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.”

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Erin
10 years ago

Our beloved springer mix died almost exactly two years ago and we just adopted a cocker spaniel mix this weekend. It took us that long to be ready.

I’m not saying it will take you that long but I do understand your hesitation.

I wimped out and had my husband take our dog when it was time. I just didn’t think I had it in me. He still talks about how awful it was to actually see her go. Hope you can replace those last moments with more happy memories soon.

Gina
10 years ago

I have done both after losing a pet – waited before getting another and getting another quickly. And while I was afraid getting another quickly would feel like “replacing” it didn’t. Instead, it felt normal. It is nice to have a new – not replacement – pet to love. It helped us heal.

Chelle
Chelle
10 years ago

It’s been almost a month since the tragic loss of our beloved cat and it hit me particularly hard. http://blog.dappersnappers.com/index.php/of-love-and-loss-and-grieving/
Writing about his loss helped a lot. But there is still an emptiness…a desire to replace him so losing him doesn’t feel so awful. I chose to get a puppy instead of another kitty. I waited 3 weeks. I don’t think it was long enough but I just couldn’t take the silence anymore.
You do what feels right in your heart. I’m so sorry for your loss.

Blessings,

Chelle

Kristin
Kristin
10 years ago

Man. It is amazing how potent the loss of a pet is. I experienced a loss this week and the memories keep going over and over. How do you shut it off?

AnEmily
AnEmily
10 years ago

Well said. And I’m so glad your kids are fine about it-I think it’s like a double heartbreak when your kids feel that loss more strongly.

sooboo
sooboo
10 years ago

We just lost my mom’s cat (who we took in after we lost my mom) and wow it was tough to see him go. And it took awhile for those final moments to recede into the distance, but for me they did. Truth be told I need some months before taking on, training and helping another one adjust to our house. I know what you mean about how their presence lingers. My cat would come up and tap me on the shoulder when he wanted attention and sometimes I swear I still feel it.

Yaya
10 years ago

I hear ya woman, anyone who said “at least it was just a dog” I wanted to punch and everyone who said “oh my, the loss & pain you must feel because I knew how much you adored him” I wanted to hug & cry & I knew they understood. I had Domino for 15 years, since I was 21 & in college. He might be the only reason I stayed out of (most) of the trouble one can get into in college since I always had to get home to let him out at night. He lasted through so many bad boyfriends, I had him & loved him longer than my husband & I have been married. He was all mine from start to finish. He passed away right before my kiddo started eating cherrios and dropping food on the floor and for that I always feel sad, that dog loved food. It has been almost 3 yrs since he passed away & I still miss the nail click and the sound of his collar when he would shake. On crazy or chaotic days, I sometimes ‘forget’ he is gone & turn to my husband “where’s the dog, is he still outside, can you let him in.” he just pats my arm. My kiddo’s nickname is “The Dude” and no one really asks why but it is because Domino, the dog was always The Dude & we somehow transferred that to the kiddo…so yes, our kiddo is named after the dog basically but the dog was the original Dude and always will be. The loss is great and it will fade but honestly, years later I still feel a void…and that is not a terrible thing. It means you loved Dog greatly :-)

erin
10 years ago

We lost one of our dogs in 2005. Our remaining dog stayed an only “child” for two years. We gave ourselves a year, but it ended up being two and then we adopted another dog. With our (military) lifestyle, waiting was best for us. It’s been over 6yrs since Orrie died and I can tell you, those final moments have faded tremendously. When I think of him, I remember his goofy self instead of that day in the vet’s office. I’m sorry you’re going through this. Give yourself time, it’ll get better.

Lucy
Lucy
10 years ago

Thinking of you at this very sad time. I completely understand what you’re saying, I couldn’t bear it when we lost the dog we’d had from when I was 3 til I was almost 21. We didn’t want another dog too soon, but actually got one about three months later. She never replaced our old dog, luckily they are so different, but it did fill a much felt gap in our hearts and the home.

Clueless But Hopeful Mama

I just fed my dog and let her out and sat down and read this. She is always underfoot, or by my side, her sounds and presence a golden shadow.

My husband and I talk about cloning her and if it were possible we would. We will never be ready to say goodbye, no matter when it comes. She is our first baby and I don’t hesitate in the slightest when I say that.

Thinking of you all. I hope the awfulness of the last moments fade fast. Keep looking at those sweet, sweet pictures. The one of Riley in her bed! The ones of her as a puppy!

Melody
10 years ago

So much about what you’re going through is so familiar to me.

