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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Christine
Christine
11 years ago

Fighting back tears. I’m so sorry. What a beautiful post, and what a beautiful dog.

jwoap
11 years ago

Oh Linda, I am so sorry. there’s nothing more to say — this is hard.

Michelle
Michelle
11 years ago

Having made the same decision 5 years ago with my own Cat, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Much love to you and your family as you learn to live without her faithful presence. xo

agirlandaboy
11 years ago

She was such a good dog. You loved her and gave her a good home, and in the end you did the right thing. I’ll miss her too.

Anne L.
Anne L.
11 years ago

Aw, Linda, that really sucks. I am sorry.

KT
KT
11 years ago

Oh no I am so sorry!! We have an older dog too and we tear up every time we think about her dying. :-( :-( :-(

Mel
Mel
11 years ago

I’m so sorry Linda. We lost our girl in January and its so hard. Our condolences…

deenuts dana
11 years ago

I’ve been in that exact same spot. This post was so hard to read. Im so sorry, Linda.

lisa-marie
11 years ago

Linda, I’m so sorry for your loss!

Rachel
Rachel
11 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. You gave her a good, long, happy life.

Danell
Danell
11 years ago

There is nothing like a Lab…they are so wonderful.

It’s so hard, at the end, when you’re spending more time with a feeling of dread every time you look at your pet. When almost every moment spent with them is a moment wondering “Is it now? Is this the time?”. It’s not a you”ll “just know” moment, but more of a slow, painful realization where your head is trying to gently tell you it IS time but your heart is still screaming NO. And it hurts no matter what.
I’m so sorry it was Ashley’s time. She was a lovely member of your beautiful family.

tanya
tanya
11 years ago

every post you wrote about her showed the love you felt for her. Happy dog, happy life. I’m so sorry for the sadness and the space she leaves behind. hugs

Amy
Amy
11 years ago

Sweet thing. A lucky dog she was, for sure. My heart aches for you and your family.

Rayshell Cook
11 years ago

So sorry on the loss of your family member. Such a hard thing to do. Hugs to you all.

Michelle
Michelle
11 years ago

That last picture is adorable!

I’m so sorry for your loss. I had to say goodbye to my girl Sweet Pea back in November; it was so difficult, and yet I knew it was the best decision for her. Still, it’s hard to let go.

Crystal
Crystal
11 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss. Your wonderful dog looks so much like mine that my heart truly goes out to you and your boys. Our dog too is reaching old age and I know one day she will not be with us anymore and even though she annoys the crap out of me some days. She is the first dog I have ever had and she is truly wonderful. I hope your broken hearts heal soon.

Em
Em
11 years ago

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Jessica
11 years ago

I’m so sorry. Our own yellow lab was just diagnosed with a lump on her heart and we know she only has a couple months left. They are such sweet, good pets who become part of the family.

Lucy
Lucy
11 years ago

I’m so sorry. What a beautiful smiley dog she was, and obviously much loved. Thinking of you and your family at this sad time.

julie urben
julie urben
11 years ago

So sad to hear of your loss! Dogs, particularly labs, are such loves and love us so unconditionally. Two years ago we had to put ours down, he was 13 yrs. old and it was the hardest thing. My heart goes out to you and your family. Pretty tough few months for you and yours. I’ve enjoyed hearing about ‘dog’ over the years and love the pics you’ve shared. You will be in my thoughts.

eileen
11 years ago

oh, trying to type through the tears and the sting in my heart, we have been through this 2 times in the last 13 months, oh how it sucks, oh how the pain is always right there. I am so sorry, and wish I had words for you, but right now all I can od is miss my girls and know that Libby Love and Tarrah are now with dog, romping through heaven. Sandy has healed some of the pain and filled some of the void and oh my, she looks like your “dog’s” twin. take the time to grieve and then get back on the dog train, it will help so very much, trust me, I didn’t think it possile, but it is true. excuse me while I go get some kleenex.

