Lessons I’ve learned from my dog – in life and death

Lessons I’ve learned from my dog – in life and death

by Lindsay on April 18, 2012

in Animals, Kindness, Personal Growth

8 weeks old

With tear-filled eyes and heavy hearts, we said goodbye to our sweet dog Chester on April 11th.  He was my best friend for 10 years – licking my tears when I was sad, cuddling me on rainy (and sunny) days, barking at animals on television to annoy me (that is why he did that, right?) and filling my heart with joy and love. He was a little furball of love, light and happiness, even on my darkest days.

Chester was everything a dog should be: loyal, loving, sweet, funny. He got my jokes (I swear he laughed!) and he was around for all my big milestones in the past 10 years.

After we felt the life leave Chester’s body, the veterinarian said, “It’s hard, but this is the way it is supposed to be, we are meant to say goodbye to our pets, not the other way around.” It’s never easy to say goodbye to a loved one, whether that be an animal or human. It is the memories and the lessons you learned from them that help you get through it.

2 days after his passing, Sarah (Chester’s other mom) got a message from the Universe in her inbox:

Honor them, love them, help them, heal them, but above all else, Sarah, free them.

My babies in 2004

That email got me thinking – what other lessons have I learned from Chester through the experiences we lived together?

  • There is no such thing as too much love. Give it all you’ve got. Love with no bounds. Love for the sake of loving and don’t think about it.
  • If you show love, you’ll get love. Same thing goes if you ask for love, you’ll get love.
  • No matter what you are doing, give it your all. When Chester was chewing a bone, we’d often say it looked like there was nothing going on behind those big brown eyes. But now I realize: Chester was a master of mindfulness! Whatever he was doing had his complete attention and focus.
  • Treats are the best! Having a bad day? Feeling nervous about your loved ones leaving (Maybe that’s just dogs). Treats will help you get through it and cheer you up.
  • Make it your mission to make someone smile. Do what you can to make someone laugh or smile. The sillier, the better.
  • Take time out of your day to just soak up the sun. Chester always made time to sunbathe and enjoy the warm rays on his face. He taught me to take time out of my day and take the world in with no other agenda.
  • Rest is important. Sleep. Lots. It rejuvenates the body and soul.
  • Cuddles cure everything. No explanation needed.
  • When someone cries, lick their tears. Okay, maybe we shouldn’t do this one.

Chester was my first “baby” – I loved him like a son. A very hairy son.  He will live forever in our hearts and minds. And while the ache and hole his physical loss has brought into my life is very raw and real, I wouldn’t trade our time together for anything.  My life will never be the same without Chester, but it is so much better for having loved him.

Puppy love

Want to read more about my life & lessons from Chester? Here are a few articles I’ve written over the years:

Through the eyes of a dog

Animal communication: not the barking or meowing variety

A Dog’s Purpose: Pets and Reincarnation

Dog Dementia is for the Birds

PS – A huge and heartfelt thank you to Patti Foy from Lightspirited Being for reaching out to Chester just days after he crossed over. Patti offers animal communication sessions and helped bring us peace of mind and comfort in our grief, for anyone who is interested. Contact her!

What have your pets taught you? Have you ever lost a pet? What lessons have you learned from that experience? Share your thoughts with us! 

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Mandy April 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm

It is very sad to hear of Chester’s passing. Thank you for sharing what he taught you. I am always thinking of what my dogs are teaching me, and many of the lessons are the same.

Lindsay April 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Thank you for your kind words, Mandy. Chester was my best friend for 10 years – what a blessing. I’d love to hear what lessons your dogs have taught you!

Julie | A Clear Sign April 19, 2012 at 9:14 am

Hi Lindsay,

Yes, I have lost many a pet but that happens when you have so many. We lost Midnight, a Norwegian Forest cat, right after my son was born, and then a year later we moved to our current house. Here we lost Belly (3 year old cat, to a mysterious kidney failure that we think might have been poisoning), Spode (a 23 year old white cat who was like a person, with multiple illnesses including diabetes), and Shakespeare (a teenaged huge black male cat, to a vicious dog attack) – all of this within 6 months. I’ll tell you, it was hard to understand why this all happened. They are all buried outside our front door by a rose bush in a garden. Right now we have a limping Mastiff and a Maine Coon cat who somehow has injured his leg and won’t move! But the love we share knows no bounds and I am glad I have been blessed with the company of so many beloved dogs and cats over the years – after all, if we didn’t have the pain we wouldn’t get the love, either.

