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November 14, 2016

When Man’s Best Friend Loses Her Best Friend

For the past month and half I've written about my loss, my grief and my struggle to live without Eko. But I am not alone. I have Emily, I have family, I have friends and I have so many people I connect with through the blog. I am also not alone in having difficulty adjusting to the emptiness. Penny never knew life without Eko. She tried to breastfeed from him on her first day home, and despite that mishap, they only grew closer from there.  Looking back, I'm pretty sure the longest Penny was ever apart from Eko was the day she was spayed. Even then she was sedated/anesthetized for most of that time. I was the Sun, Eko was the Earth and Penny was the Moon. They both orbited around me, but with Penny always in a tight orbit around her big brother.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory For the past month and half I’ve written about my loss, my grief and my struggle to live without Eko. But I am not alone. I have Emily, I have family, I have friends and I have so many people I connect with through the blog. I am also not alone in having difficulty adjusting to the emptiness. Penny never knew life without Eko. She tried to breastfeed from him on her first day home, and despite that mishap, they only grew closer from there.  Looking back, I’m pretty sure the longest Penny was ever apart from Eko was the day she was spayed. Even then she was sedated/anesthetized for most of that time. I was the Sun, Eko was the Earth and Penny was the Moon. They both orbited around me, but with Penny always in a tight orbit around her big brother. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory Penny never once decided where to lay her head, she simply followed Eko and curled up with him.  Penny had never once been alone when I left the apartment. Penny always had her big brother to provide comfort, companionship and stability. When Eko died Penny’s orbit flew wildly off course. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory Without Eko to take her cues from, Penny had to relearn how to live each moment of the day. Waking alone, walking alone, eating alone and staying home alone were all new and confusing circumstances for Penny. Both Emily and I noticed Penny became much more restless and whiny without Eko around. Like me, Penny couldn’t find much relief, so we settled for exhaustion as the closest substitute. In the first weeks after Eko died, Penny and I ran each other ragged. Not even a wild rainstorm slowed us down. Like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, Penny faced down the gale- Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory

“You call this a storm!?”

The biting winds cleared the beach, but Penny and I stayed to run headfirst into the gusts. It felt like a small act of defiance against the world for having the audacity to carry on with Eko.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory The storm passed and we had to carry on. I knew it was up to me not only to rebuild myself, but to help Penny rebuild herself and rebuild our relationship. I’ve increased the walks we take, the distances we run and the time we spend together outside. We’re building a stronger bond and Penny’s begun to reform her orbit around me, tighter than ever. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory I think the other reason we spend so much time outside is because it’s easier to carry on when we’re in motion. The toughest times for Penny, like for me, are when we’re home on the couch. Because as much as my girl loves to run wild, there was nothing that made her happier than curling up with her big brother. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory In this regard I feel like Emily and I are poor substitutes, but we’re doing our best to spoil Penny rotten. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory It’s common these days to hear Emily and I say to one another, “I would get up, but look how comfy she is!” In the end, keeping Penny warm and loved is always more important than whatever our reason for getting up was. Speaking of reasons for getting up, as I’ve said before, Penny is mine. I’m doing my best to return the favor by pouring all the love and devotion I can into each moment we spend together. We both lost so much when we lost Eko, but we’re finding new ways to live, love and laugh. I can think of no better legacy for the pup who taught us to do each of those things so well. Rhodesian Ridgeback, chicago, marking our territory  

Comments for When Man’s Best Friend Loses Her Best Friend

  1. Piglove says:

    So touching my dear friend. Us anipals do feel the loss and it’s huge. But knowing we still have you in our lives, that keeps us going too. And with each day, hopefully the hurt gets faint – never gone but faint. Sending ya’ll many hogs and snout kisses our dear friends. XOXO – Bacon

  2. lauramcgrew says:

    Oh, Will, Penny is so precious. Thank you for letting your readers in on how she is doing. I have wondered how she is coping, as this loss must be so baffling to her!
    Also, I have often said the same thing as you and Emily when my Radley (our adopted Ridgeback) is snuggled in to me, it’s just not right to interrupt that comfort. So glad she has you, and you have her.

