Things to do after your dog has died

This poem was written by a friend and colleague, Catherine Young. I hadn’t seen her in awhile, and then ran into her at a local coffee shop, where she handed me an envelope with a poem she’d written in it.

Oh thanks, I said, focused on other issues at the time. I stuffed the envelope into my purse and thought nothing about it until a few days later when I dug it out to clean up my purse before traveling.

And then I read it, and sat down and read it again and got all soppy-eyed and petted Willie and went to the couch and got Tootsie on my lap and read it again. It’s the best description I’ve ever read of how many of us feel after we lose a beloved dog, and it seems especially fitting after so many evocative comments from last week’s blog about “dogs as family.”

Here it is, with a wave of gratitude to  Catherine for letting me share it with you:

 

Things to do after your dog has died

Sweep the floor

Look out the window

Pant

Make a cup of tea and some toast

But then not eat them

Change the sheets on the bed

Try to sing

Start to cry

Forget what day it is

Stumble into a corner of the floor and hold your knees tightly

Keen

Pull yourself together

Make another cup of tea and this time drink it

Look out a different window

Stare at that spot on the floor where your dog used to stretch out, languid and happy, his paws twitching as he raced across sleep meadows and into dream ravines filled with moss and ferns and the scent of foxes

Look for the Kleenex

Use toilet paper instead

Wander around the house,  your heart like a damned anvil in your chest

Heat up leftovers

Push them around the plate before leaving the entire thing in the sink

Look for what is not there

Hear things

Feel the forgotten fur beneath your fingertips

Feel the forgetting begin

Hold a memory, any memory, bright and shining, soft and sad, smelling of wet fur and leaves, with a whisker there and muddy paw prints left on the stairs, of a walk of a hike of a trip to the park with a treat and a bone and a belly rub snacks stolen off the counter and tug of war and the squeaky toy a glance of complicity in play with your hand on head with tail wagging and breath misting in the morning light or the moon over the trees while an owl croons ears are pricked and nose to the ground sniffing, sniffing, sniffing following the invisible trail to its joyful finding

Put on your pajamas

Turn around three times before you curl up by the rope toy and find yourself chasing the echo of a bark into a night that will never end

Grow a tail

 

Catherine Young 11.27.12

 

Wow. Good, hey? It helps to know we’re not alone, in our love for our dog, doesn’t it, and that someone can express how we feel when we lose one? If this strikes home because of a recent loss, you might want to read the post I wrote, Love, Guilt, and Putting Dogs Down, which continues to get comments every week.

 

MEANWHILE, back at the farm: Well, not really, because I’ve been on a family vacation on Vancouver Island. Soon I’ll be on my way to Boulder to give a talk on communicating with dogs and cats for the Animal Behavior Society this Sunday. (Lots of great talks on Sunday, free and open to the public, from Suzanne Hetts on dogs getting along with cats, Mark Bekoff and his research on play, Julie Hecht and new research on canine cognition, Pam Reid from the ASPCA on their new programs to help animal victims of cruelty and neglect. It should be a great day, come up and say hi if you make it!)

Here are a few photos from my time on Vancouver Island. Photo credit goes to Jim, in part because he’s a great photographer, in part because I dropped my point and shoot camera in a tide pool. I’m afraid it did not survive the experience. Oh well, I did want a new one.

I love Vancouver Island, I think it is one of my favorite places on earth. We didn’t make it to Buchart Gardens this time, but we all spent lots of time hiking in gorgeous forests and playing in the tide pools. The woods are so cool and peaceful…

log over river vancouver isl

 

Lots of fun discoveries in the tide pools, including this green anenome. I’m not sure who had more fun, the six-year old grand daughter or the parents and grand parents!

gr anenome

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    Hi tricia,
    I’m trying to breathe again after that poem, and it’s not because I’ve been struggling through a chest cold the last couple of weeks. It hits home perfectly and inspired me to share some thoughts of what to do after a service dog retires. By writing this out here, I’m not trying to make the moment or sentiment about me, but I wanted to ilistrate the similarities and differences in grief between the two losses. I had read your post again about PSDs last week and it got the idea kicking around, so here goes. Keep in mind, this is just a combination of both my dogs retiring and what it was like.
    ***
    Wake up,
    move immediately for the side of the bed the crate or dog bed is on and realize, again, that it isn’t there anymore.
    Swallow as you fight tears.
    Get up, shower, brush teeth and think about how you don’t have to care for him anymore.
    No more morning feeding,
    no more morning mad dash to get them out the door to pee.
    Dress
    Hear the dog elsewhere in the house.
    Listen to him being cared for by someone else. Eating, jumping, claws on hard-wood floors.
    You’re at the front door now, grab the purse, grab your computer bag, suddenly feel the dog nudging your hand.
    He smells like corn chips and he’s wagging so hard you can feel the wind of his tail.
    Move for the door where the cane is. He nudges your hand again, knocking it into his harness. Leather… supple and warm, familiar
    Grab the cane… cold. empty somehow.
    Are you afraid to go out without him? A little. I’m afraid. He was my eyes for so long. Do I still remember how to do this?
    He’s still there, snorting and wagging, not understanding why. Sure he was sick but isn’t he fine now? Why can’t he go with anymore?
    Open the door and leave, the cane in your left hand. Damn it it’s a thing, this thing is going to keep me safe? How is it going to do that?
    Alone.
    So aware of being alone.
    Don’t look back, because he’ll be there, watching and wagging. maybe she’ll take me with next time?
    Blink back tears and fight past the squeeze in your chest. You did it for him, because he couldn’t do his job anymore and it was the best thing… But I’m alone.
    No more claws clicking against pavement.
    No more confident, reassuring pull beside you.
    Just the rasp of the cane trailing the sidewalk… clumsy, inert, dumb thing.
    I know I can’t do this for long. I have to have a dog again soon.
    walk
    think
    ***
    I actually feel better now. Writing has always been my therapy and so thanks for letting me write that out. Retirement never gets easier, just more familiar.

  2. vablondie says

    Thanks for the poem. This really hits home for me, as we lost our big Great Dane a couple of months ago. He was getting older (he was 9), and he did have some health problems. But it is still a devastating loss for all of us. He was a great dog and we miss him so much. We still think about him stealing food off the table, carrying around large stuffed animals, cuddling on the couch, grunting, snoring. Our other Dane is much quieter (and smaller), so after he died, the house felt empty.

    Thanks for sharing the poem. It helps to know that some things are universal.

  3. Shalea says

    Oh, this hurts. We lost our Gryphon-bug very, very suddenly just a couple of months ago and I’m at the point where I’m mostly okay and even looking at available dogs and thinking I might be interested in bringing one of them home. And then something hits me and I’m weeping again.

  4. Mindy says

    I’m honestly shocked at how spot on her poem is… down to the tea, the leftovers in the sink, the spot on the floor, and the keening in the corner. Thanks Catherine; I feel less alone.

  5. says

    Oh, my….the hardest line for me was….Feel the forgetting begin….that one took my breath away….I’ve known that feeling. Every year on my heart dog’s birthday, I sit and quietly go through his photo album. I don’t want to forget him. But try as you might, little by little, they slip away from you. It’s been 10 years and I still love him dearly, but the crisp memories have dulled.

    I guess that’s how the human psyche protects itself from the unbearable.

  6. Shannon says

    Eek! You were in my city! I’m so happy you love our city and island so much! We are spoiled by the natural beauty that surrounds us ever day. I never tire of the ocean and forest. Plenty of dog lovers here who’d love to hear you speak next time you’re out our way!

  7. Betsy Copeland says

    Thank you for sharing that….I just got my eyes and throat cleared and I read Laura’s post. I think I’ll go hug my dogs now.

  8. Leda Van Stedum says

    I have had multiple pets at all times during my adult life. Each one left and has a piece of my heart, especially the ones I somehow failed. Some could not be helped, and some I did not have the knowledge at that time in my life to help them.

    The loss that really wrenches at my heart though, is the loss of my 34 year old son almost 4 years and a couple days ago. He died of a accidental overdose. Please be careful with medicines! It is too easy to take them twice in a short period of time! It is easy to say if one will help, won’t two help more? Don’t! Be safe!

    Meanwhile this is my favorite:
    It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are. ~Anonymous~

  9. Gail says

    Achingly beautiful. Thank you for this treasure, Catherine. So perfect, so fitting on this, my heart dog’s birthday, gone much too soon from a brain tumor.