After my dog died last May, all I could think about was his last week and his last moments, when his heart was giving out. I don’t think I’ll ever forget his last moments, as much as I wish that I could. But it has become only one of many things I remember about him.

I also felt like there could never be another dog for me after he died. But then, I inadvertently wound up with a new dog around three months after my old dog died. In a lot of ways, it did get rid of that painful feeling of absence in the house. And that was good. It did also take me a much longer time to get attached to the new dog, because I couldn’t help feel like I had already had MY dog in my life.

Eventually, though, I settled in with the new dog, and he became a great little friend. It was still awful when I would accidentally call the new dog by the old dog’s name. But… to borrow a cliche, it gets better.

Heather C
Heather C
10 years ago

My brother’s female husky died unexpectedly in April, and I think he is still devestated. He had literally known that dog her whole life– she was born into his hands and died in his arms. He says it’s harder to lose a dog than to lose a person, because unlike a person’s, a dog’s love is unconditional. And she was an affectionate and fun dog.

Most people were understanding, but his boss, and regretably, our parents, both expected him to get over it in a day. As if she was not a member of his family.

Amy D
10 years ago

Man, you always describe the hard shit perfectly. We’ve had to do this with two cats, and it’s probably in our near future with one of our cats now.

Let me just say that it’s possible another dog will help put the badness of her last days out of your mind. After our first cat died–I’d had her since I was 12! and she was almost 20 when she died–after about a week, we found ourselves at the animal shelter, where we accidentally adopted three cats.

Those cats in no way replaced Sly, but they were silly and cute, and they helped me laugh through the grief, and I surprised myself by loving them as fiercely as I loved Sly.

Sande
Sande
10 years ago

I still think I see my cat. She’s been gone since March. Let me explain because that first sentence is a little misleading. If I see something black out of the corner of my eye, I still think it is my cat. There… Anyway, she’s been gone since March and I still feel the void of feeding and cleaning out the litter box daily. Before I walk in the house I STILL have the dreaded feeling of “OMG what did she leave for me today?” that I will have to clean up. When I get home I still walk the entire house looking for a “present” even though she is no longer there. I guess what I am trying to say is, it will take time. Dog was a staple in your family and when that staple is gone humans feel the need to fill the void with something. If that something is another dog, then that is what your family will need to heal. When our first dog passed away we were adamant that we would never get another dog, but we couldn’t stand the fact that we came home to nothing (no child yet). It was horrible. It took us a few weeks, but we did get another dog and it was a good decision for us. Hugs to you!

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

My hat’s off to you for having the strength to be there with her at the end. When my beloved Frosty’s time came, I just couldn’t do it. My mom had to take him by herself. I often regret that I wasn’t there, but at the same time, realize that I couldn’t have handled it.

H
H
10 years ago

Everyone is different, and you’ll do what’s right for you and your family. I understand the emptiness. Each time we lost a dog, we were left with a gaping hole. Thank god for the years and years of love and memories.

Zoot
Zoot
10 years ago

I didn’t comment before to offer my condolescences. I offer them now and also echo what you said about those final moments. With Cisco I told everyone I could never do that again. It was too much for my soul to take. I could make the decision for the dog’s sake, but I couldn’t be there for it.

But now that time has passed, I could probably do it again. I would hope I would so I could be there for my canine friends as they leave this existence.

Just wanted you to know the pain from those moments will fade someday. They have for me, but I truly know what you mean when you describe it. It took awhile for me to shake that and reading your words brought me right back there. It’s a hard thing to do.

Peace to you all.

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

We lost our dog February 28th. Had to put the toddler in the hospital for dehydration March 4 and the staff (in an attempt to rule out anything more than the flu) kept asking us ‘do you have pets’ and I kept having to say ‘not anymore’. Worst week ever. We lasted three months before we got our new pups. Be warned – if you “go look” at that Lab you WILL bring it home. So don’t go until you’re sure. We went to ‘just look’ at the puppies and left with two. TWO.

http://vimeo.com/23479398

Tom
Tom
10 years ago

My condolences, Sundry. I remember him fondly from the diaryland days. His passing marks the end of era…

My best to you and your family.

