My first experience of this was when I was 12 years old. I had a German Short Haired Pointer (GSP) and her name was Bronlea or Bronnie. I had known her from a couple of weeks of age as a family friend had bred her. I took her to the local obedience school every Sunday morning, she slept in my bed, and she ate the food I didn’t want at dinner as she would hide under the table. This all ended when my parents got wise to what I was doing. I just loved being with her and took her everywhere I could. She had a stunning and very gentle nature, and I loved her immensely. When she was around 5 years old, she started to fall to the ground spontaneously and have very brief, mild seizures. Being only 12yrs old I found this very upsetting for myself and extremely confusing. I told my parents this had happened a couple of times so my mother took her to the vet. Sadly the diagnosis was she had Leukemia. The vet wasn’t hopeful she would be able to recover yet they started treatment, she began to show signs of improvement, but it was short-lived. I will never forget the day my parents told me they took her to the vet and she had passed away. I was devastated, I remember falling to the ground sobbing uncontrollably. I had never experienced the loss of a loved one before this day. Even sitting here typing this story brings tears to my eyes. Every time I see a GSP it still makes me smile, and I think of my beautiful girl as that was the start of my fascination with dogs and hence my lifelong career working with them.
Being a dog trainer doesn’t mean my love for dogs is any different to those who are not any kind of dog expert. I have seen so many times the loss and pain that friends and clients have experienced because of the loss of their best friend. I have known those dogs well, so I share in their grief and loss.
For myself, losing a dog is no different from losing a family member or a friend. The emotions are exactly the same, as we collect memories along the way with them as we share our lives. They enrich the way we live in so many ways I cannot even begin to explain. Being a dog trainer, I do spend a huge amount of time with my dogs for various reasons, however, and still, my favorite thing to do with any dog is to just to hang out and play with them.
I’ve had a tough life at times and there have been some real low points where I almost gave up. I’ve never given up though because of my dogs and my concern about what would happen to them if I was no longer around. This concern for them has also pushed me on to deal with those issues to ensure I could continue to care for them, and to give them the best life that I can.
Having dogs my entire life has enriched it in so many ways. They kept me strong when I had to be strong, and through of my profession, I have met many wonderful people and their beautiful dogs.
Now, at 48 years of age if I lost my bestie it would be just as devastating as it was when I lost Bronnie at 12yrs of age. Time does heal all wounds, yet I remember all of them every day. I do my best to talk of them as often as I can, to keep their memories alive and purposeful. Hence I am celebrating their lives, what they meant and will always mean to me.