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Heavy-Hearted

We all love dogs, right? We love our own dogs, and we fall in love with dogs we see at shows. For handlers and their assistants, we love the dogs we work with.

Within the dog show community, everyone is connected by one constant – the dogs.

Well, for the past week or so, I’ve encountered some situations that just forced my heart to grow heavier and heavier. Although the circumstances were not mine personally, as a dog lover and someone who is involved in the sport, they hit close to home.

What I’ve been thinking about is this: How does a dog lover get through the period at the end of a dog’s life?

Me hanging out with some of the Beagle crew. From left to right: Walker,14 years; Parker, 10, and Rhett, 13.

When I inevitably have to face this situation, the best thing I can ask for will be support and help from my family and friends. Even though I’ll know deep down there’s nothing that can really “fix” the situation, it’ll be the love and support that I will look for.

This may be a morbid topic to discuss, but as I found myself thinking about old dogs – and the dogs I’ve loved – I realized that if someone were to ask me what the average life expectancy is for a certain breed, I’m not sure I would be able to answer the question accurately.

So I decided to do some research and was somewhat shocked by what I found out about some breeds.

Of course, we all know the average age our own breeds will reach. But I was shocked to learn that about 10 breeds registered with the AKC – especially some of the giants – have a life span of only eight years. Several breeds are expected to live only six years! That is crazy, and I can only hope that in the future their life expectancy will increase.

We’ve all said or thought it before – “I wish dogs could live forever.” That must be especially true for these breeds.

So with this in mind, I think now is probably as good a time as any for me to spend some extra quality time hanging out with my own doggies that are getting up there in age.

Albert Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

I think we have to remember that our dogs’ lives are a miracle. It’s this thinking that will help us to get through those times when reality causes our hearts to grow heavy.

As if you didn’t already know… Dogs Freakin’ Rule!

Written by

Kayla Bertagnolli is a 23-year-old from Ogden, UT, who's been involved in the dog show world her whole life. A former junior handler who learned about breeding Beagles from her mother Leah, she assisted several professional handlers and is currently working to become a Junior Showmanship judge. Kayla is passionate about photography and writes the twice-weekly blog, DFR. She plans to continue breeding and showing, and expects to stay involved in dogs "for life!"
Comments
  • Robin June 18, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    When the time comes for the “old people” to cross the bridge it’s tough. It’s even harder when you lose your “heart” dog. Support from your family and friends are what helps you get through the tough times.

  • Randy Paladino June 18, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Great article, makes me think of things I don’t want to think of, as they get up in age I enjoy time spent with them cuddled up next to me on the sofa just getting that one on one time, then with a sudden burst of energy a little play time then being content to get cozy again! Support from friends, family and the other pups help, they look to us for comfort also, I always ask them playfully where is (dogs name) and they will look around as if to say yes we miss our packmate! Me personally, I like to spend quiet time alone on the porch or deck listening to some music and remembering the good times and their looks and mannerisims, it bring tears and laughs at the same time, yes our little departed friends we will be togther again but until then you shall run free with The Lord’s Pack!

  • kirbys
    Deborah June 18, 2012 at 12:41 PM

    Good article and I would agree that it is even harder with your “heart” dog. I certainly don’t know how the folks with the giant breeds with short life spans do it. I have seen folks in therapy that were grieving the loss of their dogs and were quite depressed. We also often forget that the dogs themselves grieve the loss of their friends. I have a golden that loss his close friend a lab and had a seizure the night of her death and had never had a seizure before or since. He still is not as close to our other dogs.

    Having gone through the loss of dogs over my lifetime, it is hard but family, friends, and the other dogs in my life have made it bearable. Some folks say they will never get another dog because it hurts too much. I can understand that feeling but how can you close off from the possible love of another wonderful dog in your life? The love you have with your present dogs continues the wonderful feelings and memories from the dogs in your past.

    Yes, DOGS RULE!!!

    • kirbys
      Deborah June 18, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Sorry, I hit the send by mistake before I did the proofreading. I really can spell and use proper words…lol.

  • leahb
    Leah B June 18, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    And it hits home very hard today for Windkist Beagles with the loss of a very sweet soul.. Ch Windkist Prim n’ Proper (Priss) left us today with her usual sweet demeanor and happy face. We will miss you so much!

    from a very Heavy Hearted doggie mom…

    • kayla
      kayla June 18, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      Dear Leah, we’re all saddened by the loss of your lovely girl, Priss. Your friends at Best In Show Daily.

  • Ryan H. June 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM

    I too have wished they could live forever, but reading this made me remember the times of those I’ve lost once again…if they did live forever a) would the memories be as memorable and b) who would be looking down on us with as much care and interest as our best friends? My current show dog has received the Divine touch of my recent that passed on. She sends reminders that could only be from her.

  • Dianne McKee-Rowland June 19, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    When someone I know loses a beloved pet I send them a poem written for just that time of loss. I understand that it does help them to know that someone else understands the pain they feel. I know I always feel comforted by messages that come from others who know what it is like to lose a best friend.

  • Chanel Lefever
    Chanel L June 19, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    Kayla, your blogs are amazing!! I do wish my dogs could live forever, and I find it heart breaking to know they cannot. Every once in a while I will look at our 12 year old vizsla and just ask him to live as long as he can. My dogs are my life, and I wouldn’t change that. Thanks for getting me thinking about how much I really need to savor my dogs, and everything they do.

  • Sonya Henderson,Raynics Bassets June 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    Since i have come to the “bridge” a few times since becoming the part of my dogs lives,I am always sure that I will be better and braver at the acceptance of them leaving me behind and going to the bridge before me. The memories always stay with me for sa long time to come,even now,and we will all be together,Homer,Rudy,Leilani,Toonta,Desidawg and all the others before there were Bassets in my life. I have all the wonderful memories in pictures,ribbons and my memories!

  • Kayla Bertagnolli
    Kayla B June 20, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    Thank you everyone for your love and support! Little did I know I would be the one needing this article on the day it published!

    At least we can all agree on one thing! DFR!

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