When The Worst Thing Happens

Imagining the worst case scenario comes easily to us anxious types. I regularly remind myself to stay in the moment and dispel runaway thoughts. I’ve learned to say, “Nevermind the worst that can happen. I trust I will handle it as it comes.”

Last week, I had to face a dreaded worst.

One of my little dogs was mauled to death by a large dog that wandered onto our copperlake property, and I had the misfortune to witness the attack. I reacted appropriately in the moment: I was strong and brave as I ran towards the scene and called for the brute to stop and drop my dog. I quickly assessed the horrific damage – death was imminent – and focused on comforting my little friend as he passed. I whispered “thank you Copper, you’ve been a good dog” over and over so the last thing he heard on this earth was my gratitude, and I silently thanked God that all the kids had already gone home. No one else had to witness this terrible, heartbreaking sight.

I am shaken, but I am strong.

This sad story has a purpose as it relates to recovery. I have often told myself that abstinence would serve me well in life’s most horrible moments. I was right. Not only did I have the clarity and focus I needed to deal with the traumatic ordeal, but I was spared the temptation to numb out.

copper readingI am feeling the feelings, processing the pain, and moving through. No numbing with booze – that’s just a pause button that drags out the heartache indefinitely.

Some of you wonder if abstinence is necessary in recovery. My belief is that abstinence is a best practice because it closes the door on the possibility of drinking my way through grief and misery. Perhaps moderation might actually be possible for me under everyday circumstances, but in crisis I am greatly relieved that drinking is simply not an option. Because, let’s face it, eventually the shit hits the fan and we have to deal with the tragic, the bloody, the messy, the unwanted.  Life is only smooth sailing for so long.

They say that tough times don’t last, but tough people do. I don’t know that I am tough, copper and scoutbut I feel thankfully equipped to get through. Considering that there was I time when I could not endure any emotion – good or bad – without alcohol, this sad event has shown me how far I have come as a result of working my way through recovery.

copper and scout heartRIP, little Copper. We’ll take good care of Scout for you – your sister and partner in crime.


About UnPickled

I am learning to walk without the crutch of alcohol. As I begin I am 1 day sober. Gulp. I drank in private and hope to quit just as privately. The purpose of this blog is to help make me accountable - just by following you will give me enormous support and encouragement.

Posted on May 25, 2015, in Getting Sober and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 79 Comments.

  1. Oh my goodness, Jean, I’m so sorry. What a blessing Cooper was to you, and you to him. Saying goodbye to my Spot last year was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. But I am sooo grateful that I was there–sober and fully present–for her. Like you, I was filled with total gratitude in her final moments and repeated “thank you, I love you, thank you, I love you,” over and over again. It’s hard, and I’ve found grief hits you at the strangest times and will continue to do so. Just hold on to that love and to that gratitude, like a life raft in a storm, both will keep you afloat.
    Apologies for not reading soon. I was on a bit of hiatus, but am slowly catching up with friends.
    Love and peace to you, christy


  2. The Good Witch Lollipop



  3. I was so upset when I read your post ! To go through something so traumatic and maintain the presence of mind to make his last moments peaceful as you spoke to him and hugged him was very courageous !
    I lost a pet a few years ago and I really can trace back the escalation of drinking and the beginning of numbness to that point . That animal was like a child to me .
    Thinking of your little Copper, I know his loving little soul would not want you to even think of drinking again . I’m sure his spirit will be close by you and his sister every day .
    I’m wishing your pain lessens as the days pass by …. Sally xxx


  4. I am so, so sorry for your loss. I was on day 2 when my little dog was attacked by a large dog that came into our yard. It was terrifying to witness, and I admire your bravery in stopping the attack and giving comfort to your sweet dog in his final moments. My dog survived, and I feel such gratitude to have been sober during the immediate aftermath as well as her ongoing recovery. May you find comfort in good memories and sweet photos of Copper.


