The Daily Pip

Promoting rescue, adoption and second chances for dogs, cats, bunnies, and their peeps

Friday, November 3, 2017

A Mighty Pip: Grief, Reflection & Four Years Gone

Pip was tiny, but at home on his couch he was mighty. Maybe because neither of us had a couch in our early years, or maybe because couches are awesome, but like me, Pip loved the couch.

During Pip’s twelve years with us, we had three couches (our cat Elsie also liked couches but not in a nice way). All three were no-frills, beige; sometimes spruced up with turquoise throw pillows. It was on our third couch that we watched Pip’s final sunrise as the light spread through the branches of the Japanese maple, across the wine-colored crinkly leaves to the homes and street beyond.

Pip died on October 19, 2013. Four years and fourteen days ago. And most mornings since, I have watched the light rise from the same spot without him. Sometimes I feel his presence, but mostly his absence.

                                
Pip was abandoned with another dog in a carrier on Chicago’s north side on September 10, 2001. My husband was out of town so I was up for fostering. When I went to sleep that night, he was still hiding in the carrier. The next morning I found him on the couch with his head wedged between two cushions, unaware that his Yorkie rear end was sticking out. His black and brown fur blended nicely with the beige upholstery and he might have been mistaken for a throw pillow except for the shaking.

I turned on the television just as the second plane hit the south tower. Somewhere in the fifty-six minutes between the crash and collapse of the south tower, I knew Pip would stay with me forever. There was a before and after September 11th – and Pip was my after. There was no going back for either of us.

A mighty Pip, what I have learned in the four years since losing my heart dog

I don’t know much about Pip’s early years, but based on his fears I assume he didn’t have a couch or anything else that made him feel big. We had this in common.

My parents lived in different parts of the country. Both moved frequently and I moved with them, and also between them. Not having a couch shouldn’t have mattered. Only it did. It’s hard to feel at home when there’s no place to sit down.

When I was in first grade my mom brought home a green vinyl “couch” that was really more like a bus seat or something you would find in a carwash waiting room. Metal armrests made stretching out or getting comfortable almost impossible. No one ever sat on that pretend couch, not ever our cat.

My father’s “couch” was even more absurd: some two-by-fours built up with bricks and mismatched seat cushions. There was no back so you had to sit up straight and not move much (like at ALL) or the whole thing would collapse beneath you.

All this is to say, I am kind of couch-obsessed. And so was Pip. Both of us were (and I still am) kind of complicated but in a nice way, afraid of small things, but brave when it mattered most. Normal-dog triggers, like fireworks and lightning, never bothered Pip, but a walk around the block could send him into a full-blown panic (like me with public speaking).

A mighty Pip, reflecting on grief and the loss of a heart dog four years later.

Pip loved chasing waves, barking at deer, knocking over garbage cans (no matter their size), sleeping on the radiator with the cats, and dressing up in costumes, funny t-shirts and his signature red bowtie. He was gentle and loyal, but a scrapper at heart, once stealing an entire pizza off the coffee table. He loved fostering kittens and adjusted to life with a baby easily, staying awake with me on many sleepless colicky nights. In my lap or on the couch, he was brave. But outside, on his own, not so much.

I miss so many things about Pip, but mostly not having to explain myself. We were bookends (only being a Yorkie he was cuter than me), a matched set that fit together but nowhere else.

Pip spent his final night on the couch (just like his first night twelve years earlier). The house was dark except for a single table lamp, giving the room a faint but warm glow. His paws stretched out wide with his black and tan fur, silky near the skin, but rough at the ends with brown eyes peaking out from under all that Yorkie fluff – the couch was his until the end.

I stared out the window into the darkness while he slept, hoping he might rally, but by dawn knowing he would not. His breathing was raspy yet peaceful. Normally a restless sleeper (also like me), he slept soundly, his body lighter, deflated and more distant. The next morning he died peacefully in my arms, a place he knew he was safe.

