People told me I would know when it was time, but we never really did for sure. I can tell you that a few months ago we noticed that Dog was … the best words I can use are winding down, which makes me think of clichéd metaphors involving dying clocks, but that’s exactly what it was like. She was slowing down. She started coughing and making messes in the laundry room where she sleeps at night. The vet told us her heart was failing, which was creating excess fluids she was too weak to fully expel from her lungs. They gave us antibiotics and not much hope. She was a very old dog, after all.

In the last couple weeks something changed in her. She stopped wagging her tail, she stopped circling the kitchen looking for dropped treats, she stopped expending any energy at all. She barely moved all day long. I wouldn’t go so far as to say there was a sense of despair about her, but there was a sort of silent, sad, enduring resignation. She would eat, but with no interest whatsoever. She had lost so much weight she had this awful gaunt appearance around her back, like her flesh was barely covering her spine.

Last night JB walked her to the park that’s about a block away, and she nearly couldn’t make it back. I watched her, later in the evening, as she lay on the carpet nearby; you could see the effort of her chest rising and falling. I put my hand on her and I could feel her watery, labored breathing. Her overworked heart.

She slowly put one paw up to touch my hand, a broken version of the robust and silly Dog handshake she used to do, and I guess I did know, or maybe I didn’t for sure, maybe I’m just trying to convince myself. We can’t know what she really felt like, we can’t know what she would have wanted. But I believe she had passed some sort of point of no return, that her days would have become increasingly painful. Exhaustion, suffocation, drowning.

The vet helped ease her out of this life today. JB and I were there to comfort her and pet her as she went. It was the worst thing I’ve ever done. Oh, Dog.

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Comments

346 Responses to “All dogs go to heaven”

  1. sheilah on June 24th, 2011 7:39 am

    So sorry. It’s hard to lose an old friend. She was much loved and lived a good life. It is a hard decision to make tho’.

  2. Laurelie on June 24th, 2011 7:47 am

    Dog’s smile captured forever is a beautiful memory. May the fun times you had together as a family bring your comfort during this sad time.

  3. Holly on June 24th, 2011 8:18 am

    So sorry to hear about your dog Linda :( I had to put my dog down 5 1/2 years ago and it was the hardest thing I have ever done. I found this poem at the time and it helped to reassure me that I had done the right thing.

    IF IT SHOULD BE

    If it should be that I grow weak
    And pain should keep me from my sleep,
    Then you must do what must be done,
    For this last battle cannot be won.

    You will be sad, I understand.
    Don’t let your grief then stay your hand.
    For this day, more than all the rest,
    Your love for me must stand the test.

    We’ve had so many happy years.
    What is to come can hold no fears.
    You’d not want me to suffer so;
    The time has come — please let me go.

    Take me where my need they’ll tend,
    And please stay with me till the end.
    Hold me firm and speak to me,
    Until my eyes no longer see.

    I know in time that you will see
    The kindness that you did for me.
    Although my tail its last has waved,
    From pain and suffering I’ve been saved.

    Please do not grieve — it must be you
    Who had this painful thing to do.
    We’ve been so close, we two, these years;
    Don’t let your heart hold back its tears.

    — Anonymous —

  4. Jessica on June 24th, 2011 8:28 am

    I’ve always loved that picture of little Riley and Dog. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  5. Lynn Anne on June 24th, 2011 8:43 am

    I have a 13 1/2 year old labrador who has made me so happy for so many years. I’m dreading the day we have to do the same. I am so sorry for your loss and feel your pain.

  6. Donna (Texas) on June 24th, 2011 10:28 am

    Bless your hearts….Sending prayer.
    I know how you feel.
    (((HUG)))

  7. Katie S. on June 24th, 2011 10:33 am

    Oh that was one happy looking dog. I’m sorry for your whole family. :(

  8. Christy on June 24th, 2011 11:39 am

    I’m so sorry…feeling extra sad because my brother had to make that horrible decision with his dog this morning.