Eliza
Eliza
11 years ago

Oh, DOG. The picture of Riley and Dog in the dog bed is the best picture ever. You guys are in my heart.

Judy
Judy
11 years ago

It is the hardest thing in the world. Along with losing the friend, you have that niggling little thing about playing God and deciding their time to go. I know. 8 years ago I had to do it with Janet, my 16 year old cat. I had just lost her older stepsister, Sophie, at the age of 19, to hyperthyroid and I’d gone through a year of watching her become a furry skeleton (but still happy, so how do you know when?) and getting up every morning and coming home every evening expecting to find her dead, and then finally one evening I did. Janet had diabetes. I gave her two insulin injections a day for that, but it’s kind of hit or miss and she never adjusted well, and got a lot of infections and other horrid things that gave her diarrhea and then she didn’t feel good enough to cover it or avoid stepping in it, and would come and jump into my lap for cuddling. Many mornings I’d be ready for work and would have to go shower and change because I’d be covered in feces. I finally decided we had to do It and the night before, as she slept in my arms, I lay there sobbing so hard the tears dripped on her and she got annoyed with me. I had almost stopped crying a week or so later when a friend sent me that fucking Rainbow Bridge poem and that started it again. And a week after that, the vet sent a sympathy card that everyone in the office signed, and it started yet again. I probably cried for six months, and to this day, 8 years later, the tears well up when I think about her. It took me nearly 4 years to bring myself to get another cat, simply because I knew I could never go through that again. But Simon came to live with me, and he is a nuisance and a joy, like every other pet, and since I’m nearly 69 and he’s only 4, it’s possible that someone else will have to do It after I’m gone.

Joanne
11 years ago

It may be the worst thing you’ve ever done, but it’s the best thing you could have done for that dog, and isn’t that being a good pet person? I’m sorry for how hard it is, I have been there and I know how – oh, it just seems impossible, doesn’t it? I’ll be thinking of you and your family.

deb
deb
11 years ago

Heartbreaking. So sorry.

goingloopy
11 years ago

Oh god. I went through almost the exact same thing with one of my kitties about 3 months ago…so heartbreaking. You know it’s the right thing, because your baby is in pain…but it’s so hard to imagine not having them around anymore. Hugs to you and your family.

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

I’m crying over here too and you have so many lovely comments. I have always loved your pics of her and especially remember one of her with JB. He was play biting her snout and I could see how much she meant to you guys. Sending you and your family love. Rest in peace, sweet, beautiful Dog.

Sharon
Sharon
11 years ago

I feel for you. I’ve been there with a dog that looked very much like Dog. Especially the picture of her swimming. Your tribute to her was beautiful.

Laura
Laura
11 years ago

I will never forget the “Ashley Fights for Justice” song. She had a sweet, silly smile and was a loved member of your family for so long. You did the right thing for her.

kim
kim
11 years ago

You have made me cry before, but this has really gotten me crying like a baby! I have a dog that I love (sometimes) more than anything else in the world (well, I don’t have kids), and other times second only to my husband. I am so sorry for your loss. Dog was a lucky dog.

I don’t know if this will help, but I recently read (listened on cd) to a book called THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN, by Garth Stein. It’s written from the perspective of an old dog who is ready to leave this world and his beloved companion/master. I find that reading books that echo my current life experience can be cathartic. You might enjoy this novel.

erin
11 years ago

I’m so, so sorry.

Rachael@Rachael Lay
11 years ago

So so sorry to hear Dog is gone. It’s just heartbreaking when we lose our pets. I can’t bear to think about the day when my little girl has to leave us.

Sending you hugs for this sad time but know that soon, you will remember her fondly and it won’t hurt as much.

Siobain Reilly
Siobain Reilly
11 years ago

So sorry for your loss. It is one of the hardest and kindest things you can do for an old friend.

