My beloved pup, Ringo, crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a couple of weeks ago. It was quite unexpected. Even though he was 14, had arthritis in his hips, cataracts and couldn’t hear worth a darn, he was one happy healthy boy up until his final week. Then suddenly the aggressive cancer in his spleen (that I didn’t know about) overwhelmed his system and he was gone in a matter of days.
My remaining pup, Baer, who’s all of 7 going on 3 (one Energizer Bunny battery too many), is confused. What happened to his big brother? We were a pack of three, now it’s just “Mommy and me.” He trots his favorite toy, a stuffed dog, around the house, through the doggie door, back into the house, brings it to me. Takes it back outside. Buries it in the garden. Unburies it. Aargh. The boy does not know what to do with himself. I keep telling him, “Be patient, I’ll get you a new brother soon,” but words just aren’t cutting it.
As I sit there petting him, missing our Ringo, I am reminded that happiness is a choice. I can remain depressed, low-spirited and unhappy over Ringo’s passing or I can choose – yes, choose – to see what’s right with right now, and choose to be happy. Jumping up and down happy? No. But OK. Appreciating what is. That I can do.
So I look at Baer, and marvel at this wonderful doggy-companion the Universe has gifted me. I think about how much I appreciate his snuggling with me at night, how fun it is for him to wake me by laying his front paws on my chest and licking my face. What a goof ball he is when he runs rings around the living room sectional, as if on a track doing laps.
I remember good times with Ringo – how much he loved his car-rides, how he loved to roll over on his back and stretch out all 95 pounds of himself for a righteous tummy-scratch. How he would tussle with Baer in his younger years, without ever hurting him. How his version of what you do with a bunny-rabbit lost in the backyard is not to kill it, but to lick it all over, as if to return it clean and unharmed to its “pack.”
As hard as it is to lose a loved one – animal or human – as long as we are still alive, there is something to be happy about. Something to appreciate, something or someone to live for. We don’t help the departed by being miserable, nor does it make anything better for those still here. That we should mourn and grieve, yes, absolutely, but never to forget that appreciation, of what was and is, is what will pull us through and onward.
After all, what will Baer’s someday new brother want? A miserable, depressed family? Or a happy one, eager to welcome him into the fold . . .