akraley
My partner and I got Dozer 4 years ago when his brother's german shepherd had her first litter. We decided to get a puppy as our other dog Bob was getting up there in age. They immediately were the best of friends and Dozer quickly became my baby. He was so loving, smart and kind. The best dog I had ever had, and my first dog. Shortly after we got Dozer, we found out we were expecting our first baby. I was so happy. Everything was coming together. 

Dozer was the most beautifu dog. We was huge, about 115 lbs and had a beautiful red coloring. He was a gentle giant. He loved our babies, and he would always make me laugh. So many times he woke up the babies by licking their faces, just because he wanted to make sure they were ok. He was so smart and loving. He was our first born baby and the first boy in my life that I ever loved that way.

Fast forward a few years and Bob passes away from Cancer. It left a huge hole in our heart but we knew he had lived a full life and his time had come. We did not discuss getting another dog for a long time. Life happens, we have another baby born in January and we are so elated. My husband starts a new, busier job with long hours and I am busy with two young kids, so we talk about getting a puppy to keep our baby Doze company. Miraculously, we find out a couple we know is fostering a German who came from a very bad home. We trial run with him with Doze and the kids and decide to keep him.

All seems well until we discover he runs. He has a strong prey drive and ran away no matter what we did. Collar, leash, cable, choke chain you name it he would find a way. We had talked about rehoming Nero SO SO SO many times but felt it would be too hard on the kids, who loved him, Dozer, who loved him, and Nero himself. So we stuck it out. 

Doze never, ever ran out of the yard until we got Nero. He loved us and the babies so much, the babies were his world. He protected them and us with his life. We live on an 800 acre farm and about a 1/4 to 1/2 mile off the road and the dogs would sometimes run the creek near our house. Every time they would get off their collars they would come home, covered in mud, smiling form ear to ear. 

It had been about 6 months since we took in Nero and the dogs seemed to be winding down.  They began to stay home even when off their chains and I finally felt like everything was going to work out.  

The other day I worked all day and then it rained the majority of the night and the boys were goin nuts so I let them out to go to the bathroom before bed. I thought they would want to stretch their legs (plus Doze was very particular about where he went number 2- in the weeds) I was out with them, watching them frolock, until I heard the baby (8 months) let out a sharp cry and went running to make sure he was ok. I soothed him and after a few minutes went back out. The dogs were gone. I called and called and no luck, so I went back in with the baby. I made sure he was comfortable and safe and went out to call the dogs again. About 5 minutes later, Nero comes home covered in mud. I thought, oh those crazy dogs, running the creek again. And that was that. I assumed Doze would be coming along shortly. 

About ten minutes passed and no Doze, so I began to worry. I went out with the kids and called and called and finally, I saw a cop car pull up at the end of the guard rail where the creek runs under. I wanted to die, but I guess I was in shock. He drives up to the house and I must have known what was coming, yet I didn't. He tells me that there is a large German laying at the end of the guard rail and that a lady had called in and said she hit him and he died.  I do not know but I feel that maybe he ran out of the creek when he heard me calling. I suppose it could have happened before then but I don't even know because I was calling out the front door where that area is out of view. I never even knew the creek ran that far because of the corn growing in the field.

I was crushed, I felt like my soul had been ripped out I wake up my husband, who is hysterical, and he goes and picks him up and buries him on the hill, next to our other boy Bob. I can't live with the grief. I cry everyday and I don't even want to look at myself. I know in my heart if I would have stayed outside, he would still be with us. Or I could have put them on their chains, but I knew they would want to stretch after being in all day. You always think you have their best interest in mind, until you don't. 

My 3 year old is crushed and doesn't understand. I am crushed, my husband is crushed. The other dog does not understand. I wish so badly it would have been him, and I know that is terrible. We should have rehomed him when we knew he was a runner and that I was unable to handle a problem dog, a new born and a 2 year old. I do not feel attached to him and have a hard time looking at him right now and I know that is awful. I just do not feel that I will ever get over the loss of my first born baby Doze. He was only 4 years old and had a long life ahead of him. My 3 year old loved him as a brother and I was so blessed that they were going to grow up together and now I have taken that away from our whole family. 

