Friday, 12 October 2012

Vacuums Aren't Getting Filled Like They Used To . . . . .

Jay's painting of Benno

One of these days I'll write a learned essay on vacuums, how nature abhors them and how she fills them as soon as they manifest themselves. Well, for now, let me just say that nature is doing sweet F.A. about filling my particular hollow space, a painful and miserable space; a vacuum that leaves big gaps in my day, my house, my routine, my physical exercise, my cuddling and loving capacity, my maternal instinct, my need to lavish time and love on another creature, preferably an obedient one, most definitely a furry one.

I have put our name down with various dog rescue organisation which shelter and rehome unwanted dogs, but have heard nothing so far. I would love another labrador, maybe even two - when one dies there is at least another creature to  alleviate the pain of mourning. ( I'd have to convince Beloved first) Two months on, the memory of Benno's death is still raw, I still find myself crying suddenly, when I find I've automatically performed one of those actions that revolved around his mealtimes, his walks, his trips in the car, even the filling of his water bowl. My heart aches for him. I want him back, or failing that, his predecessor, Boris, who's been dead for ten years. I walk around Valley's End on my own, all the places where he stopped to sniff, roll in dog or sheep shit and even cow dung, which only serves to drive the knife in deeper. I am sadly bereft, there is no other word for it. All his bad habits are forgotten and forgiven. There's nothing left but the memory of his sweet and affectionate nature. As well as his tail, which wagged furiously as soon as anybody clinked the lid of the bread bin. My friend Jay painted a beautiful picture of him and yesterday I took it to be framed.

"On your own, are you? Where's the dog?" There are still people around who don't know of my bereavement. Yes, bereavement; a beloved dog is as much a friend and family member as any human. "Ah, I'm sorry," they say, "are you getting another one?" I've been feeling that a quick replacement would have been disloyal to Benno, after all, there has to be a decent mourning period. It's not as if just any dog could fit his paws marks. We waited for six months before we took in Benno to fill the hole Boris had left.

But now we find ourselves approaching every dog we meet, asking their owner if we can have a quick  scratch and a stroke and a cuddle and boring everybody witless with the tale of our recent loss. If I meet any seemingly unaccompanied dog, I speak to it, feed it titbits carried in my pocket and entice it to come home with me. But every time the owner appears my hopes are dashed. Of course, I would not abduct a dog, those of you who might think so, don't know a thing about me. That just won't do. Last night we went to the pub for a pint and a plate of scampi, ham and chips and this gorgeous black labrador walked in. When I stroked and petted him he licked my hand and I burst into tears there and then.

This evening I've been googling websites advertising dogs for rehoming. I've seen Benno's exact likeness, unfortunately he is in a kennel the other side of the country; besides he might already have been rehomed. Turnover in dog shelters is either very quick or not at all. Some dogs nobody wants. No doubt, they will eventually be put down. Beloved was in the bathroom, I knocked on the door and he came flying out when I told him about the Benno look-alike; he was all for setting off early in the morning to go and look at him. It would take a lot of effort to go there.  And we'd have to visit the kennels at least twice, possibly three times. But Beloved's eagerness just goes to show how keen he too is.

It's 2 am now, I can't sleep for thinking of dogs. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Surely, we will soon find a replacement for our beloved best friend and companion, who left us so suddenly and unexpectedly. If we had any sense and let our heads rule our hearts, we'd forget about adopting another dog. Two decrepit old crocks, one of whom is no longer able to walk very far, would do well to remember their limitations as well as the way a dog ties you down. Heads or hearts, hearts or heads, which is the one to be applied here?

The sherry decanter is empty and I've eaten most of the remaining crackers in the pack, leaving nothing but the crumbs; it's time to have another go at sleeping. Wish me luck.


  1. ah ...get tied down
    it's good for the heart

  2. oh my heart hurts for you. When our boxer was put down it was so traumatic for us we have yet to get another dog and it's been 10 years at least. it still hurts how she died. my daughter and son-in-law had brought home a young boxer, a rescue, before ours died. they lived next door and he mourned so badly I thought he would die so their dog became my dog during the day, staying at my feet and following me around. I took him for walks. At night around bed time he would get up and walk to the door to be let out so he could go sleep at his other home. after the kids were all gone to school and the grown-ups at work, he would come back to me. he's gone now too, died of heart failure in the middle of the night. my son in law came home late and found him and called me. I got up at 2 AM and went out and stood there while my SIL buried our dog. we have a cat now, a rescue who showed up at my sister's house.

