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I lost my beautiful li'l dude, Axi on 11th Nov. I wrote him this song a couple of days later.


Axis Dad

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Axis Dad


I lost my best pal, Axi on November 11th.

Axi was half chihuahua, half mini Pinscher and 100% awesome.
Since writing songs is pretty much all I know how to do, I wrote him this one to try to cope. He definitely earned it.

 

I bought him as a birthday present for my mum 14 years ago shortly after she lost her blue cattle dog. Mum always had 2 dogs. Looking back, I realize that she must have liked to always have one dog to help get her through the tough times when losing the other.
Axi was short for 'accident'. Mum always said she only liked female dogs, and didn't like chihuahuas. But the day we went looking for a new little pal for her, she instantly fell in love with Axi. I asked the store owner, "what kind of dog is she?"
And he said "a chihuahua... and it's a he!"
My mum pulled Axi away from her... hesitant. But it was too late. He was already hers.
Axi would be her last dog. And when mum died of cancer 4 years later, he became mine.

He got me through that awful time, and every other for the last 10 years. Being a composer that works from home and lives alone, it's difficult to overstate what he meant to me. His company was sometimes the only good thing I had. He kept me sane and from feeling isolated. We really were best friends. We were together always, and I loved him as much as any living thing can love another living thing.
I think that's what people mean when they say 'he's not a dog, he's a person'. People think that's silly. But when you're that close with your pet, you don't see 'the dog'. Just like people who have a baby don't see 'a baby'. They have a name. Their own personality. They're unique. And you have a relationship. He wasn't 'the dog'. He was my friend, Axi.

The last few days of Axi's life were beyond traumatic. To save myself from reliving the pain, I'll refrain from details. But he had a myriad of problems that all seemed to surface at once and exacerbate each other. He went downhill quickly. He suffered. And there was a point where I loved him enough to realize my attempts to fix him were both selfish and futile.
To the point that, on his last day, I was distraught that I couldn't get him to the vet earlier. I hated myself for the last few hours that he needlessly had to be uncomfortable.
After that... well. It's a blur, honestly. The reason I'm only writing this now is because I pretty much just drank vodka all day for the next month. I had to make myself numb, and unable to think straight. The grief was too much to bear with a sharp mind. (To be clear, that was a bad idea & I don't recommend it as a coping mechanism. But it's how I handled it at the time)
Depression has been a big part of my life since my early 20s. But I wondered if I had crossed a line with my grief. Was this normal? Was I overreacting? That I would think that maybe this is the last straw and I can't go on without him? Should I feel guilty that this hurts more than losing some people in my life? 

So I googled it like I think many people who experience this loss do. I read stories on forums  like this one. Countless accounts of people going through, or who've gone through the same thing. The same thoughts and feelings. I read articles from psychologists that told me I'm normal. That it's ok to feel this way. I'm not nuts, and I shouldn't be embarassed. 
It's a strange thing... to get relief from knowing others are hurting as much as you. If you think about it logically it's kind of awful, really. But it helped. It made me not feel alone. It even made me feel lucky in some ways. Some peoples stories on here were so heartbreaking, they made me realize I was fortunate. People have lost husbands, wives, children in the most tragic circumstances.
People have had their pets taken from them way too soon. I got to know and love my li'l dude for 14 years. Inheriting him from my mum was the ultimate gift. He saved me. She knew he would. He was happy and healthy for 10 years after that. I was lucky.

It doesn't help the pain, of course. For weeks, I slept under his blanket. He ate treats on it. It smelled bad. It was now like perfume to me. I would wake violently in the middle of the night hearing his cries, despite the fact he wasn't there. And my own mind would betray me, insisting on bringing up the traumatic events regularly, as if to torture itself. It happens less as the weeks have gone by. But I think that's what it is to be human. You have a memory, and will carry those moments forever, for better or worse. I do wonder why I can't just keep the good moments and rid myself of the dark ones. What purpose it serves. But that's just how it is.

Every day since then I feel like I have a burning hole in my stomach. A constant nausea. I wonder if it will ever leave me. I miss him. It's all I do. I want to feel the smooth fur on his chest as he looks up at me with his beautiful, deep eyes. I want to hold him. I want him to make me laugh at his silliness like I did every day before he left. I just want to laugh again. 