A Mighty Pip: Reflecting On Grief & Four Years Gone

After we left the vet’s office, my family and I went for a walk in the woods, our first without Pip. We didn’t say much of anything. All three of our faces pale, bloated, eyes streaked with red and my seven-year-old daughter still weeping.

I suppose I was looking for a sign and that’s why I found one. About ten minutes into our walk, we found a clearing where streams of sunlight stretched down through the trees and a powerful gust of wind on an otherwise windless day almost knocked us over. It was the kind of wind you could almost catch, filled with texture, dryness and dust - sending hundreds of Pip-colored autumn leaves rushing towards us.

Pip was the wind, finally big, powerful and part of everything. Always.

Four years later, I have a home office with a desk and bright window, but I still prefer working on the couch at strange hours, always feeling a twinge of sadness at first light. I have never been very good at endings. Everything remains unfinished. Missing Pip is part of me now. It just is. 

Feel free to share your own reflections on grief in the comments. 


Video from Pip's final trip to Wisconsin and Lake Superior in 2012. 



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50 comments

Kinley Westie said...

My momma still misses Whitley a lot - her ashes are buried in da backyard. Momma's been havin a tuff time becuz we may be movin and she duzn't like da idea of "leavin" Whitley - she knows she's not really there anymore, but it's still hard.

Mark Muller said...

we feel the same sometimes... a lot... and I was in tears while reading... but your description of the green couch made me laugh like a monkey... that's like real life... we have the sad and the funny moments and the power of a smile often can beat the tears (not always I fear the day this month as we lost easy)

Molly the AireGirl said...

How we miss you, Pip. You were one very special boy♥

Bouncing Bertie said...

First I must say what a beautiful, beautiful post. Thank you so much. I remember Pip so well! Grief for me is thinking every single day about my father, and his gentleness, curiosity and fundamental decency. And as my mother said recently, his quiet conversation was never ever boring. Over three years now since he died and the memories of his long struggle with dementia are slowly fading and all the good memories coming to the fore.
All the best, Gail.

Emma said...

Being a big squirrel family, Katie and I always loved to see squirrels and amazingly, we often saw white ones we called Katie squirrels. Mom misses Katie a lot. She talks to me about her a lot and we reminisce about our times together and quite often a white squirrel will pop up. Since Katie passed, we rarely see them, but we know she is with us when we see one race by at the right times.

Mary said...

What a sweet tribute to Pip. It brought a tear to my eye. I had two Yorkie sisters that passed a few years back that I just adored...still do. There's nothing like the unconditional love of pets.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
I join with those who are both moved and uplifted by your sharing of this time; it is nine years since Jade left for Higher things. Her ashes and photo look at me from the window sill and I feel her still... hugs and wags to you and Ruby and angel Pip. YAM xx

Amber DaWeenie said...

Not having very good Internet speed here at our new house, I usually just read through all the posts I follow every day without leaving a comment (that could take a long time to publish). But I had to comment on this. Absolutely beautiful and so touching. I can feel your pain (and my own for all the babies I've lost over the last few years). But I also can feel a touch of warmth and a lot of good memories. Thank you for this post....even though my tears are now flowing freely). Love and hugs. And...I miss you too, Pip.

Rochelle said...

Henry is my first "very own" dog, and absolutely my "heart dog" — while I still love and miss my childhood dogs Tux and Rory, I know saying goodbye to Henry someday is going to be one of the hardest things I'll ever have to do. This was absolutely beautiful.

LBJ said...

Such a beautiful story. So many memories come to the surface as I read this yet again. Hugs.

Sheltie Times said...

A true blessing.

Madi and Mom said...