  3. Some years ago when we lost our 'Wolf' from the Team I used to think (and believe) that noone who had lost a dog could be hurting like I did. I was so full of my pain, I didn't believe anyone could understand this pain that accompanied me day and night - until now.
    Even now, the old familiar dull incessant ache returns. And the floods of tears.
    Go Friko and Beloved and meet this Benno look-alike who is at the other side of country and I'll hope like crazy he's the one to come home with you and tie you down.
    Sleep well, wake refreshed and set off with your heart.

  4. You should follow your heart and get another dog, especially one that is looking for a loving home and to people who will adore it and treat it right. Don't hesitate for a moment and don't limit yourself to a black lab. I'm sure you'll be able to give your love to another kind of dog as well. You surely have enough of it to go around. xox

  5. Oh, my own heart is still broken over our Golden's death 7 years ago. I hope you make the trip to see the dog. I often look at dogs on-line and yearn for another furry companion. Good Luck! (What a true to life painting of Benno!)

  6. what a beautiful painting....that is awesome...and i hope you find the dog just for you...let it will...

  7. I know that a furry angel shall find you, and find it's own salvation as well!

    You honor your friend, and us with this sharing

    Aloha from Waikiki,

    Comfort Spiral

    > < } } ( ° >

  8. It was years before I could even say the name of our beloved Akita, the late Howard Lee, without my voice breaking. I feel for you Friko. It's rugged.! Some pets... the ones that have become a part of you... leave a raw wound which is always painful to touch. I sense that the beautiful face of Benno belonged to a soulmate who lived to be close to you. Lucky you. . . but what a loss now!

    Do you read I'm Gonna Tell Mom's blog? She is a member of this sad club and recently obtained a new puppy. I've enjoy eading about the puppy mischief.

    We have our 16-year-old Cocker, mostly deaf and blind, but her mission in life is to make her stomach happy. We are simply instruments of the food and treat bin. Still, I think it best for us to wait until she passes before we search for another friend.

    Know that we cry with you. Been there, done that... and still do. Hugs!

    Incidentally, I loved the imagery of the Rainbow Bridge. have you read that?

    The painting is lovely!

  9. The painting is lovely and so expressive. I'm happy to hear you are considering another dog. Whichever one you save will save you right back. Won't the rescue groups arrange transportation for a dog? We make foster-to-adopt agreements, with pre-approved homes, for our dogs. (Especially if it's hard for you). Check with your local Red Cross or Hospice. Sometimes a dog needs a home due to an emergency. Guide dogs that don't make it through training, or who are too old to continue working, would be another resource. Your dog is out there, I know it.

  10. What an absolutely beautiful likeness of your Benno. Despite your pain, your heartache over this loss, you will find the right furry companion and he will know you when you do.

  11. Ah yes! Rolling in excrement, lovely habit---not!We used to take our two for a walk down the village and around the park and through the woods, every night when we lived in Belgium. As soon as we'd let them off the leashes they'd disappear, sniffing like crazy and zig-zagging through the trees. But one night one of them didn't come back when we whistled. We never saw her again, ever. Never again had to deal with the revolting smell----and we were heart broken. Open your heart for another furry friend Friko. I'm sure any dog chosen by you and Beloved would do his best to be worthy to take Benno's place. Jay's painting of him is beautiful!

  12. A talented artist has made a beautiful painting...but it brings the loss home to you even more.

    We take whatever dog turns up....only two have we chosen over the years....their parting always leaves us feeling bereft as they have all had their individual ways which we loved but we feel the best thing we can do is to keep the door open for the next one.

    Fingers crossed that it will work for you and for the dog.

  13. Hearts, hands down. My fingers are crossed, too.

  14. Benno was lovely, and the painting captures him. I think God will send you just the right dog, or doggies, at the right moment.

