Like Lassie's passing, getting dumped bites

Losing your canine companion a lot like ending relationships


The other day while I was reading my dictionary, my mom called to tell me my dog died. Don’t worry, I won’t go there, just follow my abstract thoughts here. It really made me sorta depressed, kind of distracted and a little spaced out.

My dog, also my best friend, had become a staple in my life. Any time I went home, he would run out to my car and bark until I opened the door. He would then lick my face with happiness. Dogs do a lot of silly things.

And then they die. For whatever reason, the harsh truth is that puppies turn into dogs, they get old and die. It’s a little comforting to know all dogs go to heaven, but even then, losing that emotional attachment we spend years building with our pets — well, there’s no better way to put it — bites the big one.

The disillusionment we feel after the loss of Otis, or Lysander in my case, is similar to the aftershock of getting dumped. It, too, bites the big one. Everyone finds their own way to cope with both the loss of a pet and the loss of a boyfriend. Take my friend’s philosophy: boys are easier to replace than dogs. We want to immediately hit a party with the girls and snog with a heavenly hunk while it seems more appropriate sitting around with a bucket of ice cream, brooding over old Frisbee days at the park with Grommet.

Some girls get over both like stomachaches, but others like to wallow in the self-pity and attention. And then there’s the rare breed that likes to hold on to hope that maybe Shadow will come home.

During relationships and pet ownerships we work so hard to build connections and make memories. Hours are spent speaking in silly baby voices, going for walks and rolling in the hay – wink, wink.

It starts with a few dates and before you know it, you’re inseperable and he’s sleeping in your bed. He’s your best friend, your confidant and part of the family. After the big split, that bond is broken. One day your facebook status says “In a Relationship” and before you know it, you’re sitting in front of your computer, tearing up as you force yourself to click “Single.” Part of forming that relationship connection with someone involves overcoming a comfort level.

Once that is gone, the dog is pushing up daisies under the old oak tree and the ex is out creating new relationships with dumb girls while emptiness and possibly betrayal remain.

Charlie isn’t coming back and neither is Itchy. That happy, drooling face you got so used to seeing in the mornings won’t be there tomorrow. It hurts to know something you invested so much time in has such little payback.

Sure, you have all those memories you spent the past year creating, but that doesn’t guarantee Happily Ever After. During times of broken hearts and lonely beds, it becomes difficult to see the silver lining. But when Balto first arrives home from the SCPA you don’t think about what you’re going to get from having him as your pet. It’s always fun to imagine yourself with the same hound dog, Copper, years later, but half the fun of relationships is not knowing where it’s going.

The point isn’t that there’s a sunny side to heartbreak; we’ve been through that. It’s more important to understand we aren’t alone. Dogs, boyfriends, girlfriends, they come and go. It’s one of those stupid common sense facts sex education in fourth grade should teach alongside the dreaded menstrual cycle lesson.

With every new dog, every new relationship, the bitter facts of life stain our innocent outlook more and more. Just look at it this way, somewhere out there another dog is in the pound, discarded by some other girl, and waiting for your new, slightly cynical disposition. R.I.P. Lysander and all past relationships.


(Originally written 2.22.2006)


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