  10. True says

    Well, both Catherine Young and Laura’s words have me on the verge of tears. No dog to stroke – she’s away at her breeder’s while I recover from getting a new hip last week.

    Both poems are very reminiscent of losing the first dog that was all mine, and I’m particularly missing my goofy and most rambunctious pal Gehl tonight. It’s always good to remember what we’ve got as well as what we’ve lost.

  11. says

    The first thing we did when the vets left the apartment with Ardala gently wrapped in a blanket was move the furniture so we weren’t constantly looking for a dog that wasn’t there. Oh, and cry. We cried a lot. I still cry a month later. We also did all the Ardala-laundry, all her beds, toys and any washable accessory and dropped them off at a rescue the next day. I still keep finding little land-mines – the pet steps, and a seemingly endless supply of poop bags – but I kept her two favorite toys around in lieu of ashes.

  12. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It made me cry again. So many things that I did, e.g., stare at the floor where Walker used to lie and stretch out, wander around the house with a heavy chest, look for what is not there, etc. The house felt so empty without him; I felt so empty without him. I created a slide show of Walker that I watched every day at first, now occasionally, to keep his memory alive. I still burn a candle for him every day. (He passed on 12/29/12.) Walker changed my life. I would not have become a dog trainer and behavior enthusiast where it not for him. He taught me what is important in life and for that I will be forever grateful.

  13. Dianne says

    Beautiful nothing could be more real than the feelings, scenario’s described in this post. No matter how many times a pet guardian goes through this, it never gets any easier. The only way I can somehow manage to pull my myself together is to remember it was never about me……it was of my beloved pet, the love, the loyalty, the memories they gave so freely to me. There are so many other unloved animals out there that need and deserve someone to care for them. It may sound odd but I believe my pets who have gone on to heaven would be glad to know another lonely dog, or cat will get the same love and care that I gave to them. When my cat was dying from illness, rather than put her to sleep the vet said he felt ok to let her pass on at home. For a week I fed her, helped her to her litter box, held her up so she could pee. She had a little bed right beside my bed so she wasn’t alone. When she came to the end of her life, I lay with her stroked her head, kissing her telling her that it was ok if she was tired, whatever she wanted to do it was alright. My girl looked at me but I could see she was looking past me…..she took a deep breath and her head slowly fell to her pillow. My girl was gone. It is a real honor to share our lives with animals, I believe creator always meant for us to share that bond with animals. Its just too bad that some people have forgotten that connection. Thank you to all who care for and love their pets.

  14. Beth with the Corgis says

    This reminds me of when I lost my sweet cat, Alice. She was nearly 17 and had been with me for most of my adult life. She had seen me through so many milestones, and I felt like my own youth died right along with her.

    I cried frequently for the first few weeks, every night at bedtime for months after that, and a tiny part of me resented my new cat (who I love very much) for not being Alice for nearly 2 years.

    I think that losing a pet is a purer loss than losing a person, because our relationships with people are so much more complicated that we often continue to feel some level of anger, guilt, disappointment, regret, and whatever else troubled our relationship at the same time we feel the grief. But with much-loved pets, all we feel is the grief in its purest form.

    Certainly some are harder than others, though. I had a much-loved childhood dog who spent her last two or three years senile and incontinent. Letting go was a long, gradual process and we cried when she died but we’d already said our good-byes a long time ago. Vacant eyes had greeted us for so long that the good-bye was just a formality.

    The time in our own life surely means something, too. Heart-breaking as it is, a pet we lose when we are 20 with our whole lives in front of us is not as bitter as the one we lose when so much of our own lives have already gone by. I doubt I am the only one who grieved her own passing years with the loss of a beloved pet….

    And of course, much as we love all our pets, we connect with some more than with others. My love for Maddie is the love of a caretaker for a sweet and happy pet, while Jack is much more of a partner and his relationship will be much harder to replace, the hole in my life much tougher to fill, not because I love him more but because I love him differently.

  15. Kat says

    Catherine, Laura, Trisha, Now that I’ve blinked enough to see again, thank you all for your powerful words. I’m going to go practice snuggling with Finna some more (Ranger is taking my husband for a walk he’ll get his cuddles when they come back). She’s slowly learning how to snuggle.

  16. Kathy F. says

    When you cry, know that your remaining dog will fish the tissues out of the trash can and chew on them–because they’re salty from your tears.

  17. Aurora says

    Write.

    I remember when Goodboy died when I was ten or eleven, burying him and coming inside as it started to rain, then the rain stopping and the sun coming out, and the rain coming again, shifting again and again in little waves of sun and sun-showers, drizzle and clouds, sitting down to look out the big windows over the bushes where he had once, when they were covered with deep snow, lain and been out and looked in and stayed out of reach of the puppy, sitting and looking out over those bushes to the torn ground of the grave and writing about the rain and the sun and how it seemed like the world was crying too, but how the rain and the crying weren’t constant, how they shifted and gave way to sun and I didn’t know which hurt more, the crying or moments of living my life, of feeling happiness, of moving on.

    I feel the loss so keenly at the time, floods of remembrance and words and tears and at last exhaustion, and then there is life, bit by bit pulling me into it. And then for a long time there is that barrier between me and the dog, all that sadness to be got through, stepped into to get to them and sometimes I do, because I still love them and the sadness is worth it to love them, and sometimes I don’t because it’s so sad and I don’t want to think of all the joy and life and wonderfulness that was them and get hung up on sadness. And then years later, the sadness dies down a little and it becomes easier just to remember them as they lived, most of the time, but the memories are old by then and blurring. And all the time, it feels like there must be some right way of thinking of them, some right balance of thinking about them and honoring and not forgetting and yet living with all the lessons of joy and in-the-momentness they teach. But there isn’t a right way, or not a single one, and everything bleeds into everything else, the blood beat of life and the blood drain of death.

    When Briar died, I stayed up late one night and wrote a long email to his breeder, went to bed before I could finish it, and then wasn’t ready to return to it. I decided that was alright, because it wasn’t really the right letter to share with her. She hadn’t been a part of his life for a long time. She needed to hear about fishing and tail wagging, long ground-covering strides and joyful bounding, not grey-white gums how he sniffed the wind, tail up, before he crawled under the porch to die, not how he woke my mother to play with her in the middle of the last night of his life. But to me, then, they were all too closely twined, it was too important to see in those last days his continued, recognizable, beloved self, too impossible to unsee the snowflakes melting too slowly on his eye. I wrote to him too, a poem of all those awful things but promising to get joy out of my memories of him, later, when the awful things began to recede. It’s been two and a half years now. I think it’s just about time to write the letter I wanted to write then but couldn’t; the one telling his breeder how wonderful he was, and what a life he had.

  18. Robin Jackson says

    “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” –Agnes Sligh Turnbull

  19. Caron Bright says

    I lost two dogs within the last month. Quinn was 15 and it was time. Balto was 3 and totally unexpected. I have 3 other dogs but it makes it no easier. The house is so quiet without Quinn and my beloved Balto has left a massive hole in the household. The poem was spot on.

  20. Frances says

    Thank you Catherine for putting so much into words, and Trisha for sharing. May I share it on other dog forums? It can be comforting to know one is not alone, especially for those whose friends and family say “It was only a dog”. And now I shall go and dry my eyes, and make my dogs as happy as I possibly can…

  21. Margaret McLaughlin says

    This was almost too much. I just returned (5.00a) from taking my service dog puppy back up to the school for treatment. He has been ill for a week, & at my vet’s since Tuesday. We’ve been calling it pseudo-parvo; all the symptoms, but the definitive lab test was negative. He looks like a famine victim, & we don’t know what’s wrong with him. Nor do I know if I’ll ever see him again.
    I’m used to returning puppies to the school to get on with their training & their lives, but this is different. I may have to put his crate & food dish in the basement until I find out if he’s going to make it. All 3 of my dogs are squished up against me right now–they know when I need them.

  22. Alexia Cochrane says

    Cry every day for a long, long time…and then cry some more. And put pictures of all the beloved furry spirits where you can see them.

