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I lost them.

Michaela Gaskins

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My tragedy started on February 2, 2017 when my mom woke me up early that morning to ask if she could let 2 of my dogs out, my 7 year old lab and my 1 year old golden, I was tired and annoyed about being woken up so early even though they weren't supposed to be out together because they'd run off I told my mom to let them out. We live on an 80 acre family ranch surrounded by mountains and basically nothing else even though we have neighbors the the nearest is a small trailer park about 3 or 4 miles away so we have always let our dogs out to run on the property but my lab Alice had hip issues and couldn't go as long and hard as my golden Piper, that didn't stop her from trying though, so they needed to not be out together so Alice wouldn't get so sore. They were gone for hours that morning but they had done that before so I didn't think much of it. Finally I saw Alice coming back but I didn't see Piper, which wasn't to unusual they would sometimes come in a few minutes apart so I wasn't worried. 30 minutes later I went out and called for Piper, thinking maybe she was at my cousins house playing with their dogs. She didn't come and no one had seen her. I began to search down in the field Alice had come from there was no sign of her she had vanished. A few days later, while still searching for Piper, Alice began acting strange, not eating or drinking, not being herself. We took to the vet where she stayed over night and they ran some tests. The vet called me the next morning and said her intestinal tract was blocked and twisted and that while they could do surgery to try and repair it there was a high chance of it happening again and in a dog her age with her medical history it was not a good prognosis. 5 days after losing Piper I had to make the choice to euthanize my Alice, my first dog all my own my protector and my baby. I will never forget the way her head fell as the drugs started to work or watching her breath stop coming. I was strong for her like she was for me her whole life until her heart stopped beating, I didn't shed a single tear until she was gone and I lost it. We took her home and buried her under an old oak tree next to all the dogs who came before her. It's a sacred place on our ranch. I had been searching endlessly for my Piper, thinking maybe someone thought she was dumped and picked her up we posted fliers and all over the internet for my missing girl but we haven't heard a thing. I know she is alive out there, I can feel it, someone has her and isn't giving her up and I hope I'll see her again, I'm still looking. In my mind though I blame myself, if I'd just said no that day, if I'd gone to look sooner then maybe my girls would still be here. I can't stop the heartache. The physical pain in my chest, knowing that I could have prevented all this by saying no to my mom that morning. Sure maybe Alice still would have gotten sick and that was out of my control but Piper really is my fault and I have to live with that everyday. Neither loss hurts worse then the other but with Alice there is at least a sense of closure, where with Piper there is always wondering and hope and fear about what happened to her and I have been struggling everyday with that. I cry everyday and I feel like I can't talk to anyone about it because they are just dogs and I should have gotten over it by now but to me they were my children  and I want to ask what would you do if it were your children in this situation? Would you have gotten over it by now? I guess I'm kind of rambling at this point, I just don't know what to do.

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There is no time table on grief and loss. It will take whatever time it takes.  Grief is just another expression of love.  My Collie, Brandee, also had a twisted stomach which caused "bloat".  She was 10 years old and dearly beloved. She had a 50% chance of survival and her life expectancy was 10 years.  Also we did not have the $3,000 needed for the surgery.  I had to make the difficult decision to euthanize her as she was in pain.  I held her and looked into her eyes to make sure she knew we loved her and she was the last thing she saw. 

Please forgive yourself as you had no idea they would run off.  We just don't have as much control in this world as we think we do.  It is okay to grieve, mourn, and cry for as long as you need.  I'm praying that you will have peace and comfort about this.  - Shalom, George.


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17 hours ago, Michaela Gaskins said:

I feel like I can't talk to anyone about it because they are just dogs and I should have gotten over it by now but to me they were my childre

They aren't "just dogs", they are part of your family, you love them, they're everything to you!  Grief is forever, as we continue to miss them, but it does not stay in the same intensity, thank God, it evolves as we begin to adjust, as God made us to do, but it takes time and effort to get there.  I am so sorry for your loss.  My dog is who I am closest to, and when he goes, it will be devastating, I can't imagine, even though I've lost many many pets over the years.  Each one is precious.

George, thank you for sharing your experience.  I want to say this, sometimes we feel guilt for not being able to protect or save them, it's part of our grief, but it's  also important to learn to deal with that guilt and let it go.  We love our animals and do our best by them, we often fault ourselves because we think we aren't as perfect as we should be, but we try our best, we can't do better than that.  I hope these links will be of help to you as they have spoken to me: 



I have learned in life that we like to have closure but sometimes that's not possible or realistic, yet we can learn to come to terms with what's happened even without closure, it's just harder, but I have done it so I know it can be done.  My heart goes out to you.  

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Michaela, my dear, my heart goes out to you in your loss of your beloved Alice ~ the same thing happened to my father's Saint Bernard, and he was absolutely heartbroken when he had to let her go. That loss is bad enough, but in some ways your loss of Piper can be worse, because it is an ambiguous one. As I write in my article Pet Loss: When A Pet Goes Missing

Whatever the circumstances, because of the uncertainty involved, this experience can be a most devastating kind of loss, in some ways even worse than a death. That's because you have no idea what happened to your dog, whether he is living or dead, suffering or at peace, homeless and wandering as a stray or living with somebody else. 

The feelings associated with this sort of pet loss are the same as if your dog had died, such as sorrow, longing, denial, anger and guilt. But this grief is also complicated by your own need to keep hope alive, which constantly interrupts or delays the process and makes it far more difficult to resolve. It is like harboring a wound that cannot heal.

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