I used to think explaining death to children was difficult...
Try explaining to your dog why their surrogate mother has not returned after disappearing a week ago.
Indiana Jones, my now 14 month old Mastiff, has been walking the house in the evenings, whining. He whines to go out just to circle the deck and come back in. He paces the floor looking...for what, we can only guess. After a while he squeezes his oversized body into the space between the lamp table and the sofa, the same place our geriatric Labrador, Cybil drifted off to sleep that last time. And there he falls asleep.
He misses her.
Cybil had become his mother when he moved in with us at just ten weeks old. She scolded him for sins only she understood, kept him in line when he thought he might be the boss, and taught him that the dogs in our house stay close to the mommy...not the daddy.
And he was the only dog allowed to invade her personal space. It took a while, but she warmed up to him, and let him sleep on her paws.
So now when he wants to fall asleep, he lays his head on my feet. They aren't nearly as furry and warm, but they seem to be an acceptable substitute.
I wish I could explain the mysteries of the universe to him the way I did with my children. Maybe he would find some solace in the idea that "all dogs go to heaven" and the hope that heaven may be filled with meaty bones, shady trees, and bubbling fountains of fresh clean water.
I guess I'll never really know. I just wonder how long he will mourn her loss...how long he will wander the house expecting her return...how long will I?
That is the real question, isn't it?
Until the next time...I'll be using my feet as a head rest!