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Dr-David-Banner

Loss Of. My Dog

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Dr-David-Banner

This is still taking a lot of adjustment. The German Shephed never actually belonged to me but I was his main carer for some years. It's also recognised people on the spectrum get used to routines and he occupied all my evenings 7 days a week. It centred around feeding, walks, grooming, games and just being very special friends. After, I would see friends at the shop and help them tidy up before close.
Of course, all that changed. The owner took the dog to be put to sleep as he was struggling on his back legs. He was 13. I was not present as I disagreed over putting him to sleep. He was still eating fine and I wanted to try alternatives.
I got the news on Jan 15th that my best friend was no more. I got very upset. In fact it created an even bigger family rift.. I couldn't help but feel my best canine friend who'd always been so loyal and trusting, had been deserted. Plus, although I'd offered to take him with me full time to look after, the owner opted to put him to sleep. Knowing this dog as well as I did over years of time spent together, I was sure what he really wanted was more companionship and support as he got a bit clingy with age.
After, of course, I now wish I'd gone discretely to chat to the vet in private. At the time it felt a bit to me like control freakery or that it could backfire. The fact I opted to leave it to the owner and vets later made me feel guilty and that maybe I'd failed.
The aftermath has been a period of withdrawel, a lot of thinking, memories, reading up on degenerative myleopathy. Friends turned out to be understanding as one of them adores her own dog.
Lots of people suggested another dog of my own but funnily enough that makes me feel it would make it worse. I mean, for now, I just want to remember the one dog I got closer to than all the other pets I grew up with. The bond was very special because we were both ignored and under-valued but then found one another as if by magic.
I don't think I'll have a breakdown and am basically keeping busy. The change in routine is kind of strange and I don't ride my bike back and forth now. I will pop to the shop and see friends as it's now been over 3 weeks.
I will never forget him. This spring I may start to grow bonsai trees again. I'll end this with a true story; About 6 years ago, my dog used to love to try and uproot small trees. He would grab the tree in his teeth and shake it back and forth. Once, he was shaking and pulling and a branch broke off. He walked back to my home with me and carried the branch all the way proudly.. When he dropped the branch, I picked it up and drove it into the ground, in the garden. I just left it there. The surprise was after winter, when spring came the branch started to bud and finally grow leaves. When I dug it up, it had full roots. So, I put it into a bonsai pot and it remained a miniature bonsai tree.

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Asgardian
3 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

I will never forget him. This spring I may start to grow bonsai trees again. I'll end this with a true story; About 6 years ago, my dog used to love to try and uproot small trees. He would grab the tree in his teeth and shake it back and forth. Once, he was shaking and pulling and a branch broke off. He walked back to my home with me and carried the branch all the way proudly.. When he dropped the branch, I picked it up and drove it into the ground, in the garden. I just left it there. The surprise was after winter, when spring came the branch started to bud and finally grow leaves. When I dug it up, it had full roots. So, I put it into a bonsai pot and it remained a miniature bonsai tree.

Life works in mysterious ways, it is almost like what he did that day was some kind of sign. It is amazing how something which would seem so ordinary at the time, in this case when he carried the branch home with him, can end up being so special later on.

It sounds like you and him were very close. I am sorry for your loss.

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HalfFull

Sorry for your loss. Some dogs are irreplaceable.

