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Losing Gunner; It is So Difficult to Move on After the Loss of a Beloved Pet

We all go through 'stuff'; great stuff, bad stuff, sad stuff, LIFE stuff; whatever we are going through, we never give up, never give in.


The introduction

The first time we saw a picture of the little fur ball, he was peering out from under a barber's chair. The barber knew that he had a rambunctious, energetic, outgoing German Shepherd on his hands and even though he adored him, he just didn't have the time which would be required.

Our daughter had an epiphany...Mom and Dad needed this rambunctious little fur ball to be in their lives.

Say what?

She sent us a picture.

Initially, we didn't agree that we needed a puppy in our lives:

  • We didn't want to be tied down.
  • It was so nice having a clean house and not having to tidy constantly.
  • We were no longer responsible for anyone or anything, but the two of us; the originals and that was pretty cool.
  • We didn't want to get attached!

But we did!

My husband and I instantly fell in love with him, becoming very attached to the little fellow.

He had huge ears and huge feet, making for clumsy movement from one room to the next; one of his ears flopped around and we weren't sure if it would ever stand up...he made us laugh and brought us such joy!

We were continually impressed with how quickly he learned commands, but I'm not going to lie, he also drove us crazy at times!

I have no idea how many pairs of my shoes he destroyed in his puppyhood.

His first two dog beds were annihilated over the course of the night and then he'd look at us and look at them as if it was a big mystery as to what happened to them!

We didn't buy him another bed until seven years later!

We'd name him Gunner

We shared a picture and began a puppy naming campaign on Facebook.

So many cute names were suggested, many odd names were thrown out there, we finally decided on 'Gunner'.

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He looked like a Gunner, I have no other explanation. It fit with his face and his personality.

Once named, this bundle of energy began to insert himself into our lives...and into our hearts!

Early on, we attempted to take him to work with us, but, he didn't understand that we were work!

For him, it was all about play time; 'the office' was an outing, just a different space in which to play; why we were so serious, he did not know.

That wasn't meant to be!

Fortunately our home is in close proximity to our office and on workdays, between the two of us, we'd manage to get home and outside with him, several times a day.

He loved being outside and the only thing he seemed to love more than chasing a ball or a frisbee, was chasing a squirrel.

When introducing him to frisbee, we had knowledge and understood the delicacy of the hips of German Shepherds and were careful to keep tosses low to the ground, until he was older, fully developed and could participate in more intense frisbee play.

He never seemed to tire of play, but looking back, I don't think it was all about him or all about him being entertained, it was always about... time spent with us and with our kids and grandkids, when they came around.

He just loved people, all people, being around them and the more the merrier, he knew that guaranteed...somebody would play with him!

He'd almost hyperventilate with excitement when the kids or other family members/friends would come visit or when he knew he was going to go for a ride.

Floppy ear days

Floppy ear days

Cooling off

Cooling off

Frisbee fun

Frisbee fun

It happened so fast...

We spotted a sore on his hind leg that seemed to come out of nowhere and almost instantly it began to swell. We thought he may have been bitten and knew he needed to be checked.

At that time, we were anticipating a hurricane and the Veterinarian he had always gone to, was closed until further notice.

We found an open animal hospital and got him in right away. He had bloodwork and then more bloodwork and it was conclusive...he didn't have a bite, he had advanced stage leukemia.

We weren't sure how long he would have and made the decision to skip chemo and put him on supplements and steroids to keep him as comfortable as possible.

Our 105 pound boy, that had never outgrown getting up into my husband's lap, the-best-dog-ever, was suddenly lethargic and losing his appetite.

We managed to get in a couple more car rides, no more frisbee sessions; a few more walks, no more squirrel chasing and no more jumping into Dad's less than two weeks from the diagnosis, he was gone!

He is buried in one of his favorite spots in our backyard.

He was only seven years old!

It has been so hard!

In all my years I have never allowed myself to get this attached, but he managed to change that. I suspect my husband would say the same.

He wasn't in the family, he was a part of our family and when he left, he took with him a piece of many hearts, certainly a piece of mine!

Our handsome boy

Our handsome boy

Our son's tribute to his "Pup brother" helped to lift our spirits

This morning we buried my Pup brother Gunner. He was/is such an amazing being that was full of love, joy, and life. He passed away much too soon but I'm so grateful for the times I spent with him and all the frisbee sessions we had together. He always watched over my parents and blessed them with pure love/positive vibrations. He taught me how valuable it is to find satisfaction in the simple things, to have a passion for something that you love, and to experience life with gustos and enthusiasm every moment that we are blessed with here on Earth while we are alive. I'll miss him a lot but I believe he's somewhere making new friends and roping Angels into the most epic celestial frisbee sessions possible.

We love you buddy!!


Don't be dismissive when someone in your life loses a pet

It's is so easy to not see the loss of a dog/a pet/a fur baby, as a big deal and to be dismissive of it. But, we don't always know what is going on in people's lives and oftentimes, their pets are all that is keeping them going, engaged and/or giving them a renewed purpose!

We have seen or heard the stories and know of many organizations that place people with pets, in particular, dogs.

They'll enter into hospitals to bring a smile to a suffering child's face or into a nursing home to bring a senior citizen back to reality, if only for a fleeting moment.

They are police dogs sniffing out horrible, deadly drugs before they can make it into the hands of our children.

They are service dogs/companions to the many wounded warriors and to the blind and the broken.

We must never dismiss them or their importance!

Gunner brought such incredible joy to a couple that raised three kids in a big old house; kids that were there, until they weren't. For a time, that void was filled by 'our hariest kid' and we'll never forget him!

