A few folks have asked me, “How’s Oliver doing?”

Well, I’ll be honest. Oliver and I haven’t had any real heart-to-heart talks since Henry’s passing. 

In fact, the day we took Henry to the veterinarian’s office and they told us to leave for an hour while they took some tests to figure out why Henry wasn’t his usual self, Oliver and I went to mall. Granted, an outdoor mall in one of San Diego’s tony neighborhoods. But about all we did was walk.

You see, where the vet’s office is located there’s nothing but auto repair shops, countless furniture stores, tile stores, car washes and oh, a strip club of the X-rated kind, I kid you not.

Not the kind of place I’d want to pass an hour with Oliver.

So when the doctor told us to leave, all that came to mind was the mall located about two miles to the west.  For Oliver, that was a special treat, because normally, I NEVER take my dogs to the mall, where it’s crowded, noisy and dogs aren’t allowed inside stores.

But it seems that others do and on that day it was a parade of dogs with their owners. Fancy, chic dogs trotting about on Burberry-type leashes held jauntily by their owners. Dogs wearing trendy sweaters and plaid bows, with the female dogs bedecked in colorful ribbons. All were dressed up except for Oliver, who on that particular day was looking very much like, well, a dog of rather diminutive stature. He’s a Maltipoo, after all.

We walked from one end of the outdoor mall to the other.  It was a sunny beautiful day and at that time I was still thinking that soon we could pick up Henry to take him home. That they’d probably prescribe some newfangled medicine for Henry to take and he’d be back to normal in no time.


After an hour of Oliver-and-Me-Time, we headed back to the vet’s office and soon learned that normal meant the “new normal.”  Life without Henry. Yes, that was the moment of my first rush of tears.

In those first days, I cried and cried. It seemed just about anything would bring on memories of Henry, followed by a flood of new tears. And with each new person I told, more tears came.  Every once in a while, I’d sit in my Lazy-Boy type chair and Oliver would jump on my lap, as if to say, “Don’t forget about me.”

That first evening I almost forgot to feed Oliver some dinner, but he kept following me every time I went into the kitchen and pretty soon I got the message.

I still have Oliver and he needs caring.

For I lost one son that day, not two.  I don’t know what I would do if not for Oliver who in his own way, keeps bringing me back to reality. 

Look at me,” he seems to say. “What about me??”

I throw his tennis ball across the room and he fetches it lickety-split and drops it in my lap. Play time, he is saying, and even though I want to cry, because I just spotted Henry’s leash, rolled up neatly on Henry’s now, unused dog bed, I toss the ball for Oliver.

I keep looking for signs that Oliver is mourning the loss of Henry, but so far I’ve only seen it twice. Once when I caught him sniffing at Henry’s leash.  The other time is when we go for walks. When Henry was alive, they’d always line up by the patio door to go out, with Henry, the oldest, always first in line.  Nowadays, Oliver doesn’t move up in line. Instead, he leaves a gap between him and the door.

The gap is for Henry.  Out of respect for the fallen, I say. And who can blame Oliver for that.  This little act of respect makes me love Oliver all the more.

The week after Henry left us, Oliver had his annual checkup.  I told the doctor that Oliver doesn’t seem to notice Henry’s gone. She said, that’s good. Real good.  Apparently she’s seen dogs suffer genuine anxiety or depression, at the loss of a fellow dog, so Oliver being so happy-go-lucky is good for him and his well-being.

On the plus, now that Henry’s gone, Oliver can go back to eating chicken. Henry was allergic to chicken so I wouldn’t serve it, but now on the weekends I make boiled chicken and rice and Oliver eats it all up and makes a smacking sound of satisfaction.

Of course, this weekend I had a scare. I took Oliver to the park to play fetch and one of his rear paws was stung by a bee.  I was fearful that he might have an allergic reaction and go into shock. I could see he was having trouble walking, so I carried him all the way home–my arms feeling sore with each step I took and tears welling up in my eyes. Once home, we got into the car and I rushed him to the animal hospital.

Luckily, he was okay. A technician shaved his paw in order to find the stinger, and the doctor kept him for observation for a couple of hours, but other than that, he turned out to be just fine.

I am thrilled Oliver is okay, because I couldn’t imagine life without him.  He’s just what I need and seeing him happy gladdens my spirits. 

Oliver and me. We’re just two, no longer three.

14 thoughts on “Oliver!

  1. Monica, thank you for this lovely update! Yes, you’re still in mourning (as you should be), but Oliver needs you now and I’m glad he can provide a bit of happiness, comfort, and diversion. By the way, how did you get him to pose so prettily?? The expression on his furry face is priceless!

    • Debbie, this weekend a work colleague lost her dog. Yesterday, when I saw her, I began to comfort her, noting that I know what she’s going through. Soon, we were sharing stories of our dogs, tearing up, and hugging each other. Turns out, she comforted me just as much as I comforted her. In a weird way, it felt good.

      • You bet — that’s the ticket! Any comfort I’m able to provide you is because I lost my Eskimo Spitz many years ago, and I know how much that hurts. Now your colleague will be able to comfort someone else, and the sympathy flows onward.

      • Agreed! And thank you truly for the support you’ve given me this past month. Means so much to me, your understanding. Occasionally I feel guilt that I’m still mourning. I assume people are thinking, “Enough already!” So I appreciate your patience with me. I know it comes from the heart. 🙂

  2. I’m so happy Oliver isn’t showing the signs of anguish that have been reported in some cases of animal grief and is instead feeling and showing the love he has for you yet still acknowledging Henry’s importance in his life, and yours. He sounds like such a loving dog and you need him so much. Again, as I said last time, don’t ever think you need to give yourself a timetable for mourning. The truth is it takes as long as it takes, not hurried. Grief comes in waves and sometimes comes on like a lightening bolt in the midst of figurative sunshine. I have lost pets, in my case cats, and you’ll always remember how special they were. You’ll be so glad you didn’t hurry the process of grief. So happy Oliver is in your life!!!

    • Oliver is a very adorable, sweet dog. He gives me a ball to throw for him and he waits patiently for me to do so. Sometimes I’m distracted by thoughts of Henry and he waits by my side until I’m ready to toss the ball. He’s my little boy.

    • Oh my, glad you saw the humor because I’m not totally feeling it these days. Not easy losing such a special member of your family. I miss him everyday. Thanks for reading!

  3. Oh Monica, it is so hard to lose a beloved friend like Henry. I cried and cried when we lost Rupert a few years ago. He was eighteen so he had a long wonderful life. It is so good that you have Oliver and I’m glad he is doing okay..minus the bee sting! I’m sure the little guy wants to make you happy and distracts in whatever way he can. I’ll sure be thinking of you!

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