Never underestimate the love and power of a dog. The bond goes deep, the grief goes deeper, after 13 years.

I have been preparing myself for some time now, as I have known, that one day in 2010, my dog Toby the GirlDog as I call her, will leave.

It will be her time. I just know. Intuitively, I know. I knew it to be true last year.

And now her health is showing the proof. Toby will be 13 in May of 2010, and she’s had a great life, and has been a wonderful companion for me, and a big part of my home based business. I will miss her deeply.

Why is Toby the GirlDog called Toby? Well, almost 13 years ago I was reading a book by Maya Angelou, and I took the name from her book, where she writes:

“… a Toby is a Southern Black term for a lucky talisman, something you keep with you always, which brings you good and protects you from harm.”

Toby has done, just that, for me, protected me from harm, brought me good, nature and the outdoors, and laughter, daily.

Toby can’t walk very well right now, and it’s hard to watch some days, but it is not her time to go quite yet, not today anyway. (Her part-Border Collie brain still thinks she can walk and still wants to sniff the grasses, sniff the sand on the beach and sniff for rabbit and raccoon tracks). Toby still wants to do everything with me, be with me, follow me around everywhere as she always has done. Her mind wants to, her body is saying, no longer.

We’ll be back to the vet tomorrow, to see what we can do for her poor sore paws and legs giving out, and as I write, she sleeps peacefully beside me.

She knows. Toby knows it will soon be her time. We both know. We are both preparing to say Good Bye. And today, I cannot stop crying. I’ve been grieving ahead of time. I’ve been incredibly sad, knowing that my best friend Toby, must leave soon. Grieving the loss of a pet is never easy.

Heartbreaking, it is.

Here’s Toby in 2008 at her favorite place in the entire world, the beautiful beaches of Tofino:

Copyright 2008 Brenda Johima | Images May Not Be Used In Any Way Without Written Permission

Copyright 2008 Brenda Johima

Copyright 2008 Brenda Johima | Images May Not Be Used In Any Way Without Written Permission

Some people may wonder why I am grieving now, as Toby is still alive as I write this post. And yes, I am, cherishing every moment I still do have with her right now, and I’m enjoying just any little thing she still can do. Our little walks on grass and moss for her sore paws, are slow, but she still wants to do it, and I love to see the power of her brain, the power of the inner spirit, which lives on so strongly, even when the body begins to say no.

For many years I was a Music Therapist/Counsellor and I worked in Grief Recovery, Palliative Care, and I know the power of grieving, and know how and why we must finish, what we came here to do, in order to be truly happy. We must feel the depths of grief, as deep as we have felt the joy, love and laughter. Then we will be able to heal and to move on in a healthy way.

Grief is a normal part of losing something/some one that you really love. For me, the depth of grief is equal to the depth of love. We must grieve, and Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote so much on this topic, and we cannot ignore her brilliant writings, research, truth and wisdom.

Thank you for reading, thank you for listening, and it’s my 49th birthday today, and the gift to myself, is in sharing this truth with all of you, and to begin to acknowledge Toby publicly, and for all that she has given me for so very many years. Writing is healing. Writing the truth and posting it publicly, worldwide is transformative.

In Love,

Brenda Johima and Toby

4 Responses to “DOGS: Never Underestimate the Depth of Love and Strength of Bond”

  1. Jeet Hothi says:

    This is a lovely story. I lost my pet after 13 years last Friday. I can relate to each and every word in your story. For me, this is the first time I had to put my dog down; I had never done this before. Simba, that was his name, was a brave little guy (Lassa Apso). He fought to the end with cancer and host of other ailments. Even when he was having trouble breathing during his last day, he kept his dignity. He still wagged his tail and was fully alert. He gave so much to our family. I am going to sprinkly some of his ashes in a play ground which was his favourite, where he made so many friends.

  2. admin says:

    Thank you, Jeet, for reading my blog, and for taking the time to post a comment. I am glad that my story touched you, as that is the most rewarding part of blogging for me, is sharing stories with people that hopefully, in some way, make a difference.

    I am so sorry for your loss of Simba, as losing a pet is simply not easy, and there is no easy way around it. It sounds like you and your family gave Simba a wonderful home for a long 13 years of life, and I know that you made a difference to Simba, and that is the reason you were put together on this planet, to share your love.

    The playground is a good choice. Simba’s joy lives on forever.

    Thanks for sharing your truth with me,

    Brenda Johima

  3. Al Soto says:

    Brenda: I was looking for another post on a dog named Toby, and found yours instead. Almost two years ago, I lost a female dog to cancer, and it was simply heart rending and unspeakable. Please accept my deepest sympathies for what you are going through with Toby the GirlDog. Your photo of her projects to me the feelings I felt with my dog: joy, purity of heart, innocence, fullness of life and love. I could not stop sobbing the days before her death. You are right, it does help with the journey of grief to speak of her, share her, and honor her publicly. It was also helpful for me to take lots of photos in those last days. I finally laid her to rest in my garden, in her puppy blanket, with a girl angel statue over her resting place. Anyone who goes into the yard has to put up with my stories and tears whenever we draw close to her resting place and they ask about the angel statue. Well, just wanted you to know you touched my heart, Toby touched my heart also, and there is someone out there who has connected to that experience of parting with your best friend.

  4. admin says:

    Thank you so much, Al Soto, for taking the time to read my blog, and for writing such a heart-felt and warm response. I am so very sorry for the loss of your dog two years ago, that must have been heart breaking, and I know she is with you still, and always, in spirit.

    Since I wrote this post, Toby decided it was her time to go, on May 27th 2010, actually, and I am still heart broken. I love her so much, and she will be always missed.

    And, now I try to focus on the great memories, the fun we had together, and the lessons she taught me in non-verbal communications, and how that connection will never leave.

    Thanks again,
    Brenda Johima

    P.S. If you are on FaceBook, I have honored Toby also on my FB phoDOGraphy page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Vancouver-Island-BC-Canada/phoDOGraphy/296046262739

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