Missing: a dad and his dog

A week before I returned to Singapore from Australia, Mum had to put the pug down.

Georgy was sixteen, deaf, blind, and deteriorating physically. I had hoped the little fella would last till I got back, so I could bring him to the vet with Mum. My parents got Georgy after my father retired, and Georgy had gotten used to having a human of his very own, all the time. After Flemming and I (his new pet humans) left for Australia, the three long days he spent alone each week while Mum went to work, exacted their toll on him in his state of sensory deprivation.

Losing him would have been hard under ordinary circumstances, but the significance of him being Dad’s dog meant that it felt like losing more of Dad.


It’s been almost eight months since my father died. Things still aren’t making much sense. I never lost my ability to function normally and do what needed doing, but my ability to understand different things appears to be impaired. One of the most troublesome manifestations of this, is how incredibly difficult it is to write – string sentences together cogently, use appropriate words, correct grammar – and express myself coherently, if not elegantly. Emails requiring several paragraphs take days of drafting, blog posts, weeks. The dog soothed this frustration by simply snoring under the table where I worked, waking up once in a while to look groggily around, get a drink of water, and return to sleep some more.

But he’s joined his best mate in that better place.

Someone who lost his mother at a young age once told me that grieving “will take a while, and that while is long.” I only realized the significance of these words when I was finally able to cry for Dad – and for me – on the flight back to Singapore at the start of June, seven whole months after he died.

I’ve been late to the party my entire life. It seems nothing has changed.

Later that night, after Mum and I had gone to bed, I got up to get a drink of water and found myself tripping over the (now nonexistent) dog, as has been custom in this house. Strangely, it made me feel better. If for no other reason, than because my body remembers, even if my conscious mind worries too much about forgetting.

RIP puppy dog. Hope you’re parking your butt on your master’s foot again.


To Shirley: If you ever read this, thank you so much for being there on that difficult day.


  1. Buffy says:

    Beautiful images and made me cry. You may not think you can put words together but I think this is peaceful, loving and honest. XXX

    1. Charlene says:

      You’re just a big ol’ softie, Buffy. Especially with dogs :)

  2. Supriya says:

    Ohhhhh :(

    1. Charlene says:


  3. Eunice says:

    I need tissues…. *sob sob*

    Thank you for sharing your story. Again, it is beautifully written.

    Hope you are well.

    1. Charlene says:

      You’re most welcome :)

  4. Dana says:

    I’m so sorry to hear abt the loss of your father and of your fur boy, Char. I hope that you and your family are slowly finding peace in your hearts n coming to terms with all that has happened. Take care. *hugz to you, old friend*

    1. Charlene says:

      It will take a while, but it will happen. Thanks Dana :)

  5. Alex says:

    Charls, this is a beautiful post with beautiful words and touching photographs. However long it took you to put together, was worth it.

    1. Charlene says:

      A good couple of weeks Alex. I never intended to write it, but I’m glad I did. Catharsis of a kind.

  6. Brian Miller says:

    While it may not feel like it, you are doing just fine. There is no “right” way to grieve and make sense of such things. There is just being with it, I suppose.

    Thank you for being willing to write and share these thoughts and feelings. I’ve watched Ana grieving her father these past four years. Your insights have actually helped me to understand her grieving process some and to be more compassionate toward her.

    1. Charlene says:

      It’s funny what we get stuck on, I have to say. I’ve helped to get rid of a lot of Dad’s stuff without distress (ok, except when packing up his Penn International – the big, prized fishing reel he worked so hard for back in the day – but then one of my sisters wanted it so crisis averted), but the dog was a different story.

      There was something about Georgy that made all of us feel Dad was still kind of here. Their relationship was very strong, but more than that, it was also somehow elastic enough to fully include whoever was nearby. Maybe it’s a dog thing (i think of Flynnie here), because I have never experienced it with humans or any other kind of animal. They got Georgy from the pound and he came with a fear of abandonment which made him very sticky in his funny little pug way. I grew horribly attached to him after only 6 or so months and my parents had him about 12 years, I think. So can’t imagine how poor Mum felt.

      I’m surprised that you got something out of this, and glad of it.

  7. The old “gnavpot grisehund” dog was one of a kind, and Georgy and I being the only boys in the house we bonded during difficult times. I miss the old weirdo :) I got to know him better than your father unfortunately, but I am so happy I got to meet both of them.
    I know Georgy his now smiling and howling happily in the afterlife, his behind firmly planted on your fathers feet, his nose tuned to whatever food is nearby!

    1. Charlene says:

      Two gnavpots in one house. Hehehe.

      I am happy you got to meet them both too.

  8. Erin Wilson says:

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I tend to leave your posts open in a tab for a long time before I can leave a comment. I keep coming back, either for your writing or your images. Often for both. It’s a kind of luxury to be able to do this. Even with this post. Yes, I cried the first couple times I read it. But later, so many bits of sweetness.

    You have a beautiful way of honouring love.

    1. Charlene says:

      I went back to my post a few times, wondering what I’d written to make you say something so deeply felt. I don’t see it, but that is not strange.

      Muchisimas gracias mi amiga. Alaikum salam.

  9. shari says:

    Hi Charlene;
    So sorry for the loss of your family ~ he looks like the sweetest little soul and a happy little love.
    I lost my father 20 years ago and we had a “complicated” relationship to say the least, but there are still days know when I grieve at the loss ~ there is as a another poster said “no right way” or time frame you let yourself feel and remember and love as you go along.
    thank you for sharing your story and pictures!

    1. Charlene says:

      I guess grief is as different as each individual is different.

      Thank you so much Shari :)

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