The pain of losing an immediate family member is something no one should ever have to experience, especially at a young age when it seems that so much life has yet to be lived.
But of course, death is inevitable and whether or not you seem prepared to deal with it, one still has to deal with the massive void left by an individual’s death and the overbearing weight attached to it. This is reality. G-d has made it this way, and it’s for the better – no matter how much its sucks not having that person around anymore.
Though certainly not on the same level as losing a mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin or even a grandparent, losing a pet can be just as devastating.
This has been the case for my family as we dealt with, when we decided to put down our beloved dog, Mooshey, after a long and happy life of fourteen and a half years. Today is the one year-anniversary of that fateful day.
- This dog was more than just a pet – she was a family member, a sister, a best friend, and a loyal companion.
Mooshey was a tri-colour collie (see above), but unlike Lassie, Mooshey was primarily black-haired, with white hair on her legs, paws and chest & tan/gold on her legs, face and eyebrows as well. She first caught our eyes one November afternoon in 1996 at the Markville Mall in Markham. I liked that mall and suggested we go there to do stuff (buy stuff, get food, I can’t recall really what was so good about the place, I just liked it…)
One of our favourite things to do at the mall was walk into the pet store and look at the animals inside. We all liked pets (except for dad.. and you’ll see why later) and normally found ourselves spending lots of time just ogling the dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits… whatever animal that was there. As a kid my mom said that she always seemed to have a pet in the house. Over the span of her childhood, she tells me she had something like 3 dogs, 3 or 4 cats, a few birds, a turtle and a few others I can’t remember. The fact is that she had many pets. And while our family had a rabbit, which by the way was bought spontaneously while we were living in Oakville in 1994 – I come home from school and mom says there’s a surprise in the kitchen, I see the rabbit and ask when did you get that, she says today; I ask does dad know, she says no ;P… However, we always wanted a dog.
We’d only been living in Thornhill for just over a year but it seemed like everyone had a dog and we would never get one. I even remember reading a book called “I Want A Dog” as an attempt to show my dad how much I wanted one.
Strangely enough, I was actually a little afraid of dogs at that age, and felt uncomfortable around dogs in the neighbourhood. Obviously, that fear disappeared not long after Mooshey came around.
So we’re in the pet store, (while I don’t remember the precise moment) we saw this 2-month old collie in the window, and my mom did something that neither my sister or I saw coming. She asked the store clerk if we could take a look at the dog. The three of us and the clerk went inside in a small room the size of a store change room, and this little dog began walking around us. I do remember precisely (as my earliest memory of Mooshey), being slightly freaked out as she walked under my legs and around the room.
After playing with her, my mom did something else unexpected: She asked the clerk to hold on to the dog and that we’ll be back later.
Later? I thought…. Was she serious about getting this dog? No… How would she convince dad?
But somehow, some way, she convinced dad to get the dog. We were thrilled!
And as my second oldest vivid memory of Mooshey, I recall my mom holding her in her lap while sitting in the middle seat of the van as we drove her home for the first time.
For the next fourteen years and a half years, Mooshey was pretty much considered a member of our family. We played with her, talked with her, made sure to not make decisions without making sure they wouldn’t impact her negatively, she what she liked as well as what annoyed her and didn’t hesitate to tell us how she felt ;), we gave birthday cards to each another on her behalf, took her to the cottage to enjoy the beautiful outdoors, and even tried to sneak her into my Bubby’s condo on a few occasions. Oh did our Bubby love Mooshey… I’m sure they’re having a splendid time together in shomayim 🙂
She even played a role at our shabbos table, knowing to stay quiet while waiting for dad to make hamotzi. And once the bracha was made, she would sit patiently beside one of us, giving us one of the sweetest faces you’ve ever seen, waiting for us to give her a piece of the holy shabbos bread. And we knew she was worthy of this bread. Following one of our commands, she would speak and “make a bracha” (even though we obviously had her in mind;) and then give her the bread. Oh did we enjoy our Pilc Family “shabbos routine.”
When the time came to light the annual Hannukah candles, she would stay in the room alongside us, waiting until the candlelights proceeded to go out.
My mom always said that Mooshey surely had some kind of Jewish neshama inside her. She must’ve… And whether or not it was her role to make us better people or for her to accomplish her own G-d given personal goal, we all believe she passed with flying colours. No doubt about it.
And even though some of the later years resonate a little more nowadays – years that required a lot of patience, effort and as much attention as possible, but not without the pain that she was slipping in her golden years – we all knew that we had to cherish every single moment we had with her, regardless of the emotions going through our heads.
And so today marks a year without her. And even though we have a new addition to our family – a cat named Molly, whom we’ve had for about three weeks now, the void of our Mooshey can never be filled. But although that void exists in a physical sense, she will always be there in our thoughts and in our memories.