“The presence and companionship of dogs, the observation of their playful tactics has helped patients on their way back to normal thinking and living.”
Captain Wm. Lewis Judy,Founder of National Dog Week (1928) and long time publisher of Dog World Magazine.
I realized the other day that as the Saturday Widow’s Voice poster I’d be publishing on Christmas Eve Day. The holidays are rough even during the best of times, so those who’ve lost a spouse, or equivalent, know that even if your life has slowly improved and your grief has subsided a bit, the imagery, scents and sounds of the holiday season can stir a deep ocean of emotion brought on by the occasional rouge wave and rip currents that come with no warning, or just cause one to become engulfed in that chemically induced mind-numbing Widowed Fog. For example, I truly can’t recall how I spent Christmas Eve last year.
In prior posts, I told of how last December I’d flown from Northern Florida to San Diego, CA, to adopt an 8 week old pup I’d already named Quint in honor of Rich. Quint’s entry into this world was infused with high drama which I will share at a later date. Let’s say by the time Quint was born, he’d experienced situations while in the womb of his stray mom that might be worthy of a Netflix series or movie.
But I digress. Today is about trying to find the peace of this season, and often, when I talk to those experiencing abject sorrow and loss, they speak of how a pet has helped them through “ruff times” as I like to play on words. Horses, cats, ferrets, reptiles and even fish can all be healers, but as a dog-centric writer, my focus is primarily on canines, although I have had all the aforementioned as pets at some point in my life.
Making such a long voyage to a city I’d never even visited was a personal challenge. Although I’d married in my late 30s and had traveled to many places on my own, I’d become accustomed to traveling with my husband over the past 25 plus years of our togetherness. This trip, just 5 weeks after Rich’s passing, was the beginning of my healing process; a way of accepting my new status in life.
At that time, my mother had come to stay with me. My father, who requires more supervision and attention, was then residing in a local Assisted Living Facility fifteen minutes from here (they are now happily settled together in another location). Preparing for my journey, I hired a companion for my mom and with puppy carrier in hand, made my way to Jacksonville (FL) airport – with one stop at JFK (NY)- and arrived in San Diego late at night where I proceeded to board the wrong bus to my hotel. Redirected, I subsequently awoke to a beautiful warm sunny San Diego morning ready to fetch my little Quint.
Quirky Q as I call him is a party boy. He loves to lick and engage with everyone and other dogs as well. He is demanding, clownish and full of life – the kind of dog the Universe knew I needed to pull me back into the world. I’ve always said that when the time is right, so is the dog. That “right dog” always seems to make their way to us when we need them most.
Shortly after Rich’s passing, I joined a private Facebook Group for those who’ve been widowed. It has offered a safe place in which to vent and share in ways that are truly understood. The other morning I encouraged members of that group to share photos of the dogs (and other pets) that’ve helped them through their own “Ruff Times”. Below I’ve posted what some wished to share. Also, if you are a dog lover, I welcome you to visit and LIKE the National Dog Week FB page I established years ago while writing a book chronicling its Founder, Will Judy, and our nation’s enduring bond with its canine companions over the decades, Dog’s Best Friend (McFarland & Co. – 2014). https://wwwfacebook.com/NatDogWeek
Wishing all of you a beautiful Christmas and holiday week. And now I realize my next post will fall on New Year’s Eve. It is a good “challenge” to have. Peace to you all during Ruff Times and all others.
A big bark out to all of my Comrades in Widowhood who shared their furry companions with us and their personal stories with page members. May we all embrace the good moments that come our way and make them springboards for better things to come throughout the year, day by day.
Do you have a pet that brings you great comfort? Please feel free to share them in Comments!