Last Wednesday Dog had her spay surgery, which went fine except for the part where I had to hand her leash over to the nice vet assistant and walk away while Dog tucked her tail between her legs, tried to follow me, was brought up short, and looked at me, you know, with her face. Then I picked her up several hours later and she walked over to me, all druggy and confused, and pressed her nose against my legs, like thank god you’re back you won’t BELIEVE what they did to me. O, the guilt.

Anyway, she recovered nicely but they sent me home with this GIANT sheet of heavy clear plastic with strips of velcro running down the sides. This was Dog’s Elizabethan collar, a.k.a. the cone of shame. It was intended to stop her from licking or biting her incision, but when I put it on the next day — not without a struggle, getting the ends to overlap enough to attack the velcro was nearly impossible — she just … stood there, head hanging straight down towards the floor. I don’t actually think it was physically too difficult to lift, but she was weighted down with SORROW. It really did feel torturous, and it somehow made it worse that she patiently endured it instead of trying to get away from us.

Labs mostly come in four modes: 1) YAY, 2) derp, 3) zzzzzzz, and 4) WOE. But there’s Lab woe like Oh jesus is that a slice of turkey wow it looks really good by the way I am literally starving to death and there’s I don’t know why you’re hurting me but I love you anyway woe. That’s the kind of woe we were causing her with that ridiculous cone, which I suppose she may have eventually gotten used to but in the meantime all she could do was stand in one place all spooky-like, sort of like the end of The Blair Witch Project. Even JB, who isn’t nearly as much of a sucker as I am, shook his head and said sympathetically, “Legit shits the bed, Dog.”

I found some sort of inflatable donut collar at the pet store to try instead, but then a clever friend on Instagram shared that she’d put an old t-shirt on her dog instead of using the cone. An easy, comfortable, free solution that’s also hilarious-looking? SOLD. So that’s why Dog has been sporting one of JB’s shirts for the last few days. I think she looks quite nice.

dog smock

like, OBVIOUSLY a smock

The Hanes tag? They're branching out. Into post-surgical veterinary supplies.

JB: “Is that my shirt?”
Me: “No, of course not. That is a smock. A medical dog smock. From the medical dog smock store.”

Ruby’s prior owner gave us this massive folder that included her medical records, AKC stuff, and what amounts to a nicer scrapbook than I ever made for my own children. Photos, glittery stickers, the whole nine yards. There are printed poems and quotes scattered throughout, and here is one I can’t read without my eyes getting hot and my nose starting to run:

Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say, “I cannot bear to watch,” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death.

When an animal shows you nothing but love, it’s so hard to cause them discomfort. You know it’s for their benefit, but they don’t. All they know is they trust you. God, it’s a big responsibility, you know? And now I know why dogs get fat, it’s because we want to give them ALL THE TURKEYS to try and tell them, thank you, I’m sorry, I love you too.

I have never had food. It is very sad.


72 Responses to “Everything is easier for me if you are there”

  1. serror on August 18th, 2014 11:26 am

    Oh the dog eyes! When our dog gives us the “hang dog” look of sadness when we leave her at home it is as if we are doing the meanest thing in the world by merely going to work.

    Ruby is too cute in a t-shirt!

  2. Pete on August 18th, 2014 11:35 am

    You know the difference between locking you wife in the trunk of your car and locking your dog in the trunk of your car? The dog will be happy to see you when you let him out. ;-)

  3. Maral Sassouni on August 18th, 2014 12:33 pm

    The t-shirt is a great solution! Nobody likes the dreaded cone. Have you heard of this picture book?
    Very funny!

  4. Karen on August 18th, 2014 12:38 pm

    Those big browns would KILL me. My girl is nine now. She has had a mass on her hip for about six months. I took her in for it three months ago and the vet said it was fine, but to keep an eye on it. It’s getting bigger and harder and oh God I don’t want to take her in. But I am a big girl and so is she and we will do this together on Thursday morning. We will go to the vet together, get the possibly scary news together, get ice cream from a drive-thru together to celebrate making it through her appointment in one piece. I will go with her on this difficult journey. xo to you, Linda. And Ruby and those killer big browns.

  5. Sharon on August 18th, 2014 12:53 pm

    Heartbreaking, I know. Those eyes.