I stopped drinking on December 7th. I was moving from the Blue Mountains in Sydney, where I've lived the last 7 years with Axi, back to the city where I'd lived for a couple of decades prior. I had to pack my life up and move boxes and heavy furniture. I couldn't do that drunk, I figured. 
I took Axi to inspect the apartment only weeks before. It's tough trying to rent in town with a pet. Your options are greatly reduced. But this place allowed pets, and so after the inspection Axi and I checked out where we'd go for walks once our new adventure in a new home began. 
I didn't know that would be our last walk. It was a good one. Long, leafy, quiet streets with trees overhanging and the sun shining through them. My last truly good memory with my beautiful boy.

I couldn't wait to get out of that place in the mountains by December 8th. All the great memories had been replaced by the overwhelming sadness of the last few weeks. Everything there reminded me of Axi. The leaves blew up and tapped against the sliding glass door and I would swear it was his nails tapping to come in. The squeak of the bed, or the chirp of a bird outside. Each one suddenly sounded like him crying. Everywhere I looked, there he was... and now wasn't.

I had to put this grief somewhere.. and so I did what I've done for people I've loved, or loved and lost. I wrote him a song. I wrote it only a few days after he passed, but couldn't sing it despite multiple attempts.
And so when I was finally able to sing a line without breaking down, I finished it.
This is my love letter to him. My thankyou for the time we had together. My goodbye. 
It's as honest as I could be about my thoughts and feeling days after losing him.
I know it's very melancholy, but I think it takes a long time before you can look back and be positive and celebrate the good times when the dark times are still so raw and vivid. 

I hope maybe it helps someone going through the same thing to know how many others have felt what they're feeling, like this forum and others like it have done for me. Or that it helps someone who doesn't have a pet understand the depth of sadness their friend or family member might be going through.
  
 

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This really touched me...I don't write songs but it helped me to write about my Arlie when we went through it, a way of declaring his value and immortalize him.  I felt his story needed told, my soulmate in a dog.  Thank you for sharing this, I've shared it on FB publicly so others going through this can make use of your gift of song as they are also going through it and relate.

I hope this brings you some comfort...
Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers

 

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Axis Dad

Thanks KayC. I knew you would be the first to reply. Having read these forums the last few weeks, I noticed you're a bit of a constant source of support and comfort round here to everybody. We definitely all appreciate it. 
I think writing about our experiences helps, definitely. I guess even professionals recommend it, don't they?  And I completely get the 'soul mate' thing. I've had a few dogs in my life, but none I connected with as much as Axi. I suspect that's because he was the first who was 'mine', as opposed to the family dog. It's definitely given me a newfound respect for my mum, who not only puppy trained a small army of dogs while we grew up. Shielding us from all the hard work and difficult stuff, so all we had to do was play with them and feed them. But she also shielded us from the pain at the end. Even when I was older, and she would call me and tell me she'd lost one of her dogs, I'm quite upset with myself looking back that I wasn't more of a support for her. I just didn't/couldn't understand what she was going through. I mean, I knew it was sad.... and I would offer her words of support. But I didn't truly 'get it', you know? And I regret that now. I think I would have done more, and been a better support if I had gone through it myself and understood better. 

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foreverhis

That's really lovely and very touching.  I am a musician by avocation and have only ever composed one instrumental piece for a graduate course--and I struggled to do it.  What a gift to be able to find inspiration like that.

He looks like such a sweetheart (and adorably silly in the short ending video).  What a grace and treasure in your life, even though it's so painful now.

I'm so glad that you told us you quit drinking.  Don't get me wrong, there's no judgment here; I have had an extra glass of wine or cocktail or two sometimes to help me cope.  But alcohol is a depressant and we need to be mindful of that.  I also know that no matter how much we try, our grief is still there demanding that we pay attention.  Eventually, nothing can stop it and we are forced to face it head on.

