On the Passing of Pets

 

I just deleted the draft of a think piece on the abuse of climate change girl and using kids as political props because something way more important, to me, anyway, has happened. Our 13 1/2 year old dog died. It’s not like we didn’t see it coming a few months ago as he was experiencing some changes in behavior. I looked him straight in the eyes the morning of September 11 during my usual bout of tears every year on that morning and told him, “Don’t do this today.” He didn’t listen, and did what he pleased, as was his usual way.

Our daughter wanted to adopt a puppy from a local shelter with her $40 in birthday money she had received when she turned 8. She picked out the runt of a litter of 13 pups someone had abandoned at the shelter. We never knew his breed, just that he was like a shepherd, collie, husky, something. It didn’t matter. He was perfect to her. She spent her $40 and we spent the rest, which as anyone with dogs knows, isn’t chump change over 13+ years. We’d totally do it all again. Anyway, she named him Lucky, and that he was. He probably wouldn’t have lived past 5 years old with anyone that couldn’t have taken care of him the way he needed. Everyone would say we saved him, but in reality, he saved us. As dogs do.

He didn’t have an exact birth date, but we counted back 6 weeks from the day we got him and celebrated him on New Year’s Day. He was lovingly dressed in a Build A Bear basketball jersey until he grew too big. The kids used to walk Lucky and Jackson, our Bichon, every day and at the end, race them back to the house. One day Lucky got going so fast he ran one of my kids into a tree. (You can laugh at that; we did.) She didn’t think to just let go of his leash. He would dig and make a den under the deck and laid there on cool days, even though he was an indoor dog. He ate my camellias, and dug up other plants, which aggravated me, but then we discovered he was catching moles and rats that decided to invade our back yard. If the front door was opened for any reason and he saw his chance, he would make a break for it and take off through the neighborhood and woods behind our house. One of the last times he did that we didn’t go after him that second and he came right back. It was clearly no fun if we weren’t chasing him.

He was with us when Jack died, who had been with us for 18 years. He was just around 2 or 3 then, but I’ll never forget how he stood and stared at his little buddy and we all were just so touched by that. Then he gently stole the milk bone one of my kids put next to the dead pup to be buried with him. Then as we buried the dog, Lucky stepped in the hole like a drunk uncle at a family reunion. Probably looking for more treats. Who knows. He made us laugh. He was there when we moved across the country and gave my kids comfort at a time when they were pretty upset. We drove with him and our Golden, Jasper, in the back of our Honda Pilot. Excellent travel buddies. Until one night he refused to walk up a set of open stairs at a motel along the way and had to be carried up. He was 90 pounds but my husband obliged. He was probably thinking what the rest of the family was. I’m not going up there. I can’t believe mom picked such a crappy place to spend the night.

girl hugging dog

We weren’t sure how he would adjust to the desert, but after his first and only run out the front door in his new surroundings, he figured out it wasn’t as great to be on the lam in 110 degrees. He was a dog of comfort. Five years ago when we first got back to Arizona he had major surgery. We were advised we could put him down then, as the surgery was not cheap, but the cost was well worth having more years with him as long as the surgery was successful and he wasn’t suffering. It was a success, and he was still happy and loving and greeted everyone who came in the door even if we were only gone for an hour. But just like people, dogs slow down a bit. He still liked his walks right up until the end but didn’t go as fast, or as far. He began to pace at night and barked at nothing, even at rest, and we knew he was losing his cognitive abilities. Then the night of September 11, he couldn’t get up and that was that. He seemed as fine as he usually was during the day and it happened just in a matter of a couple of hours. When I tweeted about him going to the emergency vet and not coming home, then about how Jasper was mourning the loss, something amazing happened. Complete strangers began sharing the post and sharing their stories about how their own pets mourned the loss of another in the house. We had a Twitter doggie grief session that I didn’t see coming. And that I very much appreciated.

The next day I got the Chewy subscription with his food and meds. Then an email from the vet saying he was due for his rabies shot. Then the realization I only had one bowl to fill in the morning. There will be a reminder every day that he is not with us anymore and I know I am not alone in those sad feelings. People who love pets bond over them. People I don’t even know were sad for us, prayed for us, and sent me kind messages. I’ve kept those in mind as we struggle with the hole in our family. Lucky is not following me down the hall at night or laying by my bedside. He’s not snoring or getting up at 2 am to stare me down in his restlessness to let me know he’s there. He’s not getting coffee with me in the morning and won’t be enjoying the weather on the porch when it cools down. One of my daughters came into the room the other night, as she heard me crying, and asked if I wanted her to lay down by my bed and snore. Thank goodness for humor.

I know the grief will subside and I keep saying NO MORE DOGS. Our hearts can’t take it! But, our hearts were filled up having known and loved him. We are better people for it. We are the Lucky ones.

