for four greyhounds I have developed a near-mystical connection not only to our dogs but to the breed. Greyhound number five is in my and my family’s future, another one of God's creatures of beauty, calm temperament, and a big heart.
This time of life between dogs is necessary, however, when I am reminded that life’s journey is not a smooth, linear progression but months and years punctuated by moments of joy and moments of loss and the daily roller-coaster ride of feelings and emotions. Ups and downs are life itself.
Now, as one dog has left my life and another awaits, I’m living in the in-between space of what was and what will be, mourning the loss and trusting the future, feeling sad but ever hopeful.
I know there are far greater losses in life than the death of a pet — even a beloved pet — but loss is loss and sadness is sadness: There is no hierarchy of emotional pain. Perhaps our animal companions teach us, in their present-in-the-moment way, that we live until we die, our suffering does not last, and we return to love over and over again.
Photo: Winston chilling at Bluff Point, Groton, Conncticut