Love and Time are both funny things. Not in the LOL or ha-ha kind of way, but in the odd, surreal way that time plays in our lives, especially with pets.
We all know before we welcome home that puppy, kitten, dog, cat, horse, rabbit, bird, or whatever pet fills your heart with love, that there is a ticking clock playing in the background. While I have had many of the above-mentioned pets in my life, I'm going to talk about dogs because their lifespans are no where near as long as we humans need them to be. So when we welcome a dog into our home, our family, and our lives, it is a commitment for the next decade--or if we are truly lucky--the next 15, 16, or even 18 years. Having large dogs (my Siberian Huskies and my adopted mixed breeds of German Shepherd and Akita, and Husky, Chow, and Shepherd, I know going in the time is on the shorter end of things.
When I first embarked upon life with five Siberian Huskies--two a year apart in age, then two years later we added three puppies all the same age--we only for the briefest moment thought about how one day in the very far distant future, we were going to be crushed as they passed on, all around the same time. Then, amidst of Husky puppy kisses, potty and behavioral training, adventures, and howling songs...they aged. My once young Huskies became older dogs, one developed epilepsy, two blew out their CCLs and required emergency surgeries, two others tore their CCLs and healed via Conservative Care, and then...they were headed for the "senior" dog club! Gibson, my Epi-dog, was my first gut-wrenching loss when he was nine years old, just three weeks away from his 10th birthday, from a sudden spleen bleed and surgery found he was a victim of the evil hemangiosarcoma, and I had to let him go after a week of trying everything we could to save him, including IVs at home.
We went on to enjoy several years with our four remaining Huskies, until we lost Chloe absolutely shockingly to acute liver failure (just a few months after all her bloodwork came back normal). So on a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by our remaining three Huskies, we had to let her go to join her big brother Gibson at the Rainbow Bridge. Three months later, saw our oldest gal and pack momma, Harley, who soldiered through a torn CCL, Horner's Disease, balding, partial hearing loss, and partial sight loss, joining her love Gibson and "pupster" Chloe north of the Rainbow Bridge. Heartbroken at losing two so close to each other, we proceeded to help the last remaining two - Bandit and Wolfgang - through their grief of losing their "momma" and siblings, and into a life of two Sibes.
We then moved out of what was our home for 30 years, and that was huge. I helped them--and me--adjust to new surroundings. Settling in is always a challenge for older dogs as one wonders how they will adapt. The two Pupsters no longer howled in the wonderful Husky song as they always did before. Once Harley passed, so did their desire to howl. I had hoped maybe once they settled in our new place, the howls would return. But, alas, the howls have subsided. But the two Pupsters did so well adjusting, it warmed my heart! We went on some new exploration walks, enjoyed campfires in the cool evenings, and running through the sprinkler with the little human kiddos. Things were good again!
Always the picture of health, Bandit shocked me when she collapsed one day, like her big brother Gibson had years before, and that bastard hemangiosarcoma had returned to steal her from us. Wolf went into a spiral of a depression and grief. For a short period of time, I feared I was going to lose him as well. Always an anxious boy, the loss of his last packmate and sister, he was a mess. He stopped eating; lost 10 pounds in just a month, and was ever so sad. Thankfully, and it took a few vet checks, some medication and a new diet, as well as constant love and assurance, Wolfie bounced back.
Wolf is now my sole member of the original FiveSibes, and my constant companion. He is now in his golden senior years at 13 and-a-half, a a different dog than when he was with the rest of the pack. He is now basically a house dog. Going out only if I do. Coming inside when I do. But he is happy. How do I know? Because his bounce is back in his step, his woo talking is back, and he so loves the little human grandkiddos that live with us. So, to Wolf, he has a pack family again, only it is comprised of all us humans!
Initially, when I had lost Gibson, I had planned on spreading his ashes across our (then) backyard on a snowy day. That winter we had no snow. Then there never seemed to be the right day. Then, as time does so well, we consecutively lost two. Then we moved, and I knew in my heart, they all had to go with me. So they did. Then when Bandit passed, I knew the time was here to let them all be together forever along with the sands of time here on the land of our new place.
They walk beside us everyday,
Unseen, unheard, but always near,
I finally found a memorial stone that touched my heart. And, yesterday, I placed it on the spot where my beloved Gibson, Harley, Chloe, and Bandit became one with the earth. Now, Wolfie and I have a place to pay homage to them. I have a few things I want to add around the stone to make it a place of remembrance. A place where when I close my eyes, I can see them all running across my backyard, free and happy, before breaking into a unity of howls. I know one day my last of the OG FiveSibes will join them and be with me forever here. But I hope that will not be for a long time. Life with OneSibe is much different from FiveSibes, but special in its own way. For now, if you see me,Wolf is nearby. And if you see Wolf, I am even closer. Unless my grandkids are outside--then it's all about them, and I love it!
So, to all my pet parent friends - embrace all the moments spent with your pet, even the smallest of moments, for one day, they shall be your memories, stored in your heart forever, for time with our beloved pets passes all too quickly.