  5. When I first got sober, my hold out–the reason I might HAVE to take a drink–was if my dog died. I worked on my recovery, but in the back of my mind I kept this idea that I might NEED to drink then. And then, three years into my recovery, my sweet dog was suddenly gone. And I didn’t drink. Instead, I (like you) was grateful that I was sober and could deal with her death with a clear mind & open heart. I was thankful that I got to really be present for her and release her from this world. I was even grateful for the pain I felt when she was gone–that my grief could bear witness to the deep love I had for her.

    I am so sorry for your loss. The perspective that you share in this post is an tremendous testament to your recovery. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is beautiful. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so incredulous that someone is speaking my words. My little four-foot furry is 16 and has congestive heart disease. He’s all I have….I’m 66 years old…..and have been drinking since I was 17, with a short time off during my two pregnancies. My biggest fear is that if he goes, I will NEED alcohol because I won’t have anything else. I’m bookmarking this blog and am going to Follow…..I guess I’m in the Contemplative Stage. Beginning to look at my past life and making some realizations about the reason things happened the way they did…….and looking at my future. Health problems say I Need to Stop Drinking. Thank you all and Thank you Unpickled.


  6. Time and the Bottle

    So so sorry to hear this. It was heartbreaking to read this. And awful. And so incredibly sad. I have three pets and I am terrified to even think that one day I will lose them.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry for what happened! I know this can be so devastating, losing a loved pet…
    I am going through something similar, unfortunately. As it happens my dear cat is dying…It started a few weeks ago, her kidneys stopped working for no reason what so ever as she is still so young (only two). I was devastated just hearing from doctor after doctor that there was nothing they could do. As I struggled to take her to doctors and millions of tests, I was glad to be sober. i could not have done it on booze. I felt like I wanted to scratch my face with my nails and I cried repeatedly, but I actually did not want to drink, because I knew I would become useless for her. Drinking just drains the energy from me.
    Now it’s actually the hardest part. She is home, and I just get to watch her slowly dying, while I know there is nothing else to do. She is not in pain or suffering but that time will come, when I will have to let her go. And I just don’t know I can go through all of it without drinking. It just does not seem possible. I know at a rational level that you are right, alcohol just presses a pause button on the pain, it does not take it away. But unfortunately, drinking does not really respond to reasonable thoughts.


    • You CAN do it without drinking. And your cat will be so pissed off at you if you use her as an excuse for relapse. There are a million other things you can do that will be more useful and comforting than drinking right now. Reach out when it feel overwhelming. You are not alone. Look at all the other comments of people like you and me, people who have gotten through so much and stayed sober. You can do it, and we are here to help you!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. amymaywebster

    Jean, I am so very sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how devastated you are. My heart goes out to you and your family and Scout who know doubt misses her partner in crime.
    That you took the time to share this story, and how it relates to your and our recovery, brings me to tears. Thank you so much and I am sending you white light to get through this tough time of losing your pet in such a violent and unexpected way. Copper was lucky to have you. You gave him a wonderful life and were there for him when he needed you the most. Big hugs !

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Copper looks so much like my little dog. This post was heart breaking. I hope the sweet photos bring you comfort. Thinking of you from far away.


  10. Copper looks so much like my little dog. This post is heart-breaking. I love your photos and hope they give you comfort. Thinking of you from far away.


  11. I am so, so sorry for your loss. RIP sweet Copper.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I just found our blog tonight. I just wanted to say I am so sorry for your loss. 😦 I am a mother of small dogs, so this touches my heart very deeply.


  13. This to shall pass…
    I am so sorry to hear about your beloved dog, our 4 legged friends are often more like family. That being said, I can so relate to on being sober during difficult times. Over the last 18 months I have gone thru divorce, death, and heartbreak, and have gotten thru it all without picking up a drink. Did it cross my mind, sure, a fleeting thought. But I know that picking up that drink would only bring greater heartache and despair.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This absolutely breaks my heart for you and your family. What a beautiful moment that you were able to whisper loving, comforting words to your sweet dog – even under the horrific circumstances this will be a memory that you can cling to. Thank you for sharing something that I can’t even imagine experiencing and reminding us that dealing with very difficult circumstances is indeed better sober.