  23. Mireille says

    What a special poem, it brings tears to my eyes.
    A year ago june 6th I lost my beloved ‘nookie. My husband was not home, I just took a day of an cried, basically. At the time we weren’t home when he died, we also had two youngsters (8 mo old sibes) in the house and I discovered at a yoga session a couple of weeks earlier I had not given my grief sufficient space.
    So I made a foto tribute to him

    http://youtu.be/drlZrkq8VBk
    Or
    http://youtu.be/oI_SShzlNzU

  24. Evie says

    I lost my bel0ved Oscar on this July 8th…I have a pic of him here by my computer. It is one of those pictures where the eyes follow you wherever you are. I feel he is here still watching me as I go thru my day. My lonely days without him seem longer and much more empty. I know I did the right thing for him as he was in pain. He was here at home….I gave him the sedative from the Vet. to relax him and sitting there on the floor with his head in my lap, him looking at me, finally comfortable for the first time in a while I knew it was the right thing to do for him. It may not have been good for me at the time or even now but I know he wouldn’t have wanted to go on any longer hurting, not being able to get up and run and play or just follow me everywhere I went. My Vet came and gave him his final injection and I held him as his life drifted away. I still look for him, I reach for his bowl to feed him, I can feel the emptiness when I take my other 2 dogs for a walk and ice cream that he is not there with us. He was my special dog…my little buddy for 13 1/2 yrs and will always be with me. We grew older together and had many great times together and he helped me thru many good and bad times. I love that little guy and always will. To all of you who have lost a beloved pet I feel for you as my thoughts of him are with me each day. He is now somewhere not in pain and that makes me happy for him. If there really is that afterlife for them he will feel well again and look down on me and know I think of him and miss him and how much I love him. Farwell “Little Dude”, till we meet again.

  25. Nic1 says

    Just beautiful. Laura’s response really hit me when I read ‘ he was my eyes for so long.’
    To rely on a dog as your eyes lends me a different perspective to simply having one as a companion and friend. Goodness… I need some tissues!

  26. Rose C says

    We lost a number as young dogs (vaccination was not common practice then where I grew up). Cried for each one that went, my sister thought I was being silly. One in particular as she was very ill, obviously wouldn’t make it through the night. I wanted to stay with her, didn’t want her to be alone. My Mom let me, she always understood. I had a song for that puppy, just her name sung repeatedly in a tune. Thought it would comfort her to hear it. Maga passed laying on my chest. The rest we lost either as adults or to old age. Each one I had to thank for the joy they gave and the life they shared with us.

    Sixteen years later since our last one passed, I got Ludy. About 8 months through it hit me: I just set myself up for one of those heartaches. I completely forgot about that part. Ludy always appears happier when she sees other dogs so I got her Dani as companion. Few months later it hit me again, I think I just set myself up for two heartaches. But I didn’t want to focus on those thoughts, I’ll deal with it when we get there. Meanwhile, I keep making memories today, and dwell on them often. Not sure how much they will help when the time comes, I will learn that when I get there.

  27. says

    “Soppy-eyed” is an understatement, but thanks for the warning. I’m sure there’ll be many more beautiful comments after mine & many more salty Kleenexes in wastebaskets around the world. Mireille, your photos are wonderful. I’m going to spend the evening digging through boxes for pictures of all my dogs through the years, organizing them in one place as a personal tribute to dog friends from my childhood to the present who I never want to forget. I lost my heart dog Luna last December at fifteen. Until now it’s been hard to look at photos of her in her prime.

  28. says

    Thank you for sharing… I’d like to add: Buy a helium balloon in the shape of a heart. Write on it “until me meet again” and release it in a special place. For me that was therapeutic. Saying goodbye to 5 dogs in 4 years was almost unbearable. I cope by creating websites and writing a poem for each of them. If you click my name I think you’ll see the one. It’s REALLY hard as we all know and as I tell people, it’s hard because we care.

  29. liz says

    A day later and I continue to process this poem. “Exactly,” I say. “But I don’t understand,” I add at the end. Then I read it again, with an attempt at equal parts thinking and feeling. It is both, maybe, an exact account of an experience beyond understanding.
    I read much of the poem as describing the massive amount of trying that takes place after… to hold onto one’s self when an integral part is missing, to hold onto pieces of the missing part, to let some pieces go, to move beyond trying, and to eventually do whatever occurs in the last four amazing sections which end with “Grow a tail.”
    From this point in time, from the outside, I recall that in the most difficult moments thinking and feeling in equal measure is just impossible. I’d like to think “Grow a tail” refers to letting the feeling take over. Or maybe some permanent mixing or blending together… That perhaps the missing part isn’t entirely missing, and that in carrying on some essence of the beauty of the love and joy you shared is preserved. But I’m just guessing, and doubt I’ll ever ‘make sense’ of what happens to us when we lose another so beloved.
    My sympathy to the author, along with my deep appreciation for her talent.
    And great responses and tributes all around.

  30. LisaW says

    We’ve lost three dogs over the past 20+ years. Each one amazing and all of them died at home when their time came. We are very lucky to have vets who will come to the house for us. Our last dog did not go quickly and it was heart wrenching. After she had passed, I remembered the short-short story, where you try to sum up something in only six words. This example may or may not be from Ernest Hemingway: For Sale, Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

    Three years later, I’m still trying to find the perfect six words for her.

  31. says

    The rhythm of my life is established by my animals. Like monks conditioned to bells at matins, lauds and prime, I move to the rhythm of let the dogs out, give the cats treats, feed the dogs, take the dogs to the barn, feed the sheep, the chickens, the ducks, bring the dogs back to the house. The middle of the day is punctuated by errands, letting the dogs out, listening to sleeping dogs snore, stretch, shake, get up, curl up, and go out again. Then the evening is delineated by feed the dogs, go to the barn to feed the sheep, put the duck and chickens up, run the dogs, come back to the house, watch some tv while listening to dogs play with toys and each other, then let the dogs out one last time, then put them to bed. Without my animals, I’d be adrift.

    Thank you for the poem, Catherine.

  32. Claire says

    Oh how I wish the fogetting didn’t happen! But it did. In very large part due to my beautiful black dog, Indigo. On the other hand I am so thankful that it does happen. How could I have gone on the way I felt right after Amber had to be put to sleep? The guilt! Almost unbearable.
    She had bladder cancer. She was 8 years old. She was so beautiful and perfect still on the outside, she just couldn’t pee anymore. I can still feel her silky soft ears. Other things about her have started to blend together with our new dog. When I try to think of her face I see it mixed with Indi’s in my mind.
    I said I was not going to have another dog. That did not last long! I can’t express how grateful I am that Indi came into my life and I know it was meant to be.
    Reading this really brings back all those memories from last year, painful but also reminds me of the love I have for Amber.
    Thank you!

  33. Catherine Young says

    Wow. Thank you, Trisha, for sharing my poem. I’m honored that it has touched so many people. And thank you to everyone for your kind words. I wrote the poem this past November after making the hard, hard decision to end the life of my best friend, Mickey, a Bernese Mountain Dog.He was my first puppy and he and I had been through many ups and downs together. He was smart, courageous, versatile, funny, wise, comforting, strong, charismatic….I could go on, but I’m sure you all know the kind of dog I’m talking about. He was THAT dog – the one I was so close to that there were times when the lines between our individual selves blurred and we just “were.”

    @ liz (July 27) — I appreciate your insightful analysis/comments. At the risk of diluting the writing I will tell you that the poem came to me very quickly – I wrote it the day after Mickey died. I don’t know really know what “grow a tail” means. when I wrote it I remember thinking about a quote on dogs from Edith Wharton’s diary. I’ll see if I can find it. When I look at the poem from the outside, the last line seems to be both a desire to be with my dog that is gone, and a realization that I cannot do so. The awful impossibility of it all.Wishful thinking and finality. I cannot turn back the clock to that moment before the injection when he lay there on my living room rug eating liver treats from my hand while I told him over and over that he was a good dog, and change my mind. For all that we love our dogs, we cannot escape the crushing weight that comes with the responsibility to give them what I term “a good death.” Mickey had a good death. I had thought about the end of his life for several years, preparing myself, so that when the time came, I would recognize it and honor him with a good death. But even so, it didn’t make it any easier or less heartbreaking.

    @ Lisa W. — the (attributed to) Hemingway short-short is a devastating little gem, isn’t it?

  34. Robin Jackson says

    @Laurel,

    I so so appreciate the feelings in your note, but please reconsider the practice of “releasing a helium balloon in a special place.”