  9. Tifany on June 24th, 2011 11:50 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, Linda. I have a 12 year old black lab that I’ve had since he was 8 weeks old, so reading this has me in tears…I know he won’t live forever, but I sure want him to.

  10. Anonymous on June 24th, 2011 12:16 pm

    Oh, Dog. Bless her sweet heart! I am so sorry to hear, but so glad she isn’t suffering.

    Just a suggestion (not that you asked, ha!), the book “The Tenth Good Thing About Barney” is a very sweet, gentle children’s book about coping with loss and grief.

  11. Ani on June 24th, 2011 12:44 pm

    Jesus Christ, this upsets me to my soul. I love dogs, and I loved your dog from afar for years. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m glad her wait is over, but very sorry that she is gone.

  12. Gena on June 24th, 2011 1:38 pm

    Linda,

    After having an already trying day, you just broke my heart in two. I am so, so sorry for your loss and so sad that you had to do that. I’ve had to “help” 3 of my dogs go and it is incredibly difficult, to say the least. I couldn’t stand to see them suffer, but I couldn’t stand to see them leave me, either.

    I know Dog will be missed.

  13. Michelle on June 24th, 2011 4:49 pm

    I’m so sorry.

  14. Maria on June 24th, 2011 5:05 pm

    I’m so sorry.

  15. amy on June 24th, 2011 5:28 pm

    this is one of the saddest things i’ve ever read. dog will be missed by more people than you can even imagine; what a dear, sweet soul. so sorry.

  16. sadie on June 24th, 2011 7:32 pm

    Oh, Dog.
    Linda, JB, boys – I am sorry. She was a beautiful dog.

  17. Allison on June 24th, 2011 8:17 pm

    What a pretty dog, she looked so happy :) I’m sorry for your loss and I totally understand what you mean about it being the worst thing you’ve ever done. Putting our cat down was the worst thing ever… it affected me for months after. But like you, I was confident that it was the right thing to do… they don’t deserve to suffer. But man, if they could just live forever it would make it so much easier.

  18. Mare on June 24th, 2011 9:29 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  19. Jenny H. on June 25th, 2011 1:38 am

    I didn’t read the comments because I couldn’t. I have those same pictures of my babies with the best dog ever. A dog that NEVER barked or growled at a baby, even when those said babies were pulling her hair or patting her just a little too hard. All she did was love them. And try to protect them, with her life if need be.

    I feel your pain. It gets a little easier with time. I promise.

  20. theresa on June 25th, 2011 4:44 am

    i’m sorry for you and your family’s loss of Dog.

    thank you for sharing Dog with us over the years. one of the first posts i read was of Dog and Cat and the treats in the cracker box; whenever i hear the word “Mensa” i think of that post and laugh and laugh. hopefully when i am 90 i will be able to remember that post so i can still laugh.

    it hurts knowing that life ends but to have the love in our lives is so worth it. i hope that your memories will give you comfort.

  21. MotherGooseAmy on June 25th, 2011 5:16 am

    My sincerest condolences. She was a beautiful dog and I enjoyed hearing the many stories involving her. Especially the ones about the boys eating fistfuls of dog hair :) May her memory be a blessing. RIP Dog.

  22. mel on June 25th, 2011 5:24 am

    so terribly sorry to read this news. my almost 3 year old daughter was sitting on my lap when i read this post and she said “aww look at the doggy, he’s so beautiful”. my thoughts are with you all xx

  23. cara on June 25th, 2011 6:47 am

    I know everyone’s already said it, but I’m sorry too. I always enjoyed your pet pictures, and I liked how you simply referred to them as Dog and Cat online. I know how very hard it is to say goodbye to such a friend. I agree; it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is an impossibly hard thing to do. Sending smiles in your direction.

  24. Catriona on June 25th, 2011 7:12 am

    So sorry about Dog, what a beautiful girl.

    I love the photo of her with Dylan (?) in her bed – so sweet! (and how cute was he at that age?)
    Catriona.