    Sending you and your family peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this. Thinking about you and scout and your family x

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m heartbroken over your loss and story. So so sad.Sounds like you were totally present for your pup at the end…what a lovely way to honor him. So sorry that it happened.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. My heart goes out to you. Sending you and your family love and light. Your little buddy is always with you in your heart. Give Scout a big kiss. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thanks for helping others by sharing even during this painful time. Sending love and prayers your way.


    • Coming Clean

      Hi Me Without Wine
      I have just read your blog. Your earlier entries sounded just like me. Isn’t it liberating not to have to hide alcohol any more? You go girl and enjoy your new life like I am and all of the bloggers on this site are. I went out last night and was the only one not drinking. The bottle was just about empty and two of the guests were trying to get the last drop out of the bottle. I remember my drinking days and watching the level on the bottle making sure I was positioning myself to get the glassful! The beauty of being sober is the beauty of being at peace with being oneself. Having clarity of thought, clear vision, clear speech at the end of what could have been a messy bossy night is the reward. Your son will sort himself out as long as you let him know you love him and have faith in him.(been there done that!)


      • Coming Clean

        I meant to write “a messy boozy night”, not “bossy night”. !!!! I live on the other side of the world so you are all probably asleep while I am writing this.


      • Thanks Coming Clean! Your message is very encouraging to me! What are you telling people about quitting? So far I am avoiding telling anyone and making up feeble excuses.


        • Hi Me Without Wine I say to people that I made a health choice and that I wanted to grow old with clarity of thought and serenity. That seems to work. They know I used to enjoy a few wines but I am sure there was no one (other than my husband and kids) who might have suspected that I was an alcoholic. I was pretty good at hiding it. I look so much better now. My “dull expression” in photos I look at from pre sober days haunts me now. Once you get a few months sober under your belt you will not be so self conscious and you will feel more relaxed about yourself and talking to others about it.


  19. Coming Clean

    Thanks Jean I am still an avid reader of your blogs and have not touched a drop of alcohol in almost two and a half years. I too have had to say goodbye to my dog of 17 years and have had to nurse and grieve for a very sick and elderly parent. I have travelled, been to weddings, to many dinners, conferences,funerals etc all the while drinking something soft and non alcoholic. My sobriety has had a positive effect on girlfriends who come over and enjoy a cup to tea with me. They tell me they are questioning their own alcohol intake as they see me looking healthy and radiant in photos at functions while their eyes and mannerisms look affected and dull. They see a new me and are wondering how they can do it themselves. I tell them that it requires a huge commitment, one which goes against all of the social norms. I tell them that I cannot keep going all night with drinkers and that when I am tired I have to leave a function. I tell them that I wake up refreshed and eager to face the day, every day. I say that I am a responsible grandparent and parent and that I am always a designated driver.

    My husband has cut down to one glass of wine each evening and he tells me he is proud of me and my sobriety. I am proud but it is all because of this Unpickled Blog that I have been able to keep going. Some days I question myself and think that I would like to have one drink but the image of me bending over a kitchen cupboard to retrieve a stained red wine glass gulping it down before I am caught horrifies me. It was a terrible disease that consumed me every day for many years. Thanks Jean I am still barracking for you team of bloggers.


    • Coming Clean

      I meant to say I am still barracking for YOUR team of bloggers. There is no edit button!


    • I am honoured beyond words to know that this site has contributed to your success, but make no mistake, YOU deserve the credit for taking charge and changing your own destiny. I am so happy for you!!