Kristin this is just such a beautiful and heartfelt post. Bless your heart...Pip was your heart dog for sure. The day your decided he was yours was the first day of the best days of his life moving forward. He knew love and gave love unconditionally.
Hugs Cecilia

As for me, Madi, Pip was my very first dance date many years ago. He swept me off my paws with his debonair dips and tantalizing twirls...this kitty will never forget that magical night that our 8 paws had wings and we soared.
Hugs to Angel Pip until we meet again
Madi your bfffffffff

Eastside Cats said...

Beautiful tribute to Angel Pip. He is still with you, just invisible...because love never dies.

Noodles said...

Love truly has no ending. Grief is one way to remind us of that.
Love Noodles

Inger said...

What a wonderful tribute to Pip, a dog we all loved. I'm crying now because you wrote one of the most beautiful and meaningful posts about the love we feel for out pets. All the dogs and cats that were part of my life still live in my heart, they will always be there, watching over me. That's how I feel and it is comforting.

♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥ said...

Mom and Lightning (along with our Angels) loved the little Mighty Pip and miss him still so very much. Pip was right where he needed to be for his life with you and your family. We aren't so sure he even knew what a life was before that. This was a very touching and beautiful tribute to Pip, bringing both tears and smiles to all of us.

Hugs and Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber and Mom

Idaho PugRanch said...

Such a beautiful and touching post for your mighty Pip. Having pugs for more than 20 years, I have found my grief to be different with each loss. But the loss of Greta at 2 1/2 sent me into a year long depression that I mostly kept inside. There are times that I see bits of her in Mabel and know she is still here even if I can't always feel her. Just lately I have been thinking of Greta a lot as Mabel's 3rd birthday approaches and I can't believe that much time has passed. Mabel is now older than Greta was when she died.
love and hugs
Hazel & Mabel & Mom

The Swiss Cats said...

What a beautiful tribute to your sweet Pip ! We got leaky eyes. Claire keeps all her cats in her heart, but still misses Angel Mephisto and Angel Loupi : Mephisto was his soul cat as a child, and Loupi was his soul cat as an adult. Purrs

Brian said...

I don't mind telling you that this post got my whiskers all weepy wet. We all felt the heartbreak when Pip left you and the Dad still had the photo of me and Pip on the fridge, Hugs from all of us.

Christine Caplan said...

I love this short story and I'm so glad you wrote it. It's a beautiful post - Sweet Pip. XO

Jans Funny Farm said...

What beautiful memories of Pip. Thanks for sharing them. We do remember him!

Susan Sehi-Smith said...

The loss of someone so beloved that you are forever altered...that is the universal connection that binds us to each other in understanding. Pip is never forgotten.

Mama and da DB Boyz said...

Such a beautiful, heartfelt post...that hits so very close to my heart.
It's amazing that no matter how much time passes...I can still feel Dory's curly fur between my fingers.

Thanks so much for sharing your grief...and Pip's wonderful personality with us.
Hugs,
Beth

The Island Cats said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Pip. He definitely left his pawprints on your heart. Thank you for sharing.

Dianne Puhr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Impurrfect Life said...

What a beautiful tribute to your beloved Pip. You had me crying by the end of your post. I think it's wonderful you still have memories you can reflect on and also have video. I know all too well about losing a pet as well. I lost my dear sweet Dusty I've almost 14 years 2 years ago in 2015. I've been through a lot of things but the worst pain I ever felt was the day she died. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We learn to live each day one day at a time with a piece of our hearts still missing. And even know they aren't physically here the love always remains that's what keeps me going.

Caren Gittleman said...

This was a beautiful and most heartfelt tribute to Pip. Can't believe it has been 4 years already. We used to love reading about him, he is deeply missed by many of us (((hugs)))

KB Bear said...

You brought tears to my eyes. With a bond like yours and Pip's, the grief is intense. I know, because I am now 5 years without K, and I still see the world in terms of where she used to lie, how she used to look at me, whether she ever visited a certain place.... Basically, she touched my heart so deeply that my world all became memories of K after her death. It still is. I think that you and I have that common. We were both so lucky to find dogs with whom we bonded so deeply yet I suspect that I will feel that there is someone missing for the rest of my days. Hugs to you.