  3. When my first sheepdog passed away, his ‘sister’ went through at least 6 weeks of grieving. We too, found exercise the best way to occupy her heart and mind. It was hard, but not as hard as when she passed and Sam needed comfort. Loads of ear scratches, walks and lap time all helped. 5 years later he still does double takes whenever he sees any OES but he’s adjusted well to the absence of is favorite one. Give Penny a belly rub from us and enjoy another lap around the beach. Hugs and puppy kisses.

  4. I agree with you, it must be hard for Penny to re-learn… it’s a little like being the new kid…. but you are still like the 3 musketeers even when your d’artagnan is no longer with you… one for all and all for one…

  5. Victoria Coleman says:

    spoil her rotten – thats my motto – good for you – you give her extra love and she gives it back to you.

  6. I’ve been wondering about Penny and how she’s doing. Your situation has made we wonder about Kloe and how she will be when the time comes for Kali to cross the bridge. We’ve already thought about getting another rescue pup – maybe a couple of years old – partly because we’re insane and two dogs is not enough craziness but also partly planning for Kloe’s future. I’m sure it’s too soon for you to consider it but my guess is the time will come and Penny will have another canine companion to show the ropes and be the big sister to. I know there can never be another Eko but there can be another…

  7. Aud says:

    Get Penny a life size plush toy and rub it with anything of Eko, when she has to be alone and in bed she can snuggle with it!

  8. Emmadog says:

    I haven’t changed much with the loss of Katie which has surprised mom. When Trine died, Katie was a mess. She and Mom were a lot like you and Penny. The did everything together, went out on the beach and screamed, ran, cried. Katie searched the house every time they came home for about a month. It was tough, but they also developed their own new and special bond which ended with Katie in June. It is tough, but every creature eventually gets through the worst of it.

  9. Connie Taylor says:

    I’m glad Penny is finding her own new way with the help of you and Emily. Do you have any plans to visit your family and let her play with her doggies cousins? I know your brother’s dog isn’t as fast as Eko, but I’m sure when they visit they talk about the good times the three of them used to share! When our Terrier/mixed passed about years ago, our Rottie/Chow mix would go outside and lay on her grave for hours. Every animal finds their own way to grieve and heal.

  10. KarenS says:

    I watched our first ridgeback lose his desire to live when we lost our Newfie years ago. He didn’t have the same energy during his walks and when we returned home, no big friend to greet him. She could no longer walk the same distances as arthritis took that way from her. Try as we did, she told him when to breathe. He lasted 4 months when cancer took him at the age of 9.

    Penny, like you, is strong. Keep up the good work, she has more on her plate now. Enjoy each day with her.

  11. Tanja&Brownie says:

    Maybe she has not find her way yet. Maybe she will search for it for a lot more weeks. Eko was her big brother…her best buddy. Everything she knows today she learned from Eko. He made a perfect job!
    It is good for her and for you she follows you everywhere you go. She has to know that you are there….on any time and in any place. You are now her best buddy. You are there to show her the right way.
    With lots of laugh and love you both will match it.
    Penny is fantastic❤️

  12. meANXIETYme says:

    Like everyone else, I wondered how Penny was doing after this loss. They mourn and grieve in their own way, just as each of us does. I am so glad you understand her needs and you are able to help her as much as she helps you. We have two and the younger has never been here without the older. I worry about what happens when our older crosses the bridge because even when she is absent temporarily, the younger one goes crazy looking for her.
    Lots of love to you and Penny and Emily. And I hope Emily is doing okay as well.