  15. When Jordan died (Rufus's friend and the reason we got Georgia), I cried every single day for 3 weeks. My eyes leaked water in the supermarket, on the street, at capoeira class. It was uncontrollable. I prowled the house at night and wrote long letters to Jordan on the computer (a few of which ended up on the blog). My eyes were perpetually red and swollen. I took it much MUCH worse than when my parents and beloved nanny died. Rufus has been dead a year and a half now and people still ask after him. It can be tough.

    I hope you get your doggy. Maybe he/she won't be what you expect at all. Not a labrador, not black, not Benno but I think you're all going to be just fine. The one who needs you is the one to get. Good luck X

    1. P.S. the painting is lovely. I thought it was a photo! I understand about the vacuum cleaner. It's the same for me.

  16. Tears here. Medlyn had been dead over ten years now and there is still a hole in my heart which only he can fill. There have been other cats since, there are other cats now. All beloved. Somehow he has left the biggest hole, though given the number of holes in my heart it is a wonder it keeps beating.
    The right dog will find you. Hopefully soon. And I do hope you finally got some sleep.

  17. I felt every word you have so poignantly written...those of us who have our furry companions share their lives with us totally know the emptiness you are experiencing. The only cure is to find the one that is waiting for you. They are calling and know you will hear.Each of ours that we have said goodbye to has their own set of memories and for me, one in particular still causes my heart to weep after many years. Such is the love between us and those precious companions.

    Sleep will come - you need to be rested to hear that call...

  18. I hope that sleep came and you are more rested. And I hope that you will soon have another furry creature to lavish your love upon. I'm so sorry for your aching heart.

  19. Now you're ready to look , just the right dog will turn up . Good Luck !

  20. Such a heart-rending post, Friko. I hope you caught some sleep after writing this, and I'm sure there's a lovely dog, possibly a black Labrador, waiting for you somewhere. Take care and have faith.

  21. I certainly wish you luck, I have lost so many pets of the years that I know your feeling well. Since we have moved from S.Africa we said no more pets as we want to travel but I feel the loss acutely. There is always a space beside me waiting to be filled. That painting is one of the best I have ever seen, it is amazing. Take care and good luck Diane

  22. My gentle hugs to you
    And good luck

  23. Sorry you lost Benno Friko. I am a cat person and felt the same way when we had to have our pet put to sleep after being part of our family for 23 years. It really does hurt. Best wishes to you - Dave

  24. Hearts Hearts Hearts!!!
    You made me cry soulful and honest and fearful tears!
    I soooo keep my fingers crossed for you, dear Friko!
    And this post is the most wonderful homage to this black gorgeous fellow with those marvelous eyes, who brought you so much happiness!

  25. Ah, and yes the painting! I was sure this is a photograph! It is absolutely glorious! This friend painted with his heart!

  26. I am so very sorry for your pain. I have been there and am probably facing it again in the near future as Mighty ages. I do hope you find another dog to fill your heart. Maybe not a replacement for Benno for that doesn't always work out. Rarely do look-a-likes actually act-a-like and often there is disappointment. Perhaps a different breed or even a hodge podge of breeds in one fur bound body that is facing termination in a shelter to fill your heart and vacuum. You will know when you look into their eyes. You have the love to give and there is a brown eyed sweetheart somewhere waiting for you. Find him or her as soon as possible,for both your sakes.
    That painting is just amazing. Jay is very talented.

  27. What a wonderful painting. I thought it was a photo.

    Our pets move right into our hearts and stay there. It sounds like another one is waiting for you two to come along and add him/her to your family.

    Love and hugs ~ FlowerLady Lorraine

  28. Hi Friko - I agree with Flower Lady re the painting .. isn't it brilliant. I still cry about my dog from 30 years ago ... and can quite understand your 'desires' ... I do hope the trip is a successful one ... seems like the time is right, before winter settles in - then you'll have time together getting that new routine going ..

    With hope for you .. cheers Hilary

  29. The love of a furry friend... they just don't live long enough, though. I am so sad for your loss, but I do hope that the next wonderful companion comes into your life soon. Sending you virtual hugs, Friko.

  30. What a wonderful painting. Those eyes melt my heart, too.

    I am imagining a dog, large or small, somewhere near or far, who will be very, very fortunate to enter into your life. It will happen.