  25. Amy on June 25th, 2011 5:35 pm

    I have done this twice. It is the absolute WORST. I have a 12 year old cat who is healthy, but I realize that she doesn’t have infinite time either. Stupidly, the only thing that eases the pain is time. So sorry for your loss.

  26. JJ on June 25th, 2011 10:34 pm

    So sad for you guys. We just had to put our dog of 14 years down on Wednesday, it’s heartbreaking. I feel guilty, even though I know he was in pain. My 5 year old already wants a puppy, so much for mourning! (and no, I’m never getting a puppy ever again).

  27. jody on June 26th, 2011 12:30 am

    I totally just cried for you because I remember doing the same awful thing 3 years ago. I am so, so sorry. Your photos are beautiful…what wonderful memories you have of her.

  28. Eric's Mommy on June 26th, 2011 8:57 am

    Oh Linda I am so sorry. I haven’t been on my computer since it crashed and am just checking in when I saw this, I lost it. Rest in peace sweet Dog, you will be missed. I know how hard it is to lose a beloved pet.

  29. Anonymous on June 26th, 2011 3:08 pm

    *sniff* sorry for your loss. She looked like a great dog. She had a good life. The best thing for you and your family is to get a puppy. Not to replace her, but to share your love with another lucky beasty.

  30. Mol on June 26th, 2011 11:30 pm

    stories and pics of Ashley always made smile. you KNEW and you did RIGHT by her. hugs to all of you.

  31. Geri on June 27th, 2011 2:04 pm

    Linda, I’m so sorry for your loss. Letting go of a beloved pet is so hard. She was a good girl and had a great life with your family.

  32. Cris on June 27th, 2011 7:13 pm

    Simply heartbroken for you and your family on the loss of dear Ashley. What a great girl, and how lucky that you found each other. She had a wonderful life full of love and adventure.

  33. Mommy Boots on June 29th, 2011 6:42 pm

    So sorry about your pup. My cat had congestive heart failure and I know how sad it is to lose an old friend. *hugs*

  34. Barb on June 30th, 2011 1:11 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about Dog…I don’t know what else to say…yes, I agree…ALL dogs go to heaven (trying NOT to cry at work)…

  35. Veronica on July 6th, 2011 3:57 pm

    I take a million pictures of our 5 and 3 year old. i mean, a million. i post them proudly on our shutterfly website. but this post made me realize that I take hardly ANY pictures of our beloved beagle. i’m gonna make a change today, to snap those puppy dog shots like crazy from now on. Thanks Linda, for making me see what I have been so poorly underappreciating. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  36. stormy on July 22nd, 2011 10:06 am

    i haven’t been by in a while. and i just read about Dog. I’m so sorry, Linda. i’ve been there. it’s such a hard decision, i know. but such a selfless one. i know Dog loved her pack. thank YOU for giving her, her pack to love. she was so special to you guys. i’ve read all the posts over the years where she was included. what a great life you guys gave her. i imagine she’s running, full speed, by her favorite lake up there. sun shining, soft breeze and then, it rains treats! *hugs*

  37. Anais on July 25th, 2011 6:23 pm

    I’m here sobbing. I’ve been reading your blog for years and remember when you guys adopted her. I’m so very sorry. I lost my beloved cat last year to old age and a failing heart and also had to put him to sleep to ease his suffering. It was the worst day of my life and the worst decision I have ever had to make. I’m so sorry you and your family had to go through the same awful experience. But at the same time, I’m glad you gave her such a wonderful life. She was a good, happy dog. She was lucky.

  38. Chris Monahan on July 7th, 2014 2:09 pm

    I feel your pain and your tears … literally. I put my first (and only) dog, Missy, down almost 10 months ago at approximately 15 (I had for 11 years). She got lymphoma and we did six months of chemo (mostly because I wasn’t ready for her to go). We finished and three months later it was back, along with anemia and bad hips. She was a therapy dog for five years and played flyball for three. It only hurts now when I think of her, which is many times a day (with photos up in pretty much every room). For now, I have no plans to get another because it still feels like I would be replacing her. Thanks for sharing. Blessings.

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