As we grow older, we all come to terms that someday we will lose someone we love to old age whether it be a family member, a friend or as it was in this case my best friend, Choco a 15-year-old rescue dog I got when she was 2 ½ years old.
Never in my wildest of dreams would I have thought that the death of a dog would be so hard.
Even now, after 2 years of her passing away I still shed a tear every time I think of the life we had together.
She passed away sleeping comfortably in her bed, but that still did not make things any easier.
This is Choc’s story of what she bought to me in her 15 wonderful years as my best friend and how I have tried to cope with her death.
Bringing Choco Home
I had always owned or worked with dogs since I was a young fella.
Mum and Dad had gotten me a Boxer Cross named Baron when I was 6 years old and I have had dogs around me pretty much all the time since then.
There was a 4-year period where I was posted overseas with the Military so I couldn’t have my own dog.
As soon as that posting finished I retired from the Army and moved into the mining game where I got a residential role that meant I got to live in the town where the mine is located.
To me this was the best thing ever, it meant I could now get myself a dog again, something I had been missing out on for the past 4 years.
I remember going on our local animal rescue website SAFE, Saving Animals From Euthanasia and coming across this introduction post about Choco.
She was listed as a 2 1/2 year old Staffy X who had been abandoned and found out in the bush by a hiker.
As soon as I read this I knew I had to get this dog home to me.
I called SAFE and asked if she was still up for adoption and if I could come and meet her and much to my delight they said that they would love me to come and see her.
She was currently In a foster home which was about a 2-hour drive from my place so off I headed.
I remember getting to the house and seeing this poor girl hiding behind the couch and it was at that moment I knew the rest of her life would be with me and I would do everything I could to make her happy.
Gardening With Dad & The Beach
For the first few weeks Choco was still a little wary of everything but the improvement she had made from that first day home was so good
She had now gotten the confidence to relax out in the open and her personality was really starting to show.
I have always loved gardening, it was something I grew a passion for while I was in the military.
I was in what they call single mans quarters where every room had it’s own little courtyard out the back, well a patch of concrete surrounded by walls is what it really boiled down to.
It was then I decided to add plants and the likes, but hey that’s another story!
Back to Dad, Choco and the gardening.
Choco would always follow me around the house by this stage, always inquisitive on what I was doing and never shy to lend a hand when she thought it was helpful.
However, when ever I went out into the garden for some reason she would stop at the door, lay down and just watch me.
No matter how much I would call her to come and join me she just would not come outside.
I think maybe she was thinking I would leave her, just like her previous owner had done that day out in the bush.
Then one day, I was out doing my thing in the garden taking some pictures of the Passionfruit I had grown when I turned around and there she was.
Just sitting in the patio area watching me taking photos of the passion fruit vines.
From that day forward she would spend every minute of everyday out in the garden with me.
Now I knew she was getting very comfortable with me I thought it was time to introduce her to my second favorite place, The Beach!
I knew she loved being in the car with me, as she goes everywhere with me so her hopping into the car was an everyday thing.
Off to the beach we headed and once there I hopped out of the car opened her door, but you guessed it.
It was the whole going out in the garden routine thing again.
I vividly remember saying to Choco, you will love this trust me, it’s what dogs love.
Again I am sure it was the whole abandonment thing coming back to her.
After about an hour of just patiently sitting in the sand Looking out at the ocean I remember feeling this wet nose on the back of my neck.
It was Choc who had finally realized I think, that this guy would never leave me.
Well once she got the taste of going to the beach that was it.
Everyday after we would finish in the garden she would get all excited because as far as she was concerned a day in the garden was finished off with a trip to the beach.
And with every trip she was now so confident she would run for miles, sometimes way ahead of me.
She had finally become the relaxed happy dog I was hoping she would one day become.
And the water, she would spend hours in it. Swimming, splashing and sometimes just standing there watching me.
Ok, so apart from gardening and the beach, guess what time was another favorite of Choco’s?
Yes you guessed it, Christmas time, and this wasn’t just because of all the treats she would get at this time of the year.
She loved Christmas for the pressies, I mean don’t we all?
Every year Choco would get her own gifts from us, family and friends, in fact some years the tree was full of more gifts for Choco than us.
