At a Loss for Words…

I don’t know what to write about.  When I signed up to read “Cowboy and Wills” by Monica Holloway I was planning on writing a heartfelt post about my son and his struggles.  In actuality, I don’t think he has many struggles.  I thought for a while that he had sensory issues.  Maybe he still does, but I’ve yet to have a teacher or doctor approach me about it.  He has trouble sitting still, he has trouble with food textures, he has trouble with change, and he has trouble being quiet.  What seven year old doesn’t??  Guess I’m not going there…

Then I thought about writing about the death of my beloved Coco.  She was the dog my family had when I was a kid.  But I thought I’d be one of a million bloggers relating the story of Cowboy and Wills to the death of their beloved childhood pet.

THEN I thought I’d write about my in-laws and their dog…  Too personal, not ready for that.

I dunno…

I guess I’ll join the ranks and share with you my childhood memories.

My son has been asking for a dog for about a year now.  Not pestering, not begging, just every so often he asks, “hey Mom, can we get a dog?”  My husband on the other hand, has his own ideas.  He thinks we’re getting a dog in the next couple of years.  And I don’t know, maybe we will, but at this time, there’s no room for a dog.

Now, don’t get me wrong…  I had a dog growing up.  I love dogs.  (dogs don’t love me a lot of the time, but that’s another story)  I wish I could get my kids a dog.  I can only imagine the dubious amounts of GOOD it would do for my kids if we could get a dog.  At this time, its just not in the cards.  Maybe someday.

Then sometimes, I wonder if maybe it’s not so good to get my kids a dog, even if we did have the room.  I know I shouldn’t shelter them, but what happens if  the dog should die?  Do I want to expose my children to that kind of loss?  My son has experienced the loss of his great grandmother already, but he was so little, he didn’t understand.  They will have to endure the death of other family members in the future as well, but if I can help them to avoid any unnecessary grief should I try?  I know people, my husband included, who had multiple dogs.  When one died, they got a new one.  Not me.  We had one, and that was it.


We got Coco when I was three.  Back in the day there was a show on Nickelodeon called Pinwheel.  On that show, there was a mime named Coco.  On the way home from the North Shore Animal League with our new puppy in hand I looked at my brother and parents and offered up the name.  My logic: Then there would be three Coco’s, our Coco, Coco on Pinwheel, and the cocoa you drink.  Pretty good logic for a three year old, ya’ think?  Me too.

Anyway, she was gorgeous.  A spaniel mix (aka mutt) with black, and brown fur, she had small white patch on her chest where she loved to be scratched.  She had a tail that could kill and when she was happy, LOOK OUT!  That tail could leave welts!  She had this great little dance she used to do in the morning when the first person (usually my mom) got up and when someone would come home after a long day away (again, usually my mom).  She’s wiggle her little butt and wag that tail letting off little yelps just to let us know she was happy to see us (either that or she had to go outside, I’m not really sure).

Growing up, my mom was lucky enough to be a stay at home mom.  Coco became HER dog soon after we got her.  Mom was home with her all day.  Mom house broke her, trained, fed and sometimes groomed her.  At dinner, we’d all be sitting at the table and Coco would walk up to my mom and place her head on her lap, waiting for a scrap or a scratch.  Coco would listen to MOM above all else.

For eleven years, she was with us.  Always there to greet us after school.  Always there to play with on snow days (she LOVED snow).  Always there to sit in front of the big fan in the summer and let her fur fly all over everything.  Always there to bark at the neighbors and let them know she was there keeping us safe.

The day of her death,  I remember getting up early (it was summer vacation) and sitting down next to her in the living room.  Coco had just had surgery on her knee after tearing a tendon while running to bark at my neighbor and was home, recuperating.   I didn’t want to touch her for fear of hurting her.  I noticed a fly land on her shaved leg and I moved to shoo the fly away.  As I did so, I brushed her leg with my finger.  She did not move.  I moved in closer and noticed a wet spot in the carpet.  I put my hand on her side, she wasn’t breathing.  I jumped up and dashed to my brother’s room.

