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Your dog died. Grieve unapologetically. This is for them.

“I loved you for your whole life and I'll miss you for the rest of mine.”

Love is not a measure of how much we give, but how much we are willing to give without condition. Pets give love with their entire being, sadly, even if they are mistreated. They give their devotion and love freely, without judgement. It’s no wonder that our family pet becomes our sounding board, our non-judgemental confidante; their kind eyes and silent contemplation brings us a comfort like no other. We can literally say anything to our pet, and they are just there, lovingly looking at us.

During the past two months, four of my close friends and family had to make the excruciatingly sad decision to say goodbye to their much-loved dogs. The pain of the loss of their companions in life has brought them a deep grief that will take some time to ease.

To say “it’s just a dog” is like saying to someone who has lost an elderly relative, “oh well, they’re old” or to someone who has miscarried, “it’s not meant to be” I can go on, but you get the picture.

Therefore, I urge us all to be kind to all grief, because no matter the form, grief is real. And it’s so painful. Just writing this, I’m crying over my boxer dog Lionel who died 15 years ago.

To each of my friends or family, their dog was their child, in that they didn’t have little humans, either by choice or not. I don’t mean to say their dogs were in lieu of, because children are a different entity; children wouldn’t listen to our problems, just as they wouldn’t not ask for anything like being fed, or a toy in a shop. Different beings altogether. Yet, it’s indescribable the measure of unyielding parental love and dedication that my friends and family gave to their dogs. They would have done anything for their dogs, just as a loving parent would do anything for their child, let us rather compare unconditional love to unconditional love.

My friend, Jo with her darling rescue greyhound, Zia

In “Epitaph to a Dog” Lord Byron’s friend John Hobhouse wrote the introduction to Byron’s poem about the death of his Newfoundland dog, Botswain, who died of rabies.

Near this Spot are deposited the Remains of one who possessed Beauty without Vanity, Strength without Insolence, Courage without Ferosity, and all the virtues of man without his vices.

To my friends and family, you know who you are. I wish you much brighter days ahead, as you carry forward with you the memory of your darling dogs. When you miss them, you don’t have to look far, they’re right in your heart.

My husband Mike with our boxer Lionel, on his last walk with a stick in his mouth.

In memory of Zia, Nana, Douggie, Reggie, and my Lionel Lyon, and for all the pets who brought us so much joy, now frolicking around without pain, and probably causing mischief on some beautiful field in the sky.

Written by Lillian Lyon for The Last Time

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