Neeko said...

Oh, dear Kristin ��

Started reading your beautiful tribute to Angel Pip while I was waiting in line in the store at the returns and had to stop because tears started falling down my face.
Just finished reading it now and I'm still crying... Loved the video of him on the beach ❤
Pip was so unique in so many ways and your fur soul mate for sure.
Sending you Love and Blessings,
Amalia and the Pack ❤

Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat said...

I didn't know much about Pip before this post ... he sounds incredible. I wish I could give you a hug. It's so hard to learn to live with a huge hole in your heart - it doesn't really shrink or get easier ... it's always there in the back of your mind. But I've found that my love of one kitty carries over to the next ... each kitty making me a more loving person - and in that way, they live forever.

Denise Gruzensky said...

My dear sweet friend. What a beautiful tribute to your best friend Pip. My heart breaks and the tears freely flow (I read it to my mum and hers did too). So many emotions I can fully relate to while at the same time learning more about you and your special bond with Pip. Love and hugs. 💙🐶💙🐶

Uji, Izzy, Ziggy, Missi, Hiro and Momma Tea said...

Da Momster has wet runnin down hers face reedin dis. Her loved Pip so muchly, we all dids hims wos a Part ovs our lives too. Him mades Molly feel so speshull and her alway felt her wos beeyootifool becos ovs her Mr Pip.
Ronnii luved gettin into mischief wivs her Pipster, dancin wivs him at menni a blogville pawty. Dem hads soooo much funs togevver.
Wee finks ovs da 3 ovs dem havin funs, pawties, mischief, cheeseburgers, Cheetos, beer n bacontinis an lots ovs laffs ups on Da Bridge wivs all our furiends n famly. Hims will neva bee forgotted, Pip wos a Giant in Blogville ❤️❣️❤️❣️❤️❣️❤️

Millie and Walter said...

What a beautiful tribute to Pip. Millie remembers when he and Puddles stopped by our house for his world tour. Our mom also has very fond memories of him.

Beth Patterson said...

Once again, you have me in tears. Pip sounds amazing and you two shared a really special bond. I grew up with a Yorkie. Technically she was my mom's dog, but after a few years, she chose to spend most of her time with me. She lived to be 17, and although it has been decades since she left this earth, I still miss her.

Sue said...

I've shared my life with so many special dogs and still feel the pain of loss from all of them. Samba was so special to me that I still can't talk or write about my feelings on losing her and Sky just five days apart. Maybe some day I will, probably not.

I love the part about Pip being the wind. I felt something similar when we cremated my bird, Vandal. as the flames turned to embers, one final puff of smoke blew toward the sky and I saw Vandal in that puff of smoke.

Maxwell Faraday Richman said...

What a beautiful, sweet, heartfelt post. Thank you so very much for sharing.

Kathleen Mueller said...

My Hector was also a 9/11 Dog. He was born on 9/04 and throughout the weeks after 9/11 I’d go to the farm where the puppies were and play with Hector. We brought him home in November 2001. He was taken from us way too suddenly a week before his 10th birthday (also 10th anniversary of 9/11). I’ve never gotten over that loss. My heart goes out to you.

meowmeowmans said...

This is such a beautiful and poignant post, so full of love and remembrance of Pip. Thank you for sharing.

modern nomad said...

Such a beautiful tribute to Pip.
We have drippy eyes...

Noodle and crew

Quinn and Angel brandi said...

just as Mommy will always miss brandi, we will always miss Pip, too. What a sweet wise woofie. His last home was his best and most dear. Thank you for that.

