We had a mixed breed dog for 17 years. She just showed up at her house one day as a puppy and then became part of the family. Our kids were little when we got her and they grew up with her. She spent a lot of her days in our gated front yard, when she wasn’t sleeping at the foot of our bed, or just hanging out in the house with everyone. Everyone in the neighborhood knew her, and many would give her treats as they walked by. Sometimes we would run into families of complete strangers while we were walking her in the park, and one of the kids in that family would say “Oh daddy, look! It’s Whitney!“ (That was her name. I guess they learned it from the tag on her collar.) She was my running companion, and later my walking companion when I had joint issues, almost every single day. When we had to say goodbye her, the vet came to our house and I held Whitney while she passed.
I am sharing this story because that dog is still a source of happiness to our family all these years later. We talk about her often, enjoy old photos of her, and often laugh about her sweet idiosyncrasies. So in our experience, the sadness turns to shared happiness, fond memories, and joy. Maybe that will help you.
We are dog people still, and now have two of them. One is 12 and the other is 5. I walk them almost every day and they are beloved members of the family, with their own antics and quirks. Every now and then we talk about how the day will come when we have further goodbyes to say. That just makes us want to love and enjoy them all the more while we have them.
Yes, I’m a hopeless dog lover. Did I mention that we also have two cats?