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Dr-David-Banner

Thanks. I know it sounds strange but I would feel insensitive if I went and got another dog. I sense the one I lost would feel even more unwanted if he could know I'd just shrugged him off. Of course, I doubt he knows anything of the present but still I feel a need to leave space for his memory. Therefore, I thought possibly doing bonsai this spring is a way to be close to nature and give me time to adjust.
For those who (like me) love dogs, I can recommend a book that helped me understand dogs when I needed advice. The book was written by a Welshman and called The Dog Whisperer. This man specialised in Border Collies and had a gift to communicate with canines. He used kindness and patience. He managed to control several dogs by using different languages for each one,, such as German or Italian. In time, I came to see this Welshman was absolutely right in his teaching. For example, he stated that dogs can teach people things they don't know. This is spot-on. When my dog was very powerful he used to literally drag me down the road during walks. He was a real puller. It used to stress me out due to my autism and I would get angry and frustrated. However, I learned eventually I simply had to not get worked up. The nervous energy transmitted to the dog and the perceieved rejection would upset him. I learned the signs of him being upset as he would sort of withdraw and sniff constantly in a world of his own. Being autistic, I just knew what all that meant and how I used to also disconnect when stressed so I learned to be patient. The big lesson I learned was never get angry because I found my dog always responded very well to praise, hugs and calmness. Basically the Welsh dog whisperer was teaching the same thing in his books.
Another thing I can say is some people got jealous. There were people who envied the bond I'd developed over time because it was a very deep bond. In short, nobody came as close to me as my canine soul mate and I put him first - always. I never missed a walk or left him out. Some other people were supportive. I have a female friend whose dog simply changed her life and, due to that, we became friends. Her dog now means the world to her and she tells me she fully understands how I got so upset when mine was lost.
So, this is my message. A dog can help autistic people more than any drug or therapy. Dogs are far smarter than you imagine and the love they give is constant and sincere. They will love you if you lost your house or job or even health. They love you just for who you are and they will still have faith in you when you make mistakes or fall short of expectations. For me, the world may have been falling down on top of me but when I saw my dog - it was just peace and contentment on both sides.
I wish I could have managed to give my dog a happier ending but he was gone so suddenly. The main comfort is he did get to 13 and he had many good times and a full life. Only the last 6 months was problematic as he became unable to walk far. Clearly his panting and puffing manifested itself as far as 3 years ago so he did well to get to 13.

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Dr-David-Banner

For anyone interested, I just found the name of the dog whisperer from Wales. It's Graeme Simms. I had found the book at the library and recall I took it out on loan. Here's a quote:
""With a timid dog, you need to talk in a soft, soothing language such as French," he says. "With a bold, tough dog, you're better off talking in German because of its authoritative tone and curt-sounding words. I've got one dog that responds to me when I talk in a North Wales dialect, another that I always address in a South Wales accent."
I will add too my dog had a really good memory. One word I taught him was "Watch!" This was just like the Columbo episode where Columbo learned you can teach a dog trigger words. If I said "watch!" to my shepherd, he would basically jump on me and try to grab whatever I had in my hand. I recall I'd not used this word for years but one day was sitting on the step eating a chip butty. The dog was chewing a ball and all I did was say, "Now, WATCH you don't burst that ball! Next thing I knew I had a huge GSD jumping on me trying to grab the chip butty. It's a funny story but surely it shows that dogs do have good memories and can be taught words easily. I even discovered my dog understood tones and pitch of voice. When you have time and the space to listen and communicate, you learn things about animals other people just miss because they're too busy to notice.

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Ben
On 03/02/2018 at 12:36 AM, Asgardian said:

Life works in mysterious ways, it is almost like what he did that day was some kind of sign. It is amazing how something which would seem so ordinary at the time, in this case when he carried the branch home with him, can end up being so special later on.

It sounds like you and him were very close. I am sorry for your loss.

This could be my sentimental side talking, but this concept would be a great ending to a book. Especially if the dogs name was that of the plant or tree, Blossom for instance (who the fuck would name a dog Blossom?) 

Anyway, shut up Ben. 

I'm not going to lie, I felt slightly emotional when I read this. The relationship between you and this dog was the essence of an unconditional friendship, and having to lose that (in a world where these types of relationships are getting rarer and rarer) is always going to be incredibly difficult. I don't have anything to say that's going to change the world, and certainly, nothing that can make things better, but know that life is ever changing. It evolves and develops and takes many twists and turns. And while no dog will ever replace your friend, you, yourself, will only grow more dynamic and emotionally intelligent for the experience. 

Get yourself a dog. It won't be your friend, it'll be a whole new and different experience. Remember, different doesn't equal better or worse, it's just different. 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

