4 Lessons I Learned from Our Family Dog



It has been over a year now since our family dog, Willow, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 10. We have the same cliches as many families with pets; our children grew up with her, she was so loving and caring, great with people, made the house feel like home, etc. all of which are true for us as much as those families too. I took her death very hard, and still do. Until now I could not and did not want to talk about it. I love her. We had her from a young age and she was with me (mainly due to my job) everyday for her life. Other than travelling, or occasional holidays abroad, which were few, I had my little companion with me always. On the good days, the bad days, and the down right ugly days. Even when I was not the nicest person towards her it didn’t matter, she was there. Those 48 hours leading up to her passing were one of the darkest and lowest points. So many things I wish I had done differently. I was supposed to be taking care of her and I did not fulfil my duty and responsibility towards her. Everyone says you couldn’t have done anything, sometimes your brain can’t or won’t accept that, rightly or wrongly I can’t accept it. Even when talking to the kids and telling them they could not have done anything differently. True. Yes. My wife was angry, upset, then angry, with the situation in a vicious loop. As we all do you console people, push your own feelings to one side to make room for them. As a parent you have to do that for your children.

Time will heal. I feel that it’s more like time will pass and you will know how to make it through the days, weeks, months without falling apart. More of an ability to cope. I remember all the fun we had as a family with her. She had so much love to give, and we did for her. 

To this day I find it overwhelmingly hard to think about her without getting upset. Be that the fun moments, the down moments, and everything in between, I just miss her.  

My Learning In Memory of Willow

  1. Unconditional love is a strength,
  2. Being excited is awesome and contagious,
  3. Take time to relax,
  4. Having an NHC (non-human companion) is priceless.

Unconditional Love is a Strength

I may have learned this in principle, but in practice it is a lot harder than you think. Differentiating between Loving and Liking or accepting and caring enough to challenge are difficult concepts to learn. Unconditionally Loving someone is a strength, it builds a baseline of trust. Unconditional Love does not mean always allowing the other person to walk all over you. Unconditional Love means always wanting the best for the other person. Willow always ALWAYS wanted the best for us. She was always there to love us on our down days, push us on our moody days, and support us on our challenges. I find that humans take unconditional love for others as being stupid and naive. Unconditional Love is not naivity, it’s being open, honest, and supportive to others and yourself ALWAYS. It means being strong enough to love someone so much to tell them when they are wrong. Love so much that you will be there on their bad days, good days, ugly days. OR Love enough to walk away when they need you to walk away.

Being Excited is Awesome and Contagious

Willow was always happy to see us. She let us know everyday. Quite often we forget to smile, be excited, or greet others with happiness. It’s easy to do, we have a bad day so we don’t smile. Willow made us feel welcome home, or a bright morning because we were simply there. Just because we were there. 

Take Time to Relax

Between Willow and our cat, relaxing really made them better. They gave themselves the permission to stop. At the times I was invited into this relaxing time was incredible. To simply sit there, or lay there and just BE. No conditions, no thoughts, no Expectations. Be in your own company without issue. 

Having a Non-Human Companion (NHC) is Priceless

Friends are great. They can be there for us when we need them, they can be a beacon of light and happiness. Learning to understand a NHC means you have to think and feel to depth you have not done before. Like having a baby, you can’t just talk you have to use the non-verbal communication. You have to rely on that 90% of sentient beings communication. 

Your NHC makes you see the world from an entirely different place. Forcing you to learn new skills, to understand something more than just yourself, and AND you must lead them too. They are counting on you! They look upon to you! You are their leader, and the full responsibility of that lies squarely on your shoulders. 

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