Today is the one year anniversary of Paige's passing. It is a day I will never forget and I can't believe that one year has passed already - it certainly doesn't feel like it has since not a day goes by without having her on my mind. Thinking back to this heartbreaking moment, amongst the pain, I am also reminded of the amazing network of dog loving people that helped me get through this very difficult time. The interest in knowing how she was doing each and every day, the words of encouragement and the stories of miracles kept me going. And when Paige could fight no more, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who felt the loss with me and by those who understood what I was going through on a very deep level.
When you love your dogs like family not everyone understands how deep this bond is and the impact on your life when we suffer loss. I have a mix of family and friends, some who truly understand how special my dogs are to me, but many who do not. They still love me and support me, but they really don't understand how I can feel so broken when one of my dogs leaves me.
One of the most special things about social media is the ability it gives us to create a network of like-minded people. Nowhere have I found so many people like me who see their dogs as their children, who would do whatever it takes to ensure they live happy, healthy lives and who truly understand what it is to grieve when we lose one of our four-legged family.
If you are not currently using social media and you love dogs then I strongly recommend joining at least Facebook so you can connect with others who feel like you do. It doesn't matter if you don't know them because you are connected by your shared interest in dogs. Not only do you receive much needed emotional support, but you can learn a great deal from the experiences of others. Being around like-minded people, even if virtually through social media, can not only provide you with comfort during the difficult times, but it can be wonderful also during the good times.
If you are friends with me on Facebook it is rare to see a post about a human. Mostly I post about my dogs, sharing endless photos and videos. On Facebook, if you are connected to fellow dog lovers, you don't feel like a crazy person who only talks about her dogs, no one gets sick of your endless dog photos and everyone understands your ups and your downs as you care for your dogs. If you have ever seen that facial expression when you tell a story about your dog to someone who is not a dog person then you need to find yourself a dog network on social media.
I find as my dogs get older having people to share my experiences with becomes even more important because you'll find that your real life network gets smaller and smaller the older your dogs get. The more challenges your dogs go through, the less people seem to understand. I remember telling my co-workers at the time (before I was full-time with Dog Quality) about Mackenzie's (my senior pug at the time) super bug. It created a thick mucous that he often inadvertently wiped on people who visited my home. If you could have seen the look of horror on their faces when I explained this to them, then you would know why I say your network quickly becomes smaller the older your dogs get. But not when you are surrounded by dog people. Only a dog person could see the humor in a story involving mucus.
If you are using social media then I encourage you to find new friends, people you don't know, people that are dog lovers. If you are not using social media then I recommend signing up. Searching out a like-minded network is super simple and once you have a few new friends it becomes even easier to connect with their dog loving friends and so on. Give it a try - you won't regret it. And don't forget to find me! Click here for my personal Facebook page where we can connect and click here to follow Dog Quality on Facebook.
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.