Coping with Loss

Our dog Alfie

We had Alfie, our Bishon Frise, for around 11 years (2007 - 2018). If you've seen the section on what we chose for our best family dog, you will know he was the inspiration behind this whole website, because when we decided to invest in a family dog way back in 2007, our kids then were very young (6 months, 2 and 4 years). We knew we had to choose carefully and undertake a bit of research in order to choose a safe and suitable pet. And Alfie proved to be just that and more. He was fun, tolerant, obedient, incredibly loyal, and to the kids, he was another sibling, a brother.

Unfortunatly dear old Alfie became ill around April 2018. We are still not sure why but for a week or so his breathing had become laboured and he really didn't want to be far from his bed much at all. It seemed 4 or 5 years too early to be losing him, and when we took him to the vets I fully expected to be bringing him home with medicine, not for him to be put to sleep. It was the single worst moment of our lives as a family. Holding his chin and petting him as the vet administered the euthanasia medicine, while hearing my son's heart break in the next room, was incredibly difficult. It felt like it couldn't be happening, it was so sudden.

That same day, we decided to bring Alfie home rather than let the vet dispose of him, but couldn't bare to bury him. Luckily for us my parents kindly agreed to take him. He is buried in a corner of their garden, somewhere he absolutely loved playing in life.

I can honestly say we grieved. The empty space in the utility room where his bed had been was a cold shock the next morning. For a long time I couldn't think of Alfie without crying. I could never speak at his grave without choking up. My wife and I both agreed, no more dogs. Ever.

So how did we cope?

It may be a cliche but it was mostly down to time. You have to give it time. But a massive U turn in our thinking also helped. Perhaps we were too impatient, but we decided to consider getting another dog as soon as possible.

Outrageuous? An insult to Alfie's memory?

No, we didn't see it that way. Sure, it seemed too soon. I wasn't interested in any dog if it wasn't going to be Alfie. But then the home was too quiet without him. The kids, especially our son, semed lost without the dog they'd grown up with.

So after a careful decision and a bit more research, we decided on seeing some Chihuahua puppies that were for sale locally. We took the kids to view a litter of three, and they chose the little male. They named him Archie. And after waiting a few more weeks till he was old enough to be parted from his mother, we welcomed Archie into our home. The look on the kids faces the day he arrived, especially our son's, is something else I will never forget.

Our new dog Archie

Well, we've had Archie 8 months now and he's grown from a small puppy and settled in very well. Its almost like he's always been here. He's proved to be very obedient, playful and a great companion to us all. I still say hello to the photo of Alfie on the wall in the utility, I still (try to) say a few words at his grave, and we will always, always miss the fluff-ball of a dog that our kids grew up with. His time and place place in our lives was unique and he will never be replaced in that context.

But the life lesson we've learned here is, you will find you'll love every dog differently. It would be a shame allow grief to prevent you from ever owning another dog, no matter how hard the loss continues to be.