It wasn't easy to see my old dog pass on ahead, but I am determined to focus on the good that came from our time together. She inspired hundreds of good deeds over our nine years together. We raised money for local senior dogs during her #Cleo8 homecoming day celebration. She inspired a major pet company to donate an inventory scanner to a pet food bank. Throughout her life with us, Cleo's very presence walking down the street inspired smiles from children and adults alike.
Taking a page from Cleo's playbook, I wanted to share five ways that we tried to give fearlessly following her passing. Helping other dogs and dog lovers feels like something Cleo would want us to do. She came from a rural county shelter and knew hardship before us. As a part of our family Cleo knew love, good food, a healthy environment and a warm bed. Why not pay it forward?
Here are five ways that helped us transform our loss and ease our grief, focusing instead on providing comfort to other dogs and dog lovers:
Bedding and blankets
With the arrival of colder temps, giving all of Cleo's beds, blankets, and travel cushions to a local rescue made sense. We knew how her old bones were comforted by this bedding and that it would mean a lot to comfort another dog in this way. We washed everything and gave them all away.
Medications and supplements
After developing diabetes, we gave Cleo insulin injections twice a day. As she got older, we also gave her regular pain medication. Our pharmacy wouldn't take any unopened medication back, but our veterinarian worked with a veterinary clinic in Mexico and gladly received Cleo's leftovers. They also were able to take her unused flea and tick medicine as well. I remember how stressful it was when we first learned of her diabetes diagnosis, and struggling to learn how to give insulin injections. At that time, our vet gave us some needles and a small amount of insulin to begin with. It felt good to pay it forward and help another family dealing with diabetes.
What makes a house, a home
Choosing to donate her food and water bowls, her baskets of toys, shampoos, aromatherapy oils, and many grooming brushes was bittersweet, but felt right. It was tough to give up these personal accessories that had so many intimate memories associated with them. But what I kept imagining if they meant so much to us, because they made such an emotional difference, why not offer that opportunity to someone else? Wouldn't that positively influence them and their life with their dog in a way that honored Cleo?
Premium Dog Food & Treats
Thanks to the generosity of Life and Dog, I had been sent a huge shipment of a premium dog food not long before Cleo's passing. Watching our dog transform into a healthy old girl made us so happy. She loved the foods we cooked for her and meal time in general. It was always a family affair. Being able to provide her with high quality food so that she lived longer than many big dogs, and healthier than many diabetic dogs, I was glad we could pass on her favorite meals to others. I like to imagine Cleo looking over them and us with a happy grin.
Honoring Cleo's Legacy
We decided to honor our dog and her inspiring spirit by making a donation in her name every year to a local animal nonprofit on her homecoming day. Adopting her from the San Francisco SPCA on November 9th became a happy day to be celebrated by all three of us.
I feel that if we focus on the joy that came from taking that leap of faith, it will keep her spirit alive. If we pass on her worldly goods maybe her positive influence embodied in those items will be felt by other dogs. I hope so.