  20. I have been reading your blog for a while and always look forward to your posts. You have really helped me in my recovery. I hope I can help you by sending all my love from England. You were extremely brave in your actions. I also admire the way you have taken what positives you can from this awful situation. RIP little Copper. What a lucky dog to have you as an owner. X


  21. Dearest Jean,
    My heart goes out to you in this time of tragedy. I was meaning to write you and then I received notice of this post. I came out on your blog a year ago that I was an alcoholic. My anniversary of being alcohol free and then this awful event happens to you. I can only imagine your pain.

    I agree with you that, although we think it would be so much better to numb the pain, it won’t help in the long run. I thank you for all the support your blog has given me and I pray you will heal from this deep sadness you must be feeling.

    Thank you for sharing this traumatic experience with us, your loyal readers, and showing us, once again, that we can handle life’s miseries without turning to alcohol.

    My deepest sympathies,


  22. My heart aches for you and my eyes brim with tears. RIP Cooper. I think the love of an animal resides in the deepest part of our hearts. Sending thoughts of strength, calm and peace your way. Let only the best visual memories reside. Warm hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I was gutted reading this. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. So sorry for your loss. There are no words that would bring comfort so I’ll say a prayer for you. Glad you were able to stay sober thru this horrible ordeal. You inspire me!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. So sorry for your loss Jean and I agree with everything you say x

    Liked by 1 person

  26. So sorry to hear about your dog. Brought tears to my eyes. I love that you had the strength and clarity to deal with it in the moment. Life really isn’t fair, but this is a great example of how drinking doesn’t do any good. Hugs to you and your family.


  27. I am so so incredibly sorry, truly. I can only imagine how painful it was to witness. Many many warm thoughts and hugs.


  28. Thinking of you and wishing you peace at such a painful, sad time. Stay strong – you are an inspiration as always xx


  29. I just gave my dog, Dimple, an extra hug and kiss on behalf of Copper. Prayers go to all of you, and thanks for inspiring us with your courage in remaining sober.


  30. An important message here.


  31. Untipsyteacher

    Dear Unpickled,
    I am very sorry. A long time ago, another dog attacked my dog. My dog was okay, but it shook me up for a long time.
    This just makes my heart so sad for you.
    Love and Hugs,


  32. I am so sorry for your loss and truly admire your strength. Take care.


  33. I’m so sad to read about this. Big hugs of comfort to you. xoxo


  34. Thank you for sharing this painful story. It will definitely help others. It has been amazing to me, when terribly sad things happened in the past year, that I actually felt relieved that I was not drinking. In the beginning, I thought I would want to drink once something sad or painful happened, to deal with the situation. But sobriety has taught me that drinking would just enable me to avoid the feelings. I am so sorry you have had to witness such a traumatic event, and my heart goes out to you/your family as you grieve the loss of your dog Copper.


  35. I am so sorry for the loss of your beloved Copper. It’s heartbreaking when our pets leave us, they really are a part of us. Thinking of you and Scout. A x


  36. I’m so sorry you were a witness to such a tragedy. Thankfully you were sober and there to comfort Copper. RIP


  37. I’m so sorry for your loss.May God bless and comfort you.


  38. I am so sorry for your and Scout’s loss. And that you saw it. But you were there, you were the best human Copper knew, and that was because you were present–in body, mind, spirit. And you’re present today, in the emotions. That’s even deeper. Be well.


  39. I am heartbroken for you. Thank you for sharing this difficult message. It is important for all to hear. Your words were the encouragement I found two years ago when I gave up the wine. I am forever grateful to you. Your family is in my prayers as you deal with this horrible loss. Hugs, Trish


  40. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for again having the courage to share your story. Each one of them has been a tremendous inspiration.


  41. Bless you, dear friend! I am so very sorry for the overwhelming loss of your precious Copper. He knew even to the end how much you loved him. Your posts are a source of strength for so many of us. Because my wine drinking was “just a daily habit” ( not to the extent of drunken binges, for the most part), I didn’t realize until now that I was in fact numbing myself to emotions. I seem to be feeling them strongly now after 47 days. You all are helping me accept my condition and deal with it.


