What I’ve Learned from Loving a New Dog While Grieving Another
Last year, Annette McGivney lost her beloved yellow Lab, Sunny, and was overwhelmed by sadness. Since then she’s built a new life with a challenging rescue dog, and she’s learned a lot about the healing power of human and animal bonds.
Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
If you are a survivor of domestic abuse or are worried about someone else’s safety, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free from anywhere in the U.S. at 1-800-799-7233, or text “START” to 88788
To be fair to my sweet dog, Trudy, she was just trying to play. But she broke my nose instead. It had been a rough seven weeks since I rescued her from a neglectful owner.
Trudy had ripped a squeaker from a toy, and I bent down to grab the prize so she wouldn’t swallow it. I was more used to caring for an ailing 15-year-old yellow Lab named Sunny—who had died on March 25, 2021—and I was out of practice handling an exuberant youngster. Trudy launched her 65-pound body at my face like she was shot out of a cannon. I heard a crunching sound in the center of my nose and then felt a trickle of blood flowing from my nostrils.
This was the third serious headbutt I’d gotten since bringing Trudy home in June. In previous weeks, similarly energetic body launches from the 18-month-old yellow Lab had left me with a large forehead contusion and a cracked tooth.
I put the squeaker in my pocket, threw my head back, grabbed an ice pack from the freezer, and lay on my bed with blood and tears running down my face. Sunny had been gone a little over two months, and my grief from that loss was still more intense than the pain pulsing through my nose. Trudy looked on, wagging her tail, wanting to play. What was I doing bringing a new dog into my life when I was so heartbroken? I feared I had made a terrible mistake.