D
D
10 years ago

We worked with a rescue agency who brought shelter dogs from the south up north. We had a lab mix picked for us, and we were thrilled – we even had the agency’s stock picture of her on our fridge while we waited for her. The day before she was supposed to get on the doggie transport to head north, she escaped from her yard and got hit by a car. It was amazing how devastating it felt – we had never even met her, but it felt like she was already our dog, our baby. We were both a mess, and the rescue agency felt horrible, so they immediately offered us a newly rescued lab mix that hadn’t even been put on the website. It was a really hard decision; on the one hand, I felt like I couldn’t bear the thought of preparing for another dog in my grief, and I didn’t want this new dog, I wanted Abby. But on the other hand, the massive crate was set up in our tiny apartment, and I couldn’t keep looking at it empty without wanting to cry.

We took the dog, and adopted a second less than a year later. I’m so glad we did. I still feel terrible about poor little Abby, but I can’t imagine my life without these 2 sweethearts.

Kristen
10 years ago

I can’t tell you how well I understand everything you just said. I promise you, it does get easier to remember the happy memories rather than the last days/hours/moments, but I’d be lying if I told you that they don’t sometimes pop up and get caught in my throat even now, almost three years later.

I’m sure you have lots of close friends to talk to, but if you ever need to talk to a fellow dog lover who’s a bit removed from your day to day life, let me know. I’m here and would be happy to try to help.

And, regarding getting another dog, you have to do what’s right for you, and if it doesn’t sound right at the moment, don’t fall into it. We fostered after Yuki died, in large part because we had a 2 year old dog who’d never been without a pal and were worried about her. It was great for us — we were doing something we believed in and helping homeless animals find homes, and had a buddy for our pup in the meantime. Of course, it only lasted a few months before we went ahead and adopted one of our fosters. Just a thought — it helped us ease into the idea of a new family member without committing to one before we were all ready.

Emily
10 years ago

Eventually, slowly, it will get easier. You’ll remember the good times and not the bad. But the pain of it right now can be unbearable. You’re absolutely right that “it’s just a pet” or “it’s just a dog” is bullshit. I had a dream the other night that our dog died and I woke up gasping for breath. Hugs to you.

Amy M.
Amy M.
10 years ago

One of the first posts I read of yours was about Dog trying to retrieve a treat from underneath a box. Sending healing thoughts over the interwebs…

Courtney
Courtney
10 years ago

Just a note to express my condolences, again. I’ve told my husband that we’ll need to get a second golden retriever when our first one is about 8 years old. That way I have a transitional dog. I’m not sure I could handle not having one in the house!

Corina
Corina
10 years ago

It’s been well over a year since I sat in the vet’s office, holding my much loved cat Sugar as she died, and I’m tearing up just thinking about it. I can say that now when I think of her, I mostly think of the years she was happy and healthy and funny as hell. I’m sure those memories will come to the fore for you as well eventually.

As for another pet, I’m single and live alone and I don’t want to think about how I would have dealt with the loss if I hadn’t come home from that vet’s office to the comforting presence of my other cat – who was extra clingy and adorable and cuddly for weeks after. You’ll do what’s right for you, but I decided then and there that at the risk of turning into a crazy cat lady, I would never have just one pet again. (Sugar was an only cat for years.) Unfortunately I imagine I will have to experience that moment in the vet’s office multiple times, but I will NEVER do it and not come home to an already familiar and loving pet that I can pamper and cuddle in my grief.

Jen
Jen
10 years ago

We had to put our beloved yellow lab to sleep about 8 weeks ago, and it was the hardest thing I’ve done. Even now, two months later, I still miss her when I arrive home. She was always at the door to greet me. I miss her so.

Sunny
Sunny
10 years ago

You’ll have to wade through the grief and sadness at your own pace to see when the time is right to welcome another dog to your family. You gave Dog the best years of her life and she filled them with love and happy memories. Even if you only had 90% of the love available for another pup (nothing will replace Dog), you’d be giving another dog a home full of love. family and a little batshit craziness- doggy paradise. Maybe a visit to the owner’s house isn’t all that bad?

Kate
10 years ago

At the tender age of 19, I had to take my beloved Jenny dog to the vet after I came home and found she’d suffered a stroke. I could’ve waited for my parents to be home but I couldn’t bear letting her suffer. So I loaded up the dog that had been my companion for 16.5 years and took her. I remember stumbling out of the vet’s office, blinded by tears, and sobbing all the way home. Even now, 20 years later, I still dream about her. The pain is gone but there’s still a Jenny sized hole in my heart.

But wouldn’t you know it, I got a bit of her back 2 years ago in the form of a lab mix named Tessa. From the day I got Tess, I’ve always said she was Jenny reincarnated because their personalities are so much the same. Such silly, loving girls.

You’ll know when it’s the right time and the right dog. Until then, I hope the pain of that day fades quickly and you can remember that happy times.