As for your mom, I'm sure you gave her the support and comfort you could.  The sad truth is that our society absolutely sucks at acknowledging death, much less the depth of grief for those left behind.  We're never "taught" about grief and so we are uncomfortable or ill prepared to help someone we love when they experience it.  We're not even prepared for when it happens to us.  Here and on the Loss of a Partner forum, the primary reason I am here, people often talk about how others in their lives are impatient or don't get it/understand or expect grief to be some neat little path from "Start" to "Finish" and (ta-da) we come out the other side "normal" again.  That's not reality.  Grief is hard, there's no two ways about it, and our lives have been forever changed.

Coming here and talking is good, so is composing as you have done.  I am a writer and, though I am not "a poet," I do write poetry.  That has helped me express my grief/feelings, even when I later look at something and delete-delete-delete.  Many of our members journal or, as I do, write in stream of consciousness.  Expressing, rather than repressing, our grief is important, IMO.

Thank you for sharing your music with us.

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Axis Dad

Hey forever,
Yes, the drinking was simply a (bad) coping mechanism and kneejerk reaction to not being able to initially deal with it all. I don't think I'd touched alcohol in a couple of years before. So giving it up was easy, since it was a very temporary thing.
The thing about writing a journal through the dark times, I've found, is that it helps you to understand how extreme and even simply 'wrong' your thinking may have been at the time. I've read back letters to myself when going through some adversity and with a clear mind, though 'no, no, no...how could I have thought that?'.
That's why, when possible, it's important to have friends or sites like this to have other people as backboards. To help give some clarity or alternative perspective. Because when left alone, we can talk ourselves into some extremely dark places. And when it's just us, we tend to agree with ourselves, reinforcing some of our misplaced or destructive thinking. Sometimes all it takes is one other person to say 'I don't think that's right', you know?

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foreverhis
2 hours ago, Axis Dad said:

Sometimes all it takes is one other person to say 'I don't think that's right', you know?

I do.  My mind has gone to some very dark places over the last 4-1/2 years (1 year while my John was fighting his cancer).  In fact, I ended up here 6 months after he died because I was so angry with people we didn't know well trying to make comparisons like, "I know exactly how you feel.  I lost my dad/friend/aunt/dog."  I've had those losses and they can be devastating.  In truth, before I lost John, the absolute worst, most painful, were when we lost our two most special fur family 3 years apart.  But I had John then so we could grieve together, comfort and support each other.  Nothing, absolutely nothing compared to losing him.  OTOH, I don't believe grief should ever be compared.  The truth is that the worst loss and deepest grief for each of us will always be our own--and that's as it should be.

Coming here not only helped me with that, but made me realize just how lost and hopeless I was.  Even though I had a small, loyal and loving circle of family and friends, I wasn't coping.  Some days I still don't cope well, but now I know that the members here understand, don't judge, and will help me up when I fall.  I hope you find that here too.

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@Axis Dadm really sorry to read of your loss. You write so well, how you describe your feelings and trying to cope with it all. When I read " I miss him, that's all I do" the tears started for me again as yes, that's me, all I do now is miss Goldie. It's just over a year, he was my best pal, my right hand man. I knew I loved him, but didn't realise how much. I almost gave up. I'm here now, but that's about it. There is nothing I want to do, nowhere I want to go anymore. I'm an over emotional guy I know, I wear my heart on my sleeve as they say. I don't do well with this. It's good to write and talk, and know we are not alone.

Gary 

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Axis Dad

I hear you, Gary. 
That feeling of not knowing how much you love something. It's probably one of our greatest flaws as humans. The taking things for granted. It's one of the oldest and most overused  lines that have ever been used in songs. 'You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone'. The thing is, cliché's become clichés usually because they're so true.    
Writing and talking about it, whether in a journal, or a song or with friends or on here. I think it's the only way through, honestly. And I'm not exaggerating when I say this site has changed my mind about people. Before Axi passed, I spent a lot of time on youtube, or watching the news etc. And I built up a bit of a dislike for humans. Well, our nature at least. 
Because those kind of places show us mostly at our worst. But I've been spending a lot of time on here reading all of the stories. And while I do always walk away from it feeling emotionally drained, because there's so much loss and pain everybody is experiencing. I'm always uplifted by how many people there are just caring for others and offering kind words of support, with no expectation of anything in return. It's incredibly moving. And it also gives you a lot of perspective. As I've said, I also didn't know how lucky I was until I came here. I'm heartbroken over losing Axi. But I'm also grateful for all the time we had. A lot of people on here have had it a lot tougher.... I know that now.
I posted to some friends on Facebook a couple of nights ago to let people know about Axi that I haven't talked to recently. It was surprising how many people, when offering their condolences, mentioned their own pets, and how they can't imagine life without them. I started to feel sad for them, too. They're all going to have to go through it at some point. We all do. Like my mum used to say... 'if you don't ever want to hurt, then you can't love living things'.
That's the deal you made with Goldie, and I made with Axi. I don't imagine if someone said 'I can take the pain away, but they'll have never been in your life' that either one of us would take that deal. 