  6. Kiki on August 18th, 2014 1:15 pm

    I have always had cats not dogs but I do know this look so well. I actually really, really want to get a dog. I just got divorced after a long (unhappy) marriage to someone who did not want a dog. I’m a middle-aged woman living with a cat and I would love to add a dog to my little family. But I work full-time and with my commute I’m out of the house about 11 hours a day. I guess unless I hire someone to come in and walk my dog during the day, there’s just no way? I would so desperately love to replace the stupid ex with a sweet puppy dog :)

  7. Kim on August 18th, 2014 1:23 pm

    Oh god. So good.
    I can’t go into the inner office to vet appointments for this reason; I wait outside while the husband takes the shaking, terrified animal and I’m traumatized every damn time.

  8. Claire on August 18th, 2014 2:41 pm

    Ruby looks adorable in that t-shirt! The dog I put the shirt on was a Dane, not my lab, but she looked equally hilarious. She (my Dane) also eventually succumbed to bone cancer (after I had had to amputate one of her legs where it first presented & she lived as the infamous neighborhood three-legged Dane for a year), and I had to make that difficult journey with her; it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but I would never not have been there with her. My lab, now? Well, he’s never going to get sick or die, so that’s a moot point.
    I love seeing your pictures of Ruby. I think you got lucky with that sweet girl.

  9. Anonymous on August 18th, 2014 3:10 pm

    Don’t mind me, I will just be over here leading eye-water over that Line.

    Good dog, Ruby. You are well loved.

  10. sooboo on August 18th, 2014 3:29 pm

    We had a cat who would face plant when wearing the collar of shame. I guess I could have gotten her a baby shirt, but that would have solidified my crazy cat lady status. My husband is grateful to you for making me more open to getting a dog. Love seeing how much you all adore each other!

  11. Molly on August 18th, 2014 7:06 pm

    This difficult journey …. I just had to put my girl to sleep last month and was with her at end. Thanks for sharing that poem. It really helped me a little.

  12. Brenda on August 18th, 2014 9:18 pm

    Two years ago our sweet old black lab, Oscar, didn’t wake up. I was so opposed to getting another dog but one day I saw an ad on a local garage sale page saying someone had a one year old chocolate lab for free to a good home. They had a baby and no yard. My husband just went to check her out and ended up bringing her home. I didn’t want to get attached but now she is my big baby. It’s the eyes…

  13. Cobwebs on August 19th, 2014 4:39 am

    I definitely agree on the “be there for them when they croak” thing. Dogs need their familiar pack around them, so I’ve always insisted on being there when terminally ill pets are euthanized, even though I bawl like a kindergartener every time.

    Dogs are just the best.

  14. Meggan on August 19th, 2014 4:43 am

    You need to put tear warnings on these things. My 6:40AM mascara is not prepared for such a workout.

  15. Mert on August 19th, 2014 5:49 am

    This message is for Kiki….Kiki, we got a puppy about a year ago after losing our faithful 14 year old companion. My MIL was able to watch said puppy during the day for the first year, and let him out as needed, etc. MIL recently experienced a health crisis with another family member and was suddenly and unexpectedly unable to pet sit. At All. So dog was now home approximately 11 hours a day alone. First day I drove home at lunch to check on him and let him out….but every day since, he’s as good as gold and even holds it that entire time! He is way hyper when we get home, and we spend the entire time until bedtime giving attention and trying to wear him out, but it’s working. So, just wanted to give you hope that it can be done. And we are all happy.

  16. Shannon on August 19th, 2014 6:17 am

    Damn. *sniffles* We’ve got an almost 14-year old lab mix and the WOE is just too much sometimes. He’s just so…ugh. THE EYES. Anyway, am dreading and studiously ignoring the fact that the day will come when a decision will have to be made and that quote just about sent me over the edge this morning. Hell, I still tear up about my bird that I had for 8 years that died almost 2 years ago!! The dog was my fiancé’s for 7 years before I came along and now he’s more mine than his and as much as he is a huge pain in the ass sometimes? I love him to the moon and back (the dog, not the fiancé. Well him too, but….you know what I mean) and won’t want to be there with him at the end, but I will be because how could I leave him? Dogs ARE the best. ‘Scuse me while I go hug him….

