“I’m not ready, I’m not ready,” I pleaded. My beloved dog, Fudge, was in her final days. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. I still needed her. She was thirteen and her health was failing. She still looked at me with those soulful eyes full of emotion and intelligence. Putting her down was not an option I was ready to take. As I held her close, I knew asking her to stay was selfish. She could no longer manage stairs, so I had to carry her down the flight from the 2nd floor apartment so she could do her business. Two or three times a night I would take her down (she always let me know).
The veterinarian explained that she would likely have a heart attack. “She’ll go blind first. That will be the sign. It will happen just before the attack.” And so it went. I had taken her to my family’s farm where their vet would put her down. My ex-husband planned to come and say goodbye. Then we would bury her in a place she loved.
Early that morning I sat and cradled her. I gave her permission to go. Told her how much I loved her and that she didn’t have to wait. I wasn’t ready, but knew she needed to be released. Shortly after, I saw her from across the room with a panicked look. Whipping her head back and forth. “Fudge?” I moved toward her and waved my hand in front of her eyes. She was blind. The heart attack hit her hard, causing her to reel up and backwards. I was not prepared for this. She was scared. I was scared. As she struggled against her body’s betrayal, she let out a long, lonely howl.
But this wasn’t the final goodbye.
Over the years I have loved many pets. The hardest part about including pets as part of the family is saying goodbye when it is time for them to cross the rainbow bridge. But I’ve found that there is often a second goodbye. With Fudge, it came about three months after she died. I had since adopted my sister’s Schipperke – though emotionally I wasn’t quite ready, but he desperately needed to be rehomed. His name was Timmy.
One night I had a vivid dream. I was in bed and Timmy was sitting up looking at me. Suddenly, my beloved Fudge appeared and in my dream, I exclaimed, “There you are! You’ve been hiding behind Timmy all this time!” Fudge energetically came to me. Her happy smile, wagging tail, and warm cuddle was a much-welcomed reunion. I woke too soon.
Do pets return to share their final goodbyes? Or is it just our mind’s way of coping with the loss?
Kristy Robinett wrote about the different ways our pets communicate with us. Dreams is certainly a common means. But we can also sense their spirit through sounds (the happy clicking of their nails on the floor), through sight – as a shadow or fleeting view, or through smell. Robinett suggests we can even feel their love. It may be a cold spot, the weight of their body settling on the bed, or the familiar kneading of a beloved cat.
While Robinett suggests you can call upon the spirit of a beloved pet to visit, I’ve often felt that when their spirit comes to say goodbye that this is meant to be the final goodbye. That calling back a pet may prevent them from moving on.
However, there have been a couple of pets who never did say their final goodbyes and I’ve often wondered if it is because of something I never completed with them or if they are just lost and looking. Perhaps calling their spirit to me would give that final goodbye a chance to happen.
What I do know is that the final goodbye has always given me a feeling of peace.
By Cynthia Mudge
The shadow of your soul Still pads at my heels
Click click click Your nails tap A happy greeting
Tail wagging Doggy grin Ears alert Eyes twinkle Betraying your mischief
Loving companion Faithful heart Brave guardian With every bark
We walk We walk We walk Miles and miles and miles Some on the sand Some in the park Some around the block Now only in my heart
Rest my little friend
Kristy Robinett, 5 Ways Our Departed Pets Communicate With Us