by Ellen Landauer
When your dog dies, no matter how long their life - it seems a piece of your heart goes with them.
After having them always by your side, so many times of looking into their eyes, being there for you no matter what - it is never easy.
You and I know it is a profound grief to lose a canine companion. Perhaps some of what I'm about to say can provide a bit of insight as you go through intense emotions when your dog dies.
When your dog dies, the intensity of your sorrow usually equals or exceeds the intensity of your bond.
Just as when a friend or family member (our dogs are both!) passes, we usually reflect on our relationship with them. We remember times we shared. Commonly, we go through a process of wondering what we might have done better and - hopefully - have gratitude for the love, harmony and good times we had.
Too often, we may judge ourselves more harshly than is justified, and experience remorse over things we think we should have done differently. In the final analysis, we are all here to learn from each other.
Know that your dog never once stopped loving you - or forgiving you - because that is built in to their being. Know also that they never did anything to deliberately cause you distress (we humans do much of that to ourselves)! Whatever might have caused you consternation was just a dog trying to retain a measure of balance as they navigated the often confusing world of humans.
If you have raised and lived with them by the principles of Natural Dog Training, when your dog dies, the pain of loss may feel greater than previous times of losing a beloved companion.
This was true for me when Ena died at 15 1/2 years old.
Why might we feel the grief more when we raise our dog using principles that honor their true nature?
Because we have become even more aware of what being 'joined at the heart' with our canine companion really means. In opening to fully accept them, we have more fully opened to our own feelings.
In the process of getting so close to your dog, your capacity to experience and to feel has expanded. Emotion will feel more intense. That means you can feel EVERYTHING more - the pain, the love and the joy.
There are some parallels in this to how Natural Dog Training brings a dog's energy from stuck deep inside them in a place where it festers, to getting deep enough to access it and get it to flow. As the energy moves more and more, deeper healing takes place. Natural Dog Training heals both you and your dog at the same time!
Since honoring a dog's true nature increases the harmony between you and your dog, there is even a fuller and more direct Heart connection. So the pain of losing your beloved will likely be intensified as well.
When your dog dies, no matter what, loss and pain are part of the journey. For many, conflict and regrets about mistakes in how they trained or cared for their dog arises. This just adds to the burden of grief, even though the person made every effort to do the best for their dog.
Good things can come out of having opened your heart to your dog's wild side. Among these is that there likely will be little to no regrets over how you cared for your beloved companion.
When my Ena left this world, there was a balance and resilience in me that hadn't been there in the past. It was a direct result of embracing ALL of Ena, including her wildness, that gave me more strength to deal with the greater intensity. I know that my increased capacity to be centered and feel my feet on the ground developed as a direct result of the training. In the process of opening to Ena's wild side, I had much more fully opened to my own nature.
The PLUS side of this growth process is that it enhanced my capacity to be with the grief, and to appreciate the years with Ena more deeply. The grief was more intense, but because I had opened so much emotionally in the training, my own energy flowed more freely. This allowed a fuller experience of grief and greater 'completion' of the mourning process.
In a way, the sorrow is never 'gone.' Once we have danced to the song of nature with a beloved canine, we always hold that memory in our heart.
PHOTO BELOW: Ena age 13 1/2
Yes, I missed Ena afterward; sometimes still do.
The first few walks I took in the woods without her, I carried her leash - which I had bought for her as a puppy - as though to somehow feel that she was still by my side...
What if when your dog dies, you have no regrets about how you lived your lives together?
I think I can speak from experience when I say - if you have sincerely embraced the principles of Natural Dog Training and consistently applied its principles - you will not be burdened with guilt of having misunderstood your beloved companion.
You won't be regretting some ways you may have treated them in an effort to train them. You will know that their magnificent temperament flourished in the light of your understanding, and that they lived fully - emotionally free. You will know that your dog was the happiest they ever could be!
Assuming you raised and cared for them in a way that honored their true nature, when your dog dies, an important place in your heart will be at peace.
Yes, you will miss them. That goes without saying.
Yes, you will feel deep grief.
But - you may even take a little joy when their time comes, knowing your dog lived as free and happy as they possibly could - thanks to your willingness to explore the uncharted territory of the Primordial Bond.
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Rediscover Your Primordial Bond With Dogs