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There are 30 comments.

  1. She Thatcher
    She

    I’m sorry. Your post brought back so many memories. Most poignantly, little Cinnamon, who, with her pal Holly, escaped the farm one day, and was gone for almost a week. We were frantic. Then we got a phone call in response to the ad we’d put in the paper, from an elderly gentleman about a mile-and-a-half up the road. He was in tears. He’d seen a dead dog on the Interstate, with a live dog keeping guard by it, and he picked them up. He was going to bury Holly, but then he saw our ad.

    We dug a hole, and put our beautiful Holly in it, with some flowers–there are always flowers on occasions like this. (Then, there was the rabbit we buried with military honors and a three-gun salute . . .). Just as we were getting ready to fill in the hole, Cinnamon came up carrying a bone, and dropped it in the grave with her friend.

    Argh.

    Yes. They save us.

    What a beautiful dog. “Lucky,” indeed. All of you.

    • #1
    • September 16, 2019, at 8:43 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    She (View Comment):

    I’m sorry. Your post brought back so many memories. Most poignantly, little Cinnamon, who, with her pal Holly, escaped the farm one day, and was gone for almost a week. We were frantic. Then we got a phone call in response to the ad we’d put in the paper, from an elderly gentleman about a mile-and-a-half up the road. He was in tears. He’d seen a dead dog on the Interstate, with a live dog keeping guard by it, and he picked them up. He was going to bury Holly, but then he saw our ad.

    We dug a hole, and put our beautiful Holly in it, with some flowers–there are always flowers on occasions like this. (Then, there was the rabbit we buried with military honors and a three-gun salute . . .). Just as we were getting ready to fill in the hole, Cinnamon came up carrying a bone, and dropped it in the grave with her friend.

    Argh.

    Yes. They save us.

    What a beautiful dog. “Lucky,” indeed. All of you.

    Dogs are incredible. I don’t think I knew just how much until I read stories like yours. That’s amazing and sad all at once. 

    • #2
    • September 16, 2019, at 8:53 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

    • #3
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:10 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  4. Arahant Member

    Laura Gadbery: One of my daughters came into the room the other night, as she heard me crying, and asked if I wanted her to lay down by my bed and snore. Thank goodness for humor.

    Indeed, and pets often bring us plenty to laugh about.

    Laura Gadbery: I just deleted the draft of a think piece on the abuse of climate change girl and using kids as political props because something way more important, to me, anyway, has happened. Our 13 1/2 year old dog died.

    You made the right choice. This is better, more interesting, and more likely to bind the Ricochet community.

    Condolences on the loss of Lucky.

    • #4
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:18 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Blondie Thatcher

    I am so sorry for your loss. Pets bring so much joy to our lives. 

     

    • #5
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:39 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Jimmy Carter Member

    In the whole of history of the world there is but one thing that money cannot buy… to wit- the wag of a dog’s tail.

    Josh Billings

    • #6
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:42 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Stad Thatcher

    Sorry for your loss. I predict NO MORE DOGS won’t last for long . . .

    • #7
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:54 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  8. She Thatcher
    She

    Stad (View Comment):

    Sorry for your loss. I predict NO MORE DOGS won’t last for long . . .

    Oh, I hope that’s the case. When 97-year old Auntie Betty lost her dear friend, Jamie the Cairn Terrier (one of the very few dogs in the world I never warmed to), she was of the “NO MORE DOGS” mind herself.

    Till my sister intervened. “Oh, come on Betty!” she exclaimed. “All over the world, there are little doggies who NEED you!” 

    That did it.

    • #8
    • September 16, 2019, at 9:58 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Yudansha Member

    My mother recently lost her beloved Chow-chow that she rescued from the mean streets of Baltimore. Sasha was willful, aloof, toy/food protective, and purely ornery. My mother adored her beyond all reason and totally restructured her life around Sasha’s eccentricities.

     

    They do make life seem somehow — grayer; less colorful– without them. My condolences.

    • #9
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. Douglas Pratt Member

    Sniff.

    I’m a cat guy, so I appreciate the place that animals fill in our hearts.

    • #10
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:19 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  11. The Great Adventure! Member

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    And carrots. Our Ella loved carrots for her snacks. We adapted to picking up her orange streaked poop.

    Understand your loss @lauragadbery – Ella left us on Dec 30 of last year after being in the family for 14 years. I still pull into the driveway and get out of the car and expect to hear her. I still think about leaving the TV on to keep her company.

     

    • #11
    • September 16, 2019, at 10:36 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  12. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Sorry for your loss. I predict NO MORE DOGS won’t last for long . . .

    That made me smile. 

