Thankful For Loss

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Eko, Marking Our Territory

“Be thankful for what you have.” It’s a reminder we share this holiday, and it’s a mantra of gratitude we hope to carry with us each day. I am thankful I have all the riches money can’t buy. I’m sound of body (if not quite of mind), I’m in love, I have a wildly fun dog, and my life is filled with wonderful people and experiences.

Implicit in the call to be thankful for what we have is the idea we should not dwell on what we lack. The advice is generally sound. It’s easy to imperil today’s happiness by dreaming of some nebulous tomorrow where money or possessions or other people fill the holes in your life.

But this Thanksgiving I find myself staring at those empty expanses within myself. The temptation is to only grieve for what I lost when I lost Eko. To look at the many hollowed parts of my heart and lament I can never be whole without my puppy. Instead, I’m trying to look at these scarred spaces with the deep appreciation they deserve.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Eko, Marking Our Territory

It is difficult to know if you are doing the right thing in life. Are you in the right place, surrounded by the right people, working the right job, pursuing the right course, making the right decisions? Will you wake up one morning paralyzed by regret? After losing Eko I felt quite rudderless myself. Why go anywhere if I couldn’t go there with him?

I tried to find direction through gratitude for my many good fortunes. But that only provided appreciation for where I am. It offered no hint as to where I should go.

Eko was my answer to all those confounding questions of purpose. Where I once plotted a tepid course close to shore, Eko pushed me out to sea on an exhilarating adventure through uncharted waters. Each day was a chance to wrestle against a new challenge. We won more often than not, but we shook off the days we lost and carried our bruises as badges of honor. A life unscarred is a life not worth living.

Now I look these scars of mine, the ones on my knees where I fell on a hike with Eko, and the ones in my heart where the loss of my puppy claws at me. I still grieve, but I also cherish and trust these scars. They are reminders of the moments and experiences worth pursuing.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Eko, Marking Our Territory

When I wake tomorrow, I will do so without any regret for the time I spent with Eko. The same will be true for as many days as I’m lucky enough to wake in the future. I lost my compass when I lost Eko, but this aching emptiness will be my guide. I know to steer towards the unknown, where both peril and fulfillment await. I know to pursue the opportunities which make me feel like I did when I first carried Eko home. If I find myself on a path where I do not feel the bliss I did when I journeyed with Eko, I know to change my path.

It’s not as easy as being thankful for what you have, but it’s just as important to appreciate what you have lost. I am grateful to have the pain of my loss as a constant reminder to seek new moments of love and laughter and fulfillment. There is no way to replace Eko, no way to fill in the parts of my heart where only he fit, but he will always be there guide me. Pushing me to discover the yet uncharted parts of my heart and my world. And I do so knowing that wherever I go, I go with Eko. For that, I am eternally thankful.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Eko, Marking Our Territory

Happy Thanksgiving!

58 thoughts on “Thankful For Loss”

  1. With Eko as your spiritual compass, I know you will reach all the heights you would have shared with your sweet boy. Eko did and continues to guide you toward love and light. Thinking of you and hoping your holiday was one that had happiness in it as a tribute to his brief presence in your life. Digital hugs to you and ear scratches to Ms. Penny.

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  2. Will,
    I wanted to say how sorry I am for your loss. I found your youtube channel while doing research and trying to find a breeder in Connecticut. I have enjoyed your videos of you Penny, Eko,and Emily. 2 weeks after I had cancer removed from my neck I brought home my beautiful girl Charie who at 8lbs at 8 weeks was the runt of the litter. She has helped me through a very difficult time in my life and now at 5 months old is 50lbs and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. The love and companionship she has brought me in the past 3 months was more than I could imagine. I wanted to thank you for helping to make the choice of a Rhodesian Ridgeback an easy one. I have had other pets and dogs but none come close to the bond I share with Charlie already. I am now trying to decide whether to get her spayed now or wait until she is a little older. She is scheduled for her surgery in two weeks and I’m nervous I’m making the wrong decision. What are your thoughts on spaying and how long did you wait with penny. Once again I am so sorry again for your loss. Happy thanksgiving my thoughts and prayers are with you guys.
    sincerely,
    Kevin M.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the kind words, always glad to know Eko’s loving legacy lives on through so many other wonderful relationships. There is no “right” answer for your question, it’s an issue you should definitely research and discuss/review thoroughly with your vet and breeder. In Penny’s case we all agreed it would be best to wait to spay her until after her first heat cycle. That of course had many of it’s own challenges, but I’m glad I made the decision I did. Happy to offer any other thoughts if you have more specific questions.

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  3. I was totally broken hearted the morning you posted Eko had passed. It was sad Eko was no longer here but it was even more sad knowing how broken you would be. I first discovered you and Eko through YouTube. I watched every one of your videos and you guys managed to ease the pain and excitement of waiting for my ridgeback puppy to be born and come home with me. Your videos were funny but what was really special about them was they bled love. You could tell how close you and Eko were, and how special your bond was. I think you have inspired so many people to get out and go out and have adventures with their dogs. Even the way you took what many people would see as negative aspects of Penny’s personality and made them humourous pawsitives is so special. Eko would be so thankful that it was you he got to spend his life with. The adventures and the relationship you guys had allowed him to live his far too short life to the fullest. <3

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