Dealing with Grief

Tribute to A Hero – Gallagher

Around 2009 we decided to add another member to our little family

The next year, we brought our little puppy home, an Irish Wolfhound.  He needed to have a strong Irish name, of course, and the name Gallagher seemed to fit him just right.  So, Gallagher he was!

Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted the profound role this little puppy would have on our lives.  I enrolled in obedience training with him from a young age and this not only helped me manage and understand him, but it was a catalyst for the solid relationship based on mutual trust and respect we built. We loved training so much that what was supposed to be a few weeks of puppy obedience became our Saturday routine for the better part of five years. He loved it and so did I. His capability to learn and understand what I required him to do came so naturally that it virtually seemed telepathic at times. I also started showing (breed showing) this boy and although he was never a showstopper (though he was always my best in show!), we had a ‘ball’ together and it became yet another bonding activity that we shared.

Gallagher matured into a confident, outgoing, enchanting, obedient dog that I could confidently take into any situation and know, without a doubt, that he would do what I asked of him. Some of the challenging situations we faced with great success included large crowds – including three consecutive years in the WODAC (World of Dogs and Cats) parade, fares, countless markets, many restaurants (even fancy ones), beaches and more – confined spaces – even antique shops were not off limits (quite an accomplishment with a giant dog especially knowing what damage one whip of that tail could do!).

I had the misfortune of being diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and it was this boy that persistently and relentlessly worked to alert me to the rogue cells in my body. It was also due to his tireless efforts that we were forewarned when the chemotherapy was not working any longer and knew to change the treatment course. This boy pulled me through the darkest days of my life and it is through this experience that I understand that intuition is a two-way street. We utilise this sense to understand dogs and they use the same ability to understand our emotional state and needs. Further, dogs are equipped with physical senses unimaginable to us, which enable them to detect very faint chemical changes in our bodies. But, more than that, they understand when we need them most and gladly allow us to draw strength, comfort and courage from their presence.

After having this boy by my side indefatigably working to keep me going, it tore me apart to have him be diagnosed with osteosarcoma (bone cancer) less than three months after concluding my own treatment. He underwent radiation therapy for palliative reasons and it made a considerable difference in reducing his pain. The outpouring of love from the Irish Wolfhound community was incredible and we will always be so thankful for this! After radiation therapy and with good pain management, Gallagher did well for the better part of 6 months and, boy, we made those months count!

However, there came a point where the cocktail of drugs could no longer offer sufficient leave from the pain.  We, sadly, had to let my best friend and heart-and-soul-hound go on 27 June 2016. Our vet did a home visit and he went to sleep with his head in my lap in our lounge and I told him how very much he was loved and how thankful I am that he joined our family about a zillion times.  Saying it tore our hearts apart to let him go would be a terrible understatement… I didn’t want to give up on him, because he never gave up on me, but I knew he was ready to go and we had done absolutely everything to keep him happy and comfortable for as long as possible. I find comfort in knowing that he left this realm surrounded by love and comfortable in his home… He knew only love from the time he joined our family to the day he exhaled his very last breath. That is what every single dog deserves.

Gallagher was cremated at Legacy Pet Crematorium and His ashes are in a beautiful pewter urn and I find comfort in keeping them there.

Gallagher is sorely missed and his memory will always be deeply cherished. A gift from above. My mom called him her hero and, yes, he is mine too….