    The Audubon Society has been warning for 30 years of the danger to wildlife from helium baloons.

    http://www.menunkatuck.org/index.php/conservation/balloons_can_kill/

    Instead, contribute to a dog rescue, plant a tree, work a shift at a soup kitchen, help clean up a park, do something in memory of your dog to help spread the love and caring our dogs give us throughout their lives.

  35. Rose C says

    Claire, really happy for you and Indi. I hope everyone who had lost a dog would, at some point, find a way to move on and keep going.

  36. Trisha says

    Thank you Robin for your comment about not releasing balloons, it is indeed a dangerous practice to wildlife. But I love your other ideas: volunteer time, plant a tree, etc. (I planted a 100 tulips when Tulip died, of course. I still maintain a bed of daffodils and tulips over her grave. Photos albums are hugely important to me, Jim made me an album of the farm, complete with lots of photos of Lassie, Tulip, Pippy and young Willie, and I still get it out and look at it often.)

    I’ve just come back to the hotel after the “Public Day” at the Animal Behavior Society Meetings in Boulder, CO and have read through each and every comment (again, read through the all earlier). Thank you all so much for your additions– Laura for your beautiful poem and perspective as an owner of a service dog, Mireille for the lovely photographs, and so many others. The comments about “forgetting” are so touching: we don’t want to forget, but we also need to move on and it feels so important to find the right balance of always keeping the dog in our hearts and still being able to function and keep our hearts open for others.

    Thanks again to Catherine for sharing your story. Here’s to all the dogs, living and gone, and to all of you who love them so much. Tomorrow Dr. Barbara Smuts is giving the Keynote talk to the entire conference titled Why We Love Dogs. This is huge! Huge that a keynote talk to scientists from all over the world is about domestic dogs and our love for them. Yeah ABS!!! I’ll report on her talk later in the week. Meanwhile, Suzanne Hetts, Mark Bekoff, Julie Hecht and Pam Reid gave fantastic talks on a range of dog and cat related issues. A great turn out too, thanks to any of you who came and supported Applied Behavior!

  37. ABandMM says

    When my dog Morgan had to be put down, very suddenly, I was crushed. Something (turns out it was a tumor on her spleen that had burst) happened during the night and when I woke up in the morning I had a non-responsive dog. I rushed her to the vet, but very quickly they informed of what they thought had happened and considering that she was 13.5 yrs old, the next step was obvious.

    I called my parents and told them what happened to their “grand-dog-ter”, went home cleaned up. It was Thursday, a workday. I went to work because I didn’t know what else to do. Later that night, I got out a bottle of wine and wrote an “obituary” for her to email out to all our friends who had known her; family in CT, friends we had made in NY, then those in OR, our current ones in IN and those who had moved to points elsewhere. I got out an atlas and figured out that she had put her paws down in 28 states, including West Virginia where we purposely stopped in that 11 mile stretch between OH and PA so we could say stopped in WV ;). I still have her ashes in a box surrounded by a collection photos: Morgan by her favorite creek in Ithaca, the two of us by Mt. Rushmore, and Morgan in a cornfield from our time in OR when I was able to take her to work with me during parts of the summer.

    She died at the end of August and I was soon to be going to a conference out of the country. I spent a lot of time on the internet during that trip searching shelters for my next dog. Also, as to what not to do when you lose your beloved fur-friend: Do NOT read “Marley and Me” on a transcontinental flight. I was bawling my eyes out and out of tissues in the middle of the night somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.

    I got back home on a Saturday and on Sunday met my new girl “Abby”. Though black and tan in coloring like Morgan, a totally different personality and she has taken the foundations that Morgan taught me and taken them to a new level. Morgan will always be special (that “heart dog”) because she was my first dog, the one solely in my care and helped me through 13 years of life, and many downs and some ups. Abby is also keeping me balanced as I try to cope with the challenges of life, but she challenges me to find things that we can do as a “team”.

    Thank you Catherine for sharing your poem and thoughts about losing a beloved dog. And to Laura, that must be very hard, especially when the service dog is still physically with you, but unable to do the work the he has been trained to do. I don’t know, but I imagine that the loss of a true partner (your eyes) due to a physical inability to perform _that_specific job, but yet still function as a pet/family member must be some sort of limbo.. they are gone, but yet not.

    Extra hugs for everybody’s fur-buddies tonight and remember, no matter what the reason, our dogs always leave us far too soon and every day with them is indeed a gift.

  38. Mary says

    My dog is 13 and he’s in remission from cancer. This poem and the comments are a great reminder to enjoy every day and store up as many memories as possible. Thanks

  39. liz says

    Many thanks, Catherine, for offering the information and reflection. You’ve developed a phrase (and piece of writing) that contain worlds of meaning. Your experience and words will remain with me.

  40. LisaW says

    @Catherine Young: Yes, it is a devastating little gem, and it also helps me recount what a wonderful life Grace had while trying to find the six words and rhythm to honor her.

    What you wrote about Mickey having a good death is something I have hoped for and struggled with for all our dogs. With each one I needed to make sure that their death would fit their life, and I have to say, with all the planning and watchfulness, and brutal sadness when the time came, putting a dog down is the hardest and yet most honest thing I have ever done.

  41. Stacy says

    We lost our Great Dane last Monday. There is a hole in my heart that feels like it will never be filled. The house is so quiet. I swear I hear her whining in the middle of the night still. It’s such a heartbreaking feeling of loneliness. She was my first dog, my first love, my constant. Sadie gave me 11 1/2 years of unconditional love and companionship that I will cherish every day of my life. Making the decision to “put her up” as it was said in an earlier post, was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make as an adult. Her precious life was in my hands, and all I wanted was for her to hurt no more. She was an amazing friend, and my heart is truly at a loss without her. This site has been so healing to my broken heart. Just hearing the loving stories and all the wonderful pet owners who are feeling the same things is comforting. I look forward to the day when I get to meet her again and we cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never to be apart again.

  42. Debbie S says

    My thanks to Catherine and others who shared their grief so eloquently. I said good-bye to one of my best buddies just before Christmas and I face more heartache over the next year or so….our pack is growing older and the inevitable is fast approaching. I found a poem online that has helped; author unknown:

    We have a secret, you and I
    that no one else shall know,
    for who but I can see you lie
    each night in fire glow?
    And who but I can reach my hand
    before we go to bed
    and feel the living warmth of you
    and touch your silken head?
    And only I walk woodland paths
    and see ahead of me,
    your small form racing with the wind
    so young again, and free.
    And only I can see you swim
    in every brook I pass
    and when I call, no one but I
    can see the bending grass.

  43. Rose C says

    Glad you said that, Dave. My thoughts exactly throughout all this discussion about losing a dog. There’s so much parallel in our relationships with our beloved humans and our beloved dogs (including what was written in the linked blog ‘Love, Guilt, and Putting Dogs Down’ for those who needed to make the difficult decision of opting for ‘comfort care’ rather than ‘aggressive care’ for a sick family member when death is obviously inevitable).

  44. Sheila says

    Ah, this is very timely. My 16 + year old border collie mix has started to go downhill. I just made an appointment for a vet who does house calls to come out to discuss having him euthanized at my home. I am tentatively looking at the end of August.
    In the meantime, I am spoiling him rotten and doing everything I can to increase his quality of life in the time he has remaining.
    He has been with me for 16 years, and I can’t even begin to imagine life without him.

  45. says

    Thanks for all you comments, friends. My 16-year-old Gracie beagle died of a heart attack last week. It helps to know that others have experienced what I don’t see/don’t hear/feel. Here are some more grief-related moments:

    Reach to scratch her back while I read; scratch the bed instead

    Cry

    Read somewhere new

    See “her couch”, which I’m not ready to let others sit on

    Look away

    Visit my daughter’s dog

    Feel Gracie against me in bed when I turn and reach to massage her with my foot

    Cry

    See her stools and stairs; can’t bear to pass them on… yet

    Try to remember annoyances

    See her medications

    Remember how difficult it was to coax her to take her meds

    Take her blankie to the emergency pet hospital

    Cry

    Spend time with friends

    Remember her ears flopping when she came running to eat even the night before

    Cry

    Listen for her tags jingling, her feet on on clicking the floor

    Cry

    Wait for her to follow me upstairs at bedtime

    Cry

    Order a beautiful memorial stepping stone/urn

    Cry hard

    Know that at some time in the future I will remember all of this fondly and celebrate my time
    with her

    Thank you all for this special outlet.

