Saying Goodbye to our Big Blue Girl

It wouldn't hurt so much if we didn't love them so much. That's what I have to keep reminding myself. I know I wouldn't change it for anything. We lost one of our beloved dogs last week. Our Great Dane was nine years old. She was a Blue Merle Great Dane. We named her Saphira after a giant blue dragon in the novel "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini. She definitely had the heart of a dragon. She was getting up there for sure. Her health had been remarkably great. Danes tend to struggle with a myriad of weird health issues, but she really hadn't had any of them. She did struggle with anxiety when there were loud noises like fireworks, thunder or gunshots. Overall though, she had enjoyed an excellent 9 years of health and happiness.

Last weekend she got ill. She clearly didn't feel good and seem to be having some pain in her abdomen. By Sunday night she was vomiting. Monday morning we called the vet. We were instructed to keep her hydrated and bring her in on Tuesday. We did so. On Tuesday the vet suspected that she had a uterine infection that was causing her to have a high fever, dehydration and vomiting. I knew it wasn't good. I had told my husband Tuesday morning I felt like we were going to lose this battle. It's not a prediction that you want to be right about. It is what my gut told me though. I felt like she was getting ready to transition from this world, that she was all done. She was hospitalized on Tuesday, for observation and hydration. Wednesday morning the vet called and said that her white blood count had shot up in the night and they needed to do an emergency surgery to rid her of the infection. We knew that it was fairly risky at her age but at this point it was do surgery or she would die. I authorized the surgery. At 1:30 in the afternoon my phone rang. I was in the shower but felt strongly that I had to take it so I quickly toweled off and grabbed the phone. It was the vet. He said that he was not sure how to express this to me but needed us to know that our dog died in surgery. He said that her heart was doing something funny and he couldn't stabilize her. I wasn't surprised but of course I was still heartbroken. He offered to let us come and get her, if we wanted to bury her. That made me chuckle a little, as in her prime she was a hundred-and-fifty-pound dog. I couldn't imagine the size of hole that would have to be dug in the backyard in order to bury her on our property. We decided to go a different route.

Scott and I grieved together that afternoon. Our hearts were broken but we still had a tremendous amount of gratitude for the time that we did have with her. 9 years old for a Dane is old. We have been on borrowed time for a while and we knew it. We had a very busy ahead of us, and had chosen not to tell the kids until later that evening. At 7 we dashed home to grab softball gear to head to a practice. At that point my youngest daughter realized that something was wrong. She demanded to know where Saphira was. She's not really a kid that you can lie to. She's very dialed in and her intuition is constantly at work. I realized that it would just make it worse by not just telling her the truth and so I did. She cried all the way to softball practice. I told her that she would have to put her game face on and get through practice with me and then we would tell the other kids and grieve together. When we got to practice I noticed her clutching her heart. She looked at me with her giant brown eyes and said, “Mom my heart just hurts. It literally hurts in my chest right now.” Oh, how I know that feeling. We managed to get through softball practice and get home. When we got home we sat the other kids down and let them know what happened. Many tears were shed, of course.

When I got up the next morning, I realized that in spirit she was still sleeping right next to my bed like she always did. She got up and followed me into the bathroom like normal. She expressed to me how strange it was to be so light, so unencumbered. She was also a bit miffed that her bed was already gone. Later that morning Skippy, one of our little Chihuahuas, was spooked by her in the kitchen. I saw him come dashing around the corner towards me then throw the brakes on turn and head into the corner of the kitchen where he watched me with with a bit of suspicion. It made me laugh. He never liked her getting too close to me.

The saddest grieving it all has been from our little chihuahua Rico. Rico was Saphira's best friend. They cuddled together, played together and generally adored each other. She was very careful to play with her 3 pound pal and not smash him in the process. After we went to bed Thursday night, I noticed that he was crying in his sleep. He cried and whimpered for most of the night. He was very quiet on Friday, with no interest in playing with his toys or even playing with me. He wanted to cuddle with Skippy in his blankets, and that was it. We have made a point of giving him a lot of extra attention this weekend, and slowly, he is perking up. I know that his grief will go on for some time, and we will be patient with him. As an animal communicator, I have been careful to be sure that all of our dogs know what has happened. They will grieve anyway though, just like us.

Years ago I was working with a dying dog who told me that death, to a dog, is an honor to the soul. She told me that her body was unable to house her soul any longer, and she would be graduating out of it soon. I know that Saphira is just fine now, no illness or infection or lumbering body to drag around. It sure is weird to go to bed without her demanding a series of back scratches before she can settle in next to me for the night. It is weird to get up in the morning without worrying about stepping on her when I hop out of bed. We are okay at my house. Our hearts hurt right now, but we will heal together. After all, it wouldn’t hurt so much if we didn’t love so much. I wouldn’t trade the love and companionship for anything in the world.