  31. Such a lovely painting, Friko, and your grief for Benno comes across in every word. I think i agree with Arkansas Patti that a look-alike may not necessarily be the best way to fill the gap. The new dog must be loved for his or her own sake, not as a visual substitute for Benno, who is in any case irreplaceable. Go to the nearest refuge and see what you find there. You may be surprised, as we were when we looked for out last cat.

  32. The painting is a treasure. I wish you the best in your search for your next companion. He, or she, is out there waiting for you...I can feel it!

  33. He is gone but ever present. The painting is beyond beautiful. ~Mary

  34. The painting of Benno is beautiful and I feel your emptiness in your words dear Friko.
    I do so hope you find a furry friend to love soon - how lucky he or she will be.

    Thinking of you.

    Anna :o]

  35. I know it seems disloyal at the moment, but you must get another dog. I find that owning a dog helps keep me exercised, never mind about the dog. Over the years, we've had a number of dogs of various kinds. Of course the current one is always the best one we've ever had. We've had spaniels and mutts and beagles. When she was little, my granddaughter told me I should have twelve dogs, all named Barney. We have had two. The others were named things like Taffy, and Randy, and Ginger. The current doggie denizen is a beagle named Lucie. She is a rescue animal and Lucie was her name when we got her from some people who couldn't keep her. We decided to keep the name -- everything else in her little life was changing, so we thought the name at least should stay constant.

    The painting of Benno is wonderful. Hang it on your wall, and enjoy it. I know you will never forget Benno and there will never be another dog like him, but your heart will heal more quickly with a new doggie companion on whom you can lavish love and attention.

    Good luck in your search. Keep us posted.

  36. Months and months after Marly's demise, my friend gave me a photo she had taken of my girl . . . and I, too, burst into tears immediately. The pain grows slightly duller, but remains, I think, forever accessible. As much as I say to Husband, "No more! The next one is YOURS," a week after Angus' departure (which, thanks be, is not apparently imminent) my heart will be yearning to learn a new beloved furchild.

  37. That painting is stunning! Absolutely stunning!
    I wish you the very best of luck. A dog will keep you young! Keep you out walking and visiting. they're good for your blood pressure and help people live longer. You will know the dog when you meet it. It won't have to look the same, you know. ;)

  38. Ah how much you honour Benno in your grief, Friko.

    You will never be able to replace him. BUT he has enabled you to love again. And you will.

    There is some trusting wonderful companion on his/her way now to your loving arms.


    PS And I know whereof I speak. I thought Chelsea was my last canine companion and then without the slightest effort on my part, in walked Ansa to my heart.

  39. Oh Friko, I'm writing through my tears. I am crossing my fingers, and sending dog wishes across the pond to you. May your journey be everything you expect it to be, and more. Hugs

  40. I wish you good luck, I hope the Benno look alike is also and a be... alike, it is a visceral thing wanting a furry being to share your life and their life. The last time I was without a dog, I would dream every night of dogs, in any situation, once I dreamt of fish with grey hound heads and long flowing silky ears!
    All the best Friko.

  41. I'm so slow in reading this, I hope by how you've found your new dog. If not, there's one out there with your name written on his face.

  42. "Only a dog, But such love he gave,
    Cannot have perished in the grave.

    So faithful, so constant, so true a heart,
    Must in eternity play some part."

    Good luck in your search for another Benno.

  43. No, no, no, Friko! Do not let your head, filled as it is with unreliable information, to control your heart. Trust your heart, trust love, and trust that you will learn to accept losses as the price that must be paid for a meaningful, loving life. Go find another dog, one whose heart longs for you no less than your heart longs for his or hers. It won't be a Boris or a Benno, but you will surely rediscover that part of yourself that seemed to pass with those two. You will find, I predict, that Boris and Benno have taught you to love in a way that can never be lost. Now, you only need to find some wonderful, furry creature upon which to lavish that love.

    On a personal note, the death of my last dog, Baci, left me with a sense of despair that I couldn't reach shake off until I found my current Zen master, Derry, whose value to the hours of my days I could have never imagined. In a strange way, I have always sensed that Derry was a parting gift from Baci, a way of saying that the love of every relationship should and will endure beyond the length of any of our individual days.

