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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Janet
Janet
11 years ago

We had to do the same thing last September. It was the worst thing ever. But please know you did the right thing. So sorry for your family.

Janet

Erin
Erin
11 years ago

Linda, I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been through this too and it’s heartbreaking. Thinking of you and your family.

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

On July 3, it will be one year since we had to say goodbye to our black lab, Otis. We too had to play that horrible guessing game of “when?” It’s the uniquely awful price we have to pay for the joy of having them in our lives in the first place, I guess.

I’m so sorry. She was a beautiful dog and a beautiful soul – you can tell in the pictures. Much love to you, JB and the boys.

kelly
kelly
11 years ago

My hubby and I have been there where you are today. We’ve questioned whether we waited too long or too soon… All I know is our big man wasn’t in discomfort and that helped me sleep. Thinking of you…

Liz
Liz
11 years ago

I’m so sorry. A good pet is such a terrible loss. Hugs to you and your family.

telegirl
telegirl
11 years ago

I knew better than to come here and read this post after I saw the image you posted on Facebook. I am crying like a baby right now. My heart breaks for you, your family & your beloved Ashley. Here’s an internet hug if it makes you feel better.

Kristin
11 years ago

Oh, that was so hard. I’m so sorry. When we put our Daisy down, she was barely conscious before the “procedure” and the vet said “Don’t worry, she can hear you”. It was the one moment of brevity when my husband and I looked at each other and laughed. He said “No she can’t she’s already deaf…” But she knew we were with her. I bawled and bawled. The worst was the looks I got from the other pet owners at the vet. I was pissed at them that they most likely got to take their pet home and I didn’t. :(

Kaitlyn
11 years ago

So, so sorry for your loss :(

Cara
Cara
11 years ago

I believe you’re right, that it was a kindness to let her pass peacefully and surrounded by your love. I’m so sorry for you. That was the harder choice, but the loving one.

Samantha
11 years ago

I’ll never forget that awesome post you wrote awhile back about Dog and how she thought and what she would say if she did talk. I laughed so hard at that post. Today, I cried so hard reading this post. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. :-( Dog will be remembered and missed very much!!

adequatemom
11 years ago

Tears in my eyes for your loss. She was lucky to have you all for a family. And it does sound like it was time. I think you did the right thing, even though it was so hard. Love to all of you.

Gina
11 years ago

Oh man, I am so sorry for your loss. I have been there (a couple of times)and it never gets any easier. Our older dog is starting to wind down, too, and it breaks my heart daily.

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

So very sorry for your loss..I thought I had shed all my tears over my dog who I had to put down in 2008 but your post made me cry all over again. (And, if you haven’t already seen it, I don’t recommend the movie Marley and Me at this time…or any time in the next decade).

MRW
MRW
11 years ago

Crap, now I’m violating my no crying at the office policy because letting a pet go just hurts so damned bad. It still hurts to miss our dog and cats we’ve had pass on. I believe with all of my heart that we did the right thing putting them down because they were all suffering in the way your dog was, but it still hurt like hell to do it. Part of me always thinks at the time that we will never get another dog or cat because it hurts too much when they die, but then we always end up getting another dog or cat because the years of love outweigh the pain. My heart goes out to you and your family!

Josefina
11 years ago

I’m so sorry, Linda.

Kath
11 years ago

I am so sorry.
It is a sorrow unlike any other.

Michelle K.
Michelle K.
11 years ago

I knew the ending before I read the post but I still read it anyways….Dog was one of the reasons I started following your blog wwwwwaaaaayyyy back before Riley was born. In a way pups are our first children, and a much more forgiving dry run before the “real deal”. You and JB did a GREAT job with dog, and I know you two will always have warm memories of that great pup’s smile.

Redbecca
Redbecca
11 years ago

I’m so sorry Linda. It is never easy, and I think it was a good thing you did despite how awful it feels. Sometimes the heart can’t understand what the brain knows to be true.

Courtney
Courtney
11 years ago

Oh dog!!! I read this last night on my blackberry, and cuddled our 18 month old Golden Retriever a little closer as a result. Though she’s young and healthy, I already dread the day we have to make a similar decision.

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Sunshyn
Sunshyn
11 years ago

If you are so inclined, check out “Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant. It was a favorite children’s book we used to get from the library (way before we ever had a dog. Really really lovely, and we read it over and over and over.

briscogirl
briscogirl
11 years ago

I just cried at my desk. The love and companionship that a pet gives is the most unconditional love many people will ever experience. My deepest condolences go out to you and your family. RIP Dog, you lived a good life.

Adrienne
Adrienne
11 years ago

I’m so very sorry for your loss! I hope that you and JB are doing okay and that the boys are handling the news as well as can be expected. Our dog died two years ago this summer and being with him at the end is still the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Hang in there!

