Devastating Loss

It has been two weeks today (Friday) that I put the best dog in the whole world to sleep. My Feliz. I am finally able to talk about it for a few minutes without breaking down into tears (she says while her eyes fill).

I had a dog as a little girl, a black lab, her name was Miss "E". Cute right? I wanted to name her Missy, but my parents had another idea. She was a great dog, but ultimately she wasn't mine, she was my mom's dog.

Feliz was "my"
first dog. He was a black lab/chow mix. He was wonderful and beautiful and I would appreciate it if you would all indulge me and let me share our story with you.

In 1999 I decided it was time to get a dog. I'd had a dog growing up and even though my husband wasn't necessarily on board with the whole "dog" idea, I was ready to own a dog. My own dog. Who would sleep in my bedroom, not my moms. I'm not bitter, really. I knew I didn't want a puppy. I had a full time job and didn't want to deal with having to house train a puppy. I wanted a dog. A young dog. A young black lab. I started my search online. I searched for all of the non kill shelters in my area
who had websites. Most of them post their available dogs online with photos. I just wanted to adopt them all but knew my husband would
never go for that idea. (See? I do know limits)

I looked online for weeks unable to locate the perfect dog for me and then one day, there he was. It was a picture of a brown lab looking up at the camera and into the sun. He was beautiful and I knew he had to be mine.

That same day I called the Arizona Animal Welfare League and asked about the dog in the photo. Turns out he wasn't brown after all, must have been the reflection of the sun, he was indeed a black lab mixed with chow. He was 1 1/2 years old and he had been with the shelter for over a year. They had rescued him from the pound where he had been picked up walking the streets of downtown Phoenix. He had severe burns on the pads of his feet from the heat of the Arizona summer streets and there was no telling how long he'd been a stray. Did I want to come down and meet him? My answer was absolutely.

I took my 4 year old daughter, my best friend and her toddler son down to the shelter to meet Feliz. He could have cared less. Feliz showed absolutely no interest in us whatsoever. He just kept walking up and down the line of the fence watching what everyone else was doing. I wasn't offended. I came back that weekend with my husband who he also ignored unless he was giving him a cookie and we decided to take him.

As I was walking up to the office with Feliz to sign the papers and get all the goodies that come with adopting a dog that has been in the shelter for more than a year (obedience training, leashes, collars, good stuff) I noticed that the staff kept asking me "Are you adopting Feliz?" and looking at me like someone just died. When I got into the office I had to ask, "What is wrong with this dog?" The response was "Nothing. Why?" and I told her how everyone was looking at us like the walking dead. She shook her head and said, "Feliz doesn't really have a use for people." I then shook my head and told her, "He's been locked up in a kennel for over a year, I wouldn't have a use for people either." She smiled at me like I was kinda dumb and we filled out the paperwork.

Feliz drove home with us sitting in the back of our Nissan truck (with a camper shell) firmly seated in my husband's lap. We got him home and he ran through the front door, into the back yard and was the most loving and attentive dog a person could have asked for. It seems all he needed was someone to love him. Who doesn't?

When I took him back to the shelter for his obedience classes, the trainer Sam said if she didn't know for a fact he was the same dog, she would never have guessed it. Does a heart good to know that
you've made a difference in someones life.

Feliz lived with us in harmony (less the chewed shoes) for over 12 years. He was a loyal and loving animal and we all miss him very much. I still look down expecting to have to step over him when I get out of bed in the mornings, but he isn't there. I miss him every time I look down the hallway and he isn't laying on his bed. I miss him when I get out of my car and he isn't whining at me from behind the fence. I miss him every time we eat dinner and he isn't in my face begging for food.

A couple of days after Feliz passed away my vet sent me a card. It had a beautiful poem on it and I only hope it's true. I thought I'd share it with all of you.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...


  1. Oh, Erika. I'm so very sorry. I know so well this feeling. I'm crying with you and it's okay. Losing a dog is like losing a child, a best friend, a full-time companion all at the same time. It hurts. A lot. Feliz will be there, waiting for you, when the time comes. I believe that with all my heart. *hugs*

  2. Oh, Sweetie, my heart breaks for you. I, too, know this feeling, this heart ache. Feliz was a very lucky dog to have found such loving and caring companions in you and your family. And with 12 years in a happy home, what more could a dog want. But it doesn't lessen the grief we feel when we lose a pet (pet - the epitomy of unconditional love).

    If I could, I would be over at your house in a heart beat with open arms. Take care, Erika.

    BTW - I have a picture of my first German Shepherd on my bulleting board next to a copy of The Rainbow Bridge to remind me that we will be together again. It helps to ease the loss.

  3. Thanks Silver. I was thinking about him today and wanted to share. There is no greater love than having a dog love you and loving him in return.

    I hope you're right. Someone once said that dogs didn't go to heaven because they had no soul, if that's the case, I want to go where they do.

  4. Thanks Janet. You're the best. If you were closer I'd let you come over with open arms.

    I loved The Rainbow Bridge so much that I'm keeping the card even though it makes me burst into tears every time I see it.

    Thanks for the love. You guys are the best!

  5. Dogs don't need a soul. Their love is pure and perfect and they go straight to heaven to wait beside the bridge. Besides, we all know what dog spells backwards. Right?

  6. We do know. Thanks for the reminder.