I am having a difficult time even going about my daily tasks. I cry everyday and cannot eat. I feel like any minute he is going to come home. Or at least I wish it were so. Just last night my son asked why Dozer wasn't coming home. He just doesn't understand and neither do I, really.  I have never experienced a sadness and sorrow as deep as this. I can't even keep it together at work. When my husband is home and we are together it is better but I am still a wreck. I have gone to see Dozer on the hill and apologized to him over and over. There is a hole in my heart that I do not feel will ever be filled.

I do not know where to go from here. I caused the death of my best friend, my first born baby, I let life get in the way of what was really important to me and in the blink of an eye, he was taken from me. I know I have to keep it together for my kids but if I could I feel like I would just fade away.
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Sampson
My deepest condolences my dear Alexis. I know this is a terrible tough time for you and your family. My experience is that the loss of a 4 legged family member can be every bit as painful as any other member of your family.
The first thing I want to say is that Dozer was lucky to have you and your family and all of the love you gave him just as you all were all so lucky to have him. So many dogs are not so lucky. As an example, you mentioned that Nero came from a "very bad home" and needed to be fostered. If he could talk he might tell you things abour his past that would make you shudder for his sake.
Please do not blame yourself. It's normal to try and find a reason or something (someone) to blame when we lose something so precious. I think it may be part of grieving. You wanted Dozer to have a good life. You didn't want him chained up. You gave him that. There are always so many "ifs" In this case "if only you hadn't called him when you did", "if only you had been out with the dogs", "if only the baby hadn't cried at that moment", "if only Nero didn't run maybe Dozer wouldn't followed him", "if only that woman wasn't driving along at that moment", you could come up with one thousand "what ifs" but it all boils down to this: Dozer was a happy and loved dog who died as a happy dog while doing something he enjoyed. My dog was a few years older and he developed cancer and sufffered a great deal before I realized and it was too late. I've lived with the guilt of knowing that he suffered. Sometimes the things that seem the most tragic can actually be (in a strange way) a small gift in hindsight. You don't have that perspective now of course because you have just lost Dozer and he was still young at 4 but they weren't they 4 wonderful years? Try and look at this from Dozer's perspective. I think that Dozer would thank you for all the love and joy you gave him and tell you how much he loved you if he could. At the end you gave him a playmate and it seems he had a lot of fun with Nero. I am of the belief however, that all animals deserve respect and love and a feeling of being at home but unfortunately they don't all get it. I understand how much you loved Dozer. I really do Alexis. I thought my heart would break when I lost Sampson and I know you wanted a playmate for Dozer but if you search your heart I think you will feel that Nero deserves more. I noticed you said Nero "came home" acting strangely. This has been his home and now he must sense that not only has he lost his buddy but he may feel like he is not welcome anymore and that must hurt so badly. Who knows what his history entailed or why he runs off more but I have to assume it was nothing good. In time you will find comfort knowing you did everything right because you really did. The sad fact is the only thing we can count on in life is change. This was certainly not the time you would have chosen for Dozer but now to share my perspective I will say that I wish my Sampson could have gone quickly having fun with a buddy. I'm sharing this because I do believe it can usually come down to how we choose to look at things. I know your heart is broken and it's so hard for you to see past this mournful time. I would also think that Nero is heartbroken because he came from a "bad situation", then went to a foster home and finally found a loving home with you and your family and a great friend in Dozer and now the bottom has fallen out of his world again. I hope you will find it in that big heart of yours to spend some time now with Nero and realize that this is the last thing he would have wanted to happen. It could be your way of honouring your wonderful Dozer, who loved having him there, and I think it will benefit you both immensely. He will never replace Dozer he that is as it should be but you may begin to see attributes in Nero that you will come to love in a different way of course. Dogs have a way of surprising us with their capacity to love us and I'll bet Nero is hoping against hope that you will somehow find it in your heart to love him too. He has lost his friend now and he was never lucky enough to have a loving home when he was a wee puppy. Dozer accepted him and played with him and I think he would be happy and smiling to see you do the same!
Please try and put any guilt aside my dear. You were a simply wonderful (human) mom to Dozer and sometimes bad things just happen so now will need to mourn this painful and unexpected loss. I think that your heart is big enough to always keep a place tucked away for your Dover but also to give some of your heart to help this dog (Nero) whose life has held no joy in the past. You also have your beautiful babies and your partner in your life. Dozer will always be a part of it! In time all will be well. I wish you much peace.