    • #12
    • September 16, 2019, at 11:48 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Cato Rand Reagan

    I’m so sorry for your loss. People who don’t have pets sometimes don’t appreciate the depth of the bond or the depth of the grief when we lose them. But I can never read stories like this without being drawn back to the day we lost Charlie a little over seven years ago and I’m bawling as I write this. Nothing has ever hurt so much and I still grieve the loss now and then. I’m glad your Lucky blessed you and I’m sure you all blessed him. RIP Lucky.

    • #13
    • September 16, 2019, at 12:16 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor

    We had to put down our dog over 20 years ago. The other night my husband and I were watching one of the veterinary shows on TV. Suddenly one dog reminded us of Muffin, a black, 15 pound, spunky mix. We began to share favorite stories about her. Her name has come up before, but it’s been a while since we’ve talked about her. Somehow I think we sensed her presence, at least in our memories. Both sadness and funny stories came up. It’s hard to lose them.

    • #14
    • September 16, 2019, at 12:41 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  15. Hugh Member

    Two things always make me cry:

    Dogs passing away and

    Dogs being rescued from the shelter

    Thank you for sharing your story.

    • #15
    • September 16, 2019, at 1:19 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  16. USAhafan Member

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is horrible. The space in your heart where the animal lives is there forever. Thank goodness for their lives! They enhance ours so much!

    We still mourn for our bunny, Whiskers, who died four years ago. It took us four years to find the perfect bunny to fill the hole. Midnight is feisty and makes us laugh. We think she and Whiskers will be best friends some day.

    • #16
    • September 16, 2019, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  17. AUMom Member

    Children and dogs are as necessary to the welfare of the country as Wall Street and the railroads. Harry S. Truman

    I’ll stand with Truman on this one. 

    May your memories and laughs keep you until the next dog steps into your life. 

    • #17
    • September 16, 2019, at 4:00 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. David Foster Member

    We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us.

    — Maurice Maeterlinck

    • #18
    • September 16, 2019, at 4:17 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    This is a picture of my darling Suzi who died a little over a year ago at the age of 13 after a stroke. We raised her from the age of three months, and she gave us nothing but loving pleasure all of her wonderful little life. When my husband died, she was there to comfort and love me and made losing him just a little bit easier. She never met a stranger in our morning walks when she wagged her tail and kissed the hand of all who petted her. She wouldn’t go to bed at night until I kissed the top of her head. I still miss her every single day of my life.

    • #19
    • September 16, 2019, at 5:09 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Caryn Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    This is a picture of my darling Suzi who died a little over a year ago at the age of 13 after a stroke. We raised her from the age of three months, and she gave us nothing but loving pleasure all of her wonderful little life. When my husband died, she was there to comfort and love me and made losing him just a little bit easier. She never met a stranger in our morning walks when she wagged her tail and kissed the hand of all who petted her. She wouldn’t go to bed at night until I kissed the top of her head. I still miss her every single day of my life.

    Dear Goldwaterwoman, I’m so sorry for both of your losses. 

    Dear Laura, I’m sorry for yours, as well. Coming on 9/11 compounds the grief and makes the date doubly unforgettable. Lucky and your family were blessed, indeed.

     

    • #20
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    This is a picture of my darling Suzi who died a little over a year ago at the age of 13 after a stroke. We raised her from the age of three months, and she gave us nothing but loving pleasure all of her wonderful little life. When my husband died, she was there to comfort and love me and made losing him just a little bit easier. She never met a stranger in our morning walks when she wagged her tail and kissed the hand of all who petted her. She wouldn’t go to bed at night until I kissed the top of her head. I still miss her every single day of my life.

    Awww I’m so sorry. She sounds like a wonderful companion. 

    • #21
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    The Great Adventure! (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    And carrots. Our Ella loved carrots for her snacks. We adapted to picking up her orange streaked poop.

    Understand your loss @lauragadbery – Ella left us on Dec 30 of last year after being in the family for 14 years. I still pull into the driveway and get out of the car and expect to hear her. I still think about leaving the TV on to keep her company.

     

    Sorry for your loss. Those habits take a long time to stop thinking about. 

    • #22
    • September 16, 2019, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  23. Dave L Member

    So sorry for your loss, such a beautiful dog. We lost our Nico back in May of this year and I still find myself anticipating his welcomes. I believe our other pets also miss their friends. Our other dog, Rupert, sometimes still appears to be looking for his buddy. Last night I turned off the TV and lights and as I headed to bed Rupert as usual followed me, after awhile I noticed he had left the bedroom and I went to check on him. I found him staring into the darkened den, he turned and looked at me, then looked back at the den for a moment, then turned and slowly walked back to the bedroom. Rupert and Nico used to sleep next to each other.