“Something’s wrong with Coco!” I shouted.  He ran out of his room, took one look at her, brought me to my room.

“Coco’s dead.” I heard him say to my mom, who had been out food shopping, and was coming in through the garage.

“No, no, no…” I heard her cry.  Coco was gone.  Mom put a blanket over her and took my brother and I in her room until my father came home from work and brought her to the vet to be cremated.

It was my first major loss.  I’d dealt with the death of distant family members.  I’d been to wakes and funerals for those family members.  Sad to say, my first major loss was my dog and it was HARD.  I got mad at and didn’t speak to a friend of mine for months after a smart ass remark he made about her death.  It took a while to get over her death and when my brother tried to bring another dog into the house about a year later, we couldn’t do it.  We never had another dog after that.

Is this loss something I want my kids to endure?  Should I risk all the good having a pet will give my kids, so they don’t have to deal with the pet’s inevitable death?  We’ve already had fish and lizards that have come and gone, but nothing as solid, as able to return love as a dog.

I guess these are questions I will have to ask myself in the future as there is no room for another body (canine or otherwise) in this house right now.  I have a feeling that I will wind up getting that dog when the time comes.  And my kids will love it and deal with the inevitable when the inevitable happens.

This is an original ROSCMM post and was written for the From Left to Write Book Club. This post was inspired by Cowboy and Wills by Monica Holloway, a copy of which I received free from the publisher for the purposes of this book club, and no, you can not steal my content unless you specifically ask me for it first. It’s called copyright, yo.

Copyright 2010 MastermindMommy

Categories: From Left to Write Book Club | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “At a Loss for Words…

  1. Pingback: Cowboy & Wills by Monica Holloway – A From Left to Write Book Club |

  2. And I thought I was going to be the only clever one who was going to write about their beloved childhood pet! Oh well.

    I believe getting a pet far outweighs the good over the bad. We lost two cats in six months and it has been hard on my son. He is not yet four but he has grieved and he has cried. It has helped him understand death.

    I’m a cat person. Why don’t you start with a cat, it’s a lot easier and they can give back as much love as they get, really!

  3. Our family cat died just a couple of days before my sister’s wedding. I was a wreck! And I know it will be hard on my girls, too, when our cat goes, but we’ve had so many wonderful memories that she will be remembered for always.

  4. We lost many pets over the years – they were hit by cars, died of old age, ran away. Always heartbreaking. But there are good lessons there too – pets don’t live as long as humans, but are so worth the effort and attention. I’m a new puppy owner, after not having a pet for almost 20 years and I am really loving having a pet in the family again. And my kids are absolutely thriving for it. Would do it again in a heartbeat.

  5. LOVE the pictures of Coco and it sounds like you have so many wonderful memories! You’re the only person who can determine whether a dog will be good for your family. I’ve had a lot of readers tell me that they feel guilty about not getting a dog for their special needs child after reading the book. But my take is, every family is different. A dog helped my son. That doesn’t mean that a dog will help all children. I have found that animals are comforting to them, so another way to go might be to visit animals outside the house. For instance, Wills rides horses at a children’s ranch close by. I DO NOT want a horse, mainly because I don’t know the first thing about horses, but Wills loves horses. So he gets to ride and I don’t need a barn.

    I loved your story.

  6. I currently have a dog, but had cats growing up and I’ve realized something while reading your post… My parents took the death of our cats much harder than we did. I am fairly certain that’s the way it goes since parents tend to the care givers to the pet, understand their role in the family in a different way, and also take on the grief of their children. I dread the day we are faced with the loss of our dog.

  7. I’m in the category that it is better to have loved than never loved at all. Although I still miss my pets (some days a lot!), the great experiences of bonding with them & learning about life with a pet were worth it.

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