Published on November 29, 2021 in Pet loss Newer post   Older post

My dear friend Rachael lost her dog, Digby, today. He had been ill for some time, and like many of our beloved dogs, did his level best to hang in there as long as he possibly could, supported and loved by his devoted family.

There is no good way to lose a dog. Quick unexpected death nearly kills you from the acute shocking pain. Long slow declines nearly kill you in an entirely different way. That death that your pup has seemed to avoid, time and time again, finally can’t be escaped. And it somehow seems surprising after cheating death so many times before. Rachael and Digby gave it their all. They left it all on the field. But biology won, as it always does sooner or later.

No dog ever lives long enough for the humans in his/her life. We always want another day, week, month or year. What my dog Gunny articulated, that I hadn’t thought much about, was that it is also very hard for dogs to leave their family. Even when they are very very sick. We are their everything – home, shelter, love, laughter.

Why is letting go so difficult? Not just for you but for me also. I have to be honest about that. It hasn’t only been your need for me to stay but mine also because I keep finding a new surprise around every corner in this amazing life I share with you.


I know that Digby would say the same to Rachael. It was an amazing life and an amazing relationship. It isn’t over; it continues. He is just in a different form.

This sermon by Henry Scott Holland, an Anglican minister in 1910, has always comforted me in moments like the one Rachael and Digby find themselves in.

Death is nothing at all,
I have only slipped into the next room
I am I and you are you
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used
Put no difference in your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household world that it always was,
Let it be spoken without effect, without the trace of shadow on it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was, there is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near,
Just around the corner.
All is well.

—Henry Scott Holland

Love is eternal. All well be well. But I know that today, and for many more days, weeks, months or more, it’s not much comfort and will be impossible to believe. Well done, Rachael and Digby. We are here for you. Holding you in the light and sending our love. All will be well.

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