    Carolyn Birt

  46. Lynette says

    Aurora’s post was particularly poignant. It is 8 years since I lost my first and most beloved border collie Freya and I still mourn her passing. But the memories are fading. In the first grief filled months I found these words by Ben Hur Lampman some consolation.
    For if the dog be well remembered, if sometimes he leaps through your dreams actual as in life, eyes kindling, questing, asking, laughing, begging, it matters not at all where that dog sleeps at long and at last.
    On a hill where the wind is unrebuked, and the trees are roaring, or beside a stream he knew in puppyhood, or somewhere in the flatness of a pasture land, where most exhilarating cattle graze. It is all one to the dog, and all one to you, and nothing is gained, and nothing lost — if memory lives.
    But there is one best place to bury a dog. One place that is best of all.
    If you bury him in this spot, the secret of which you must already have, he will come to you when you call — come to you over the grim, dim frontiers of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he is yours and he belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper pitched too fine for mere audition, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them then, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth knowing.
    The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of its master.
    He wrote this in 1925.
    Thank you Trisha for so generously sharing your life and knowledge. I have learnt so much from your books and blogs over the past few years and my dogs are the happier for it.

  47. Robin Jackson says

    The poem that Debbie S shared reminded me of a line I like very much , relevant to people or dogs.

    Robert Heinlein’s wife died after a long and very painful illness. He said, “Nothing in the sorrow of her dying could take away from the joy we had together.”

    I am a stereotypical little old lady now, and have had dogs all my life. I remember all of them, even the puppies who didn’t have names and only stayed with us a few weeks. A squirrel reminds me of one, a gust of breeze of another, a shoe left sideways to its mate of yet a third. Each dog was individual, and with each I was lucky to share a lot of joy.

    What I no longer remember is the wrenching grief at their passing. It was real, and savage–but also transitory. The joy stays.

  48. Mireille says

    Catherine, I hope you do nt mind, but I didn’t think you would as a fellow dog lver, but I took the liberty of makng a dutch translation of your poem for an ‘internet friend’ and feloow dog lver who just lost her little 10 month old Dachshund ‘Hercule’ . He ingested a small stone, which obstructed his intestines and he died of the comlications.
    It is in this topic; http://www.hondenpage.com/hondenforum/162647/1/hercule-we-gaan-je-missen-#div3473768

  49. Robin Jackson says

    Oops–I attributed the line to Robert Heinlein and it was Frank Herbert. My apologies.

  50. Kendra says

    I hope I never know the pain of losing my beloved heart dog, who means everything in the world to me.

    But I can’t help thinking of the ancient grave site in Israel, where two bodies were discovered – a human, resting their outstretched hand on their dog.

    For me that is the perfect symbol of how much our dogs mean to us, and how that bond can transcend this world.

    Thank you for sharing such a beautiful poem!

  51. Terry says

    OMG…..Thank you Catherine and to all who have spoken of their loss. I just lost my first deafie girl, Naama, on Monday the 29th to renal carcinoma, we had 11 years together. What was the hardest is we moved to another state just 4 months earlier, so we did not have our regular vet or friends. The vet clinic we went to were great and compassionate, it has made a huge difference.

    Thank you for sharing……

  52. Alison says

    I lost Monty, my heart dog, four days ago on July 28th. He would have been 11 at the end of September. He was an Australian Cattle Dog, and had been recovering beautifully from cruciate ligament surgery when he collapsed and was diagnosed with internal bleeding from hemangiosarcoma, with extensive tumours on his spleen. After some discussion with the vet, and many tears, I let Monty go that afternoon. I had long ago promised him that when the time came I wouldn’t make him hang on just because I needed more time. He’d had a good day, with a nice visit with his friends. Right before it was time, we sat out on the grass in the sun at the clinic while the vet prepared things. I was able, I hope, to give him a good death to follow the good life that I tried to give him.

    I loved him dearly and the pain right now is breathtaking. This poem that Catherine wrote is the first thing I’ve seen that comes close to what I am feeling right now. For the past four days I keep forgetting and turning to look for him. The days are too long. And yes, I make tea, put it down, and forget about it. My house is painfully clean. I wander around town aimlessly because being at home hurts. Getting home hurts because Monty doesn’t meet me at the door, or peer over the back of the couch at me. Going to bed hurts because he isn’t curled up right next to me like he’s supposed to be. Getting up hurts because he’s not there to lay on me and nag me up with kisses, and then bring me a stuffed toy. I cry at random intervals and can’t eat. I find a dust bunny of Monty hair and I can’t breathe because there won’t be any more. My hands remember the feel of his ears. I remember how his fur smelled when I buried my face in it. I am alone for the first time in almost 11 years.

    I know, in time, there will be other dogs. The posts above and their wise and kind discussion of love and loss are proof of that. But Monty and I had grown into each other, and around each other, and having him torn away like this has left me bereft and lost and I will love him and miss him forever.

  53. Marcia in NorCal says

    Husband and I have lost cats together, but not yet a dog. However, the odds are good that both of our elderly Border Collies will leave us within the next few months, a year at most. Husband says there will not be another dog — this is harder for him than for me, it seems — while I cannot imagine this house without a dog … we’ll see how this works out. One thing I do know: it will be much as Catherine described — the older dog in particular will be hard to lose, and already just the thought of it nearly brings me to my knees. I also know that it will be a very long time before we donate all the beds, toys, blankets, collars, leashes (I have no idea how we developed such a large collection for two dogs!), kennels, bowls, treat bags … and then there are the certificates and ribbons won in agility and rally … Eventually the memories will bring more smiles than tears, but oh my those first hours and days and weeks are hard.

  54. Maryk says

    What is it that dogs possess that cause these magical creatures to live so deeply in our hearts?

    Because those poems describe the feelings of loss perfectly. When our first corgi, Yankee, passed away at 16 1/2, I was stunned by the actual physicality of the pain. Putting her to sleep literally brought me to my knees. It was just about the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, even though it was the right thing to do.

    Yankee was my heart dog and even 12 years and another corgi later, reading these poems brought it all back in an instant and had me in tears. The loss was so painful that I still have her ashes; I just can’t bear to part with her again.

    When she died, I re-arranged, then painted the entire first floor of my house. I had to do something. But there were many tears mixed in with that paint. And many tasks left undone. Her toys remained in the toy box. Her food bowls were untouched for over a year, the water in her water bowl slowly evaporating. I just couldn’t put her things away. Finally they did get packed away, but not discarded.

    Of course, life has a way of dragging you along, whether you wish to go or not. Three years after her passing we did get another corgi, Gracie, who could not be more different. She is almost 9 years old, and the clown of our lives; we love her dearly. She helped heal the hole in my heart by putting a piece of her silly heart in there.

    Most of Yankee’s toys are gone now, except for the tennis balls. We kept them – Gracie is a tennie freak, and I’m glad she plays with them. And she uses Yankee’s food and water bowls. But she has her own leash and collar. Which hangs on the leash rack next to Yankee’s.

  55. Stephanie says

    I would like to incorporate a few of the words of Catherine’s poem in a rug I happen to be hooking of my dalmatian – my sweet girl who lived to be 14. I was looking for the perfect words for the border and here they are. I would like to do that with Catherine’s permission. Can I reach her somehow?

  56. SHELL NIXON says

    HI THIS SHELL . I TELL YOU ABOUT MY DOG SHADOW( COCKER SPAINIL) HE DIED OF CANCERS DUE OLD HE VERY WELL GOOD BEHIVE AND LOVEBLE BOY IT SAD THAT HE NOT AROUND ANYMORE BEC I DON’T HEAR HIM HOWL OR COME TO ME PETTING HIM AND HE LOVE STEAL MY FOOD MOSTLY OF CHEESE PUFF AND HOT DOG AND ATE MY SALAD WHEN I TURN AROUND DID HE ATE ALL THAT FUNNY HE CHEAT ON ME HE FUNNY MAKE ME LAUGHT AND HE LICK ME EVERDAY HE HAD GO BATHROOM THAT WHEN HE JUMP IN MY BED WOKE ME UP MONTH AGO BEFORE HIS LAST DAY OF HIS LIFE . I FEEL WEARID BECAUSE HE NOT AROUND IN MY HOUSE ANYMORE IT SEEM QUITES HERE SICE HE DIED AND HAS CREAMTION DONE WELL AND WE WILL MISSED HIM EVERDAY AND HE IN MY MIND NEVER END THINK OF IT . HE TRUE AMAZY DOG I EVER HAD BEC I TOUGHT HIM HOW TO TALK THU I SIGN LANAUGE SIT AND NO AND STAND SO ON HE TRUELY SMART DOG EVER , HE REALLY HELP ME HOWL BEC SOMEONE KNOCK DOOR I RUN TO DOOR BEC I AM DEAF AND HANDICAPPED THAT WHY I HAVE DOG ! BUT I KEEP SMELLING HIS BAD BREATH AND I FEEL IT HIS AROUND MY HOUSE IT FUNNY MY DAGUTHER KEPT HEARING HOWL BUT NOT POSSIBLE EXIT BUT HE DIED JULY 25 .2013 , THAT AMAZY PROBLE SHADOW COME REVIST HOME AFTER HIS DEATH ! WOW THANKS LORD I CAN MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE NEXT LEVEL . GOD BLESS TO ALL .