Lana
Lana
11 years ago

I’m sorry for your loss. She had a good long life filled with love. That’s the best anyone, pet or person, can hope for.

julia
julia
11 years ago

I’m sorry for your loss. Dog had a really good life, and although I’m sure the decision to let her go was excruciating, you did the right thing for her. I hope you feel better soon.

sara moon
sara moon
11 years ago

I’m crying for you, for Dog, for your family, for all of us dog lovers/owners who will be there too one day.

Aren’t dogs the most wonderful creatures?

There is the best book you should get called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. I weep every time I read it. It’s wonderful for the boys, but for you and JB, too.

Hugs.

Lisa B
Lisa B
11 years ago

Oh Linda, I’m so sorry! It was your photo essay of Dog and Cat and the treats in the box that first brought me to All & Sundry (and what a hilarious post *that* was!). Dog has always been a big loveable piece of your family. Dog is in all our hearts and thoughts.

Nann
11 years ago

Hugs to all of you :(

CB
CB
11 years ago

I’m so sorry, Linda. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, too. Please be comforted in knowing that Dog had an awesome, happy life being a part of your family. I’m wiping my tears and sending you virtual hugs.

emily
emily
11 years ago

so sad. our dog recently died unexpectedly after 9 years with us so while i don’t know what it’s like to have to make the decision, i understand the heartbreak.

Sarah
11 years ago

I am so very sorry. It sounds like you made a very loving and respectful choice for her, and I’m sure her last moments were ones of peace. Which is what I wish for you all. Hugs.

Linda
Linda
11 years ago

You guys, I just cannot thank you enough for all your kind messages. It has helped so much. Thank you, thank you.

Kristen
Kristen
11 years ago

Linda – so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing, it will help all of us who will someday say goodbye to another furry friend.

velocibadgergirl
11 years ago

I’m sorry you had to say goodbye to Dog, but what a great life she had…she was a great dog!

Aunt Linda
11 years ago

Some things are unbearable. This comes damn close.

Maureen
Maureen
11 years ago

I don’t know if you read all your comments, and I kind of hesitate to leave this one. My mom died last November, and instead of people just saying “I’m sorry for your loss” they told their story of woe. Like trying to sympathize, but instead it was like we had to give them condolences, when HELLO-my mom just died two days ago.

Yet I will do the same thing, because when my beloved dog Cody died in 2005-that is the first time I wished I believed in heaven. Cody was the dog of a lifetime, no dog will ever live up to his legacy. He was a golden retriever, who had a surfer’s attitude, the whole “what’s hanging?” kind of laid back vibe. When he was diagnosed with cancer, we did everything to keep him alive, without chemo. Our vet said it was too advanced, and it was just a matter of time.

The biggest gift that dog ever gave to me, and believe me, he gave me plenty, was when that glorious dog told me it was time to let him go. One day he just curled up on floor, barely responded to any of us, and that is when I knew it was time. My husband works at a vet clinic, his boss came over, and in the comfort of his home, Cody left this world. No fight, no struggle-just sweetly into that good night.

My husband says he knows there is no God, because if there was, dogs would live longer. What I think I know, is there is nothing like the love of a good dog, even after the kids-they add a dimension to a family that can’t be replaced.

Jae
Jae
11 years ago

Oh, I’m so very sorry for your loss; it really is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. And, as cliched as it is to say, it was the kindest.

You and your family are in my thoughts and in my heart.

Kris H.
Kris H.
11 years ago

I am so sorry.

Tara
Tara
11 years ago

What a beautiful photo tribute to a well-loved dog. We have had to make that decision for two dogs and a cat in the last 4 years, and it is always hard. Hugs to you & the family.

I’ll second the recommendation for “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” I loved that book–my husband and I both read it shortly after we had to put our second border collie down last year.

Jessi
Jessi
11 years ago

I’m so, so sorry for you and your family. I’m such an animal lover and am in tears for Dog.