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Pets And Divorce: How To Handle Saying ‘Goodbye’

Pets and divorceWhen my first marriage ended, it was very hard for me. Not because I had to say goodbye to my ex. She made that pretty easy on me with the whole adultery thing. A few months after our do-it-yourself divorce, I was fine, and the anger had effectively dehumanized her enough that moving on with life was pretty simple. But I did have to say goodbye to one living thing that absolutely hurt: our dog Gracey, a Chinese pug I’d helped take care of since my ex brought it home as a puppy.

Gracey was a great dog. She snored something terrible and acted like she was going to kill me whenever I went near her food dish, but she was all bark, no bite, and a whole lot of cuddles. It’s almost impossible to live with a small dog without it becoming your kid. That happened in my situation, and it didn’t make the decision to file for divorce easy, even if our process was without a great deal of legal conflict. How was I going to make it without this little thing that slept rammed up against my side every night while snoring under my reassuring hand?

It was rough, but I did get over it. Here’s how.

I Realized The Person I Was Had Died.

It didn’t matter how hard I tried to be “me,” there was no going back to the person I was. That didn’t mean something better couldn’t emerge. Seven years after the divorce ended, my new life is worlds better than my old one ever was. But if there was going to be recovery, I had to rid myself of the remnants. Unfortunately, Gracey was one of those remnants.

I Put Away The Past. 

Deleting old pictures of the dog was difficult, and it didn’t happen right away. But the moment came when the courage was there, and once the decision had been made and the button had been pushed, there was something oddly liberating about it.

I Lived With An Eye Toward The Future. 

Replacing Gracey seemed impossible at the time I left, but the very day that I moved in to my new apartment, I came across a nice black cat who hung around the pad wanting to be pet and fed on occasion. I never let him in — didn’t really even check if he was a he — but he provided enough companionship to bridge the gap into human contact whenever I was outside my apartment.

I Realized Animals Are Animals And People Are People. 

Nothing made me realize this more than when I discovered over Labor Day that I would be a father in less than a year. Hearing my little replacement’s heartbeat for the first time and seeing him/her — five weeks to go before gender reveal — melted me and really put the human-pet thing in perspective. It’s not that I haven’t loved every pet I’ve ever had. It’s just that I find more fulfillment now in my human relationships. Seeing my unborn child has taught me that this is one loved thing I could never walk away from. Obviously, I couldn’t say the same of Gracey.

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