  57. Rose C says

    Shell,
    Great story you shared on yourself and Shadow. I could imagine still ‘hearing’ our dog’s howl or bark or the clicking of their nails on the flooring, or even ‘feeling’ the nudge that they give us with their nose or the light touch or scratch they make with their paw on our leg to call out attention. These things are good to hear and feel so that we know they never left and are still with us. Always keep Shadow’s memories alive and am happy to hear you are moving on as well.

  58. Catherine Young says

    @Mireille — I’m honored that you felt your friend would receive some consolation from my poem. By all means, with credit given, please do share the work.

    @ Stephanie — I am likewise honored by your desire to include some of the words from the poem in a piece you are creating.

    Once again, it’s been a privilege to know that my words have touched so many of you. Please share the poem and if it inspires you to write, or make a rug, or a painting, or any other creative act…go for it! Sometimes putting our energies into creating something can help assuage the grief.

  59. Alia says

    My big guy died at the end of December last year. He had two operations for a mast cell tumour, followed by months of chemo, then last spring began to develop a cough.
    A chocolate lab, my vet didn’t believe he was as poorly as I thought he was because she only saw his bouncy side in the surgery. Eventually he started vomiting, couldn’t hold food down, went in for a scan, X-rays and endoscopy – nearly died, then a few days later he told me it was time to go. I ‘phoned my son who lived at the other end of the country and told him to get home to say good-bye as he wanted to be there when we went to the vet’s for the last time.
    The night before the big guy died he lay at the open back door in the freezing cold, as he always did in the summer sun, looking out in to the blackness. I sat with him and we watched his memories of the children when they were younger, playing with him in the sun and the paddling pool and the sprinkler; of the snow when they harnessed him to a sledge to pull them along; of our GSD rescue bitch he fell in love with and would chase around the garden, and who had already passed over Rainbow Bridge; of his daily patrols around the boundary of the garden making sure we weren’t invaded – by pigeons, or cats,or foxes… He and I agreed that in the end there are only memories, and we need to make sure those memories are happy ones. And he had many of those.
    The next morning I told him I was going to collect my son, his special person, from the airport, and we were booked to go to the vet’s later that morning.
    The moment my son got in to my car and I moved off, his ‘phone rang and it was my daughter to say that she thought the big guy was having a fit, and then he stopped breathing. And that was it. He had gone.
    My son was distraught and punched a hole in a door when we got back. The other two dogs had seen what happened and understood – that much was obvious from their behaviour. My daughter always said big guy knew when I was 10 mins or so away from home, as he would get up and move to the door to wait for me. I am convinced he knew that my son had come home to be with him and knew the moment that my son got in to my car, and at that point big guy decided he didn’t need to hang on any longer.
    We had him cremated and scattered some ashes around the boundary where he used to patrol – my son holding a golf umbrella over me plus ashes as he used to hold the golf umbrella over big guy when he didn’t want to go potty in the rain! The rest of the ashes are in an urn beside the back door, watching over the garden, the dogs and the family, as he always did. And we have our memories, where he will always live until we in our turn pass on.

  60. John says

    Thank you for this site. Although I’m crying, I feel a little better.
    Two days ago, we put our 13 year old toy poodle, Prissy, to sleep. She had kidney failure and I had her in the vet hospital for 3 days while they cleaned her out with an IV procedure. I was able to visit her and hold her for awhile each day.
    We brought her home, and she was a bit better for a day, and then started deteriorating again. She spent 2 days mostly laying in my arms. She wouldn’t eat or drink and was stumbling when I took her outside to potty. The last time I had her out, she took me for a walk. She started across the yard, stopped and looked back at me until I caught up with her. She took me to all her favorite places in the yard, then finally back to the house. I will always remember this little last walk of love from her.
    All said and done, we had her put to sleep at the vets. Her ashes will be scattered at a special place on the vet’s farm where I know she would be happy to be.
    So now, my only concern is, how long will it take me to get over the grief of taking my best friend — who loved me totally, was completely dependent on me for her well-being, and trusted me with her life — to the vet and had them kill her? The vision of life leaving her little body haunts me. I miss her so much.

  61. Jennifer says

    It will be four months this Thursday since I had to let my Brody go. I can barely even see to type this because of the tears that flood my eyes…still. I found this poem because I did a google search about losing your heart dog. I guess I hoped there would be something out there that made sense. Some magical phrase, something, anything, that would help me to feel a little better. I know the only magical cure is time, but as much as I want it to pass to help to ease this pain in my heart, I don’t want it to, because every moment, every hour, every day takes me further away from the last time I had him here with me. The only comfort besides time, is knowing I am not alone, and there are so many others that know what this feels like, and have felt that loss too. He was not a dog to me, he was my friend, my family…my furry dog child. He was with me through so much. So many moves from place to place through my separation and divorce, and he was what made all of those places feel like a home to me. He visited me every night jumping up on the bed before I went to sleep, laying his head on the pillow next to mine. Every morning, he was the one that would spring up as soon as I stirred, jump back up to lick my face and once again lay next to me with his head on the pillow next to mine. I called him my little bed bug, (among the other 20 plus nicknames I gave him). He meant everything to me. I never loved anything that much. I had another dog, and I loved him too, but Brody was my special angel. He got into my heart like nothing else, and he took that with him when he died. He was only eight years old, he deserved at least another 6 or 7 years, but he was robbed, and so was I. A cancerous tumor on his liver, (that I was originally told was benign) grew so fast and aggressively and took my perfect angel from me, and nothing, could save him… I attempted to remove it with surgery…I tried a holistic vet, changed his diet, supplements, alternative therapy, even a special minimally invasive treatment from AMC NY to try and block the tumors blood supply. I tried it all. I would have done ANYTHING to save him, but there was nothing left that I could do, but let him go…and I haven’t been the same since. Nothing feels the same. I can’t get that image out of my mind of his last moments… I laid in the back of my Jeep with him for the hour drive to the crematorium, just stroking his fur and kissing his nose. I helped hand him over, never to see or feel that beautiful soft fur again. I had to se him through to the end, and as much as it hurts to have done this, it would have hurt me had I not. I had to be there for him. He always came to me when he needed something…or when he was scared. He was always there for me, and I was always there for him. I couldn’t not be there with him at his end, that was the way it had to be…but it haunts me. And yes, I feel like I killed him. I know logically I did not, it was the cancer, but ultimately “I” had to make that decision to spare him a painful death. I wonder often if he would have rallied again, should I have waited…I was so sure at that time, but now I second guess, because I miss him so. I went to talk to someone, I went on Wellbutrin, I even got a puppy, but nothing helps heal that ache in my heart.
    I had gotten better, I cried every day for two months after losing him, and then it eased up, but now all of a sudden I find myself crying every day again for him. Missing him. I always thought he would live out his full life…but it turns out eight years WAS his full life. ..and I hope it was full. I think it was, he was such a happy, lovable, funny dog. His loss has left a hole in my soul. Thank you for your poem, even though it made me cry some more, it does help to know your not alone.