  17. Kiki on August 19th, 2014 7:03 am

    Thanks so much, Mert! That does give me hope. It does sound like when they’re still puppies it is best to have someone around to help, like your MIL did, but maybe if I got one a little older it would be less of an issue? I wish I didn’t work so far from home so I pop in during the day. But I’m home every evening and I have a lot of love to give to my animals :)

  18. Melissa on August 19th, 2014 8:13 am

    When our lab was spayed, we did the t-shirt thing too. The vet didn’t even give us a cone! Her shirt was the top half of a pair of my son’s Sponge Bob pajamas. We called her Sponge Bob Spayed Pants.

  19. willikat on August 19th, 2014 8:54 am

    Adorable. Sweet. I’m so glad you found another dog to love.

  20. Jillian on August 19th, 2014 2:30 pm

    About a month ago, one of my other favorite bloggers, Jen at, lost her sweet and beautiful black lab. I find it really comforting that you got Ruby right around the same time. I want to be all snarky and awkward and say something like, “Hey blogger friends I don’t even know, way to make my life nice and comfy! I appreciate you conforming your worlds to my needs!” but really… as someone who can’t have a dog right now (small apartment, long hours) it really is lovely to have a pup to virtually love :)

  21. Kimberly on August 19th, 2014 3:59 pm

    Our Kelpie puppy is scheduled for her spay surgery next Wednesday. After reading this yesterday I went home and had a long chat with her to make myself feel a little better. She is going to HATE the cone. I am googling medical dog smock stores as we speak.

    The expanse of love that these wet noses nudge open inside of us is so overwhelming.

  22. Eve on August 19th, 2014 7:22 pm

    Oh god! Thanks for this post Linda! Had to take my sweet cat into the vet this week and the news isn’t good. I’ve been trying to find the courage to do what’s next. And your post totally helped me. Really. So thanks. And congrats on finding Ruby. She looks like a sweetheart :)

  23. Jen on August 19th, 2014 8:43 pm

    Man, between this and your instagram pictures of her, I have the dog hankerings BAD. She seems like a such a sweet girl.

  24. Belle on August 20th, 2014 2:26 pm

    We have been a cat family for many years and not had a dog since the 80s. You make me want one again. And yes, one of us was with each of our 5 cats that have lived long and happy lives but finally had to go. We really felt we should be the ones they saw as their eyes slowly closed. Love your writing, Linda.

  25. Karen on August 21st, 2014 8:54 pm

    And to add to the “human clothing as medical solutions” list…. my six year old solved the problem when our schnauzer would not leave her wounded and infected lady parts alone…. he put a pair of his toddler sized mickey mouse briefs on her… backwards so her tail could come through….. healing happened. with laughter.

  26. sandy on August 22nd, 2014 3:35 am

    Dog is s perfect match for your family.Linda I already know you are in full blown Love with her and she with you. Dogs are the best. Angels among us!!

  27. Liz on August 22nd, 2014 1:45 pm

    My uncle, who generally presents as a hard as nails Vietnam vet turned crazy rich businessman, is a puddle of goo when talking about his (deceased) whippet, Bones. He said he promised Bones that he would always take care of him, and to him that meant making sure Bones got the best care, including a compassionate death without more suffering for the dog, even if it meant it would be harder for him (my uncle). It has changed the way I look at my dog’s someday demise–I guess that’s the oldest child Midwestern Protestant Virgo in me. Turn it into a responsibility and I won’t shirk it. I’m still giggling about the four modes of Lab, btw. I have met 1, 2, and 4.

  28. H on August 23rd, 2014 1:45 pm

    I love how much you all love Ruby. She’s one lucky dog!

    My little dog has a fairly serious hot spot on her front leg so we’ve now got three cones because each one works for a different scenario. She’s got the soft cone for bed now because I thought the plastic one and the inner tube one looked uncomfortable. My husband and kids think I’ve gone overboard but I don’t!

  29. Nolita on August 26th, 2014 9:07 pm

    Oh I love her in the t-shirt. That is toooooo cute. And I just love the way she looks into the camera and into our eyes. What a GOOD dog!

  30. Emily on August 28th, 2014 11:53 am

    This made me cry at work. My family just lost our 12 year old yellow lab, and it’s been really hard. Ruby is a delight.

  31. Ani on September 4th, 2014 11:46 am

    I am just so in love with her!!!

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