  13. coastingnz says:

    Will you are to be commended. It would be easy to shun Penny in your time of mourning – almost the why Eko syndrome but you’ve done the opposite and strange as it sounds I thank you for that. Again Eko would be so proud. I think his parting has almost been a gift to you all and he would be proud of how you have all embraced it and learned from it. You truly are an inspiration to us all. Much love and snuggles for the “wild child”.

  14. Good for you and Penny! She’ll never replace Eko, but you’ll come to realize you are glad she is Penny. Hugs to all of you.

    Monty, Harlow, and Ramble

  15. Glad to hear you and Penny are helping each other day by day…….I saw “lost” in her eyes at first but now I really don’t see it – I see what I hoped to see from both of you eventually after your loss…..a stronger than ever bond. Some sadness maybe but only “passing through” and not a “dwelling in” kind of sadness. You two were there for each other when you needed it the most and that’s THE BEST. Emily makes three – and three is a great number!!

    Hugs, Pam and Sam

  16. Judy Petitto says:

    I have thought about Penny and her loss so many times.She has no way of knowing what happened to Eko where did he go..is he coming back? I so wish you could explain it all to her and let her know she will see him again.I wonder does she think she will find him at the beach waiting for her? Your both doing all you can to fill her days with love and joy and helping her through her grief.Your all helping one another.My heart thoughts and prayers are with each one you as you find your way.

  17. T&S says:

    A for Penny!
    Thank you for this post.

  18. Melody says:

    Thank you for sharing Penny’s story! I have wondered how she is doing since Eko was her world. Good to hear she is learning a new normal.

  19. Pat says:

    Thanks! I’m glad to hear Penny is is starting to adjust to her new life. That portrait of her just about took my breath away. You should frame that. 🙂

  20. stevebuddy says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Eko, I just got back from Alaska camping.

    Our hearts go out to You and Penny, you guys have been in our life for some time now.
    I know how you feel and how Penny feels, when my Brandy passed away at home in front of me and Charlie my other dog it just about killed me, this was back in 2010, I got two tattoos of her, her paw prints on my arm and a beautiful portrait of her on my chest, which helped some. But Charlie was lost without her, he was 11 weeks old when we bought him home.
    Then two years later Charlie to past away at home in front of me, this was bad, it bought up memories of Brandy. I was not myself for months.
    But when I went to the vet a couple days later to talk to him, the nurse said we have a Husky mix that Northbrook PD bought in a month ago, I said I am not ready for a dog. Well she bought him out to cheer me up, after two hours of playing with him, Buddy was part of the family.
    It was the best thing that happened for me, Buddy loves to travel and camp, he is a great dog.
    He is like both Brandy and Charlie mixed together to give me a little of each.

    Maybe looking for another dog is just what you guys need ?

    Again we are so sorry for Penny, we just found out as Internet in Alaska is not the best. Our Love , Hearts and Prayers go out to you and your family.


  21. Ellen Quilty says:

    Such a pretty girl.She must be wondering what on earth happened to her world.I know that animals mourn a loss especially one as great as the loss of Eko.Where is he? Is he coming back?No.To everyone’s great sorrow he isn’t.But you are filling in for him as best you can with extra exercise and lots of snuggle time.You are all in this together-everyone is trying to make sense of this somehow.It’s a slow process but it sounds as though you are making progress.

  22. Sending much love to Penny ❤️ Dottie has been going through the same thing. We’ve been learning new routines and spending quality time together to help with the loss of Boomer.

  23. Eve says:

    Oh I’m glad to hear how Penny is adjusting to things and you both are helping each other. I loved the last photo of her! Keep moving and one day things will be easier to deal with! Hugs & Kisses to you, Emily & Penny!