  62. says

    Was crying before I read this am crying even harder now bitter sweet I guess.My husband and I have always had four legged children by choice.We lost our 13yr old shep/ lab mix in April of this year.Ace had been a diabetic for one and a half years, he went into chronic kidney failure in Jan after 11weeks he lost his battle.House is as it was toys etc can’t bring myself to put anything away!!!No new pup yet not ready.Loved and still do love each of my dogs but am having more of a difficult time getting over this one.Our dogs have always lived to be a ripe ole’ age but its still never long enough!!!!!It makes me sick and angry when I hear of animal cruelty!We did everything we could possibly do to give our lil’ guy a chance because he was a fighter and until his job here was done.He always did things his way and he left on his terms!!!God Bless you and yours.DOG=GOD

  63. Jan farara says

    It’s been 3days. I watched the car hit him and I watch it again and again in my head like a video. I loved him more than my husband or my daughter and I’m afraid life will never be the same. I still can’t breathe properly. I keened and screamed and lost my breath. I loved him for soon 10 years. All the things in the poem I did and more. I’m afraid my heart will give out. He was a person called max., with wiry hair and eyes that read my moods. A lick when I was sad and lots of jumps when he knew we were going out. I’m an artist and I have a lot of work I can’t do because as I start to paint the canvas I cry. I’m crying now

  64. Lily says

    JAN: mine died tonite 1/6/14… Second & last dog i lost. She was 13 y.o. chihuaha… Its part of life…. When my first dog died in 2009, i went into deep depression and did not eat for 3 days… I only slept, cried, drank water and peed, for three straight days. He was Toy Tiger, a tea cup chihuahua whom i adored… I still think about him… IF there was re-incarnation when i die, i would love to come back as him…
    Time helps to heal and being around other people, or going to your place of worship and them to pray for you… I did and it helped me to pull through… Divine intervention is necessary & helpful @ times like these..
    God of peace & comfort be with you, right now…. So, sorry for the loss. Could you get another one, later on … In 6 months?

  65. Dakota's family says

    I found this after my best friend and shadow passed just before Christmas. It was a speech given in a court room during a trial where a man was being sued for killing his neighbors dog. I leave this for you to read in honor of a great friend and dog, Dakota.

    George G. Vest
    Eulogy of the Dog
    23 September 1870
    Warrensburg, Missouri

    Gentlemen of the Jury: The best friend a man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us, may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads.

    The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer. He will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings, and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.

    If fortune drives the master forth, an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him, to guard him against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes his master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by the graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even in death.
    -George Graham Vest

  66. says

    My baby girl Trinity died yesterday. She was only 9 yrs old, a Shih Tzu that rescued me 3.5 years ago. She meant everything to me and I can’t believe how much I loved her. I wish I had been given more time. I do believe she’ll be there to welcome me when it’s my time to go.

    I just stumbled on this site – while I cried a lot it has helped me very much. I’m so sorry for everyone’s losses. As John said in November, “…my only concern is, how long will it take me to get over the grief….” She was my best friend — who loved me totally, was completely dependent on me for her well-being, and trusted me with her life — ….” Thanks everyone for your stories.

  67. Sandra Roettgen says

    I have been reading these entries, off and on, since I found this site as I was trying to cope with the loss of a wonderful and devoted best friend. A dog named Cheney who died on Christmas Eve (12-24-2013) and have found it to be not only extremely helpful in getting me through this overwhelming grief, but also inspiring in the way others so eloquently express their feelings.

    Cheney was only two weeks short of her 13th birthday and was a Lab/Rott mix. We had her since she was 4 months old. My feelings are identical to most all I have read. I shed many tears as I realized how much we all have in common regarding this loss which is deeper than many ever experience. I join with you in your sorrow and pray that we all can come through this with a richer and more abundant ability to live and love. This is the legacy our beloved pets have left us. Their gift to us.

    Thank you for this wonderful outlet and for the beautiful expressions of human love and kindness it conveys!

  68. Nancy R says

    Great poem. It is so spot on. My husky, Max, of almost 13 years went to doggie heaven last week. I’ve done everything on the list, the tea, I look at the spot where he use to be , changed the sheets and even sweep; the house has never been cleaner. I miss him dearly. It’s comforting to know I am not alone and other people do the same things. He changed my life for the better. He was the best companion ever. He made a difference in my world and will forever be in my heart. There will come a day eventually when I don’t have a thought of him for that day but I will never forget him. I am happy to have had him and he still brings a smile to my face when I talk of him. May everyone come to the place where there are more smiles than tears.

  69. Silvija says

    I read these poems and they all make me cry. I lost my dog today…I’m not even sure how old he was, cause I don’t remember when we got him. All I know is that he has been with me for more than half of my life. And what makes my heart break even more is that I had to move, so he was living in different city. I saw him very rarely and now my mom’s ex calls me and says that he has bad news…I started to cry before he said anything else…and it breaks my heart that I couldn’t be with him on his last days.
    I soon plan to go visit him at his grave..that’s the only thing I can do..

  70. Margaret S. says

    Thank you for this. I bookmarked this because it was posted when my dog was growing old, and I knew I would need it. Last week, her pain outweighed her love of life, and we knew it was time to let her rest.
    She was gifted to us from the street 14 years ago by a dog angel – a man who seemed like an ordinary person, but it was he who picked up the stray puppy and said to me, “What a nice puppy, wouldn’t you like to have her?” And I hesitated, because I knew that if I took her, I couldn’t return her to the street. Then I took her in my arms.
    Two months ago, we found a pair of baby dogs in the street – discarded by the owners of the mother, apparently. We were going to give them both away, but we ended up keeping the female. Our old dog liked the puppy – she never liked any of the other ‘second dogs’ we had had during her lifetime, and I like to think that she willed the puppy her place in our hearts.

  71. Anne Rainwater says

    Thanks for posting this.. It’s good to know others go through the same thing. It’s been 5 days and I still have no appetite. Forcing myself to eat. Hoping in time I will adjust.

  72. Amanda says

    The last two articles that I have read have left a huge impact. Our two beloved Mn Schnauzers Hugh & Stella were murdered May 8th 2013, their loss is something that I never will get over. There are day’s where I just do not want to deal with the world, most day’s I just put on a brave face even though I am in torment inside and deal with work etc.
    It has been hard to heal because we are dealing with a case that has gone on and on and on. Finally he took the plea offered to him in the beginning and we are looking at a settlement hearing in a month now. My babies cremains were just returned to us a year after they were killed because of the animal DNA evidence should this case have gone to trial.
    It has been a nightmare, so many people just do not understand the pain and grief that I have gone through and still am. So thank you for sharing this.

  73. Tara says

    Thank you for this. My beloved Oliver passed today, on his 9th birthday. I found him this morning and I can barely see through my tears. Your poem is lovely. I’m completely heartbroken right now. Thanks for sharing that I’m not alone. Rest in peace Oliver. Mommy loves you!

  74. Mk Singh says

    I lost my dog today..c was my best friend…best companion i could ever had..been through tough times…morning walks…evening trolls…c was a part of me…and a part of me died today.Crying my heart out.I miss her.

  75. Laurie says

    Thank you for your poem it’s an accurate depiction of life after a beloved pet passes on.
    My family lost our beloved Axl just 2 days ago. He was a beautiful Rottweiler that we rescued since we are certain his breeder was going to dispose of him. It wasn’t the best breeding situation we ever seen & we had to have him.
    We’ve great memories of Axl, chipmunk hunting, snuggling, fancy tricks, bringing my slippers as I walk in the door. He was absolutely the BEST!!!
    He loved his baths & having his paws held while he drifted off to sleep. The happiest greeter I’ve ever seen, especially if you were carrying grocery bags!
    His health issues were a result of heredity conditions due to poor breeding practices.
    Intense grief comes in waves right now, followed by a stabilized mood with images of our happy dog at his best.
    I cry myself to sleep only to wake up, at a time I would’ve tended to Axl’s needs. There I lay awake until I wander over to his bed to see if he’s magically appeared.
    I don’t want to vacuum or wash the floors yet because it would remove every trace of him he’s left behind…..all that nuisance dog hair which I just want to leave in place now.
    One of the worst parts is the quiet, I now long for the noises he made, the growls, barks, every whine & cry, his jingling collar & his nails click clacking on the hardwood floors. I miss his velvety soft ears, kissing his forehead & the smell of his fur.
    I need his noise and his unconditional love & affection for our family. I will treasure his love for us & our happy memories forever.
    But right now missing his presence is just immensely painful. My heart is breaking with loneliness for Axl.
    I know one day I will put his dish & toys & bed out of site. I will get back to cooking, cleaning & dishes regularly. I long to feel “normal” & happy again.
    I hope another rottweiler is in our future because we have lots of love to give. I emjoy being a “dog family,” because not only do we have a lot to offer but dogs have a lot to give back.
    For now I will take it day by day & know that each passing day is a step toward “normal” and happy again.
    Missing Axl daily & loving him eternally. Until we meet again❤️
    Laurie

  76. Sonia says

    Today I saw a car rolled over one of the most precious things In life my Oscar, a 11 1/2 old son border collie. We don’t have children, we had Oscar. And we have been married for the long. We got hi as wedding present. It hurts. I wished I wouldn’t have witness it because the moment keeps coming back over and over again. And the worst part it was that I couldn’t do anything to avoid it. Nothing. He died almost instantly. I couldn’t see him suffered. When I go there he was dead already. My neighbor was there. This helps..

