As many of you may know, Clayton, our rescue greyhound, crossed the rainbow bridge much before his time due to aggressive cancer. We were inconsolable. Such a gorgeous, gentle creature had left the world too soon. He was bred and raised to race, and when he finally found his forever home with us, he was soon taken away from the world. The trauma of losing him was unbearable for our family.
I still remember the day my partner came home from an interstate trip. His first words to me were, “We’re going to adopt Clayton, a greyhound rescue.”
“But we already have Zorro, a beautiful chocolate labrador.” I quickly interjected. My partner had been intrigued about adopting a greyhound after reading an inflight newsletter. He said the eyes of Clayton, aka ‘Thunder-Eyes,’ his racing name, called out to him.
Before we knew it, we strapped Zorro into the car and were on our way to Gosford. One look at Clayton, and we knew he was destined to be part of our family.
He fit in so well too. He was one of the most gentle, well-behaved and soft-hearted dogs we had ever had. Despite his big and ‘mean’ appearance, he was the biggest softie. He and Zorro hit it off so well too. One of our favourite memories was walking the two of them together. They looked like an odd bunch with Zorro’s calm, flabby lab demeanour and Clayton’s lean-machine appearance. Not to mention Clayton always did the funniest zoomies when he got excited on our walks. It was hilarious to watch.
Though he is tragically gone, Clayton lives on in our memories. He brought so much happiness and joy. We cannot measure just how much he changed our lives. Though we had been lovers of dogs our entire lives, having Clayton in our world threw this passion for dogs into full throttle.
So, you can only imagine how hard it was to lose him. It was heartbreaking for our family and our dear Zorro. The sudden and intense shock flipped our household upside down. It hasn’t been the same since.
Unlike many, after Clayton passed we did not talk about it to anyone. I thought I had coped well with the shock. That was until I went on a cruise to New Caledonia soon after. Being away from the family was when it hit me. I mourned his lost presence, his gentleness and everything about him. I spent a lot of the trip crying. And looking back on it, these tears could have been avoided if I shared this grief earlier.
Though my grief came later than expected, I still had to learn how to manage it. During this time, I discovered how to grieve the right way.
Here are just some of the ways I did it.
After keeping the grief bottled, I decided it was better to talk about it. My partner and I spoke of the good times and revisited Clayton’s favourite parts of the house. Sharing this grief allowed us to better cope with the change in our lives.
We learned that it was time to ask for help. We invited other pet parents to our home to help Zorro cope with his loss. Speaking with them and watching these interactions also helped us deal with our losses.
Giving something back
In his memory, we have started our own online curated pet supply business. PetNest has the aim to improve the quality of life of all pets. It emphasises how ethically sourced food and clean labels can make all the difference.
We called our company PetNest as having Clayton nest with us was one of the happiest days of our lives. In the memory of our precious Clayton, we have extended support to golden oldies and abandoned pets. We know donating to other pets in need is a great way to give back to Clayton.
Celebrating the pet’s life
We dedicated a small part of our garden to Clayton. The spot we chose was his favourite to dig. We planted flowers in this patch as a sweet reminder of him. This spot will always be his, and we often see our lab, Zorro, sitting there with a soulful expression. It’s as though they are connecting.
Creating lifelong memories
How does he live on? Besides being in our memories and immortalised digitally, he was on our daughter’s wedding card. Clayton’s name was tattooed on her feet beside Zorro the Labrador and Zazu the cat. Making a coffee table book, a picture collage or even using his name tag as part of our keychain helps us to cherish his memories.
Different people deal with the loss of a pet differently. A friend of ours found closure by getting a puppy soon after, and it worked for them. Another friend reacted differently after their pooch crossed the rainbow bridge and has sworn off all pets. A third has volunteered at a shelter to handle grief.
No matter how you deal with grief, you have to be the one to move on.
You fur-iend would have wanted it too!