Now go hug your fur babies!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Angie B Williams


Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on January 29, 2020:

Bill, if running on the farm is what makes them happy, then, by golly, let them run and enjoy every moment with them.

Thank you, it has gotten easier, but our family will never forget our Gunner, he was special!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 29, 2020:

We have two which we absolutely love. I take them both to our son's farm and let the run daily...I wrote a series of articles about those walks....and I cannot imagine the pain I'll feel when one of them leaves us. They are an integral and loving part of our life, so I am incredibly sorry for your loss.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on November 06, 2019:

Update: I still cannot read this article without bawling.

My son put a marker outside where Gunner is buried and I finally went out to look at it. I've yet to go sit by the pond; for his favorite spot, was our favorite spot (outside of my swing)

I just want to say if you are reading this and are going through this right now, it does get better! I can now look back and laugh at some of the {unique to him} things he did, rather than cry....and that's how it should be.

Hang in there. Hugs!

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 30, 2019:

I hope so Shannon, because right now I'm thinking, cuckoo!!! Thanks! :)

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 30, 2019:

It will stop, but I've found that the loss of certain pets still hurts today whenever I think about them. They can so easily become another family member. We can get another pet, but they never truly replace the ones we lose because, like people, they have different personalities. And like people, we all mourn their loss differently.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 30, 2019:

I have unintentionally left the house with the t.v. on (for Gunner)

I've opened the door, anticipating his greeting...more than once.

I have actually said out loud, Mom better get ready for work (to an empty house)

I guess all of that will eventually stop? :(

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 27, 2019:

Hi Vivian, yes the tears were definitely flowing! I had to put the writing of it on hold, more than once, but it was on my heart and I needed to write about it.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and for the hugs.

Vivian Coblentz on September 27, 2019:

A B,

I'm sure a flood of tears went into this piece of writing, but sharing your love of Gunner through this creative outlet hopefully felt a little therapeutic.

I'm sure your heart feels super heavy.

I haven't had an animal since my 20's. My heart nearly broke back then when my cat died at 17 and my dog died at 16 1/2, and I never wanted to go through that again. I remember my dad digging a grave for my cat, and my dog stood over the grave like someone attending a funeral. They fought a lot (at least to put on a show like they were enemies), but they were really buddies.

This is a very sweet tribute. Hugs!

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 27, 2019:

Thank you Lorna, it does leave such an emptiness when we lose them. They don't judge or scrutinize us, they just love us unconditionally.

Lorna Lamon on September 27, 2019:

Such a sad story about a wonderful friend and family member. We lost our own dog a few years ago and it left such an emptiness in our hearts. Thank you for sharing and I believe that our lives are made so much richer when our furry friends are in them.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 26, 2019:

Thank you Brenda for reading and commenting.

He was a part of us and I do hope that with time, it becomes easier. I miss him!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 26, 2019:

Such a wonderful story about Gunner.

His pictures are beautiful.

It is so hard to lose the pets which enter our life.

I have felt the heartbreak and it is not easy. Your pet becomes a big part of the family, and if you are like me..they are never just an animal. You love them Dearly.

I am so sorry for your loss, but I am happy that you decided to take a chance on Gunner allowing him to bring so much joy into your world.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 26, 2019:

Hi Paula and thanks for the hugs! Tonight we went out to celebrate my hubby's birthday, I came back home expecting Gunner to greet us. I forget sometimes. I know that time will help with that.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 26, 2019:

Hi Eric, he definitely uplifted ours.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 26, 2019:

Thank you Shannon, yes you will. Be patient! :) Thanks for the support throughout.

Angie B Williams (author) from Central Florida, USA on September 26, 2019:

Thanks T, I've never heard that before, "they aren't the best at any one thing, but they are second best at everything." I love that!

He would run to the top of the stairs, sit, wait, wait and then wait some more, before the command to come (to get his treat) So very smart! I don't even want to think about getting another. Too tough. :(

Suzie from Carson City on September 26, 2019:

Oh Angie.....I am sobbing......So, so sorry you have lost your precious Gunner. I understand the sadness, loneliness & terrible empty feeling. They just steal our hearts, Angie, don't they.....we fall in love with our fur babies and Yes, they ARE family.

Absolutely nothing but time will help take a bit of your sorrow.......Yet, you will hurt again and again as you remember your sweet buddy.....I'm sending hugs and wishes that soon, you'll smile again... Peace, Paula

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 26, 2019:

Some things just suck. But you made his life an uplift to mine. Muchas Gracias.

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 26, 2019:

Hi Angie. I'm glad to see that you were able to get this written. It's a lovely tribute to a beloved family member. I think that pets are very much like people. When we lose them, we all mourn them in our own ways and in our own time. And we never forget the ones that truly touched our hearts.

German Shepherds are a wonderful breed. My Daisy is older and usually quite calm until she sees people or another animal, but Sam the puppy seems much as you describe Gunner as being when he was a puppy. Your tribute is reminding me that as annoying as Sam can be, especially with everything he constantly chews up, it will pass and we will likely look back with smiles about it.

Sending hugs.

The Logician from then to now on on September 26, 2019:

That is a beautiful shepherd. I have bred and trained a few.

You know what is said about German Shepherds. They aren’t the best at any one thing but they are second best at everything! So true, so intelligent, the perfect pet!

As hard as it is losing a pet like that, the truth is it can be replaced, a new bond and new memories can be made if you so wish. I’ve done it many times and found they are all one of a kind.

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