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I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Sally died six months ago and I am just bereft.  She was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went,  and as I live on my own she was my companion and I would talk to her all the time.  When I walked her, people would come up and talk to me sometimes - somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without her, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't think any dog could replace her.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, the reality is you are not alone, as there are many dog owners who have to face the loss of there most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow.  Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and in time hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Sally' - it will help you to feel connected when she is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to temporary foster, or help to look after the dogs at the centre - therefore, benefit from having them in your life, but without full responsibility, although I cannot promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Attending a place of work will also enable you to make friends and not feel so isolated.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, of course, no two dogs could ever be the same, but having a different dog could prove preferable to having no dog. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who will benefit from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside.


Have a dilemma? Please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.


In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

It's the dog or him

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 21 February 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

After the heartbreak of many failed attempts at IVF, my husband and I are having to come to terms with being unable to have children. However, in December we made a decision to get a dog and have fallen in love with him. George, our Bichon Frise, has enhanced our lives in a way I had never thought possible. The problem is, I never want to leave him, he is my life, I adore him and cannot trust anyone to look after, him which is causing problems between me and my husband. I do not want to socialise anymore, prefering to be with George. We had previously booked a holiday for July this year, I have told my husband to cancel it. He is furious and has now said its him or the dog. What do I do?

Patricia Marie says...

It is vital you and your husband establish some boundaries and limitations. Yes, do enjoy your dog, he is helping to fill a void in your life, however, he is not leader of the pack. You and your husband have a relationship to safeguard and nurture, which you cannot allow your dog to dominate. You have both come through a painful time together, and it would be unfair to let your dog come between the bond you clearly share with your husband, and would like you to consider his point of view.

Your dog has become a substitute child, and you are not allowing him to be what he is, a delightful pet, and for all your sakes needs to be treated like one, so you and your husband can get to enjoy him without further resentment. You both deserve the forthcoming holiday, and there are many reliable dog sitters about, who you could share your anxieties with, and perhaps come up with a plan to make the separation easier to cope with.

The emotional pain of failed IVF treatment can cause much anxiety, and feel you could benefit from some counselling, which would help you come to terms with the fear of loss and separation. The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy have a directory where you can find a qualified registered therapist in your area. www.bacp.co.uk

Got a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk
Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

Stanley

Posted by Tania Kindersley
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on Monday, 03 December 2012
The snow is absolutely belting down outside. I just got over the hills before it came in; looking at it now, I wonder if I would have made it back if I had driven a day later. As it was, I roared home yesterday in a glittering minus six, with only the high mountains covered in white. Now the sky is a dirty dun colour and we are in blizzard conditions. I am making traditional Scottish mince for warmth and strength and praying that the lights do not go out.

Home is wonderfully comforting and familiar. But it has one new thing in it. It has a four-year-old brindle lurcher called Stanley.

I was not going to get another dog for a while. I thought I needed time and space for my heartbreak. A few years ago, I would have been shy about using such a word about a canine, but I discover that dogs crack the heart just as much as humans do, and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I thought too I might like a moment of liberty, of not having the responsibility, of being able to travel on a whim. I was going to get my passport renewed and go to St Petersburg and Copenhagen and perhaps to see the Fjords.

What a lot of nonsense that idea was. A house without a dog in it turned out to be a thin, sad place. I kept seeing the ghost of my darling old girl in every room. I hated not having anyone to walk. And there was Stanley, staring out at me from the internet, as if pleading for a good home. I have a good home; it seemed rude not to take him. So I went to Somerset and got him and put him in the car and drove him to Scotland, and now he has his first big northern snow, which he seems to regard as a tremendous joke.

stanley

He is different in every way from my soft lab-collie crosses. He is lean and fast and compact, like a racing dog (there is greyhound in him), and he is comical and playful where they were elegant and gracious. He has their same talent for making friends, though. As we stopped overnight at the motorway miracle that is Tebay, complete strangers came up to speak to him and stroke him. He has such a nice face that people see him and smile. This gives me profound delight.