MyFrogs
MyFrogs
10 years ago

My Min Pin stayed with my ex when I went out of town. I took her there the night before I left. The single night without here was incredibly silent and empty, and she was just spending the night somewhere else! When I got back in town I wasted no time going to pick her up because I couldn’t take another night without her. So even though it was only for one night, I know exactly how you feel. She’s 15 so I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the inevitable…

Regina
Regina
10 years ago

We lasted three weeks. This was after I swore I could never get another dog again.

The house felt so quiet and empty especially when we came in the door and no one was there to greet us. Going for walks without a dog felt weird even.

We got a puppy! We forgot what a pain in the ass they were – but also so cute and fun. We told him that he had big shoes to fill, and how great the dog was that we had before him etc…. He kept us busy enough to stop thinking about those last sickly weeks and final day.

Took a couple of years, but now he is a great dog – different from the first – but just as special to our family.

Wanda
Wanda
10 years ago

I completely understand how you feel about now wanting another dog anytime soon. I felt the same way after we made the same choice with our 15 year old dog. But we had a new puppy a month later and it helped fill the emptiness. The new dog didn’t replace the old one, just filled in the quiet. It is amazing how much room our hearts have for new pets. It would be fun for your boys to have a dog they can grow up with.

Belle
Belle
10 years ago

Oy. I feel for you. Maybe we feel so bad because our pets look to us to take care of them and sometimes we just cannot and have to let them go. I was in “the room” for 2 of our long-lived cats and the last – and my favorite? I just couldn’t do it so hubby did. While it was peaceful and they just slowly closed their eyes, I felt as if somehow I had let them down.

I said the same thing – no more pets! But, one week later we were at the shelter, falling in love with the kitties all over again. And we brought 2 home. And we think they are wonderful and we needed them about as much as they needed us.

Emily
Emily
10 years ago

Here I am, not here. Perfectly said as usual Linda. Keith wanted another dog right away too, and I put my foot down and made him give me a year. I almost feel ready now. If it weren’t for our poison oak everywhere, we’d probably have one by now.

Halyn
Halyn
10 years ago

After reading your last post, I thought about how glad I was that my little guy was healthy, just about five years old, so prime of his life. I felt so sad for you, and so glad that I had years to go with my pup. Then, I found myself last night, standing in my sister-in-law’s vet clinic, listening to her tell me that she was placing Mason on a DNR order. Surprise! Your five year old dog has Congestive Heart Disease. I am now at my desk at work, praying my cell doesn’t ring. If he makes it through today, he will likely make it for a few years yet, but his cardiac strength is touch and go right now. Believe me, I thought about you a lot last night, and wished I’d said something more to you about Dog. My guy is still holding on, but just leaving him at the clinic last night hurt so much, I don’t know how I’ll manage if he doesn’t make it. Sorry to unload here…I’m just a bit freaked out today, and I had to tell someone.

MRW
MRW
10 years ago

What can I add to what everyone has already said by my own story of dog love? We had to put our dog to sleep due to cancer three years ago. We swore we wouldn’t get another dog for a good long while because it just hurt so badly.

Not three months later we got a lab mix who came from tough circumstances and has been a wonderful wonderful dog. We got her a month before I got pregnant with our second child and she and my daughter have become the best of friends. I miss our old dog still but love our new dog so much. When I think about the endless pet cycle my husband and I have been through (we are on our 5 and 6 cats and second dog together) it makes me feel sad to miss all of our old pets, but my heart is full with the pets we have now and all of the future pets we don’t even know yet.

Thank dog I married an animal lover ;-)

Susie
Susie
10 years ago

“I don’t know how an empty or missing thing can feel so commandingly present. Here I am, not here.”

This is perhaps the best description of loss and grieving that I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe ever. Thank you for that.

Marci
Marci
10 years ago

Here I am, not here.

This is how I felt when my cat of 19 years had to be put to sleep. I’m so very sorry for your loss. : (

eileen
10 years ago

Oh sweetie, I am sure you have had quite enough advice from people, and yes you and JB need to decide when it is right. I would just like to let you know that we met our new girl (yellow lab, 3 years old BTW) 3 months after losing our big girl. I do not think either one of us had any idea the void that was left when she left us. We still had another old gal at home, but lo and behold, as soon as I laid eyes on her, I sobbed like a baby, I looked at hubs and he was misty as well. It may sound cheeky, but I am pretty sure the clouds parted, the sun shone down on us, and a puppy voice from heaven was whispered in our ears to “take her home, I brought her to you”. We took our new Sandy girl home, it was a 3 hour drive, I cried the first 2 hours (I have tears now BTW). The void was filled, not replaced, but no longer achingly empty. We have believed from day one that tarrah sent her to us, and when our vet met her and said as much we knew it was a gift. The “empty” spot next to the TV no longer pulls my eyes toward it just to slap me in the face that it is empty. Our home is balanced again. So long story short, for what it’s worth, my opinion is at least go meet the new girl, see if Dog sent her to you. 3 years old is a GREAT age, all the puppy craziness is gone and they still like to play and run. Good Luck, it will get better. It will never go away but it will get bearable

