What Losing My Dog Taught Me About Living
What’s a tragic topper to a global pandemic, horrifying murders of innocent black brothers and sisters with escalating violence, economic collapse and record high joblessness…?
The sudden loss of a dear dog in the middle of everything.
2020 has certainly rocked the entire world. Once in a great while, something unimaginable happens that shocks the system so suddenly everything appears radically different and is processed with new (usually softer) software. What captured attention yesterday seems unimportant today, and clichés like Don’t take life or loved ones for granted become vividly real.
Recently, my husband and I said goodbye to our little dog, Stella. She was 10 years old. It was unexpected and the heartbreak has been unbearable. We didn’t have children and Stella was every bit our baby. For anyone who thinks of a furry friend as ‘just a dog,’ there is research confirming that losing a pet can be as intense or worse than losing a person you love.
There have been many soulful sacred moments since Stella passed, and her spirit continues to spark magic, even from the afterlife.
First, a little bit about her.
She was pretty darn cute…
She loved tummy rubs…
She was the consummate good girl, but occasionally broke the rules…
She liked to ponder the universe…
She was the model mutt for an Essie ad featuring mommy’s polished paws…
She had many friends…
(She would get SO excited to see certain friends that for the first year of her life she’d often pee upon greeting people. Especially our neighbor Dave.)
Though she didn’t like doggy day care…
But most of all, she spread joy…
If you know me, you may be aware that I talk to animals through a talented intuitive named Sonya. Every communication inevitably brings a few good laughs and many things to think about.
Our last talk with Stella was particularly poignant. Two days before she left the planet without warning, she told us there was ‘pressure’ in her brain on the left side (which the neurologist’s clinical report confirmed the following day). She also said this:
Take time every single day to be very present. Be mindful of what’s taking your time and energy. It’s fine to get things done on your to-do list, but coming back into your body is something you both need more of. Take care of yourself first, not everyone else. Please learn from what I’m experiencing before it’s too late.
Stella would always perk up whenever I put the phone down and follow me into the yard where she’d sit in the shade and watch me water or weed the garden. This simple activity was always more satisfying than tapping away at the mind-numbing technologies of today.
Sonya shared that Stella’s favorite activities were evening walks and being outside with us – simply sitting still and appreciating the beauty of nature.
The day after Stella passed, we talked to Sonya again. We were shocked and confused by the quick turn in her health and wanted clarity about how and why she departed so suddenly. Stella told us to look at her life not by the quantity of years, but by the quality she experienced.
Stella said she accomplished what she set out to do. Her goal all along was to bring a deeper level of love and understanding.
Needless to say, Stella brought loads of love into our home and cracked our hearts wide open on her way out. She taught me that sensitivity is a strength, not something to apologize for or hide. LOVE is the most powerful force of all.
Stella showed that love should be given freely and more often. We all ultimately want and need the same thing. Stella never waited for someone to show affection first. Her love was immediate, healing and unconditional.
In a world where countries and families are fixated on finger-pointing, of noisy polarized politics, horrifying social injustice and a climate in crisis – I’ll talk to a dog any day.
We asked Stella for some ‘signs’ that she was ok and so far she’s been showing up through white butterflies appearing out of nowhere, significant songs spontaneously playing on Spotify, and a sweet message from my two-year old niece who said, ‘Stella is in my body.’ Yes, she will absolutely live on in my heart as well.
*If you have a pooch who has passed on, I’d love to hear anything you wish to share about your time together in the comment section below.
Adele, your story of sweet Stella touched my heart so deeply! I knew my Daisy wasn’t feeling good because she did not eat her dinner- and that girl loved food!!! Then when we went to bed she could not jump on the bed, but other than that she seemed fine and happy, so I grabbed my comforter and pillows and snuggled with her on the floor. By morning she was showing signs of being sick, not vomiting , but listless with a very dry nose. I rushed her to my vet and he said she had kidney failure. I was in shock, she was always so active and healthy. I though o.k give her some meds and we will be on our way. When he told me she would not recover i just broke down and balled my eyes out then and there- i did not care how loud I was or if I was making a scene. Daisy was the best dog ever, my baby, my friend, my comforter and constant companion. I did not know how I would live without her..and so the healing process began… she will always and forever have a special place in my heart as you and your husband do with your sweet baby…I am so sorry for your pain.