It’s funny, having a new dog again. I have to get to know all his quirks and habits, his loves and hates. I have not yet found his sweet spot, although it is not for want of looking. I have to invent a routine that shall suit him, and work out exactly how we shall fit together. I shall map his character, from day to day.

Despite being a rescue, he is quite independent, not nervy or needy as I had feared. My last dog would lie down next to my feet as I worked, as close to me as she could possibly get. She would follow me gently from room to room, like a faithful shadow. This one has taken himself off into the next room, clearly regarding the writing of words as a thing of no interest. He is curled politely on his special new sheepskin rug, which I bought from a nice man in Tetbury market whilst I was in the south, quite happy on his own, waiting until I should see fit to take him out again, into all that larky snow.

The rescuing of a lost dog is not what I thought would happen to me now. It was a sudden, imperative whim. I am gladder than anything that I followed it. I have a dog for Christmas, and for life.

So we beat on

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Thursday, 08 November 2012
The sun shines, out of a pellucid Scottish sky. The beeches have turned a colour for which I have no word. Scarlet would be paltry and insulting. Outside, men are doing manly things, mostly involving tractors and those huge machines with the vast digging claw at the front. I just ran into two fellows who were chopping up socking great trees. They were so pleased with their own manliness that it made them laugh.

I’m always a bit startled by this sort of thing. I spent most of my life surrounded by metrosexuals and homosexuals and trannies, before I came up here. Admittedly, I did grow up amongst hardy racing people, but all my brothers and most of my male cousins are tremendously camp. The butch male in full cry is mildly surprising to me.

I try to get on. I run errands. I make mushroom soup for my mother, in a blatant attempt to get to the top of the children’s list. I think about work. I do not actually do any work, but I think about it, which is a humming step in the right direction. After my father died last year, I could not work properly for three weeks. All my concentration was shot. I am in awe and wonder of those people who quickly get back to normal after a bereavement. Robert Peston lost his wife not long ago, but there he is, on the BBC, still knowing everything about the economy, his distinctive voice strong and steady, even making jokes with the presenters. That’s real Blitz spirit, I think.

I’m not near normal yet. The world swings on, but mine has a space in it. I really, really miss my dog. I veer between thinking this is perfectly normal and scolding myself for overcooking the whole thing. She was with me every day for ten years, I suppose. That’s a lot of companionship. Because I work from home, and rarely venture far from Scotland, in terms of sheer hours I probably spent more with her than with any other sentient creature. Even in the house, she was my faithful shadow, following me from room to room, patient and questing. I miss odd things, like the sound of her paws on the wooden floor, and the sheer beauty of her. I am suffering an aesthetic lack, so I stare very hard at the hills to get my share of loveliness.

On the other hand, I am aware that this is a most ordinary, small grief. I once looked up the number of human deaths in Britain each year, for a book. It was around six hundred thousand. I remember being astounded by the thought of all that mourning. That’s an awful lot of funerals. That’s a lot of empty rooms. And yet everyone goes on, without making a fuss. I must not make a fuss, I think.

In the flower shop, in the chemist, in the newsagent all the kind village people remark on the weather, which is fine, and ask how I am. ‘Very well, thank you,’ I say, lying. I want to say: MY DOG DIED. But you can’t say that, because it sounds silly, and no one knows what the correct response is. The dog people get it, but everyone else would not really understand.

The horse gets it, oddly. Horses are amazingly telepathic. She follows me about the field, whickers sweetly at me, lays her head over my shoulder, gently pushes her forehead into my chest. She is as soft and dopey as an old dog herself. The furry Welsh pony, on the other hand, has no time for sentiment. She just wants the pony nuts she knows I have in my pocket, and cooks up four different plans to get them. This ruthless streak makes me laugh.

I cast about for a good last line. There must always be a good last line. My old teacher, Mr Woodhouse, taught me that, when he was training me to write history essays. I don’t have a good one, so I’m going to steal a great one. This is what just came into my head, from the end of The Great Gatsby, a book I used to read once a year, when I was in my twenties and quite obsessed with F Scott Fitzgerald. ‘So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.’ Yes, I think; that will do.


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