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Comments: 9
  • #1

    Thalia (Tuesday, 09 May 2017 06:06)

    I cried when I heard you first talk about your Dane's passing on the radio and again when I read this. I know the pain of loss all too well of pets, family and friends in my life. I've also been gratefully blessed to experience the lifting of the veil between physical and spirit in those moments I was present with those I loved that passed that let me know, without doubt, that it is a celebratory transition filled with light and love. I've heard you talk about your own experience with this as well:) I lost one of my own dogs last fall and also experience his presence in the house from time to time, especially in the weeks right after his passing:) When he passed, I watched myself go through the process of grieving. I contemplated, with curiosity and some humor, the duality of our nature as spirit residing in the physical and how that duality also creates a duality in how we often experience events like these in our lives . Coming from a Buddhist and mediation trained background, I have experienced that we are not our bodies. Death is like moving from one room to another, a new beginning, a rebirth. Really a celebratory event. Buddhism teaches that it is our attachment to physical things, states of mind or ideas that causes us pain, but I believe part of the deal of choosing to be in the physical is the experience of attachment that comes along with it. No matter how aware we are that death is not something to be feared or a sad event, we, as physical beings, still need to grieve the loss of that physical attachment. It is tied to our physical body, a visceral experience, perhaps also involving the dissolution of energy lines between us and our loved one. This last time I went through it, I was able to see a beauty and grace to the process of grieving, allowing myself to feel those emotions for as long as I needed to, while still having the awareness that my beloved dog was just fact more than fine:) At the same time, I was also being a witness to my own amazing experience of being spirit in a physical body and how this experience can often seem to be at odds. On one hand I was joyful and happy for my dog and also incredibly sad and physically feeling the pain of loss at the same time. I've often struggled with the balance of my spirit and being in the physical and this was one time I was able to let them both just be together and observe the beauty and irony of what it means to be spirit in the physical. I have to admit, I also experienced the humor of my spiritual guides who basically let me know, after a few months of some deep sadness off and on, that "I knew the 'truth' and it was time to transform my sadness and rise to another level and not let the sad emotions lower my energy." I have an indulgent side at times and thankfully they are there to gently or not so gently nudge me to shift my awareness;) I have two more pets, a dog and cat, and know that sometime in the future I will go through this again. I don't look forward to it and I'm not afraid of it either. It is a cliche, but knowing that they are only with us for a short time in our lives, makes me appreciate and focus on each day I have with them and express that love on a daily basis. I think they are here to remind us that this is how we should be all the time with everyone in our lives. Something I need to remind myself the next time I get frustrated with my teenager..don't sweat the small I've rambled..thank-you for allowing me to share my thoughts with you. While I do not know you and Kristie..I feel a smile in my heart when I hear you both and know that this comes from a shared connection to light:) Best to you and your family and lots of love and laughter to your beautiful Saphira as she plays in a world of endless grass, treats, toys and love:) Thalia <3

  • #2

    Ellen McGehee (Wednesday, 10 May 2017 05:18)

    I just had myself a good little cry......for the beauty in the photograph of Big Girl Blue, for your lovely words that you shared straight from your heart, and for the loss of not being able to touch Saphira or cuddle her, see her romp and feel that unconditional love that dogs do so well. But oh my, the image of Rico whimpering and quivering alone in his sleep just did me in. Somehow we are all alone in these times but still VERY connected. Thank you for sharing your powerful words and story. LOVE to you all!

  • #3

    Ty (Wednesday, 10 May 2017 15:14)

    How beautiful Katie! Our furry friends become so much a part of our lives, seemingly almost more than the people around us. You and your family have a special place in my heart and I am sending love your direction.

  • #4

    Sheila M. (Wednesday, 10 May 2017 16:50)

    Having a senior dog myself I sometimes think about how I am going to handle her passing. I'm trying to prepare myself but in the end it will be what it has to be and I will love her forever.
    Even though dogs know better and are more connected they still feel the loss, like the elephants and other species. It is part of our nature in this planet. All my love to you and your family, specially Rico, and all my blessings to Saphira.

  • #5

    liliane (Wednesday, 10 May 2017 18:22)

    Dearest Katie,
    What a beautiful story you shared with us. Sending you lots of hugs.

  • #6

    Negan Leather Jacket (Thursday, 11 May 2017 11:39)

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  • #7

    MaryLuo (Tuesday, 13 June 2017 09:35)

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  • #8

    paper writing service review (Friday, 25 August 2017 07:20)

    It's very tough time to saying goodbye to our big blue girl but research of the team has completed and they can not stay more there. But whole team have good time with this big blue girls. Detail of whole jurney you like to shared with us. Here i must say i really love the theme of this site.

  • #9

    ahmad (Monday, 11 September 2017 12:17)

    good one.