Oh Therese, I understand and am so sorry for your loss. Daisy sounds like quite a sweet precious girl. And what a loving wonderful mom you are to cuddle with her on the floor when she was sick. I want to hug you both! I hope Daisy sends you another baby when the time is right. Much love to you and the little angel you now have watching over you x
So sorry for your loss and so understanding the pain.. My beloved 18 years old husky passed away on 16th June after short illness, my heart is still bleeding, as I lost not only my dog, but also my best, best friend ever! I feel grateful and blessed I had him so long time in my life, but even knowing he had great life and we did so much together, it hurts to know I will never again look into his beautiful eyes knowing he understands everything, no needs for words – my sadness, my joy, worries, laugh…needed some time to recharge afterwards, it is still fresh, but at least I am able now to even talk about it.. you said it beautifully, the love is the most powerful force of all, and as long as I live,I will hold on that love, the only thing worth of living.
Lejla, your love for your sweet husky is so beautiful and I’m so sorry for your recent loss. I understand the grief you’re going through and send you much love. What a blessing he was in your life for 18 years! Wishing you warmth and another best friend when the time is right xx
Oh my goodness. I am so very sorry for your loss ??
Thank you dear DD xx
i’m so sorry you lost your beautiful girl! some friends just lost their cat the other day, so i like to think maybe stella and tatum met up and are happily exploring heaven together.
sending lots of love your way.
Ah, that’s precious. Actually Stella was raised by Marvin the cat and left behind her feline brother Joey…so yes, I bet she’s made friends with Tatum 🙂 Sending love your way too ?
Dear Adele, Thank you for the beautiful and touching tribute to your sweet Stella. Our fur babies teach us so much, don’t they?
They truly are grand creatures.
Yes indeed they do Vicky! ? And yes, I love your description – they are truly grand.
Adele I am so so so very sorry!! How did this suddenly happen to Stella? Oh I am so so very sorry!!! Much love to you from New Orleans
Much love back to you dear Nicola ? To answer your question, Stella had Cushings disease which is a benign tumor on the pituitary which causes the body to secrete more cortisol. It’s something many dogs live with…but unfortunately Stella’s tumor got out of hand. Hugs and hope you’re staying cool this summer in New Orleans 🙂
I am so sorry for the loss of Stella. She was a beautiful dog and a beautiful soul. I would like to share my story. It hasn’t been long since our puppy died and your story resonated with me.
My daughter is a breeder of Greater Swiss Mountain dogs. In one of her litters this year, she took the puppies for their two month check-up and the vet said that one puppy’s heart didn’t sound right. An echocardiogram showed that he had several rare heart defects.
He hadn’t shown any signs that he was sick, however, he wasn’t putting on weight like the other puppies. The vets were amazed that he was not acting sickly at all, and was a normal active two month old puppy. They said he could possibly survive up to a year.
My husband and I and our daughter decided he would do better in a quiet home where he would be given lots of love. Since my husband and I are retired, we were more than happy to be that home for as long as he was with us. We named him Bear-Bear and we took great care of him. We were able to find food that he liked and that he would eat and he began gaining weight. Bear-Bear acted like a typical lively puppy – romping around the yard, playing with toys, chasing a ball a short distance then pouncing on it, and following us around everywhere.
Everyone who met Bear-Bear fell in love with him. He had a way about him that drew people to him. He wanted everyone to hold him in their laps.
The morning he died, he got very lethargic and had trouble breathing and standing. I took him to the vet who said his heart was giving out. I held Bear-Bear in my arms as he left us.
Bear-Bear was a very sweet puppy with big, soulful eyes and we are happy that he had so much love and happiness during his short life. We also got so much love and happiness in return. Bear-Bear touched our hearts and our lives in so many ways. We buried him under one of our Bradford Pear trees. He loved chasing the petals as they fell from the trees.
Jan, what a beautiful story! I can feel the love you had for Bear Bear and the love and joy he brought to everyone as well. The image of him chasing petals from the pear tree is about as precious and poetic as it gets ??? Oh these little beings are so special. Thank you for sharing that story…and for being a treasured part of this community xx
Tears were rolling down my face as I read this, as this reminded me of my loss not so long ago but warmed my heart as well. What a great post, thank you and I am so sorry for your loss of Stella. My Sasha, a Shih Tzu was my baby, as I did not have any children as well. I was lucky to have her almost 17 years, however to me it was never going to be long enough. I miss her so much and have not been able to get myself another fur baby but in time it will happen. I got so much from reading this post, thank you so much for sharing and sharing your love during these unprecedented times.
How precious to have little Sasha for 17 years ? She was a lucky dog to have you as a momma 🙂 Thank you Tara for your warmth and support. So happy you are part of this community x
I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful baby girl, Stella. Your lovely tribute and photos touched my heart deeply. We also said a heart crushing goodbye to our 14 pound, 11 year old love bug, Maximus on June 13, 2020. I picked his ashes up yesterday. My mind and body are numb with grief. He was recently diagnosed with Cushing’s disease and was put on medication that was supposed to make the symptoms of Cushing’s easier to live with. But the medication prescribed put my baby boy into an Addison’s crisis and his heart couldn’t take it. My husband and I are devastated and even though the world continues to spin, ours is currently moving in slow motion as we cling to each other for support. There will never be another Max. He had healing eyes and joy that oozed from his little body. Max was more than a dog. He was our furry child that brought as much joy as any human baby could give a family.