    • #23
    • September 17, 2019, at 5:29 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    Dave L (View Comment):

    So sorry for your loss, such a beautiful dog. We lost our Nico back in May of this year and I still find myself anticipating his welcomes. I believe our other pets also miss their friends. Our other dog, Rupert, sometimes still appears to be looking for his buddy. Last night I turned off the TV and lights and as I headed to bed Rupert as usual followed me, after awhile I noticed he had left the bedroom and I went to check on him. I found him staring into the darkened den, he turned and looked at me, then looked back at the den for a moment, then turned and slowly walked back to the bedroom. Rupert and Nico used to sleep next to each other.

    The emptiness is real. Sorry for your loss. It’s good we have a Rupert and Jasper. 

    • #24
    • September 17, 2019, at 5:38 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. wilber forge Member

    Sorry to hear of this. When I retired, I was told I needed a dog. As it went a street dog, a Lab adopted me and the bond was beyond explanation. With that said after some twelve years she knew it was her time looked at me with eyes that said I cannot do this anymore. Then just laid down and passed.

    Our bond was so deep that it has left a hole that cannot be filled or replaced. Sorry but that is just how it is in my life.

     

    My best to you in future.

     

    • #25
    • September 17, 2019, at 11:32 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  26. Instugator Thatcher

    wilber forge (View Comment):
    Our bond was so deep that it has left a hole that cannot be filled or replaced.

    I had a dog like that. He passed just after I graduated basic training.

    Four years in the Zoo left me with a rule I will follow until I cannot. I will never be without a dog again. Doesn’t mean I replaced Sherman, just that I am willing to open my heart to love and be loved by another dog.

    Sherman 1984

    Mui Lan 1998

    Ta Shunke Witko 2006

    Mowgli 2013

    Jasper – Still with us

    Interesting thing about Jasper is that my wife found him and brought him home from a rescue place. I was given the task of training him. He was a blessing that helped when Mowgli passed.

    Laura, my condolences on your loss.

    • #26
    • September 18, 2019, at 10:07 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Duane Oyen Member

    We are in the middle of almost exactly the same situation right now, as we found out last month that our 13 year old has a cancer that has a poor prognosis. He was with us for the last 10 years after his first two insane owners rejected him and returned him to the shelter for asinine reasons- we were glad to get a fast replacement for the 15 year old puppy we had just lost to a combination of every dog infirmity known to vet.

    They offered to do surgery for $10k and possibly, maybe, extend his life by a few months with all the cutting and recovery. Instead, we are spoiling the little monster even more than usual.

    • #27
    • September 19, 2019, at 6:49 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    wilber forge (View Comment):

    Sorry to hear of this. When I retired, I was told I needed a dog. As it went a street dog, a Lab adopted me and the bond was beyond explanation. With that said after some twelve years she knew it was her time looked at me with eyes that said I cannot do this anymore. Then just laid down and passed.

    Our bond was so deep that it has left a hole that cannot be filled or replaced. Sorry but that is just how it is in my life.

     

    My best to you in future.

     

    My best to you, as well. I hope the hole can be at least partially filled with another good girl like your lab.

    • #28
    • September 23, 2019, at 3:59 PM PDT
    • Like
  29. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    Instugator (View Comment):

    wilber forge (View Comment):
    Our bond was so deep that it has left a hole that cannot be filled or replaced.

    I had a dog like that. He passed just after I graduated basic training.

    Four years in the Zoo left me with a rule I will follow until I cannot. I will never be without a dog again. Doesn’t mean I replaced Sherman, just that I am willing to open my heart to love and be loved by another dog.

    Sherman 1984

    Mui Lan 1998

    Ta Shunke Witko 2006

    Mowgli 2013

    Jasper – Still with us

    Interesting thing about Jasper is that my wife found him and brought him home from a rescue place. I was given the task of training him. He was a blessing that helped when Mowgli passed.

    Laura, my condolences on your loss.

    Thank you. Isn’t it amazing how other dogs sort of pitch in and fill the void? Our Jasper has suddenly taken on new behaviors and is doing a few of the things only Lucky used to do. It’s so touching he observed those things all these years.

    • #29
    • September 23, 2019, at 4:01 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Laura Gadbery Coolidge
    Laura Gadbery Post author

    Duane Oyen (View Comment):

    We are in the middle of almost exactly the same situation right now, as we found out last month that our 13 year old has a cancer that has a poor prognosis. He was with us for the last 10 years after his first two insane owners rejected him and returned him to the shelter for asinine reasons- we were glad to get a fast replacement for the 15 year old puppy we had just lost to a combination of every dog infirmity known to vet.

    They offered to do surgery for $10k and possibly, maybe, extend his life by a few months with all the cutting and recovery. Instead, we are spoiling the little monster even more than usual.

    That’s how it should be. Spoil spoil spoil. We didn’t know the gravity of Lucky’s situation and expected maybe a few more months. Treat him like a king. And my thoughts are with you as you go through this. 

    • #30
    • September 23, 2019, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 1 like