Dear Annie: Ten years ago, I was transferred to Chicago for work. I didn’t know anyone and found myself very lonely the first year. One winter night while I was out picking up Chinese takeout for dinner, I heard barking and saw a little black and white puppy under a tree. I looked around everywhere and saw no signs of an owner. He was very young, and it was very cold, so I took him home.
I put up signs with his picture, saying I had found him. No one responded. I decided it was safe to “adopt” him. I named him Snoopy.
Having the companionship of a dog really helped with my loneliness. I went out for walks and took him to the dog park on weekends. Snoopy even helped me meet my husband. You see, one Saturday afternoon at the dog park, Snoopy started playing with a huge black Labrador. The Lab’s owner came up to me, and we struck up a conversation. Long story short, we were married within three years. (We had our dogs walk down the aisle to give them credit for introducing us.)
Fast-forward 10 years. Snoopy was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma. The vet gave him three months to live. My husband and I were devastated. I simply couldn’t imagine life without this dog. He had been such a wonderful companion to us. Two months after his diagnosis, he passed away. Since then, I have been so depressed. I am having trouble concentrating at work. This companion who was there through so much of my life is now gone. My husband is sad, too, but keeps trying to tell me to snap out of it. I am so sad; I can’t. How can I get over this loss? – Grieving for Snoopy
Dear Grieving: I am so sorry for your loss. I, too, am an animal lover and understand how much animals truly are members of the family. It sounds as if you gave Snoopy a great home. Take comfort in knowing that you gave him a wonderful life, the best life he could have asked for. Though you will never forget Snoopy, I promise that time will lessen the pain. He will always live on in your heart. I’ve always found comfort in a poem by Steve and Diane Bodofsky, “The Rainbow Bridge”:
“By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill, is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
“Where the friends of man and woman do run, when their time on earth is over and done.
“For here, between this world and the next, is a place where each beloved creature finds rest.
“On this golden land, they wait and they play, till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
“No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness, for here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness.
“Their limbs are restored, their health renewed, their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
“They romp through the grass, without even a care, until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
“All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back, then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
“For just at that instant, their eyes have met; together again, both person and pet.
“So they run to each other, these friends from long past, the time of their parting is over at last.
“The sadness they felt while they were apart, has turned into joy once more in each heart.
“They embrace with a love that will last forever, and then, side-by-side, they cross over … together.”
Copyright 1998 Steve and Diane Bodofsky. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission. http://www.newrainbowbridge.com
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