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Axis Dad
11 hours ago, foreverhis said:

 I ended up here 6 months after he died because I was so angry with people we didn't know well trying to make comparisons like, "I know exactly how you feel.  I lost my dad/friend/aunt/dog."

When my mother was dying from cancer, it was the most awful thing I'd experienced in my life. My sister and brother and I moved back home to take care of her... and to spend as much time as we could with her. They told us she could have 6 months, but that she likely wouldn't make it to xmas.
At one point I had to go do some shopping, and like I did a few times during that period, I couldn't hold myself together out in the world. And at the counter, I started sobbing. The girl behind the counter was genuinely caring and asked what was wrong and if she could help. I told her about my mum, and I remember her saying 'you poor thing. I completely understand. I had to nurse my mother for 3 years with her cancer'. She told me a little about what she went through.
The thing is, my mum only lasted a little over 2 weeks. But I thought of that girl after. Those 2 weeks were the most brutal thing I'd ever been through. To see someone you love suffer like that. And I thought of that girl, having to go through that, constantly... for 3 years. What that would do to you.
I guess my point is, I agree with you. I could have compared our situations at first glance. But our experiences were completely different. The truth is, I remember being relieved that mum didn't have to go through that for 3 years. And selfishly, that we didn't have to watch her go through it. And then with some people, they have a knock at the door and someone tells them the person they love is gone forever. They don't get to say goodbye. They don't get to tell them they love them one last time, or prepare themselves emotionally for how their life is about to change forever. Their lives are instantly demolished.
Pain is pain. Grief is grief. But we all have our own completely different experiences and handle it (or not) in our own way. Comparisons, or assuming we know how somebody else feels, doesn't make a lot of sense. Having said that, I feel like people generally have their hearts in the right place. It's not easy when someone you care about is going through that kind of suffering. People wish they could help. And the truth is, there's not much anyone can do but listen at the end of the day.
 

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@Axis Dadmy mum used to come out with some stuff, which I later realised made a lot of sense. One was you never miss the water till the well runs dry. How true. I wonder about human nature, but when you read posts here and on Facebook, the loss and sadness it really gets you. I'm glad Goldie came into my life. He did more for me than anyone. It was me and Goldie and now its just me. I've family here but I'm lonely. I only want him. Its been a sad year, I've gone from walking over 10 miles a day to nothing. I'm retired and I know this isn't good. I need another companion for my sanity and health but I've not been able yet. I know Goldie wants me to get one. I know he's around me, and that is comforting. However I never knew it was possible to feel this sad, maybe I've been luckier than some. I'm sure Axi is right there with you. 

Gary 

 

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19 hours ago, Axis Dad said:

I think I would have done more, and been a better support if I had gone through it myself and understood better.

This is, unfortunately how we learn...I don't think any of us get it until we go through it.  I love this: He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:4

I feel that lends us some purpose through our trials, of which grief, to me, is the worst.

I know drinking doesn't work because it's a depressant, hardly what we need more of!  But I sure understand it...

3 hours ago, Axis Dad said:

I don't imagine if someone said 'I can take the pain away, but they'll have never been in your life' that either one of us would take that deal. 

Absolutely, I actually heard someone say that once (she'd lost her husband)  but 99.9% of us would not...to me, it was worth every moment and more, pain and all.  I would not undo a thing except their affliction/suffering/death, if only we could.  Some things we have no control over, alas.  It's heartbreaking we've all suffered such losses.