  42. My deepest sympathy. Copper continues to be a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. I am so sorry for your loss but gratful for your recovery because it’s showing me the way. With appreciation.


  44. I’m so sorry for this tragic event and for the loss of Copper. It is hard to even describe what the loss of a pet means, especially so suddenly.

    May little Copper rest in peace.


  45. Poor soul… I’m so so very sorry for your loss. May you find the strength to get through this

    Lots of love and hugs and cookies to you and Scout :*


  46. Anything I could think of to say paled in comparison to reading about your horrific experience. xoxo


  47. I was very sad to read this, and am sending you lots of love. Annie x


  48. Oh my gosh, my heart breaks for you, you poor thing. 😦 Sending love and hugs xoxo


  49. It breaks my heart to read this post, I have a cocker spaniel who I could not imagine living without, but I hope when needed I have your strength and courage. So sorry for your loss.


  50. Firstly I am so sorry for you loss. I too am a pet owner and to me they’re very much part of my family to the point that I call mine my Fur – babies! This is heartbreaking to read and would be enough to push any person from their path. To share this with us all takes the strength and wisdom most of us here aspire to have. You are, as always, an amazing person. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this terrible time of grief. Stay strong, we are all here for you xxx


  51. My time to shine

    So sorry to hear about your little doggie. Hugs over the seas to you. X


  52. I am so very sad to read this. Hugs from me xx


  53. i am so sorry this happened 😦 i have a dog too, and i am so scared of these big vicious dogs, that i end up picking him up in my arms, till the time that other dog disappears.. i cannot even imagine what you must be going through, but the fact that you’re really trying to be strong about it, your little copper is the luckiest to have someone like you, and so are you.. Hugs.


  54. Gosh my heart just broke for you reading this. I’ve been through this as well and my son saw the whole thing. I am so so sorry for your loss, having to witness that and also for little Copper being taken away so aggressively. Hugs and strength x


  55. What a horrifying experience. Made me remember that when I lost a dog about eight years ago, I got drunk. Didn’t feel too bad about it because I wasn’t ready to challenge my drinking habits. I just accepted the loss as a good excuse. I now have a healthy little dog who’s about 10 1/2 years old. I most certainly intend to be sober for him when he dies…and when that happens, I’ll remember your sad post.

    Sorry you had to witness such a thing. I simply can’t imagine seeing that. Indeed, you are very strong.

    Easy Rider
    Day 73


  56. I am so sorry this happened. If only sobriety could protect us from traumatic events….but you are handling it with strength.


  57. Thank you for continuing to share your story so honestly and beautifully. What a sad day, but I am so touched by your strength and willingness to be present for your beloved pup.


  58. My heart breaks as I read your story. I have three dogs and I love them like family. Four years ago my dear little Rita, my best friend for 15 years, died in my arms. I was drinking as it happened and I drank more afterwards. I grieved her death just as I would a human member of my family. That included lots of drinking. I haven’t yet had to face “the worst” since getting sober, but I only hope that when I do I will handle it as beautifully as you did. Bless you for sharing this. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. I’m very sorry. Thank you for another moving and inspirational account of your recovery.


  60. OMG… this happened to me, only my puppy was, miraculously, able to pull through. But it was hands down the most TERRIFYING moments of my entire life. A pitbull had my little chocolate lab pup around the neck for 8 minutes while I screamed and cried and fell to the ground, completely helpless. If my boyfriend at the time hadn’t have been able to calm OUR dog down and beat the Pitbull off with his bare hands… she would’ve died.

    I am so, so, so, very sorry. I know firsthand how horrible this is to witness, and my thoughts are with you tonight, girlfriend. BIG, BIG HUGS!!!

    – Liz –


  61. I’m so sorry for your loss and having to experience that, it sounds awful!!!


  62. Oh Dear! I am so sorry that happened and glad you were there for your sweet Copper. I’m thankful the big vicious dog did not attack you as well. Hugs.


  63. onedogrunning

    I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing the story.


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