Sara
Sara
11 years ago

Oh, Dog. The tears are rolling. I’m so sorry.

Sonia
Sonia
11 years ago

I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’m bawling over here….it’s been 10&1/2 years since my husband and I put our beloved Kota to sleep. It still chokes me up. I’m sorry Linda, JB, Riley and Dylan. That is one of the most difficult things to decide, and then do. You did the right thing, it was time. Again, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

Joybell
Joybell
11 years ago

I am so, so sorry, for you and with you. We had to do this for our dog 5 years ago, and I still cry every now and then. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do; too much power to have, for something I want no responsibility for: choosing the end of someone else’s life. You did the right thing. May you find peace and comfort in your memories, and the knowledge that your dog had the best life possible with you.

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

Sitting here crying at work, thinking about you and the boys and Dog. You did a wonderful and selfless thing for her, but that doesn’t make it suck any less, I know. So, so sorry.

Lucy
Lucy
11 years ago

So sorry for your loss.

Rakel
Rakel
11 years ago

So sorry for you guys, there are tears for her on my side of the world.

Christen
11 years ago

I am so very, sincerely sorry for your loss. It’s a horrible decision to have to make (I’ve been there), but from everything you’ve said it really does sound like the right one. You eased her suffering and were there to comfort her in the end. Horrible as it is, she went feeling love from you until the end. Wishing peace to you and your boys.

Claire
11 years ago

Being a long time reader of your blog, I was actually thinking of Dog the other day, knowing this post would probably come soon. Then one of my dogs got sick and I started to think I will need to do this one day in the not too distant future. I am sorry; I know it’s got to be hard.

Halyn
Halyn
11 years ago

Oh, I am so very sorry. It hurts so much to lose our furry family members. You did the right thing, truly. To let her go gently, with loving pats and murmurs…it was the most generous, loving thing you could do for her. My thoughts are with you.

Kathy
Kathy
11 years ago

Linda, I have been reading your blog for a couple of years now…and I know you guys gave Dog one hell of a life! Dog was one lucky dog. Virtual hugs.

Kris
Kris
11 years ago

My condolences.

joaaanna
joaaanna
11 years ago

I am so, so sorry for the loss of your friend.

JennyA
JennyA
11 years ago

Oh, Dog.

I’m so sorry — I’ve been there. And all that “you’ll know” is, in the end, pretty much horseshit. I mean, yeah, you kind of do, but you also kind of don’t. It doesn’t make it any easier.

Heartfelt condolences to all you guys.

Jem
Jem
11 years ago

Ahh, I’m crying. You know how long I’ve been reading, and putting down my cat (who I’ve had since I was a 5 year old) was the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m sure Dog is glad you knew when to do it and I’m so sorry.

squandra
squandra
11 years ago

Oh, Linda. I’m so sorry. I know Dog had a happy life, though. Rest in peace, sweet girl.

Jennifer B
Jennifer B
11 years ago

I’m so sorry for Dog and you and your family. She looks like a great dog in your photos.

Jen
Jen
11 years ago

I’m sorry.

Mandy
Mandy
11 years ago

I’m so sorry to read this. I think as parents we teach our children so much about humanity in the care we give our animals, and you have given your boys a wonderful lesson about dignity and quality of life in making this difficult decision for Dog. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures of her, she clearly had a full life.

Julie
Julie
11 years ago

I’m so, so sorry. I had to do the same thing nearly 4 years ago now, and it still hurts to think about. I like to think of our pets in heaven in a giant meadow, frolicking around in the flowers without any pain.

souphead
11 years ago

Lucky sweet Dog had a great family.
I’m so sorry :(

Jane
Jane
11 years ago

I’m so sorry for your loss. Reading your post and looking at pictures of Dog made me all teary, but she was certainly loved and will be missed.

Kristin
Kristin
11 years ago

Oh, dog. And oh, Linda. I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. <3

Adrien
11 years ago

I am so very sorry.

Rachel
Rachel
11 years ago

Oh, I’m so sorry. My heart goes out to you and your family.

I’m sure Ashley is feeling your love and thanks you.

Toni
Toni
11 years ago

I’ve been reading you for years Linda, and I rarely comment. But I’m crying for you. RIP sweet doggie

Lisa
Lisa
11 years ago

Oh, Linda, I am so, so sorry.

Becky Mochaface
11 years ago

RIP Dog, your faithfulness, love and loyalty will never be forgotten.

pvz
pvz
11 years ago

we just lost our own beast 2 weeks ago. similar but not quite so obvious a situation. i sat with her as she went, and still see her face in my hand when i’m lying in bed.

condolences to your entire family.