Our dog, Nia. She was a cream/beige labrador with the biggest heart in the
world. My brothers and I collected her from a farm in West Wales and, after a
month in the home country, brought her back to Dubai where we lived together
from 2001-2009. From the first to last moments of our time with her, Nia
never ceased to be a bundle of joyous energy, exuberant with life and
happiness. It would seem that she had a smile constantly plastered on her face,
stretching from ear to ear, and any time that I caught a glimpse of this I
would find myself smiling too, whilst all of the stresses of the world would
momentarily melt away. She was my first pet, and because she joined our family
at 10 weeks of age when I was ten years old, we had a great deal of
growing up to do together. My abiding memory of Nia will be of the most
loving creature that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing: with her tail
always wagging and her fondness of company and people, she was a true companion.
Circumstances of your loss?
It was on the morning of the second day
of our ski holiday in April 2009 that I found out that Nia had passed
away. My older brother had stayed in Dubai for an extra day, leaving
on the morning of her death. He had told us that she had been sick the day
beforehand and had been lying down alot more than usual. We thought that she
might have been dehydrated due to the hot weather in Dubai, and so she was
given water and 7up (a drink we had used on occassions in the past if she appeared
dehydrated). Although my brother reported that Nia seemed fine and recovered on
the morning that he left, she passed away sometime past midnight that evening.
Your initial thoughts and feelings?
At first I could not beleive what I was
beign told. It seemed unreal. There was no sense in how a dog that was full of
life when I last saw her could now be gone. I had been unusually busy in
the week leading up to Nia's death with rugby training and A-level
revision, and so had not spent much time with her. I wondered how this could
have happened without me even paying attention: it seemed like I had ben
oblivious and ignorant to what was truly important in life. A massive gaping
hole opened in my stomach- I was left empty in the void without her and full of
guilt and anger. My whole perspective on life had been shattered. It was also
particualrly difficult in that my flight back to Dubai was not for another
5 days, so I had all of that time to experience the surreal notion that nothing
had actually happened and that she would be at home to welcome us back just as
she had after countless other holidays.
How did you deal with loss in the short term?
As aforementioned, it was difficult to deal with the loss because I was
stuck in Austria skiing, which traditionally would have been one of the most
fun-filled weeks of the year, yet which now had become desolate. I also had
revision to do as my A-level examinations were fast-approaching. I kept running
a reel through my head that analysed how and why Nia may have died and how and
where I may have been at fault. I wondered if there were signs I should have
spotted too. However, I also started to appreciate the fact that in recent
months I had become far too tunnel-visioned on studying and rugby and
completely lost touch with what was important in life: enjoying time with
family and friends. Therefore I tried hard to smile and have fun with my
brothers on the mountains, determined to learn the lesson that Nia's death had
taught me and in some small way to make a testament to her love of life
and for each of us.
How did you deal with loss in the long term?
I have planted a number of bushes and flowers over and around the part of the
garden where Nia is buried. This has become her 'area', and I maintain it
almost every day. To all intents and purposes our garden was in fact Nia's
garden, because she spent a lot of time playing, sunbathing and sleeping out
there, and so it is fitting and comforting that that is where she now rests. It
has only been 9 months since she passed away and I think about Nia on
many occasions throguhout the day. However, I have to remind myself of how
happy and loving she was, and that it would be wrong to remember her with
only sadness at her loss. I therefore think of all of the happy times that we
had together and of the pure joy she gave me. I also try to smile in life and
make the most of time with others, as a continuation of Nia's character.
How do you memorialize and remember?
In every part of my house i can picture
Nia doing something in my mind's eye. She had her favourite places to lie
down, to sleep, to eat and to play. When I walk around the hosue I can at
times still 'see' her in these parts of our home. I have collectd some
photos that we have of her, so that I know where they are. A few of
these are on my bedroom wall, whilst I also have a framed picture of
her on my desk, where I spend a lot of time studying. My two brothers also
have this photo of 'our little sister' smiling back at us.
Describe the impact of this loss on
I miss Nia every day. She was a
constant companion. The house feels empty without Nia there to stroke or to sit
by. She would always be the first to greet you on the way into the house and
the last to be by your side before you left. It has also taught me about
priorities in life.
What helped you the most in coping with
It helps to think about the good times that we shared with one another. Tending
to her area and sometimes sitting out in the garden are also activities that I
engage in. Despite the pain and the sorrow, I am so grateful for having Nia,
who was quite simply the best dog and friend that I could ever have wished for,
and who taught me so much about myself over the years.
With Effort You Can Move Past the Loss of Your Pet