My friends. Thank you for your kind words about Dog. Thank you.

Some of you asked how the boys are doing; they’re completely fine. Dog was a sweet and patient creature but she wasn’t particularly interested in loud rambunctious children (we adopted her after she had been retired from breeding, I always suspected she took one look at Riley when we brought him home as a newborn and thought, lord, not these things again) and they were never particularly emotionally attached to her. I think if she’d been a younger dog the relationship would have been different, you know? As it was, they seem to accept with no great amount of sorrow that she was very old and her life had come to an end.

For me her absence is strangely tangible, an insistent lack of something that keeps catching the corner of my eye. The wood-chip padded area next to the house where she slept during the day, her doghouse (disassembled and packed away yet somehow still there, an invisible outline), the carpet where she would lay at night. The click of her nails on the floor, the awkward scramble of her getting to her feet in the morning. I don’t know how an empty or missing thing can feel so commandingly present. Here I am, not here.

I very much wish I could unsee the minutes that happened after we were ushered into that sad little room at the veterinarian’s office. Everything was done with professionalism and kindness and I do not believe that she suffered. But oh. Oh, my god.

At first it seemed like that’s all I was ever going to be able to think about again when it came to remembering her—the haunting machinations of her death—but that afternoon seems to be fading bit by bit (please, go away) and I am trying to instead conjure up all the happy things we did with her throughout the years.

I have been adamant that I do not under any circumstances want another dog any time soon but … well. The owner who we originally adopted Dog from told us she has another female Lab that she’s hoping to find a good home for. The dog is three years old. JB thinks we should just go to the owner’s house again, just to visit. I think that sounds like an absolutely terrible idea and I refuse to even consider it. For now.

Anyway, I wanted to post a follow up and I mostly just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you. For those of you who have ever loved an animal, you know there’s no such thing as “it’s just a pet.”


65 Responses to “Holes”

  1. goingloopy on June 27th, 2011 4:50 pm

    My best friend didn’t stay with her kitty when it was “time”…because she didn’t want that as the last memory. Me, I felt like I had to. The last moments were both awful and wonderful…awful because we were saying goodbye to a beloved friend, wonderful because she was no longer suffering and in pain, and it was very peaceful.

    I didn’t intend to get another kitty… I mean, we have three more, for fuck’s sake…but it just felt like there was a missing piece in our house, and then a girl at the vet’s office said they had kittens, and well…it ended up being about 6 weeks, between. And having the little crazy one has helped, especially because one of our other kitties seemed to really be taking the loss hard.

    Sorry for wall of text. I guess what I’m saying is, when it’s right to get another dog, you’ll know. What will *probably* happen is that JB will sneak over to Lab Lady’s house.

    *HUGS*…this shit sucks so much, but the time with our furry companions is so, so worth it.

  2. Sarah on June 27th, 2011 6:30 pm

    Our cat got very very sick when he was only a few months old and we were basically told to give up hope….luckily he pulled through and is now fine, but those 3 days when he was so sick and we didn’t know what would happen were some of the very worst I’ve ever had. I actually live in fear of the day we have to put him down because now I have had a taste of what that grief would feel like, and it was awful. I had a few people say to me “It’s just a cat” and I wanted to punch them in the face. I get that some people have pets just as pets, but I think for most people they become part of the family. That cat was the first baby my husband and I had together, and I will always think of him that way. Losing him will be like losing one of my children.

  3. Karl on June 27th, 2011 7:38 pm

    “Just a pet”. Indeed.

    I was the one who had never had a pet, when our dog arrived as a pup for our needy 15-year-old. Of course he attached himself to me, not him. He was never MY dog, no, nope. 13 and a half years later, he tired of seeing sunsets, and I took him to his end, and to this day my eyes water. And what do I remember of him? His stamping on the floor waiting for scraps from the table. His excitement when (at age 11) the steak Really Did fly thru the air and land at his feet. (Today was the day!) His hairy butt sticking out from the chair when he thought he was invisible.. :) His tussling with the kids trying to steal their gloves.

    The boys will remember, and will be the better for it. Trust me on that.

  4. maureen c on June 27th, 2011 8:00 pm

    My vet’s office has a small room with a couch, coffee table and chairs that is dimly lit. You can hold your pet in your arms in a comfortable almost home like setting. They will also come to your house. It is one of the advantages of living in a small town. I wish my people doctors were this kind. Been thinking of you. Hope the image goes away soon.

  5. Julie on June 27th, 2011 8:42 pm

    Heartfelt condolences to all of you. I just loved reading about Dog and Cat through the years, and now they are both gone and it’s so sad. xo I lost my Sona 2 years ago but did most of grieving ahead of time. Ultimately it’s a privilege to be able to make that decision, despite the tortuous doubts. I blocked a lot of that day and all the memories, until about a year later, I let a little in. When I looked at pictures, I was astonished at how old and unwell my Golden boy looked. Then I really knew that we had made the right decision. It was those warm brown eyes of his… I saw nothing else. We had a new puppy within a couple of months. Not my decision, but not one I regret at all. You have enough love for another one, too. And the fun your boys will have growing up with a protector and a best friend is, as they say, priceless. But the best thing is, a new dog does not “replace” the old. Hugs to you all.