S.
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Twilight
Alexis - Try not to blame yourself for Dozer's death.  It was a sad and unfortunate accident, that happens every day. It's not the fault of Nero either, but I can understand why you would be bitter and upset toward him. They were both just being dogs, out running and having a good time.  Maybe you can find a friend or someone who would take Nero, for a while, while you try to sort out your feelings, and decide what you want to do?  If you feel you can never love Nero, or accept him as part of your family, maybe you can find a rescue group that will take him in and find a good home for him?  It's a terrible dilemma for you, but between you and your husband, I hope you can a good home for him.  In the meantime, I will be thinking about you, and praying and hoping that you'll find peace and happiness for yourself and Nero.
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Monty13
I'm so sorry Alexis! You loved Dozer so much! I do feel sorry for Nero also but I think rehoming him again (as Twilight suggested - if you can't make peace with it) would be so traumatizing to him as a rescue who has never had a good home and has come to think of your place as home, unless you absolutely won't be able to keep him. I hope you can take some time to think about it. I think you have likely grown to love Nero too even though your original idea was to get a playmate for Dozer. This is a tough time for you emotionally so try not to make any hasty decisions while you are feeling so heartbroken. Take good care of yourself.
Monty
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akraley
I want to thank you all for your responses as they have really helped me with my feelings. It has been almost a month now and I still miss Dozer everday, but i have come to accept that it is not the fault of me my husband or Nero. I am thankful that he had a good friend to keep him company when I was not able to in the last few months of his life. Sampson's mom I think you may be right, and I appreciate your kind words they have helped me a lot. Dozer was developing hip dysplasia and perhaps this was God's way of saving us from that. I have also thought, along with my husband, that perhaps God took Dozer because he knew Nero needs our love now as Dozer did then. My husband and i have talked about him and his passing quite a few times which is nothing short of amazing because i have been with him through a few losses of family and he prefers not to let it out. Just last week we took the beautiful large stones from our yard and put them on dozers grave as we did with Bob after his passing. I brought his favorite toys (the ones i could part with) and his blanket. It was emotional for us but it felt good to honor him in this small way. My son is accepting that Dozer is in heaven with Bob in the way that a 3 year old can. Nero really is proving to be a good dog, something that was clouded in my guilt before. He had not strayed since Dozers passing. In the tuft light, he looks similar to Doze and it makes me smile. Nero is having some attachment issues but i am mostly home so i have been taking him along whenever possible. We live in a small town and a woman we know has Dozers brother, Macho, and she was devastated when we told her the story when she noticed Dozer was not in the back of the truck with Nero. She told us that she intends to breed her female with Macho when she goes into heat and she offered to have our son pick a puppy from the litter. I hope by then our hearts will be ready to accept another dog as i would love to have a small piece of him. I also feel this will give us the time to work with Nero and let him heal before we welcome another dog to the family. Thank you all for your kind words.
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Sampson
Dear Alexis, I ended up smiling when I read your latest post. It's wonderful that you and your husband were able to talk about this terrible loss and support each other during this sad time. It's also very interesting about the hip dysplasia that Dozer had and I think you make a good point: God took your beloved boy while he was still running and having fun and before he knew suffering. From my perspective, that in itself is a gift although I know that you must miss him terribly and I'm so sorry you have to go through this pain. I think it's wonderful that you are able to take comfort from having Nero and I know that having the love of his mom will also help to heal his heart. You have such a kind heart bringing him with you whine you can so he is not at home feeling lonely. It's also lovely Alexis, that you will be getting Dozer's little niece or nephew when that time comes and as you say it will give you time to work with Nero so he is feeling secure when it's time to welcome this little puppy.
I really think that Dozer must be so proud of his human mum and dad for how you have handled everything (just as he always was) I think he would be so happy to see you helping his buddy, Nero and also very proud to see the beautiful memorial stones and toys that you took to make his burial place so special. I'm sure he is looking down at you all and smiling! Thanks so much for the update Alexis. It was lovely to read. Wishing you all such warmth and peace. You really deserve it!
Sampson
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