We are losing the little guy. I feel trapped. I know a broken heart is waiting for me but I chose it a long time ago. There is no wishing it away.

He is just old, not as old as me but way older in the number of days God decided to give dogs. He is running out of days. I wish it weren’t so but it is. There’s a Hank Williams song “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive.” That’s true for me and you and for my little goofball puppy.

When we first got him they told us he was 10 years old but they didn’t know. They were guessing at his age. They found him wandering the streets of Waterbury. That was 11 years ago. He was so emaciated and they told us he was going blind. He was supposed to have had some kind of medical condition that would cause the blindness but we didn’t care. He needed a home. We had two other elderly dogs, a beagle and a basset hound, who wouldn’t be with us much longer. We thought he’d fit in well with them.

Apparently whatever the medical condition was that afflicted his eyesight was exacerbated by his lack of nourishment. Once he knew he was safe and once he was getting fed properly he was a puppy again. He’d use Henry, the basset hound, as a speed bump.

He was such a blessing when Jelly, the beagle, died. Losing her just broke our hearts in two. Otto would start playing with the dog toys and it distracted us just enough to get us a little further past or through our grief.

I used to joke that he was a Republican. We had two small toys he liked to play with precisely because they were small. There was a mouse named Nancy Pelosi and a raccoon named Harry Reid. He would toss them crazily around the living room and sometimes Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi would even fly past my ear. Served them right.

And he didn’t go blind. Maybe his eyesight has deteriorated some but so has mine. He’s been mostly healthy until recently.

I think having Otto helped Henry too. Henry and Jelly had been together so long. When Otto goes it will be tough on Lila. We got her after Henry died.

We’re going to lose Otto soon, not quite yet but soon. We’ve had him a lot longer than we thought we would but it feels so short. It is short compared to the rest of my family. People say that pets become part of your family and that’s true but it seems even more true because while they are with us they are almost omnipresent. And then when they are gone their absence is almost constant. (sigh)

Next week we are all going to Savannah for my nephew’s wedding. We leave Sunday. He likes riding in the car with the two of us close by.

I went out today to get a haircut and left the TV on for the two of them. As a goof, I put it on the Universo channel. (Otto is part chihuahua.) This is Otto after a couple of hours watching a Spanish soap opera. Lila looks annoyed.

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  1. CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill

    Sorry to know your household is having its heart broken.

    This  is the only down side of having a wonderful pet – the end when it finally comes. 

    Not much else to say. Take care.


    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    It is so hard to lose a pet. My heart aches for you. How wonderful that you all had so many great years.

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell

    You have my sympathy at your loss. But thanks for introducing us to Otto and Lila.

    • #3
  4. The_Admin() Admin

    It’s hard during these times, but the rest of the time makes it worth it. They improve our lives tremendously and make us better people.

    • #4
  5. Stad Coolidge

    CarolJoy, Not So Easy To Kill (View Comment):

    Sorry to know your household is having its heart broken.

    This is the only down side of having a wonderful pet – the end when it finally comes.

    Not much else to say. Take care.


    I agree.  We love our pets like family, and it’s sad their lives are so short . . .

    • #5
  6. Rapporteur Coolidge

    So sorry to read about your doggo’s declining health. Bless you for nursing him back to health when you first got him.

    • #6
  7. Jeff Petraska Member
    Jeff Petraska

    Our dog, Buddy, will be 13 next week.  He’s gotten to the point where he sometimes needs our help to stand up, or to climb a step or two.  Like Otto, I’m not sure how much longer he’ll be with us.  It’s sad, because he’s otherwise in good health except for his hips.  We’ve made an ersatz belt out of old tube socks and use it to help him stand up when he’s having trouble.

    • #7
  8. TheRightNurse Member

    You’re a good human.   Your kindness and care shows in their expression and longevity.  It will be hard to lose them, but what vital parts of your lives they have been and how vital you have been to them!  Thank you for sharing this.

    • #8
  9. Hugh Member

    A good life, well lived.  That is the life of a happy dog.

    • #9
  10. Duane Oyen Member
    Duane Oyen

    Our puppy got his terminal cancer diagnosis in August of 2019, and is just now showing signs that it won’t be long- but not from the cancer, but a nasty kidney ailment and just old age when hit with all that other stuff.  We carry him (14 lb) downstairs (he can still manage up), but he is messing up the bathroom now most nights.  Going through this twice in a dozen years (we got Charlie at age 3 as a rescue) I don’t know if I can stand to go through it again.

