Entertainment, Katie McDowell, Life & Leisure

Saying ‘thank you’ through the tears

Usually, when I sit down to write one of these, I have a vague idea of how it will go.

This is not one of those days.

As some of you may have noticed, my column has been absent for a number of weeks.

Thanksgiving came and went, without my annual list of things I’m grateful for, and some readers have also emailed asking for an update on my sick doggie, Pops.

Which brings us to why I haven’t written, and the reason I’m finding it so difficult to today.

Because, after fighting for as long as he was able, my beloved boy crossed over that rainbow bridge on Nov. 21, and I’ve barely been able to breathe from the loss, never mind string two sentences together or count my many blessings.

The grief has simply been too great.

I walk around the house and it’s like he’s everywhere and nowhere at once, and it’s soul crushing. And though I am so very thankful for the time I did have him, all I can do is cry over his absence.

Humans will break your heart a hundred ways before bedtime.

A good dog will only hurt you once: When he dies.

I can’t ever express how much Pops meant — no, means — to me. Roughly 20 inches of copy isn’t nearly enough. There will never be another like him, and I pray that wherever he is, he’s running at full strength, well and whole again, and that he knows how much I adore him. If only that much is true, I’ll be grateful for the rest of my life.

And while I’m struggling to see the screen through the tears, let alone keep my composure at my desk, I didn’t want to skip yet another week and miss this opportunity to say a delayed yet sincere “thank you” for a few things.

1.) First and foremost, the staff and doctors at Hillcrest Veterinary Clinic. I’ve gone to Hillcrest for years, and the care they’ve shown my furkids has always been exceptional. They saw me through The T’s mysterious diagnosis and eventual death, and extended the same level of compassion to Pops. The two of us were there every week and a half or so in recent months, and never once did Pops not enjoy himself and feel the devotion of every single person on duty. To Dr. Aaron Pollock, I truly can’t repay you for your empathy, gentleness and kindness, or overstate how much we appreciate it.

2.) The support of family and friends who have gone out of their way to offer their condolences and genuinely mean it. Many people will tell you, losing a pet is hard enough — feeling the disdain of those who don’t understand how deeply it hurts can make it worse. I value every person who acknowledges that Pops was never “just a dog.”

3.) The shelter and rescue workers of the world. These are the true heroes, the ones who see the worst of humanity but continue because they see the beauty in all animals, especially the ones who have been thrown away. You are the reason Pops got a second chance.

And I, the eternal and invaluable gift of loving him.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everyone. Be blessed.

Katie McDowell is a lifestyles writer/copy editor/grieving-but-grateful dog mom. Email her at kmcdowell@dominionpost.com.