I was by his side when he slowly lost consciousness. The veterinarian said his heartbeat was fading, and that he probably wanted to hold on until the last minute. I knew Peso. If he could, he would never leave me. He was the sort of dog who cried more when his human cried. I said, “Peso, don’t leave me!” But by then, I couldn’t say anything else anymore.

That was June 7, 2016, a month before Peso’s 16th birthday. I have never really forgotten him. I don’t think dog parents like me can easily forget their canine babies when they die. It’s so much like losing human loved ones. We simply go on with our lives, but there is no getting over them.

Remembering

My everyday life is spent with reminders of my dog. For example, dogs from my neighborhood still bark at me, even if I’m walking alone. Sometimes, I wished Peso could become a ghost who still walked with me wherever I went. Though I don’t see him as a ghost, I often feel that other dogs can see him for me.

What consoles me is the belief that Peso, upon reaching the “rainbow bridge,” would automatically return to his healthy body. No more sickness or pain; only happiness. I wonder if he could sneak away from the rainbow bridge from time to time and look down, searching for me.

Sometimes, I dream of my loved ones. Aside from my parents and dogs who dies, Peso also reconnected with me in my dreams.

The first dream was sad. When I saw him, he was like a neglected dog hiding under a deserted car. I called his name and he ran to me. I cried as I carried him in my arms, and I woke up still crying. What was sad about waking up from a dream of being with departed loved ones was that although you had a second or two to forget that they were no longer here in this world, you would wake up and find yourself looking for them and realize it was just a dream.

My next dream about Peso was not sad anymore. He was happy, just like in the old days. In my dream, I knew that he was dead, but I was happy to see him. Since then, I couldn’t count the number of times he has visited me in my dreams.

Once, in my dream, Peso tagged along with another familiar dog with brindle fur, who was very happy and excited to see me. The dog was wagging her tail and trying to playfully jump on me. I realized that the brindle dog was my other dog, Pissy, who died in 2010. I was devastated when Fissy died. She never appeared in my dreams, but Peso made us meet again after such a long time.

Connecting

Among my dogs, Peso was the one I believed I had the greatest connection with because he stayed with me the longest and had human-like quirks. Whenever he ate at the dining table, he behaved just like a human. Whenever I asked him to pick up his scattered toys, he would do so. When my mother became ill, I would tell Peso to take care of my mother and watch over the house in the morning before I left for work.

I want to think that my naughty dog, with his unique yet amazing personality, would sneak out of the rainbow bridge from time to time to visit me, like when I was hospitalized. He once appeared in my dreams with my mother and a cousin who used to take care of him when I was at work.

One of his last visits happened the night before July, his birth month. In my dream, I was strolling with him in a big mall. He was unleashed, then suddenly he was gone, and I found myself shouting his name, looking for him. When he appeared, he came with other pretty dogs whom he probably made friend with at the rainbow bridge, and he proudly introduced me to them.

I knew in my heart that it was temporary and I would wake up to real life, and Peso would be back in the rainbow bridge. I started to get used to it, and it made me happy.

Sharing

I hope this story won’t make readers think hat I am delusional. I have moved on and am currently taking care of two cute baby dogs whom I named PM and MAC. I believe that people who care for dogs have different ways of coping. Peso still visits me in my dreams. My dreams about Peso give me hope that someday, I will meet him with all my other departed dogs, and it will be a very happy occassion.

Peso is gone but his memory remains. The story of his ailment is written at pethelpful.com. I also have a group on Facebook, Dogs with Ferineal Hernia Group, where members help each other by sharing their experiences and best practices in managing their own dogs’ ailments.

Always remember that in this world, the pain of losing a dog is inevitable unless you stop taking care of one. But I think the world would be lonelier without dogs, and they are worth the pain.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s November-December 2020 issue.

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