In some ways the film Forest Gump sort of evoked the same feelings - which is why I figure it was such a great movie. The part where the feather falls slowly to the bench where Tom Hanks sat was meant to be symbolic. I think too that film addressed autism, love, challenge and loss.
One part that touched me was when the young Forest Gump first boards the school bus. As he walks between the rows of seats, all the kids say, "Can't sit here! Taken!" Then, only one female voice says, "You can sit here if you want!" This was the foundation of the film - the bond that would rise between autistic Forest and quite normal Jenny. The truth is both Jenny and Forest were two lost souls who somehow connected.
So, for me, it was a bit like that, except one lost soul was autistic and the other an unwanted dog. I guess though I could see a few aspects of Gump that relate to myself - being slow at school, taking up sudden interests and so on.
Maybe the tree was a bit like the feather you see floating down to the bench.
As a breed, the German Shepherd Dog is renowned for loyalty,, devotion and intelligence. I am not the only person to testify of such an experience. I think they even made a film about a cop and his experience with a GSD. With autism, it's known these dogs can be especially devoted - mine knew I was different from others.
I still don't know where I go from here. I visited my friends yesterday. One of the girls told me I could walk her dog for her, which was a sweet gesture. Of course, I could never be a middle-man again. Part of the trauma was to do with bonding very deep to a dog who wasn't specifically my own (but one I adopted, to look after). I am sure what my departed canine soul mate would love most would be to be remembered. For now, that is what I plan. I guess I have my memories, photos, things I learned and maybe a few people I met who understand. For me the really sad part of Forest Gump was the bit where he visits Jenny's grave to tell her about how he's looking after their son. And then it ends with the shot of the feather. I'm not sure what the feather indicated but it may have related to the beginning of the movie where Gump says, "Life is like aa box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

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Dr-David-Banner

When you read the experiences of other dog owners whose dogs develop degenerative myleopathy, it's amazing to see the support their pets get. American owners will spend thousands of dollars. Reading it all, it seems the scans, x-rays, drugs and surgery often don't lead to a happy ending. Inevitably, if the dog is diagnosed with DM, sooner or later it leads to dog-wheels, increased lameness and tears.
The problem for me was the German Shepherd I loved never had particularly overly caring owners. I mean, his was a case of his original owner dying in a tragic accident. After this, the dog still had a home there but the owners weren't natural animal lovers. For example, one of my friends works in a shop and has a dog she adores. Her dog is insured and a full family member. In such a case I would never be needed. All is as it should be. However, in the other case, I was needed by the dog - a lot. His owners gave him a home but were simply not dog people. I'd been asked to help years ago as the dog was spending too much time alone and needed an outlet. I would say most competent dog owners don't really need someone to spend 2 - 3 hours a day with their dog. Most are well able to provide care, activity and vetinary care.
Inevitably, I think I knew all the time the day would come when my best canine friend needed major support. I don't particularly blame the owners who simply feel they can't afford to pay vets thousands of pounds. Nevertheless, a strong show of support, extra care, love and dedication are crucial for a pet that's facing old age and disability.
Here is the big question, though: Would it have been better for my dog never to have known or needed me in a case where he would have had a more caring home? For example, if he'd been my friend's dog at the shop. Or did the very close bond with an autistic person compensate for what he lacked? That's hard for me to answer. I am proud though that 9O per cent of his life was occupied with walks, visits, games and happy times. It's a shame the end wasn't so happy due to illness but I guess I always knew that could be a factor.

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Dr-David-Banner

I'm still feeling as part of myself is missing somehow. Most people who know me have realised the situation had upset me a lot. The other night I was running it all over in my head and there was one aspect of it that made me realise that, in a strange way, my relationship with this dog was overall a huge positive. What dawned on me is that it's so rare for anyone to put so much time and effort into taking care of a dog that legally belongs to someone else. I recall years ago, some GSD dog owners told me they figured the stresses of such a situation and the heartache wasn't worth the risk, time and effort. Hardly anyone would want to be in such a situation. Even a good friend of mine who loved dogs told me he simply couldn't take care of a pet on somebody else's terms (if that person wasn't such a great owner). So, now, if I look at the two possible options, I can see a far bigger picture. Option one was to never have got involved. As in, "Sorry this is not my dog and not my problem." Option 2 was to take on the challenge. The truth is, had I chosen option one I'm pretty sure the dog would have hardly had half as many trips out, treats, visits, on-going companionship and extra stuff like grooming and drying off with towels in the rain and so on. I believe the dogs before him didn't get out and about anything like as much. So, despite the heartache and loss, in a strange way my canine friend lived a happy life and shared many great moments. Sometimes it was when we just walked in all sorts of weather or maybe I just together on a sunny day. I guess there are things I'd have done differently towards the end looking back but the overall verdict is this dog did live a happy life. Plus he got to 13 which is good for a GSD.
My plan now is simply to leave space to remember him fondly. Plus, I really do need to safety save all the pics I have on old mobile phones. Some of these are even in video. One thing is for sure, should one of those very old 3 phones unexpectedly pack in, I'd lose a whole load of pics.

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