And opening her presents was something she absolutely loved and would always give us a laugh at how excited she would get and the noises of excitement she would make.
Funny thing I remembered just the other day, was the Christmas we had a few years before she went to doggy heaven.
We had a whole heap of doggy treats and HUMAN chocolates wrapped up under the tree.
Anyways we had been out for dinner and gotten home to Christmas wrapping paper all over the lounge room floor.
Choco had decided Christmas was coming early this year and had opened and eaten all the treats and chocolate.
I still wonder to this day how she didn’t get herself sick, especially knowing how bad human chocolate is for dogs.
I have to say, even now Christmas is a time when I really miss her!
The End Is Near
Choco had now entered her 15th year and it was starting to show.
She was never in any pain which has made the years after her passing somewhat easier, however she was now going deaf and had pretty much lost her sight.
The one thing that amazed me with her losing her sight was just how familiar she was with the whole house.
She would rarely bump into anything. It was like she had a sixth sense, it was amazing to watch and so wish I had taken video of this.
Even when she was blind she would still love her walks.
Even up until her last day, although these walks were now no more than a few hundred meters it was still a great thing for her.
Goodbye – A Peaceful Trip To Doggy Heaven
6.05.2019 is a date I will never forget.
That was the day I was in my home office doing emails or something.
I thought it very strange that Choco hadn’t been in to check on what I was doing, something she always did when I was working.
I called out to her and still no sound of her claws on the tiles.
Anyway I got up and decided to go and check on her and she was lying on her favorite old bed looking very comfortable.
I thought I would go and give her a little pat just to let her know Dad loved her and that’s when I knew she had headed off to join her friends up in Doggy heaven.
Isn’t it funny, even as write this I have a tear in my eye.
I know she passed peacefully in her sleep, which means so much to me.
We had over 12 years of fun, laughter and great times together, for that I really am so lucky.
Does all that make it any easier? A little, but even 2 years later I really miss this girl and to be honest I don’t think that feeling will ever go.
So to people who say “Its Only A Dog” I say to you, you have never really owned a dog then!
What Can I Do To Keep Her With Me
So if you have gotten this far you will remember me saying that I was now in a mining town living in a mining house.
This meant that I was living in a mine owned house, and still do at the time of writing this article.
There was no way I was going to bury her here.
Although the beach was one of her favorite places, and they actually have a beach where I live called The Dog Cemetery, which is where a lot of people put their dogs to rest that wasn’t an option.
I know at sometime I will leave here and head back to my home town of Perth, Western Australia and I thought this is where I want to take her.
Then a friend told me you can have her cremated and have the ashes sent back to you, all arranged by our local vet here.
So I wrapped up my good ole Choc in her favorite blanket and took her to our local vet where they were so good and showed a real compassion.
They took care of everything and within the week I had Choco’s ashes back where they belonged, with me.
Once I got the ashes I had a nice wooden memorial box made for her with a little plaque so as when I finally do move, so does she.
It means the promise I made to her some 12 years ago about never leaving her will be kept.
If you are ever in the same situation as me, and decide that cremation is what you want for your fur baby then please check out the range of plaques and memorial things available here at Art Dog
Just so you are aware Art Dog is now an Affiliate link I have so I do earn a small commission and you don’t pay anymore for the purchase than what you would do if you went directly to them.
I have only added this because of the way they handled Choc’s passing.
Knowing the feeling you would have when your dog passes, these guys really are compassionate and amazing as is their work.
My Other Two Have Made It Easier
A lot of people who have lost a dog have said I will never get another dog, and honestly that was me for a while.
However the two dogs I have now, Narla who I got about 3 years after Choco, who is a 12-Year-old Black Labrador, and Saffron who is my 2 year old Mastiff have definitely made things a lot better.
Will they ever replace Choco? Definitely not.
What they have done is bought new things and new excitement with their own personalities.
So if you are ever asking yourself, will I ever get another dog?
Take it from my personal experience it will definitely help with your grieving process and make the journey without the lost one just that little easier
I sincerely hoped you enjoyed this story about my old girl Choco and, if you are dealing with the loss of a pet please feel free to leave your comments below and I will reply to them personally as soon as possible.
As I always say “May Your Home Be Filled With Love And Dog Hair”
Founder of Our Dogs World 101