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Amanda Lamb: Dog heaven

Posted July 4, 2010

"This is the worst day of my life," my youngest daughter said after hearing the news that her dog had died.

Huge crocodile tears rolled down her puffy pink cheeks onto her peace sign adorned pajamas. "I just want her back!" she screamed as she buried her head and sobbed on my shoulder.

My older daughter cried quietly on the bed next to us. Unlike her little sister, she knew the dog was sick. As Maggie our Sheltie had advanced in age, she had been having seizures that were progressively getting worse. The previous evening we were getting ready for bed, we couldn't find 14-year-old Maggie. This was unusual for a dog who was usually either following us around house or sleeping on a piece of furniture we had long since stopped shooing her away from as her health declined. My husband and older daughter grabbed flashlights and ran outside to search. Just as they entered the backyard, I heard the splash.

"She's in the creek," I yelled. Quickly, the beams of the flashlights which had been like fireflies darting aimlessly around in circles were now focused on the small dog struggling to keep her head above the rushing water. I grabbed my mud boots and ran down the hill. Uncharacteristically, without thinking about snakes and other possible creatures lurking in the stream, I jumped in and scooped Maggie out holding her wet shaking body against me. We brought her inside, wrapped her in blankets and laid her on her soft dog bed. The glassy look in her eyes and the stiffness of her limbs told me what I already knew - it was just a matter of time.

This is the second dog that my children have had to say goodbye to. In many ways, as hard as it is, it is a lesson that they will have to experience many times throughout their lives. They will lose people they love. And while the pain of losing a loved one may never get any easier, at least they may gain a better understanding that there is light on the other side of the long dark tunnel that grief takes us through.

They are already talking about what kind of a dog they would like to get next, but with a clear acknowledgement that Maggie will never be forgotten.

"Mommy, do you think Maggie is having fun in Dog Heaven?" my little one asked me the other day.

"I'm sure she is, Baby," I said honestly.

Amanda is the mom of two and reporter for WRAL-TV. She's the author of several books including one on motherhood called "Smotherhood." Find her here every Monday.

22 Comments

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  • mich2nc98 Jul 6, 2010

    I so understand. I made the excruciating decision to send my 12 1/2 yr old Labrador, Madison, to Heaven in February. was very, very difficult to say goodbye to a very loyal friend who followed me everywhere since she was 6 wks old. Time is the only thing that lessens that pain. I have a new puppy, and I can see little parts of Madison in her....now it makes me laugh instead of cry.

  • whyalltheproblems Jul 6, 2010

    That was a really touching story...one that I'll probably share with my daughter who is still having a hard time after we put our Golden down in April.
    Ditto on the other poster who said now is not the time for passing judgement. I had someone do the same to me the other day regarding us putting our dog down. It's just not right. So very sorry for your loss.

  • mom-of-3 Jul 6, 2010

    We had a very tearful July 4th, our pitt bull of seven years passed away. He was more than a pet, he was so much a part of our family. I spoke of him so often that people thought I had a daughter and three sons. We feel a tremendous loss but our oldest son actually eased the pain a little by saying that all dogs go to heaven. RIP (Snoop) We love you!!!

  • kellypratz Jul 6, 2010

    My daughter and I have buried 2 family cats and she asks if Callie & Calvin are in Kitty heaven and are dogs in Doggy heaven. I tell her yes.

  • anggiet Jul 6, 2010

    I am so sorry for your loss. We have a 14 1/2 year old dog who is gradually slowing down. We know that time is short with her. No dog can replace her, but we recently adopted a rat terrier to help us with the transition when our sweet Sydney goes over the Rainbow bridge.

  • CLR Jul 6, 2010

    Why did you call them crocodile tears?

  • Not Now Jul 6, 2010

    I'm sorry for your loss, and I am sorrier about the comment from Golo'ers that think this is the right time to question your judgment regarding your beloved family pet. To those who question Amanda, there is a time and a place for everything. This is not the time, and publicly is not the place.

  • missparrothead Jul 6, 2010

    I'm sorry to hear about your loss. 2 months ago we lost our 15.5 yr old dog and while time heals pain, I still have a piece of inner sadness. It was one of the most difficult days of my life. It will get easier (but I'm getting teary eyed as I write this). Pets are true companions of the heart. Take Care.

  • Lilys Mom Jul 6, 2010

    We would like to see a photo of your beloved dog!

  • ljdenni Jul 6, 2010

    Losing a beloved pet is awful! I went through it in Jan 2008 & I still think about my Tripp every day - even tho a new dog inhabits our house & hearts. Their love is SO unconditional! I'm sure the girls will bounce back - maybe quicker than you & your husband. It just plain hurts!

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