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I never had a dog growing up. I didn’t know anything about them when I got Abbey for John except they get fleas and sometimes bite people if they get mad. John had always had and loved beagles. John had so much love in him that he needed one more thing to dote on, care for and love. John needed a dog the way a plant needs water.

Since I brought her home, to Abbey I was the sucker that always fed her and John was her master, her love. That’s how it always was and I was okay with that. Her love, but not her loyalty, was for sale for treats and I was content to allow that to be our relationship. Then John died and I watched as she mourned for him even as I did. No two creatures missed him more in their daily life than her and I. She would look for him, night after night roaming from the basement office, to his spot on the couch, to the bedroom over and over until she wore herself out. I was stunned and saddened to watch her search for him day and after day. I was sad that she was left to me and my dog ignorance. I was certain John would have known how to comfort her, but I had no idea what to do. I didn’t know anything about dogs when I brought her home to John who cried tears of instant love when he met her. Now she was mine. Mine to love, mine to care for, mine to translate her dog needs and ways into action. She was mine, but it took a long time before I became hers.

The process of her adopting me began with resuming our daily walks. It was a week or so after John died that I decided I needed to take Abbey for a walk. She hadn’t really been out since he died. Those around me offered to take her but I knew it was going to be my job from then on and therefore thought I might as well do it. I didn’t think about how hard it would be to engage in walks with her, without John. This was our routine. Every day the three of us would walk together. John would let her off her lease and she would never go too far away from us, always listening to his commands. Later I would try to let her off her lease on my own but with disastrous results as I chased her down the path and through the park. To this day I think she was running away to find him. It was so hard to engage in this daily activity without him. To watch the seasons change, to watch couples holding hands in the evening as we always did, to hear laughter when my heart literally pained for John to be with me. So many, many walks I ended up barely getting home in emotional tack as the tears streamed down my face, strangers looking on wondering, ‘What? What happened?' As I sobbed by them my dog pulling us back to the safety and sanctuary of our home.

It took some months before she crawled up onto the couch. Laid her head on my lap and sighed- maybe out of resignation, maybe out of finally having made the decisions that I was now hers and she mine. And she is mine. To this day if I am home she is nearby at all times. I can never leave her sight without her following me. She doesn’t like it when I take a bath but worse when I take a shower, then I have to leave the shower curtain somewhat open so she can see me. Even if I’m just quickly peeing Abbey has to be able to see me, making us impossibly unfit for future cohabitation because the bathroom door is to remain open at all times or desperate scratching and occasionally beagle door battling ensues as she hurls herself into the door to get to me. It’s not all chaos though. She keeps me quiet company while I clean the kitchen or make tea. She sits under my legs or on them at night often insisting on ear rubs and pets, when she is wore out she nuzzles my feet and softly snores. The vet says that beagles simply have separation anxiety and Abbey’s is higher than normal due to her mourning of John. In that we are the same. I too have anxiety, fear and abandonment issues.

I’ve watched her these many months mourn, adapt, change, find a new routine, imprint and come to love again-fiercely. Her ability to adapt and change and be herself hasn’t been a wasted lesson on me. I too am trying to adapt and change and learn to love again, to trust in loving again, even if it means I, as Abbey has done, have to request a future mate leave the bathroom door open to ease my fears of abandonment and loss.

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Comment by Moe66 on July 4, 2014 at 4:53am
This so beautifully puts into words the love and healing power of pets. Thank you for sharing.
Comment by icecream on July 2, 2014 at 2:15pm

We just got a brand new pup. Canine # 2 - is a little mix, maybe some Beagle? She is a bright spot of energy in our home in addition to my English Springer Spaniel. The Springer has a rapidly enlarging inoperable tumor, and we don't know how long we will have him. I didn't really want another dog, another anchor, but it has been wonderful for me and for my girls. Sometimes I cuddle that pup, and it brings a sense of peace, and happiness that is so hard to find in these days of grief. And it is my hope that when the Springer goes, it will be the Beagle that pulls us all through it. My only solace is that the Springer will go and be with his 'master' (my husband) and that does give me some comfort.  

Comment by IndiaKai on July 2, 2014 at 6:09am

Oh how odd dogs emotions can be.  I learned so much from mine and the most I learned in the 6 months after my husband passed.

Our Daytona dog was the one who came back to our lake cabin to alert me when my husband died on the side of the road last July. He was panting & drooling (which he never does) and Toby wasn't with him. That is when I knew something terrible had happened. Daytona and Toby were never seperated.  He was so traumatized by the event. I never thought dogs could be affected by these events, but boy oh boy, yes they can.  I watched this very happy blue merle Australian/Shar Pei dog move into a dark, sad, sulking pup. There wasn't much I could do for him since I was in the same state.  We were a sad pair.  I knew my dog loved me, but my husband was his person. I remember the weekend my husband died and I said to a friend, "Daytona wont stay.  He wont stay long without Toby. He was too connected to him. I'll be surprised if he makes it 6 months." Unfortunately, I was absolutely correct. Toby wanted his dog.  Out of nowhere, Daytona got advanced liver cancer in mid December 2013. I found out there was nothing more I could do for him January 7th. Exactly six months after Toby died. I had to put him down January 10th.  Broke my heart all over again to lose Daytona, but I knew he wanted Toby so much more than me and oddly I was okay with that. 

Love that beagle of yours and yes.... learn to keep the bathroom door open.  I have a cat that seems to think I might get lost and leave every time I enter the bathroom.  Even though there is only one way in and out. I must leave the door open or he puts his paws under the door and wails and shakes the door to get to me.  :)  

Comment by Enzo on June 30, 2014 at 5:12pm
Flanney, thank you for sharing, made me cry, my Viszla is the same way now. He lost his Momma 4 months ago and I have to do everything your doing alone too. Our dog is like Velcro now.
Bless your heart flannery.
Comment by HeartsForever on June 30, 2014 at 2:58pm

Flannery.....this could have been written about my mini schnauzer.  He and DH had a special bond, even though we had only adopted him from the ARL two years prior to DH death.  The only part that is different is that we had one before and I said not again, too painful at the end.  We could have had 2 dogs inbetween, as it was over 25 yrs without a dog.  I'm so glad I have him now.  He has comforted me in so many ways. 

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