I no longer brace myself for impact when I open the front door. I know he’s not lying there waiting for me and he’s not going to come chasing out to great me, bashing into us in his excitement.
I no longer walk straight to the back door to let him out when I come home and I no longer find myself walking down the pet aisle in the supermarket.
We’ve got used to the fact that our pup isn’t here any more.
But we miss him.
Once Dave and I had made the difficult decision to let Thomas go, one of the things I was most worried about was how the children would deal with it. We got Thomas when Ben was just a matter of months old (there was in fact only three weeks between their birthdays) and as such none of them knew a life without him.
Because Dave and I had known for a few weeks that we were going to lose Thomas I was able to spend some time getting straight in my own head what I wanted to tell the children, to plan the words I wanted to use and to prepare for any questions I expected they might have. I had spoken to friends about their experiences and I wanted to be straight with them. I was keen to avoid saying that Thomas had been “put to sleep” as whilst I know that’s a common phrase for us as adults I think it sounds confusing for children – Can he wake up again? What about if I go to sleep, will I wake up again? Trying to dress things up to protect their feelings would just create confusion and the potential for greater hurt down the line.
We had already told them Thomas was very poorly and that the vet might not be able to make him better. Ben and Chloe understood that this meant he might die but we didn’t talk about it any further. Over the coming fortnight we occasionally mentioned that Thomas was poorly just to keep it in their heads more than anything.
On the day Thomas died, the kids were at school. We hadn’t expected to lose him that day. We were planning on taking him to the vet the following day but there were no appointments available when we rang to book him in. I had intended to encourage the kids to make an extra fuss of him before they left for school, even though I didn’t want to tell them what was going to happen. As it was circumstance didn’t allow.
Because they were all out at childcare, Dave & I were able to come home from the vet and put away some of Thomas’s things (his bed and bowls) before we picked the kids up. I felt this was important to show he had gone.
When we got everyone home we sat down on the sofa and I explained I had something very sad to tell them – I could barely get that sentence out of my mouth without crying.
I explained that Thomas had been too poorly for the vet to make him better and that he had died that afternoon. Amy immediately responded by telling me she had something sad to tell me – something about her childminder Ange and some crusts, I can’t remember the details, I wasn’t really concentrating. Her reaction showed of course that she hadn’t really taken it in.
Chlo said she was sad, that she didn’t want Thomas to die then asked if we were going to get a new dog before bursting into tears. She sobbed her little heart out. I don’t think I’ve ever known her cry like that before. I just cuddled her and cried too.
Ben, whilst clearly upset, didn’t want to be seen to cry. He told us he was sad, that Thomas was a good dog and then went in the other room to do his homework. Of course we told him it was ok to be sad and to cry but he obviously wanted to keep that to himself.
Over the course of the evening the kids started talking to each other about how they would see Thomas again in heaven. The following morning we drove to York where Thomas was buried in my parent’s garden with his mother and sister. Chloe drew a picture to be buried with him and I took them to the garden centre to buy a plant to mark his spot. We showed them where he had been buried and Ben said “This is Thomas’s grave. Don’t stand on it”. And that was that. Life went on.
Six months down the line and we talk about Thomas a lot. All three children are keen that we should get another dog. This was something they talked about immediately after we had lost Thomas and whilst it sounded insensitive, it made sense to me that they just saw it as a space to be filled in our family. We’d always had a dog, why wouldn’t we get another one?
And will we? I just don’t know. There is a space in our home. It does feel strange that we don’t have Thomas here. However even before we knew Thomas was poorly we had agreed we wouldn’t get another dog for a while. Of course we had expected we’d have a good few years left before we lost him. Since Thomas died my allergies have calmed down considerably, I don’t think any of us realised how much he was contributing to them. The house is much cleaner – there’s less dust and no mucky footprints on my kitchen floor and we don’t have to worry about getting home after a long day out or planning for someone to look after him when we go away. And yet, I do so miss having a dog . . .
Do you have a preferred breed? The Yorkipoo is unbelievably cute but I’m definitely a boxer girl!