Colour Therapy After Dog Loss & National Colouring Book Day.

dog image from colouring book

Someone, somewhere declared August 2th National Colouring Book Day. Why not?

Here’s my confession: I’ve recently started colouring. Well, not so much started as rediscovered. Yes, it’s true. I’m an adult colourer. (Is that a thing? Maybe colourist. Let’s see if that catches on).

My gateway book was a collection of removable cat pictures (affiliate link) that came with a relaxation CD. (from Amazon).

“What’s to lose by adult colouring?” I thought.

Apparently, a few hours a day. The CD skips, but the book is almost finished. I’ve recently switched from markers to coloured pencils. It’s getting serious, folks.

It’s also very meditative, especially when you need it. It takes little concentration but allows you quiet mindless relaxation without staring at the walls or the television, thought the T.V. is often on when I do it.

Everything they say is true. Colouring is relaxing, grounding and something to try and take my mind off losing my precious 16-year-old Victor three weeks ago. I was heart-breaking, as anyone who’s experienced this knows, and I’ve volleyed from knowing I did the best thing for him, to missing him each day to over-whelming regret.

I can still hear him moving about the house – and yes, see him running out the door.

Here’s what’s important after you lose a pet: remembering him in his prime – not his final months (in his case) wrought with confusion, thanks to dementia, and seizures.

Then I found this journal entry I’d written two years ago, when I first started ‘adult colouring’ as a Zen activity:

Colouring is calming, and calm was what I needed when I lost it with my crazy cocker-cross dog Victor several years ago.  He’d come a long way since I adopted him from his third home. He’d been to the shelter twice, likely because of a combination of human stupidity and his need for high-energy exercise few people were willing to provide.

dog in kingston ontario

So overnight, a certified cat lady became a dog owner who full out runs her dog every morning. (Ok, some mornings only he runs).  I’ve never regretted it – even at first when he’d beeline it out the front door every at opportunity. I’ve had both neighbours and strangers return him; he’s well known now and ID-ed every way from Friday.

Fortunately, with regular exercise, he’s stopped bolting out the front door. Oh so I thought.

Two years ago, I had taken him and his best friend – a young lab-cross named Sasha – out for a long romp through a forested former campground near my home where the dogs can run leash free without care or risk of road injury. When we got back and pulled into the driveway, both dogs jumped out of the car and headed toward the house. I assumed Victor would continue inside because he was tired.

Not tired enough.

He took off running down the drive without looking back. If I called, he ran toward me then away again. If I followed, he’ll let me get close, then run off. This went on long enough for me to yell “then stay outside!” and closed the front door. I know that wasn’t going to work, but I was at my wits’ end.

Even Sasha tried to call him back, but the return/dart-off pattern continued.

I stayed inside. Yes, leaving him outside. Our townhouse complex is far from the street and traffic rare. I got out the colouring book and within minutes calmed down. Not so much because I was mad at him (well, I was a bit) but because I was annoyed at myself for losing it loud enough for the neighbours to hear.

Sasha watched out the front window.

Soon I went back outside – and pulled Victor hadn’t gone far. He was in the neighbour’s front garden … digging a hole. Great. Inside the house, I showed him the picture I was working on. He couldn’t care less. But he was happy.

Today, what I wouldn’t give to have this experience ten times over. As crazy has he could be, that’s what made him, him. And when he significantly slowed down – first as a result of an ACL injury – then as a result of much more, I knew that’s when he began slipping away.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we love them, our canine soulmates can’t live forever – it’s the only downsize sharing our homes, hearts and hearths with wet noses, warm wiggle butts and sometimes, strong wills.

But that doesn’t mean healing is easy. I’m going to need more coloured pens … more colouring books. And a lot more reminiscing.

(If you’d prefer a dog version – check out this Amazing Dog Coloring Bookaffiliate link) Victor’s image might also appear in a colouring book currently in production – watch for that soon.

 

Love adult colouring? Checkout this post on dogtrotting.net

4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this. We still have little thinks about Katrina, despite it being three years ago since we lost her. Our current dog, Miss Peach, which we adopted very shortly thereafter is a relative but very quiet and shy and we have grown to love her too. We have just got back from visiting Katrina’s favorite beaches and we could still hear her shrieking in delight and emerging from the waves with her long hair wet and sleek, like Bo Derek.

    1. Thank you for sharing your memories. I too still see my little dog running along the trails I now walk without him. They are always with us.

  2. Sandy Weinstein · · Reply

    i am glad you found something you like for therapy. i work in my yard when i am mad or upset. or i just hug on my 2 gals- they seem to know when mom is upset or not happy. sometimes Harley will star at her big sis’s portrait and then look back at me. she was very attached to Evie and went through severe depression when Evie. again, i am so very sorry about the loss of Victor. sometimes i think only people that are true dog lovers can only understand the loss of our 4 legged creatures.

    1. Thank you so much. Yes, I think you’re – dog lovers understand the most.

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