    Follow your heart, Friko, and find another dog with whom you can share the most ordinary moments of every day. There would be no better tribute to Boris and Benno than to pass on the love and other lessons you have learned from them.

  44. There is a dog waiting to love you Friko- you must get out and find it. It mightn't even look like Benno though - it's what's inside that counts. Jays picture is amazing!

  45. It will happen, Friko - another loving, furry, messy, cuddly, affectionate, annoying and obedient creature is just waiting for you. I hope you meet soon.......

  46. Oh I am so sorry for you and the loss of your beloved Benno. You are right there is nothing like the pain of loosing a beloved companion who's presence and every move take up so much of your day and gives so much more in return.

    I am praying that you have luck with finding the perfect and wonderful dog to be your next companion.

    Have a good weekend, Elizabeth

    P/S That painting is absolutely beautiful.

  47. Frico, I hope that you will find a faithful and devoted dog; grateful for love and brought their love to you.Good luck!

  48. I should think that two decrepit old crocks are just the right sort to have another dog. As long as you can get out of bed to feed the pooch and open the door so he can go out, you'll be fine. And just think of the mutual love benefits!

  49. I'm sure you'll find a new dog soon, and pleased you're considering a rescue dog. My last 2 dogs both came via the RSPCA and it was love at first sight on both sides.
    Beautiful painting! The artist has really captured Benno's personality as well as his looks.

  50. Oh, Friko.

    Remember that post you wrote about well-meaning words that fall flat and even chafe?

    Can I just let you know I have read this and that, while I started out wanting to laugh in the first paragraph, I quickly found tears standing in my eyes.

    Sending you my love, crossed fingers, prayers, thoughts, hopes, all of it.

    To Boris and Benno, and the one who comes to roll contentedly in the sheep shit and wag his tail at whatever special sound next.


  51. Not much more to add to the consensus here- I hope you find a new companion, Friko, and the memories change from reminding you of loss to reminding you of joyful times. xx

  52. mir ging es genauso wie dir jetzt, liebe friko, nur bei mir schien es unmöglich, einen hund halten zu können und doch, es hat sich alles so ergeben, wie es sein sollte und jetzt habe ich ana. Ich denke nur, dass es wichtig ist, keinen hund mit halbem herzen aufzunehmen, denn das ist wahrscheinlich dann nicht der hund, der zu euch passt... die chemie muss stimmen, wie man so schön sagt. weisst du, dass ich mir auch 2 hunde gewünscht habe...nur bei mir ging das nun wirklich nicht!
    ich wünsche dir alles gute und bis bald!
    renée ( ich danke dir sehr für deinen brief, ich freute mich, von dir zu hören! )

  53. When we lost our Buster, or beautiful golden retriever, I thought I would just not be able to get over the loss of him. He died so suddenly and unexpectedly just three days after my daughter's death that I truly was in shock. Now of course, the loss of a dog is never as great as the loss of a child, but I never imagined I would lose him just after the greatest shock of my life in Julie's death.

    So many days and nights, I knew both of us, my husband and I, would have handled the great grief that we had to process better if we had only had Buster there with us. It was not to be. Buster was gone.

    One year ago this month, 18 months after the loss of Buster, my husband saw an ad in the paper selling a golden retriever pup. He was not pedigreed in any way, but he was a pup who looked so cute. We went to see the litter of puppies, and I found myself searching the faces of the pups to see if I could see the face of Buster. I could not, but one spunky little puppy caught my eye and my heart. We took him home. He is named Boston. He is nothing like Buster. He has been a terrible handful to train. We wondered over and over what led us to think we wanted to take him on. My husband is so crippled lately he can barely walk. Thankfully, we didn't listen to our doubts that we would ever get this dog trained. Now, we have a new personality that we love. He is not Buster, he is his own man (dog). He is Boston. He is wonderful. We love him. We can't imagine life without him. Find a new dog as soon as you can. That is my advice.

  54. I raise my glass to you. Take your time to find another dog; she or he will come to you, I know it. Boris and Benno were lucky boys and so will it be with your next dog. I can't wait to see who it is. Before Christmas.

  55. Like everyone else who has ever loved and lost a furry friend I understand exactly how you feel. I remember every one of our animals, the joys of living with them and the sadness when they left us. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that another special companion comes to join you very soon.