Thank you for sharing your story and reminding me that so many good people have hurting hearts that we should all be sensitive to regardless of political, religious and color differences.
Dear Donna, I am so very sorry to hear about precious Maximus. How heartbreaking. Actually, Stella also had Cushing’s – that’s where that terrible brain tumor originated. Interesting since we also were told that it wasn’t a terrible disease and she could live with it…but tragically that wasn’t our experience either. I’m so sorry Max didn’t make it longer and I send you and your family much love during this trying time. I absolutely love what you said in the last paragraph. Amen! ?
Beautiful Adele, Stella will be missed greatly. I didn’t realize in addition to being so cute, she was also a genius! She definitely accomplished her life mission, “bringing a deeper level of love and understanding”. She’s with your boyfriend Biffer. But always with us too. Beautiful writing. Love Marn
Yes, she and Biffer together at last! ? And we have two angels watching over us. I know they are near. Love you Marn! xx
Oh Adele! I am so sorry for your loss! Maya is 14 this week and thankfully healthy, but when that dreadful day comes I’ll know she was with me to bring joy through my divorce, my move to nyc, a pandemic and many, many breakups. Sending you guys all our love ?
How beautiful that Maya has been your companion through so many life changes. It’s such a blessing to have these little ones accompany us through significant stages. Love to you too Julie! ?
This was a great post, Adele ♥️ Have been reading and reviewing a lot of communications during this time of crisis, and this is the most sincere and heartfelt I’ve read so far. Very sorry for your loss. Appreciate that you wrote this.
This is the best piece I’ve read in a long time. I lost my boy a few days before Xmas. He was beautiful, smart, kind, so loving and a show stopper. His beauty grabbed attention everywhere he went. I rescued Kane when he was 3.5, we were meant to be. The group had turned down 3 applicants and when I saw him I walked right up to him/ he to me. His fosters said don’t touch his ears, paws or mouth- he doesn’t like it. He let me do all of those things. I had to prove that I had experience with large, long hair shepherds. We definitely rescued each other and I could go on and on. I talk to him every day. I love that you have Sonya to help you communicate with Stella. I’m so so sorry for your loss and feel for you & your husband. Sending you a virtual hug?
I loved Stella so much and so did Koda. She was the cutest, sweetest and most adorable dog ever. She will be missed by everyone! The last picture of her reminds me of how I think of her ❤️ and that beautiful little face.
You should become a writer, you have such a talent for expressing yourself and thoughts.
Sending tons of Love your way!
Thank you so much Patty ? It means a lot to me that you appreciate what I’m sharing. I’m going to try to write more 🙂 And Stella loved you and Koda so much too xx
Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. It’s amazing how they know and so do we when we’re meant to be together. Kane is a lucky little one. Sending a virtual hug back to you too! ?
Oh dear Adele, I have Rosie, a rescue, who is quite senior, going on 14 and I think about her possibly passing every day during this truly amazingly difficult time. My first beautiful dog, another rescue, a scrapper from the mean streets of LA, Honey, died in 2005 right on Christmas Eve and I thought I’d never be the same. It was so unbelievably painful. The tears and yes, wailing, as I fetched her from the emergency hospital (the only one that was open) in Santa Barbara, OMG, it was quite a scene. After I spent months mooning over dogs on the internet and finally came across Rosie, a sweet rather goofy Lab mix with a shiny black coat, in a halfway house through PetFinders.com and with a friend decided to drive down south to fetch her. Bringing her home I started crying again because at first I didn’t want to go through another bonding process with someone else but the heart gives way and she wormed her way in eventually. I hug her and tell her I love her every day. And I know as well I’ll be saying goodbye in a couple years if not sooner so YES sounds like you guys have tuned right in. Your sensitivity is your strength. I wish you fortitude and grace through this time and just know that the heart heals which is not about forgetting. Enjoy your loving remembrances of Stella. You saved each other in so many ways. Bless you, Adele, keep on bringing love and light into the world. You’ll be doing Stella proud.
Bless you Tina and little Rosie! I’m so glad you brought another furry family member into your life after Honey despite how difficult it was to say goodbye. It’s excruciating to let go of those little precious bodies. I know Chris and I will one day adopt another dog when the time is right. Your story is inspiring 🙂 x
This is beautiful, thank you and Stella for this message we all need to hear these days??hugs, I know missing her is so hard too??
Thank you dear Emily ?
This is beautiful Adele???