For myself, losing my George (husband) 16 1/2 years ago is the worst thing I've ever had to go through, it affects me still.  But losing Arlie felt much like that!  Maybe because it was just him and me, but also because he was so perfect for me, I just love him to pieces!  My sweet, goofy, fun, funny dog, so considerate, loyal, such a protector!  No one ever dared break in with HIM in the house!  And beautiful to boot.  Some just cannot be replaced, and that's how I feel about both of them.  My son brought me little Kodie and I now love him completely, for different qualities, it's interesting how our hearts can do it again, I hadn't thought it possible.  All I know is life is empty without a dog, I don't know how I'd survive!

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foreverhis
6 hours ago, Axis Dad said:

And I thought of that girl, having to go through that, constantly... for 3 years. What that would do to you.
I guess my point is, I agree with you. I could have compared our situations at first glance. But our experiences were completely different.

It was "only" 15 months for me and John, but yes, it's impossible to describe what that did to both of us and what I live with now.  I think you've come a great truth, that deep grief and loss is unique to each of us and yet, there are things about it that are nearly universal.

7 hours ago, Axis Dad said:

I don't imagine if someone said 'I can take the pain away, but they'll have never been in your life' that either one of us would take that deal. 

For the members here and others like us, I think the nearly 100% answer would be that we would never take that deal.  There are certainly days when we wish anything to relieve us of the pain, but we know it's the price we must pay for finding love that deep and true.

3 hours ago, KayC said:

My son brought me little Kodie and I now love him completely, for different qualities, it's interesting how our hearts can do it again, I hadn't thought it possible.  All I know is life is empty without a dog, I don't know how I'd survive!

It's different, of course, because my doggie friend (Raleigh is her name) isn't mine.  But I am part of her primary pack.  She is never happier than when her mom, dad, and I are together in the same place.  Good thing we live across the street from each other.  COVID restrictions were really hard for all of us, including her, but we muddled through.  I had her more often because our friends were worried that the stay-at-home and distancing would set me back in my grieving for John.  They were right.  So I started having Raleigh three or four afternoons a week, instead of one and occasionally two.  It was good for her too because her routine at her primary home had been disrupted by her pack being there "all the time, don't you humans know I adore you, but I'm used to my routine?"

Now I have her two afternoons and early evenings a week.  She allowed me to open my heart to the possibility of having a cat or dog of my own again someday.  She gently nudged her way into my heart and has taken the number two dog spot right behind our beloved and most precious Charlie.  For now, what we have is enough because I'm just not ready for a full-time commitment.  So I am the "God-auntie" and have already been added to their wills--just in case.

I don't know how I would have managed these last 2 years without the support of not just my friends (close by and at a distance) and family, but a little furry girl called Raleigh.  Her sweet love, sensitive heart, and playful nature have been a balm, even on my bad days.  In fact, her mom texted me the day before "the day" last year to ask if having Raleigh for the day would help at all.  It certainly did.  We went for a little walk and we played her favorite games in the house, but mostly she spent the time snuggling and loving on me while I held her close.  It made the day bearable.  The pure love of animals does that and we are blessed to have them.

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I am so glad you get to share in her, Raleigh is a beautiful name!  I feel the same about Jazzy (Kodie's playdate).  She gives me kisses.  Her owners don't let her kiss their faces, I do, I welcome doggy kisses, all I can get!  I'd rather kiss them than humans!  Does that make me weird?  Rhetorical...

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foreverhis
2 hours ago, KayC said:

I am so glad you get to share in her, Raleigh is a beautiful name!  I feel the same about Jazzy (Kodie's playdate).  She gives me kisses.  Her owners don't let her kiss their faces, I do, I welcome doggy kisses, all I can get!  I'd rather kiss them than humans!  Does that make me weird?  Rhetorical...

Raleigh’s name at the shelter was Roxie. It’s a perfectly good name, but it wasn’t “her.” Raleigh suits her in every way.

She’s not a big kisser, so when she does give me a kiss on the end of my nose (her favorite spot), it’s special. She usually does it if she’s super happy or trying to comfort.

The only human I would love to kiss is John, so…I will be weird right along with you.

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