Lindsay April 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

Good grief m’dear, you have had your own little pet zoo! I love it, though. If I had more space, I’d have more animals, for sure. I cannot believe Spode was 23 years old! You sure did lose a lot of your furry loves in such a short span. 🙁

After spending over $5k for all of Chester’s tests, etc…I’m starting to think pet care should be covered like human care is in the Canadian Health system! lol

I’ll send some healing energy to Magic and your cat (what’s it’s name?) so they can both start walking without pain! How mysterious that they’d both have similar ailments…And you’re right – if we didn’t have the pain, we wouldn’t get the love. Pet love is SO worth it, no matter how much it hurts in the end.

Julie | A Clear Sign April 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

Dakota is the Maine Coon. Right rear paw/foot – might be broken? Ugh! My husband called to tell me about it (he thought it might be a poisoning case at first because Dakota was weaving like he was drunk) – and the first thing he said was,”We cannot go through the expense of all of this again.” Thousands for each when we have 6 is just not in the budget, but we took them on when we had more $ and they’re here now, so!

Julie | A Clear Sign April 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

Hey guess what? Dakota got up on his own this morning, hopped up on the kitchen table and ate out of his cat bowl 🙂

Lindsay April 20, 2012 at 10:55 am

wooohoo!!! I sent him some energy last night around 10 pm. So glad this isn’t another expensive vet bill to worry about!

Lisa | Practically Intuitive April 19, 2012 at 9:22 am

Having sent off three of my beloved cats to the Rainbow Bridge, I know the feelings of sadness that accompanies that action. I cried into the fur of my kitty Murphy and held her in my arms as we released her spirit from her body. It’s hard but their sweet loving selves live on in our heart.

This was a beautiful post and so from the heart. (HUGS YOU TIGHT)

Lindsay April 19, 2012 at 9:41 am

I’m soaking up your love and hugs, Lisa. Thank you so much for all of your support in this! I like the name Murphy for a kitty. I’m glad you were there with her when she crossed over. I’ll never forget that moment when we felt Chester’s soul leaving his body. It was equal parts painful and, weirdly, beautiful. My faith and belief that our spirits never die is what’s pulling me through this.

Larry April 19, 2012 at 10:47 am

Dear Lindsay, having just recently lost my two best friends, Charlie and Cindy, Miniature Schnauzers, I just want to share with you that there are others, myself included, who truly, truly understand your loss of Chester not being with you. I would give everything I own just to be able to hold Charlie and Cindy for a while, to experience that closness we shared. There is no greater cynic than me. But I will tell you that it is my sincere belief that Charlie and Cindy were sent to me from on high to teach me things I did not know before. They were angels. Angels, defined as messengers from God. I would like to add that the picture of your two babies is the angelic stuff of which I write. Thanks, for sharing.

Lindsay April 19, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Hi Larry,

Thank you so much for your heartfelt condolences and kindness. I really appreciate it! I’m so sorry to hear about your Charlie and Cindy being gone, too. Did you lose them both around the same time? How heart-wrenching! 🙁

I agree – our dogs truly are earth angels. A friend of mine put it wisely: the love of a dog is as close to unconditional love that we will feel in our lifetime. We are so blessed to have had that love.

Sending you some warm thoughts & love – for your Charlie and Cindy, too.

Kristin April 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

Oh Lindsay! I am so sorry for your loss. I know your heart is in a million little pieces. I’m thinking of you and sending lots of love, light and peace your way.


Lindsay April 23, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Thank you so much, Kristin. It’s been almost 2 weeks and he’s still the first thing on my mind every morning. Just like he was for 10 years, pretty much! Thank you so much for the love, light and peace.

Kristine April 23, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I know how difficult it is when our beloved pets leave. So hard. It is so hard because they are pure love, unconditional love. I truly believe that is what they come to teach us. Sending light your way.


Patti Foy | Lightspirited Being April 23, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Ach! How did it take me a whole week to notice this post?! Anyway, I’m here now …

First, I LOVE that photo of him at 8 wks. I guess it IS possible for him to be even more darling than he was as an adult. Toooo cute!

I especially love your lesson about making someone smile. Without fail, dogs do that, don’t they? No matter how in the pits I may be, they make me smile and lift my spirits. That’s whether it happens just by them delighting me OR by their licking my tears (and you’re so funny, I love your sense of humor!)

And my gosh, Lindsay! A mention about about my connecting with Chester?! It was MY pleasure! I didn’t expect you to do this at all, but am not surprised. You are consistently generous — have already repaid me for anything I’ve done for you by ten-fold — and I thank you for that.

Thanks for sharing Chester with us. My heart goes out to you and I wish you much continued love as you move forward.

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