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My childhood dog died just days before my wedding. It was rough–or, you know, ruff. My dog, Rover, had been my pet since I was nine. He was more than that, though. Much more. He was my best friend, and I loved him more than anyone or anything in this world. I would have killed for him. I had this dream once that coyotes were trying to kill him and I grabbed one by the jaw and ripped its face in half. In waking life, I picked up all 60 pounds of Rover and carried him inside because there was a snake in the yard and he was too dumb to save himself. Another time, there was a wasp in the house and I brought him to my bedroom and barricaded us inside. Wasps ain’t nothin’ to fuck with.
After he died, it took me a long time to recover. I made some rookie mistakes during the grieving process, so I’m here to tell you what not to do after a beloved dog dies.
1. Movie. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT watch “All Dogs go to Heaven.” For the love of God, do not watch that movie. If so, plan ahead and make sure no one will be home, and that you have enough tissues to get you through it.
2. Another movie. Worse than that, don’t even think about watching “Frankenweenie.” I watched it after a few months had passed, but I hadn’t given it enough time–I should’ve waited years. I had to pause the movie multiple times because I was hyperventilating. When I was breathing properly, I was screaming at the TV: “WE CAN’T ALL BRING OUR FUCKING DOGS BACK, ASSHOLES! I HATE YOU, VICTOR!” Then: “Well, maybe I could try it…” Just, no. Don’t watch that movie, and don’t try to bring your deceased dog back to life.
3. Games. Don’t try to bring your pet back to life via The Sims. My game glitched and Rover turned invisible and I just couldn’t take it. I told my friend what happened and he said, “That’s probably the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.” He was there, but I couldn’t even see him. I mean, what the fuck, man?
4. Dreams. Don’t dream. Just stop it altogether. I can’t even begin to count the amount of times I dreamt that Rover came back as a zombie. He was a good zombie, though. He didn’t try to eat anyone. But in my dreams, I knew he wasn’t supposed to be alive so I had to bring him back to the grave. I RE-BURIED MY DOG SO MANY TIMES. What the hell, brain? Stahp.
5. Birthdays. Don’t celebrate his birthday. But don’t forget it. Rover’s birthday is 11 days after mine. We shared birthday cakes. People showed up for his birthday parties. He was so much cooler than I was. But I’m here to tell you to remember in silence. It’s easier.
6. Facebook. Don’t make your pet a Facebook page. Luckily, Rover was behind on the times and I only had a Myspace, so I didn’t have to worry about deleting his Facebook or anything.
7. Phone. Don’t program your home phone with his picture and name. If someone calls from that number, you’ll have a mild panic attack. HE’S CALLING FROM THE DEAD, HOLY SHIT.
8. Poems. Don’t read old dog poems. Facebook had these posts going around about old dogs and how they need us when they’re aging and all that. I almost threw up on myself at work from one of those posts. Those damn things are so sad, so just don’t even go there.
There’s no right way to grieve the loss of a pet, but there is a wrong way. I buried myself in memories of him. I cried for weeks and tortured myself with dog-related movies. There is a time for all of those things, but time is the key. Don’t get lost in grief.