  77. Vicki says

    It is two days since our beautiful Bella died and the heartache is a physical heaviness that won’t leave my chest. Three weeks ago I found a lump on her leg which pathology indicated was a mast cell tumour. Our vet referred us to an animal oncologist who recommended chemotherapy. She was 9 years old. She had her first treatment last Friday, by Friday night she was sick. Saturday she had vomitting and diarhoea and I tried to contact the oncologist to see if this was normal. First thing sunday morning I took her back to our vet who said she was very unwell. By this stage she had blood in her diarhoea and he put her on pain relief, antibiotics and anti emetic. I rang the following morning and he said she was still sick and I visited her on the Monday afternoon and saw her. I knew then That she wouldn’t make it. I stayed with her and stroked her and told her much I loved her and she would break my heart if she left. Not long after she started to vomit blood. By Wednesday morning she was dead. i can’t find any reference to a dog dig from chemo and in my heart I feel that I killed her. There isn’t a place in our house that doesn’t remind me of her. I think I hear her running down the stairs and without thinking my heart skips a beat but it isn’t her. There was a delivery to our front door this afternoon and when he knocked Bella didn’t bark. I answered the door wit tears streaming down my face. My heart screams for her.

  78. says

    I lost my dog one week ago. to liver cancer. My Foof was a 18 year old Lhasa Apso. He was my world. It was love at first sight when I found him..He was the best! I feel severed and I am frantically trying to put the pieces back together. I weave between feeling numb and crying, to sights of him in his final hour. I made a commemoration for him.. I call it,, his little shrine.. A pic of him in a frame, a candle burning in front of it , surrounding by unpolished crystals , encased by his collar and his paw print. I miss him so much. He is at Rainbow Bridge now..He is a playful puppy again and when I die we will be reconnected.. I will be young and he will greet me in his energetic puppy form..only this time it will be happy endlessly..I am sure they have some great trials to trek. Til we meet again Foof <3
    " I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.
    I could see that you were crying, you found it hard to sleep.
    I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,
    "It's me, I haven't left you, I'm well, I'm fine, I'm here."
    I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea
    You were thinking of the many times your hands reached down to me.
    I was with you at my grave today, you tend it with such care.
    I want to re-assure you, that I'm not lying there.
    I walked with you towards the house as you fumbled for your key.
    I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said, "It's me."
    You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair
    I tried so hard to let you know that I was standing there.
    It's possible for me to be so near you every day
    To say to you with certainty, "I never went away."
    You sat there very quietly, then smiled; I think you knew…
    In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.
    The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning
    And say "good-night, God bless, I'll see you in the morning."
    And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,
    I'll rush across to greet you and we'll stand, side by side.
    I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.
    Be patient, live your journey out… then come home to be with me. "
    ~Author Unknown~

  79. Val Gould says

    I have just lost my beautiful German Pointer Monty. He had been suffering from epilepsy for 6 years and over time his medication had been increased and meticulously administered to him by myself. I seldom left him in case he had an attack and I always had a good supply of valium suppositories which helped him out of his fits. No walk was taken without my supply tucked in my bag and my mobile at the ready should I need help. At night I slept with my door open in order to hear Daisy’s alarm should he fit in the night and on many occasions he spent the night on my bed. Sometimes this resulted in him fitting there and soaking my bed with urine. I changed the sheets and mopped up the poo that my poor boy couldn’t help excreting and watched over him as he staggered around the room bumping into things and falling over due to the effects of the valium.
    Then, once this was passed he was normal, energetic and my lovely boy again. We have brought him back from the brink on more than one occasion and for a while could pretend that he was a well dog and could deny the fact that the fits were getting stronger in intensity and that one day it would take him from us.
    His devotion to me started from the moment we met and my daughter used to say that he didn’t have a brain just a big heart with MUM written on it. Monty was so attached that I barely put my bum on the settee before he was sprawled over my lap. My darling baby loved me with an intensity I’ve never before experienced and I have owned many dogs all of whom I have loved dearly but he was a one-off. Monty came to us with his litter- mate Daisy and they have never been apart. He stood back from the food bowls to let her eat her fill he would sometimes sleep in the smaller bed if his big bed had been claimed by our cheeky little springer cross, his long legs spilling over the sides, never once has he shown any aggression to any other dog, in short, he was perfect.
    Monty’s gleaming liver coat with his waistcoat of spots and his unbelievably silky ears gave him the appearance of a dog in the peak of health. But the epilepsy hung over us all like a black cloud.
    I turned down invitations to go out and on the few occasions I did go out I made it clear that I had to be home at his medication time.
    However, on Friday the 17th of this month I agreed to go to a quiz night in aid of the local church. I left the three dogs together in the kitchen, fed and in bed. When I got home I knew what was happening – Daisy was barking furiously and when I rushed into the kitchen there he was in a dreadful fit. I used all the valium, I rang the vet and she tried to save him. He was too far gone and she had to put him out of it. I had ignored the feeling I had that somehow I shouldn’t go out that evening. If I had been there at least I know that I had done everything in my power to save him. I failed my beautiful, soft and loving boy and I can’t forgive myself.
    His hound’s bay and his party trick of finding their poos and barking at me until I picked them up told everyone Val’s out with the dogs. He was loved by our whole dog walking fraternity.
    Daisy is grieving, she is actually crying and refuses to eat in the kitchen where it happened. I have had to take the double raised feeding bowls away as she shies away from the empty space where Monty’s would have been.
    We are heart-broken at out loss. I cry almost constantly, I miss him so much.

  80. says

    Dear Val Gould, I’m so sorry for the loss of your beautiful dog. A year later and finally I can look at a picture of the beautiful boy I lost. Grieve as long as you need to. You will re-visit it again and again as time passes, everytime grieve if you need to. People think that you get over a loss of a love one, but some you never do. Just know your heart will lighten eventually, in time when it’s ready. Sending out compassion and sympathy in this very difficult time.
    And for all that have posted here with their own stories of a bond like no other, thank you for sharing.

  81. says

    This is my attempt at decribing my heart dog.

    For Jumpin’ Jack Flash

    Wind, Rain, Snow and Ice
    Jack ran through them all with every bit of his life.
    Nothing could stop him whe he flew like a breeze
    a blur was all you could see

    He was in Grace motion, Nature wild and free
    He loved like a wild man
    And loved life more than you or me.

    Jackie with blues eyes and a feart full of magic that made you feel free.
    Jackie with blues eyes that stay with you always.

    Travel back to freedom where the snow grows deep
    Travel back, and fly, fly away.

    Jackie with blue eyes and an endless call of the wild
    Jackie with blue eyes, he could stop your heart beat.

    Wind, Rain, Snow and Ice
    Jack ran through them all with every bit of his life.

    Travel back to freedom where the snow grows deep
    Travel back, baci to a place where you’ll always be free.

    This may be a very bad attempt at a peom, a little sing-songy, but he was always up for a good laugh too, so if it makes you chuckle it’s ok with me.

    To my heart dog. One crazy Siberian Husky. C. 1999-10/15 /2013 1 year later your presence is still here,
    love you always.
    My life changed forever once I meet you. I finally stopped crying maybe two months ago. That day I brought your ashes home, well that day, I was crushed, I feel into a coma without you. Your breath beside me at night kept my heart beating, your smell of the woods and dog mixed together I hope I never forget. Your looks and spirit were a beautiful thing that brought me so much joy. But without losing you how would I know what a life can mean? Thank you for teaching me to always be a positive trainer, thank you for teaching me how to put others first and thank you for your love.

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