  6. Sonia on June 27th, 2011 8:45 pm

    It takes time. I was adamant that we not even consider another dog any time soon when we lost our Kota-dog. We went 3 or 4 months before my mom drove 6 hours to pick up a puppy that she knew we’d love. Kaya bounded around the corner of my mom’s kitchen, and (this is *so* sappy) into our hearts. She was our ‘bandaid’ dog, and has been for 10 years now. The timing was right, despite that fact that I didn’t think it was. Maybe go take a peek at the 3 year old?

  7. Faith on June 28th, 2011 5:18 am

    When my childhood best friend – a 13-year-old Siamese cat – was put down, I was devastated. My mom had always said no more cats, but when she saw my grief she relented, and I did find it a lot easier. It sounds awful maybe but it did take away that emptiness that is a constant reminder of the loss.

  8. megan on June 28th, 2011 5:32 am

    Oh how I teared up reading your last post. I went through the same thing 2 years ago, and it was one of the hardest things I had to do. Especially because he was “my” dog. I remember going into the house and seeing how weak he was, but how he was still trying to wag at seeing me and it was heart-wrenching. I was in the room with the vet and it was terrible, but at the same time I am glad I am one of the last things he saw.

    You’re so right about the glaring emptiness. You never notice how much something is part of your life until its gone. As for getting a new dog, you will know in your heart if you are ready. I think it might be good to just go out and visit the other dog – you don’t have to say yes.

    My heart goes out to you. The haunting memory of her death will definitely fade and you will be left with great memories of Dog. They’ll still be a bit sad, but mostly happy good ones.

  9. Judith Miller on June 28th, 2011 7:21 am

    While my husband was in the hospital this February, I had to have his dog put down. I could not get her into the car, so the vet techs came to our home–on a Saturday–and did it. I still can see it very clearly everytime I look over to where they laid her to do the procedure. Images that do not fade very easily.

  10. willikat on June 28th, 2011 2:50 pm

    When my sister knew that her beloved cocker was probably not going to make it another year, she adopted a lab. I think she did it so when she came home without her cocker, she would still have a (very different,but somehow familiar) doggy face at the door. She still cries when she talks about Wally, a few years after his death, her loyal dog who stuck with her through thick and thin, but she loves her new dog(s) an awful lot.
    My cockapoo is getting up there (12.5) and I DREAD this day coming. We have already had her at the ER a few times over the time she has been with us (4.5 years) and I’m a mess then, so I can’t even imagine the depth of grieving you are going through.
    I am sending you love and support during this awful time. I know how much Dog must have meant to you. Remember that helping your pet go is one of the most loving things you can do, when it’s time. Even though, no two ways about it, it feels SHITTY.
    As for me, I keep reminding myself that the heart knows no capacity for love and there’s always room for more when it’s the right time … Cruel twist that dogs’ lives are so short compared to humans.

  11. Kris on June 28th, 2011 8:52 pm

    Again, I’m so sorry. I wish your heart didn’t feel so broken and raw. But the awfulness of her final moments will continue to fade away, I promise, and you’ll be able to let go of some of your sadness & remember only her goodness.

    One of our dogs was a complete shit. A snarling, growling, fucked up mess; but I loved her and her crazy issues. And today, 2 years after we had her put down because she snarled and lunged at our son, my heart only remembers how she would cover his face in kisses while he laughed, making her kiss him even more voraciously. You forget the bad parts, and in the end will only remember how much happiness she brought you and how much she was loved.

    FWIW, when you’re ready, I think *you* alone should go to Dog’s original owner and meet the other girl. If you connect with her, GREAT! But if not, neither JB nor the boys will be crushed if you decide she’s not the right pup for you.

    Much love to you and yours.

  12. Scott on June 29th, 2011 3:37 pm

    I still to this day remember and miss each and every dog that shared my life. The hole that is created when one of them leaves you is never filled, but rather the newcomer somehow eases the pain of the immediate feelings of loss. One of the damn unfair things about life is the vast difference in life span between ourselves and our pets.

  13. Deanna on June 30th, 2011 2:57 pm

    Beautifully written. Thanks for the update, was wondering about the boys. I do hope that afternoon fades away and you can focus on the good stuff. Hugs to you.

  14. Amy on July 8th, 2011 1:22 pm

    the right pet will find you at the right time. But I totally get it…I miss Cody just as you describe.

  15. Jennie on September 11th, 2011 12:30 pm

    We just had our dog put to sleep yesterday and all day long, I kept coming back to this post. I’m so sorry, I wish I’d commented sooner, but I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your words on this subject. I, too, keep hoping for her last moments to disappear from my brain, to NOT see what I keep seeing when I close my eyes, and I’m thankful to know that, in time, it will fade and I’ll remember her, younger and healthier. So thank you for your words.

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