Discover more from Food For Thought.
Last week I put my 14-year-old dog to rest. It was one of the hardest choices I've made in a long time. Her physical health was declining as was her quality of life. We decided to do it in the comfort of our home, which meant we had more control over how things would go. We took her for one last walk in the woods, gave her a nice warm bath, and fed her two filet mignon steaks for breakfast. The vet came shortly after and guided us through the rest of the process with calm and care. She left the world with her favorite foods in her belly and with her parents holding her dearly.
Even before Latte’s departure, I’ve been living in a push and pull of grief. I knew her time was coming to an end, but I didn’t want to really believe it. So much of our lives and current existence as a couple was intertwined with being her parents. We accommodated our work schedules to make sure she was being walked and fed on time (my husband walked her bright and early while I did the afternoons). Vacations needed to be dog friendly because towards the end we didn’t want to leave that responsibility with family or friends. Any time we were out to dinner or a movie we’d somehow gravitate our conversation to talk about her. I wonder if she’s still asleep on the couch? Or maybe she’s made her way to the room? Should we stop to buy her some treats? Does she have enough chicken breast for breakfast tomorrow or should we surprise her with some tuna?
Latte was our whole world. We were those people. You know the ones people talk about in low whispers or behind closed doors. The ones who people think they’re just a bit obsessed with their pets. Obsession would be putting it lightly. We were fully enamored and deeply in love with this dog. She wasn’t a pet. She was a part of our family. The funny thing about Latte is that she barely showed affection back. She was very cool and slinky like a cat. She only would want rubs on her own terms. Never would run to the door to see us and definitely wasn’t a jump-up-and-lick-you kind of dog. She showed her love in other ways like always wanting to be in the same room that we were in, stopping and waiting for us in case she got too far ahead on a hiking trail, or lying in bed with us if one of us was sick.
What I haven’t told anyone is that Latte honestly saved my life during the first year of the pandemic. My life was riddled with anxiety and uncertainty - I had willingly quit my full-time job a month before the pandemic hit to work on exciting freelance projects, but all of those opportunities dried up or were canceled once the world shut down. Being home alone day in and day out made any mental health progress from years of therapy go out the window. Having to take her outside for a walk every day forced me to be mobile and not stuck on the couch tethered to my phone scrolling social media or reading the news. She would plop down on soft patches of grass to sunbathe and in turn, I had to plop down beside her until she decided she had enough and was ready to walk back home. She made me feel less alone and for that, I thank her immensely.
I have experienced tremendous bouts of grief several times in my life due to a myriad of things and I’m sure you have too. Being in this new chapter of life made me think, aren’t we always in a perpetual state of grief? Grieving all the moments that happened and also didn’t happen. The things that were and the things that just weren’t. Grief can sometimes feel like a physical place where we can decorate the walls, move in some furniture, and live at. It morphs into different iterations of itself as time passes by. What I’ve learned through the years of varying levels of sorrow is acceptance and grace. Giving myself grace to still feel joy and welcome laughter even when sadness and heartache seem to be the only things on the menu.
Latte’s passing is anguishing but memories of her silliness and sass bring me levity through the pain. I find myself fine most hours of the day and then randomly burst into tears when I see space for her on the couch or when I’m eating a snack that I know she’d give me puppy eyes to share. I’m sure the next couple of months are going to test my mental health as I’ll be spending time at home completely alone with no one to push me outside to sit and stare at the sky while lying in the plush spring grass. Leaving behind the cold computer screen light for torrential rays of warm sun. I’ll have to muster the energy to do it for myself now. Taking long walks through trails and stopping to sunbathe until I’ve had my fill and I’m ready to go home again.
Cook. Eat. Repeat. Cry a bit.
Natalie 💗 ✨
Food For Thought. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.