  24. Jo Rhodes says:

    The thing about losing one of your family is the hole that person leaves. If we had lost Penny, Eko would be looking for some punk to keep in line. Penny has lost her partner in crime. The smarter one when it came to knowing where the,” We can get away with this much–and our parents will think it’s hilarious, and still love us line.” With Eko Penny could be her wild thing self. She’ll keep loving you, and you guys will keep being loved by us. Hopefully, you can find some wild romp time in the schedule.
    Infinite love to all of you. Scratches and kisses on the head for Mistress Mayhem.
    Jo, Sam and Dean

  25. You and Penny and Emily have been so strong and brave and connected. It’s just the way Eko wants it to be. He taught you all such important lessons, and you are living them out perfectly.

  26. Rose says:

    I like you, Will. Please become a famous author because I would read them.(your books)

  27. Helge says:

    Will, Penny and Emily,

    there are many emotions and feelings i can share with you, because i also know how it is to lose your first love. Sometimes i thougt, what can i write to you to keep you alive, but today i read what stevebuddy wrote to you and that’s what i think the hole time and it comes also from the bottom of my heart:
    „Maybe looking for another dog is just what you guys need?“
    Eko is and will be always in your mind and he surely would say the same to you like stevebuddy said.

    Please keep on the good work, we all love you and your family.
    (Sorry for my english, i’m from Germany and my english is not so good as i thougt it is ;)).


  28. Penny, you will find your new normal again.

  29. I’m glad she finally got her own post. Your readers know how close she was to Eko, and one of my first thoughts was of Penny. We don’t know how dogs understand things, but I’ve been in a home where the first dog passes leaving their younger companion to cope. Our dog, Terpsi, used to go in search of her big sister, Dixie, checking all of Dixie’s favorite haunts. Eventually, she adapted, but we did get another puppy to keep her company. Their relationship was different but still significant.

  30. Sweet Penny – I’ve been thinking about her and hoping she was adjusting. I bet it won’t be long before you are thinking about a new playmate for Penny…seems impossible, I know but nothing helps heal a broken heart than a new one to love.

  31. Jura says:

    Some beautiful photos. I had been wondering how Penny was coping. Thanks for the update and so lucky you still have her! When you don’t have another dog the emptiness is even all the more apparent…

  32. Cheryl Mandell says:

    Your writing is a heartfelt tribute to both your kids. For Eko, may his memory be a blessing(for us all), and for Penny, may all her coming days be joyful and loving, in honor of her big brother. Eko loved Penny, and took great care to give her wonderful dog tools. Penny loved Eko, and will follow his beauty, love and shnanagins in her life!

  33. Jo Rhodes says:

    I just needed to send some love today just because. Dean’s sweater is coming along, though it looks like I went to the Molly Weasley School of Knitting.
    Love, hugs and hopes for a wild rompus, Jo, Sam and Dean

  34. Tina says:

    first, please excuse my bad english. I writhe you from Germany.
    I truely feel with you , Penny and your whole family and friends about Eko. I have Ridgebacks about 15 years now and i lost three of them, two in the early age of two and four years. Loosing your only friend in the world is the worst thing i ever felt. I watchend Nearly every day the adventures of Eko and Penny on YouTube. What a great couple! I was so sad to hear from Eko’s death … I know exactly how it feels. It’s a pain, you think it will never end. You will miss him your whole life and you would like to scream to god or the universe or to whatever “Give me my dog back!” But believe me, it will be easier after a few month
    (I know, this sounds unbelieveable but it’s true). He will allways have a place in your heart and that is the greatest present you can make him.
    I wish you, Penny and your family all the best.
    With hugs and special greetings from my Ridgebacks Danyuma and Abigail .

  35. Hi Will Firstly I am in tears here I am am in absolute SHOCK. I have just come back to blogging after spending the year settling in new home and also spending every free time with Big Ben (our rescue Rough Collie we got in January) and moggies. Eko and Penny convinced me more and more to get a dog following their adventures, so please see this as though EKO rescued another furball from the horrible kennels. With Easy, Sammy and one spoiled cat and now EKO I am just lost for words 🙁 xxxxx Michelle (UK)

  36. dogdaz says:

    You are doing great together. You will find a new normal.

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