~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

I saw your comment and wandered over here from Idaho PugRanch. What a beautiful post and tribute to your girl that I never knew, but now feel like I do. We never get over missing our pups. We lost our last one on September 11th - Josh had a good long life, but there are times that I think he's still here. I think he is, and I'm grateful for that. I've not been able to post a tribute to him on my blog. I hope that in time those words will come, and be as beautiful as yours.

liparifam said...

A beautiful post - thank you for it. I remember the happy days reading about Pip and Puddles' adventures, and how heartbroken I was when Pip passed away. How much changes in the world of dogs in 4 years because their lives are so short! I lost my beloved Josey soon after Pip died, and the grief is still so acute and profound; even though I have three others I love, she was my heart dog...

The Menagerie Mom said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to Pip and his memory. You two were meant for each other, and you will be together again someday.

I miss each and every furbaby who has been in my life, but my angel Rosie is the most profound loss I've ever felt. She was with me from my toddler years until my mid-20s. The day I said goodbye to her was the hardest day of my life thus far. There are a lot of things on a daily basis that remind me of her, probably in large part because she stars in most of my memories from childhood into early adulthood. I have a corner in my bedroom dedicated to Rosie, where I keep her ashes, pictures and art of her, and even a stash of her hair and whiskers. I had never heard the term "heart cat" until after Rosie passed, but as soon as I learned what it was, I knew she was mine.

stellaroselong said...

Unfinished business. I like when you said that. I think humans whose lives have been filled with weird couches often have unfinished business and still struggle for the lost art of letting go. My moms life was like that also. I myself have told my momma over and over that I came to her with lessons in my backpack and when she has learned each and everyone of them, then I will have done my job. Pip did his job he was meant to do just for you. He was a wonderful boy. Each day my mom drives by that damn cannon on her way to work, sometimes she swears she sees him sitting on it...grinning. Stellie rose

Jan K said...

Sheba's collar with tags still hangs on a peg in our entryway, along with all the leashes and harnesses we currently use. She hasn't been gone quite a year yet, but there's something about putting that collar away that would make it feel more final. I'm not sure I ever will.
This was a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it.

Jackie Bouchard said...

What a beautiful post about your Pip. I didn’t “know” Pip since I found your blog after you already had Ruby, so it’s nice to get to know him. Wow - a whole pizza. That’s impressive! It’s so hard to lose a pup you have such a special connection with - I still miss my Abby and she’s been gone over 6 years now. I think of her often, and we talk to Rita a lot about her “angel sisters” that went before her. They may be gone, but never forgotten.

Mia the Pibble said...

Beautiful post and tribute. Thank you for sharing Pip's story, it was beautifully written. I have tears in my eyes!

The Adventures of The Bell Fur Zoo said...

Such a sweet post about Pip! I think Ginger & Pip would have loved each other cause she loved her couch to. My husband keeps talking about a getting a new couch cause ours is 16 years old but I honestly don't know if I can bare to get rid of it cause it has all of Ginger's grooves in it and Tilda still lays right where Ginger laid and falls asleep patting the couch. Even though those two liked to get on each others last nerves Tilda misses her. Ginger was like her Fur Mama. People think I am crazy but ever since Ginger passed like a week after Tilda started carrying her lamby webkin to the living room with this sad meow. Before she would just carry it to wherever she wanted to play with it and then put it down and start playing but now everyday at some point she carries it to the living room with that sad meow and just drops it and walks away. It's so strange but I think she still mourns her. Anyway sorry I wrote a novel ;) I know your pain I still stare out the window at Ginger's grave and wish for one more day with her.

xoxo,
Bell Fur Zoo Mama

Cathy Armato said...

This is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. I love how you and Pip were so alike and fit together like two puzzle pieces. I loved watching the video, this is the first one I've seen of Pip. I was so devastated when I lost my childhood dog Ginny. These extra special pets leave us way too soon, their paw prints singed on our hearts forever. It really is better to have loved and lost though, having loved them is such a gift. Beautiful post.
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

Three Chatty Cats said...

Beautiful, just beautiful.

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