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November 23, 2016

Thankful For Loss

“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“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 TerritoryIt 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 TerritoryWhen 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 TerritoryHappy Thanksgiving!

Comments for Thankful For Loss

  1. Pat says:

    It’s in those empty places that the best memories dwell. Hugs

  2. Hi Will,
    Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you for reminding us what it’s really all about. So the compass has been passed so graciously to you now and you are guiding us all , while through your darkest hours,back into the place of gratefulness. I know your memories will be ingraved forever in your soul but my Thanksgiving prayer for you all is some relief from your pain. Many virtual hugs to you. And your family. Lenora DeSanctis and family

  3. I’m with you… that is NOT easy… I planned to skip thanksgiving this year, because I saw no sense to be grateful for the avalanche of sh* what came down on me this year. But I changed my mind and I’m grateful that we made it again and that it didn’t came much more worse… Have a good thanksgiving and I’m sure what you said is 100% true, wherever you go, you go with Eko….

  4. Elyse says:

    The only way to go is forward. Happy Thanksgiving to you all. Thanks for sharing the love, in all it’s forms.

  5. Will,
    I sent you a post awhile back…..like you I had two Ridgebacks….my oldest was like echo and my youngest won the naughtiest Ridgeback in the USA.
    I was lucky enough to have my oldest for 13 years….but it’s now been 10 months since I had to put him down and I’m still shattered…..
    I’m thankful but still devasted….I went out into the woods with my other pup and the environment just screams “where is My other pup!)….I now realize I was so dependent on my pup….so, like you I truly feel your pain…and understand…..They say when your parents die it changes you. That did not happen to me. But my dogs death has. I just don’t know what to yet.

    I think about you and your pack and wish for the best.
    Tennent

  6. KarenS says:

    So true. We can only take the blessings we had to help us as we go forward. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve can’t be the mantra we have in life. It’s a hard course to chart, and I know I’ve slipped several times

    This Thanksgiving I’m not in the place I want to be but am exactly where I should be. I miss those who are no longer with us, except in that special place in my heart. I’ll enjoy a lazy morning with my spouse and my 2 wonderful pups. Then up to a family dinner. All in all, as it should be.

    Have a beautiful Thankgiving with those 2 wonderful girls and family that share your life. Peace to all this holiday season

  7. Victoria Coleman says:

    as always you are an amazing writer -you have put your thoughts and feelings in words, written so well, that it brings tears to my eyes yet again. You are right treasure what you have but don’t forget what you have lost as loss leads the way to discovery and discovery can lead the way to more of what you treasure most. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  8. A beautiful ode to moving forward and living every day to its fullest! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Will.

  9. Kismet says:

    The end is also part of the experience. You wouldn’t want to relive your life without the experience of Eko, would you?

  10. Will, those hollow spots in your heart will be filled in time….and it has nothing to do with letting go of your memories of Eko or your feelings about the loss, it has more to do with all the JOY and HAPPINESS to come in your young life. You have so much ahead of you and the perfect partner and pup to move ahead with…..Eko is permanently in your heart. There will be much more joy ahead for you and your family – and Eko will smile as he watches you experience those joys…..trust me on that!

    Hugs, Pam

  11. I saw the title of this wonderful post, and thought it might need a question mark at the end. But, you have once again demonstrated a level of wisdom (of course with Eko’s help) that many only dream of. You are taking Life 401 when you learn to be thankful for a loss.
    Thank you, Will, for what you share with us.

  12. Emmadog says:

    Eko, like our Katie, would want everyone to be sure and enjoy life. My mom still can’t talk much about Katie without crying, and we get a lot of signals from her which help Mom feel better even though they bring her to tears. Live life in the moment, don’t have any regrets, and be happy – that is how we try to live.

  13. Connie Taylor says:

    I know this Thanksgiving will be bittersweet without Eko’s pitter-patter of his feet checking out the goings-on. But we all know he is there in spirit and happily guiding all of you. Have a great day and all our love to you and your wonderful girls this holiday!!

  14. Jura says:

    Beautifully said Will! I really appreciate all your thoughts and musings on life and dogs especially as I am unable to articulate my feelings as well as you. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. coastingnz says:

    Eko will be so proud. He is still teaching you and guiding you and he always will. I’m thankfully to have found your blog to have had my time with Eko through your blog – and of course Penny and Emily. Happy thanksgiving to you all.

