If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, then you will already know that my beloved old dog, Koko, died a couple of weeks ago. She had been battling bladder cancer for over a year and it got to the point where her suffering was too great to let her go on. 

I was mentally prepared for this. When she got diagnosed she was given 6 – 9 months to live, so when she reached the year mark I knew the time was close. There have been a few times when I prepared myself to take her to the vet but then she perked up again – this time was different. She no longer wagged at humans and her love of food was gone. For her whole life she went crazy at dinner time and barked until her dinner was put in front of her; but that spark was gone now. She was ready to go, but that didn’t make it any easier on my heart. 

I grew up with Koko. She was the first dog I really loved and I became reliant on her through hard times during my teenage years. She was my rock. As I grew up, I learnt to rely on her less, but the joy I had from spending time with her never diminished. She always has been and always will be a part of my heart and a part of my family. Losing her was losing a family member.

Thankfully, all the people in my life understand the close relationship that I have with my pets. I didn’t have to justify my grief, or my need to have her ashes back with me. I know there are people out there who would question why I needed to spend extra money on having her cremated when she is already gone, but those sort of people don’t have a place in my life. I only have room for people who understand that my pets are my life. In no way do I need to justify to anyone my grieving process, and I hope that you never feel that you do either.
“Rest in peace Koko, you are no longer by my side, but you will be forever in my heart”

Loving a dog is so different to just owning a dog. They are a part of the family and their loss leaves a large hole. That hole can never be filled, but I do hope that those of you out there in the same position that I am right now, will consider adopting a pet in future. The loss of your loved one can mean something, as you will be able to save a life of a pet who needs a home. Your new pet won’t fill the hole that the last one left, but it will help you heal. There is nothing like having a warm snuggle with a dog when you are feeling down. 

I will leave you with what I had engraved on her urn:

“Rest in peace, Koko, you are no longer by my side, but you will be forever in my heart”

Special thanks to Lorraine from Pitter Patter Photography for letting me use the photos of Koko. Lorraine was kind enough to take photos of Koko for me just after she was diagnosed so that I would have photos to remember her by.

Alinta McMurdo