    Benno's portrait is beautiful - your friend is a talented artist.

  56. And now, because I'm here so late, my curiosity is balancing out my commiseration. Did you in fact make the trip? Did it go well, or are things in process? Or was it not perfect and you wisely let it pass?

    Even the strays that come into our lives leave their mark. Yesterday, I read about a new comet coming toward us. I thought immediately of Calliope, the stray kitty who watched comet Lulin with me, and burst into tears. After all this time - and despite a far less lengthy and committed relationship - her absence still grieves me. I can't imagine what it will be like when sweet Dixie Rose is gone - well, except you've described it rather well.

    These things do work themselves out. I'll be watching.

  57. My long comment just got stripped out when I tried to post it. No time to replicate it now. I'll just say that I understand that vacuum perfectly, and certainly hope for good news soon. I'm filled with questions - did you make the trip? and so on. Things will work out as they should.

  58. Dear Friko, when Dulcy, with whom I'd lived 17 1/2 years, died in 1989 my heart truly broke into pieces that I simply couldn't put them back together. I was, as you say so well, bereft. I grieved until my stomach ached. Like you, I wanted to wait for at least six months before bringing another cat into the house. Only then, I thought, could I show the depth of my love and longing for Dulcy. I wanted to wear a black armband.

    But after two weeks, I realized--and maybe this was a rationalization, I don't know--but I realized that Dulcy would not want me to be so sad and bereft. So alone. And so I went to the animal shelter and brought home three kittens. For two months they played without me. I watched them with no smiles, only memories of Dulcy as a kitten. These three were simply creatures who inhabited the house with me. Foreigners.

    And then I took them camping in the North Woods of Minnesota and their inventiveness in climbing trees and their pure delight in the chipmunks and the panic of Jeremiah being stung by a bee suddenly woke me to what Dulcy was trying to tell me: "Live." And so I did and so I do. Peace.

  59. My dear Friko,

    Everyone's grief is unique and their own. But there are some similarities when one has lost a beloved four-legged family member, and I so ache for your loss. I wish I could tell you the right words to make the pain ease, but I think I was told all of them when we said goodbye to Gypsy and none of them really helped. You have experienced many of the things that I did, and yes -- I, too, have burst into tears in a public spot -- for me, it was seeing an orange cat. You don't need me or anyone else to tell you time heals. How long? How much? For me, it was a downward spiral of depression.

    Four months after saying goodbye, I have a new cat. The first two weeks were rugged and I felt all the more depressed. Lizzie was no Gypsy, I thought. Had I made a terrible mistake? No. five weeks later, and I have become quite smitten. True, she's no Gypsy. She's Lizzie.

    May you find your new friend who will love you and give you joy. He or she will be of its own personality. But, because you love, you will learn to love each other and share a life together.

    Your painting is stunning. I thought it a photograph until I looked so closely.

    Sending you wishes for peace, healing and the right dog to walk into your life.

  60. The painting is stunning and what a wonderful, loyal face she painted. It is a treasure. I see you posted this on the 12th and I'm guessing still not dog or you would have posted, I'm sure of it. I DO NOT think you are silly for looking for a dog. My parents are approaching 90 and they said the same thing. But they now have a dog (got her as a 7 week puppy no less!) and are so very happy as that dog helps keep them healthy and joy filled. (they let that dog jump on the bed with Grandma's quilts on it!!! ... truly shocking and very "not" my parents - I guess they have finally mellowed :)

    Yes, you need a dog .... and a dog, somewhere out there, needs you.

  61. We felt the same way when our beloved dog passed away 3 years ago, we now have another one. Although he doesn't fill the same spot, he is just as loved and treasured. Maybe even more so.

  62. Hi Friko,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've only had time to skim through some of your recent posts, but the picture of your dog immediately caught my eye. I'm so sad to know you've recently lost a beloved pet. Until two years ago, I wasn't a dog owner, but in the space of eight months I added two dogs to my family. I can't imagine life without them, especially my big, squishly, soft, lovable, gorgeous Yellow Lab Sophie. Pets are family, and losing them is as painful as losing any other beloved family member. Please accept my most heartfelt sympathies for your loss.

  63. Such a beautiful image of Benno.


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