eileen
10 years ago

Halyn, so very sorry, sending good thoughts and wishes your way for the phone to ring with the message to come get your dog and take him home and love on him for the coming years………

Sunshyn
10 years ago

Seriously. “Dog Heaven.” The illustration of the “God” character cranking out the dog biscuits is worth the book’s weight in GOLD. For you, even if the boys are adjusting just fine. I reserved it at the library again, just because. It’s short, beautifully and brightly illustrated, and absolutely lovely. I’ll shut up now.

Erika
Erika
10 years ago

Our dog Gypsy died when I was 12. We were all so devastated but my 16 year old brother was the worst. He held him as he died then he literally had to be pried off of him so they could take him away. I still remember his screams. It was horrible. I’ve never had a dog since then. My children want one but…

Rachel
Rachel
10 years ago

The last days of a death are a hard memory to carry, but without them the death would be so much harder. There is comfort in knowing that it was time.

When it is time again to adopt a dog, you will know. It is a very fine thing for kids to have a friend who is a dog.

Em
Em
10 years ago

It’s so funny to me the way we love our pets so deeply that it’s impossible to imagine getting another one because we never again want to go through the pain of saying goodbye. When my family’s beagle passed away unexpectedly, I was convinced that I never, ever wanted another dog because I couldn’t handle another eventual loss. That lasted 3 days, and then I couldn’t stand the empty house.

At first I thought it was insensitive, in a way, to get another dog without “properly” mourning (whatever the F that means), because I didn’t want to just “replace” my dear dog (as if I could). But adopting our 2 dogs was the best thing I ever did. They didn’t fill the empty space, but they created their own space and helped me to appreciate the good memories of my beagle instead of focusing on the sadness he left behind.

It took my parents longer, and it might take you longer, to feel ready. But I will echo Eileen’s suggestion to meet the new girl. She may be just what you need, or you will know that the time isn’t right. Good luck, whatever you decide. If nothing else, a visit with a sweet dog always cheers me up!

OmegaMom
10 years ago

You’ll know when it’s right.

It took me a year and a half after Kai died before I could really think about another dog. We now have a big bouncy 5 month old dog who is teething and still has accidents now and then if we don’t pay attention to his signals. He’s funny and silly and my dotter loves him, but I still sometimes call him Kai instead of Seward…

dani
dani
10 years ago

we got a new cat before I was ready. we fostered him at first “just to see.” and he ended up being a great cat. so I caved and we kept him. but for a long time he was just that: a great cat, but not MY cat.

now I absolutely adore him.

but it took a while. and to be honest, I kind of resented the new cat for a time. which wasn’t fair.

if you can’t even fathom meeting another dog, don’t do it yet. be fair to you and be fair to him.

Carole
Carole
10 years ago

So sorry for loss….(((Linda & JB)))
JB may need another dog. The photos of you guys on the beach and in the woods with your dog seemed so natural. He was not only your pet but a valued member of your family. Anyhoo…getting another dog is your family decision and not my business.

Melissa
Melissa
10 years ago

Oh, man, this sentence:

“I don’t know how an empty or missing thing can feel so commandingly present. Here I am, not here.”

This is beautiful and heartbreakingly perfect.

Sarah
Sarah
10 years ago

I was just going to say exactly what Susie and Melissa beat me to. Poignant and perfectly succinct at the same time.

Her Ladyship
10 years ago

I am so sorry for your loss, Linda. I read once something along the lines of, true animal lovers have their hearts broken early and often, and that is so true. But they bring so much to your life. Anyways, sending you and JB my best thoughts.

Amy
Amy
10 years ago

When we euthanized our beloved first greyhound, that’s what was hardest afterward–the sheer empty hole of where he used to be. It was physically painful, as was remembering that final ride to the vet… I mean, intolerably painful.

It did get easier, and we were ready to welcome another greyhound about four months later. You’ll know if and when you are, too. I’m so sorry that Dog is gone.