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December 14, 2023

When your heart dog dies, it leaves you gutted in ways words can't truly describe. I sliced myself open to write Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate while still absolutely devastated by the death of our original canine heroine Lilly. All of this sites content between 2007 and 2013, and a little beyond, tell her stories. So, with the 10 anniversary of her death coming up this weekend, I guess it's time to reflect. To offset the sad parts, don't miss the photos and videos at the very end of our latest fosters.

Reflections - Heart Dog Dies

As I write this, suffice it to say that many things make right now stupid-hard, much harder than it should be.

  • This year also marks the 10th anniversary of losing my Mom. She would have been 80 years old on November 21. 
  • November 24 marked the 2nd anniversary of Mr. Stix and I surviving a vicious dog attack (There may be a book for other dog attack survivors coming, if I can write it without making my PTSD worse.)
  • And, now, the Lilly anniversary requiring some reflections when your heart dog dies

Other life baloney that I won't get into also make right now kind of crud, so pardon me while I say ...

I miss my Mommio.

vintage photo of mother and 3 children from the 60s

The Vicious Dog's Owner Can [insert swearing]

Details on the pittance of restitution paid. Have I mentioned he drives a sports car that costs more than $300K? [eyeroll]

And, I Still Miss My Lillybug

heart dog dies photo of lilly and roxanne

Lilly stayed at my side through many tough years. I do absolutely still miss her. In many ways, she's still with me when I spot a morning star and say good morning to her. She's still with me when for no apparent reason traffic isn't terrible, and I hit all the green lights. I thank her for that too. And, when things s*ck, I ask her for help from the other side. 

I say somewhere in the book that getting another dog, especially a puppy, isn't a magic fix for the crushing grief when your heart dog dies. That's absolutely true. And, yet, Clover is now older than Lilly was when she died. As of like December 2, Clover and I now have been together longer than Lilly and I ever were. Clover is 100% a blessing and a healing force in my life. I adore her beyond measure as well. She is amazing!

when your heart dog dies, graphic about getting another dog

I'm Better Now

I can honestly say that the devastation of the early years of grief when a heart dog dies has faded. I no longer suffer gasping sobs of pain. I mostly laugh at memories of our adventures together and the countless crazy things she survived -- technicolor vomit from paintball poisoning, rattlesnake bites (yes, more than 1), and the 23 months we spent fighting for her life after an adverse rabies vaccine reaction. So, if you're new to the gaping hole left behind when your heart dog dies, please know that it's going to be okay. I know it's hard. I know it feels like it'll be hard forever, but it does get better with time and with doing the self-care needed to keep moving forward. 

Planned Video Cancelled 

I had planned to do a video with this post. However, I've been fostering a Momma Dog and her 10 puppies the last week, so I'm exhausted. Plus, I received a really crappy note about my ongoing Medical Mystery Tour, so I'm kinda too upset to be on camera. Maybe later I'll do one. 

So, to end on a more uplifting note ...

Please enjoy these photos of the JEDI foster puppies and their Momma LEIA. This experience created a whole bunch of good and difficult experiences as fodder future posts. Stay tuned. Alas, I hand the family off tomorrow (12/15) so that they can prep Momma for adoption and send the pups in smaller groups to other foster homes, so that's another Big Sad for me this very second. It will be nice, though, to get some sleep. *wink At the end of the video, I show the 4 I really wanted to continue fostering, but I got vetoed because of ... life / everything. 

I told all the pups last night that when I'm an old-old lady I will probably still be talking about the time I fostered 10 puppies at once!

I don't know why all 10 photos sometimes don't show up below. I can see them here in the editing panel. You can also go see them here on FB.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. We just lost our heart dog Tuesday, December 19, 2023z. My aunt gifted me your book after her passing and I’m just checking out your website. The Mama dog you are fostering strongly resembles my Heart Dog, Layla. If I could attach a photo I would! The first puppy pic too! Wow! Very similar to Laylas adoption photo…

  2. This resonated so deeply with me as I'm approaching the fourth anniversary of losing my precious heart cat Ruby. The pain of losing a soul animal never goes away, but as you describe, it does soften with time. I'm sending you hugs and love as you remember your Lilly.

    1. Ahhh, Ingrid. Best wishes on the approaching anniversary of losing your RUBY. These big losses take a lot out of us and quite a while to begin healing.

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