  16. Happy Thanksgiving. I love watching you coming to terms with your present. There’s a lot to learn here….

  17. T&S says:

    We wish you Thanksgiving without the pain that follows your loss… We wish you to have this day to celebrate Eko’s life and moments with him.
    We are thankful for knowing Eko through this blog.

  18. Ellen Quilty says:

    What a beautiful tribute to wonderful Eko.Holidays can be great but they bring home the fact that someone is not there to share it with you.The first year is the hardest and this loss is all so recent for you.However,as you said you have so much to be thankful for including the fact that you shared your life with Eko for five incredible years.I wish you,Emily and Penny a cozy Thanksgiving.

  19. Jo Rhodes says:

    I’m so thankful that you share your stories here. I love dogs (pathologically). Thank you for the gifts of Eko and Penny and Doc and Dutch and the cast of characters at the beach. I’m so sorry for your loss, but I’m so grateful that you let us share your burden with you. Onward to making new memories!
    Love, Jo, Sam and Dean

  20. Eve Walraven says:

    This is another wonderful testament to what Eko taught you and you have so graciously shared it with the rest of us in your posts. Always enjoy Life with the ones you are with and always remember the love that you shared with the ones that are missing. Hope you all have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING!! HUGS

  21. Mo says:

    Will,
    From Scotland with love and happy thanksgiving. Man, your tribute to Eko is a beautiful piece of writing, heart warming yet heart breaking. I lost my boy two years ago and though I have managed to make space in my heart for a new pup, I often break down and crave to make sense of losing such a big part of me that day too. Your story brings hope to those of us who still grieve and in such an emotive and inspirational way.
    Best regards,
    Mo Redford

  22. Ogee says:

    Eko’s physical presence may have left you, but his lessons live on. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that he has delivered you to us, writing so beautifully about the joy – and pain – we have all experienced. I am grateful for Eko – and for you.

  23. Peita Davis says:

    Thank you for your thoughts, words and memories, Mr Eko is there with all of my beautiful “chickie babes”, “cherubs” and loving dogs that have gone

  24. Beautifully said!! Thank you for sharing your deepest thoughts as they are so true for all of us as well. Have a great turkey day

  25. 13 days now without my sweet baby girl, my beautiful Orflaith. No thanksgiving spirit here just deep abiding loss. Your blog shines a light but it is still a dim one. We will struggle through today and tomorrow and the next day. Eventually, I know the numbness will recede but I am not sure that our little world will ever be right again. We will do our best to follow your lead. Hang on to Penny and keep Eko firmly in your heart. Blessings!

  26. Cali says:

    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

  27. Kevin Maloney says:

    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.

  28. Grief always brings us to places unknown. Here’s to hoping it brings you wonderful adventures

  29. 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.

  30. What a touching post about a special relationship. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  31. Rick says:

    Hey Will,

    I just found out about the awful news! I am so sorry for your loss! I have always loved your video’s with Eko (and off course the rest of the bunch)! You are a great deal of inspiration on having Ridgeback’s. The life you had/have with them made me enthusiastic to do so myself. After watching your video’s (1,5 year ago) I have decided to find myself the perfect puppy to (down to two pups btw)!

    I wish you all the best, keep your head up and be grateful that you can love so much!

    I am sure you guy’s will manage and find another pup to follow in Eko’s footsteps!

    If you guys ever decide to come to the Netherlands, feel free to contact us, we (all 3 of us) will be more than happy to show you around!

    All the best,

    Rick

  32. Kate Neil says:

    Hi Will,

    I grew up with ridgebacks and couldn’t believe my ears when my boyfriend considered adopting a different breed – the fool! I took to Instagram in an attempt to prove to him how amazing these dogs are, and naturally ekoandpenny popped up. We have loved watching the videos of your hilarious, gorgeous, athletic and clever pups over these last few months.

    I was so sad to see the news about Eko, and can’t imagine the hurt and shock you, Emily and Penny must be in. Although Eko is gone, the gentle giant touched the lives of so many around the world (including mine in the Middle East!) and it was clear that he was so well loved in his life. It is so inspiring to see how well you look after them and I am grateful to you for sharing your experiences (good, bad and ugly) with us.

    My condolences and best wishes for 2017,
    Kate (in the UAE)

    P.S my boyfriend is well and truly convinced

  33. […] Eko. More importantly, I wouldn’t be who I am. So without Eko, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore. I lost my compass when I lost Eko, but this aching emptiness will be my guide, I […]

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