Believe me, I understand completely that people love their dogs. I love my dog. I love all dogs. All animals period. I cried for days over a little wild bird that drowned in our lake as well as a possum that was hit on the road. I have dragged home and/or rescued more animals than most people would ever have in a lifetime and not just your run of the mill stray dog either. Pregnant cats --and I spent weeks taming the wild kittens, had the females spayed, found homes for all but one (and I still have her!) And I have had ferrets, skunks, raccoons, birds, rabbits, rats, mice, guinea pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, hamsters, turtles, frogs and even snakes and I will patiently chase a lizard for an hour that has gotten trapped on my screened porch just so I can free him and also do the same for a cricket lost in my house. Suffice it to say I love animals.
And I know people have a tendency to make that comparison and say that losing their dog is as bad as losing a child - and apparently they say it a lot more than I ever realized. And don't get me wrong, love your dog. Please love your dog. I love my dog but make no mistake that losing a dog is absolutely NOT the same as losing a child! It is NOT "just as bad". It is NOT in any way to be compared. Trust me you do not have any idea what you are saying or how you are rubbing salt into a horrific wound that already will never heal when you say that to someone that has lost a child and for the record, you do not have any idea who that may be.
I have learned since losing my children - that there were a lot of people that I thought I knew fairly well that I never knew had lost a child. Friends, in-laws, neighbors, co-workers and business acquaintances - people that you come into contact with every single day in all walks of life. It might be that when you say losing your dog is the same as losing a child in casual conversation to the realtor that is helping you find a house - that she watched her 12-year old daughter suffer and then lose her horrific battle with cancer. Or that when you say it to the counselor in the student center of your college - that she lost her handsome and talented 21-year old son to a drug overdose. Or to the person that delivers your mail as she still struggles with guilt and still blames herself over her 16-year old son's suicide. Or that your librarian lost her beautiful brown-eyed four-year old daughter to a freak accident in her own front yard. Or that the sweet lady that takes care of your child in the daycare everyday lost her beautiful daughter and her only grandchild to murder... Not the same. I promise you. It is so not.
And this time I did respond. I did not run away in tears or get mad and lash out. I simply looked her straight in the eyes and quietly said, "It's really not. It really is not the same."