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Dogs and Grief

If you’ve been fortunate enough to experience the companionship of a dog, it’s almost certain that at one time or another, they’ve been there to comfort you through a difficult time. Maybe it was a bad day, a break-up, or on a much larger scale, the death of a loved one.

This post was inspired by the recent loss of a friend and mentor, who also happened to love dogs. During his illness his companion, a rescue, provided countless hours of comfort not only to him but also his wife. After his passing, their companion continues to help his wife through the grieving process.

At times, my own companions have been the only ones that have witnessed my tears and felt the depth of my grief. They allow me to sit and cry without apology or need for comfort. Their presence offers more support than any words can possibly give. They sense the pain and gently stay by my side. They ask nothing, and they give everything in return – themselves, their love, and their loyalty.  Even now, as my grief ebbs and flows, they seem to know just the right time to sit with me and just “be”.

During WWII, a tiny Yorkie named “Smoky” became the first documented therapy dog. Since then, therapy dogs have been used in many settings with a notable increase in funeral homes to offer comfort to those mourning their loved ones.  As Petey and Marina sit by my side and offer unspoken support, I look at them and wonder who is rescuing whom.

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