    • #10
  11. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks

    Of all the lessons we get from living with a dog, the deepest is the worst. But even in that one, there is grace and connection with something transcendent. Which is no consolation whatsoever at the time. Sorry for all this, and thanks for introducing Otto to us. That little derpy blep in the last picture made me smile. 

    • #11
  12. Gossamer Cat Coolidge
    Gossamer Cat

    Beautiful Otto!  He may be going soon but he looks so happy now, and ultimately that is why, in Rudyard Kipling‘s words, we keep giving our hearts to a dog to tear.   For if it were just to make us happy, then we’d ask ourselves why we do it again and again knowing we will face such grief:

    We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent.
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
    So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

    But I think it is for them.  Because Otto needed you and because this wonderful being deserved a full and happy life.  

    • #12
  13. JennaStocker Member

    My heart breaks for you and your family. Dogs are one of life’s greatest gifts. Thank you for sharing yours with us. 

    • #13
  14. spaceman_spiff Member

    We were in York, Maine last September. They let you take your dogs on beach in the early morning and just before sundown. Here are a couple of videos. He has such little legs. It was always work for him to keep up, especially as he got older. They both loved the adventure.

    The RescueWife took these videos.

    • #14
  15. JennaStocker Member

    spaceman_spiff (View Comment):

    We were in York, Maine last September. They let you take your dogs on beach in the early morning and just before sundown. Here are a couple of videos. He has such little legs. It was always work for him to keep up, especially as he got older. They both loved the adventure.

    The RescueWife took these videos.

    What great memories! I’m glad you have these.

    • #15
  16. spaceman_spiff Member

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    What great memories! I’m glad you have these.

    11 years of them.

    • #16
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male

    This still chokes me up every time I read it.

    • #17
  18. Dave L Member
    Dave L

    It is so hard when they leave us, but they bring such joy while they are here. Thank you for sharing. My profile picture is our boy Nico who crossed over the rainbow bridge over a year ago. We still miss him even though we have adopted another rescue since.

    • #18
  19. Cow Girl Thatcher
    Cow Girl

    Pets are just furry family members…our hearts don’t know the difference. This was a lovely tribute to your dogs. And, I totally LOVE the final photo of them after two hours of Spanish soap operas! 

    • #19
  20. spaceman_spiff Member

    Pictures of Henry and Jelly.

    The RescueWife had a box garden when we lived in New Hartford. Somewhere I have a picture of Henry, plopped down in the middle of the box garden. I can’t find it right now.

    Here’s one of Otto and Jelly. I think Jelly just told Otto a joke.

    Otto, this past Christmastime, waiting for me to come home.

    • #20
  21. cdor Member

    After we lost our wonderful cat who shared her life with us for 25 years, we were determined to become empty nesters. But ever since my wife and I first met we had a pet. After about two years a friend found a litter of kitties living around the dumpster at our local grocery store. He fetched several and brought them home. Our friend harangued us until I finally went to meet the little gray female. She was so sweet. I brought her home. When the carrier door swung open in the kitchen, the little gray girl (I will not use any names for security purposes) bolted out, ran all throughout the house, and when she was finished with her inspection she looked up at me with approval and became our cat. About six months later we decided she needed a companion, as we were away at work all day long. So our search began for just the right personality to bring into the mix. The gray one was an A-type. She was the boss, even though her size was diminutive. After turning down several applicants, we went to an orphanage one day and found the white girl…so shy and timid, she was a perfect match. They have been sisters ever since. That was 17 years ago.

    About two years ago my wife was sunning on the back patio when this stunning very large black and white cat came strolling up. He let my wife love him up and then in an instant leaped ten feet from the ground to the roof of our garage and wandered off. His visits became regular but we didn’t know who he belonged to. He was well-fed and well-groomed so he couldn’t just be Ferrel. We put his picture up on Next Door Neighbor and the responses started flowing in. He had several names and was obviously all over the hood. To shorten this tale, I will jump to the point after we found his owner about three blocks away and began almost nightly throwing him in the car and taking him home. But he really liked the way our domicile could accommodate his inside-outside style.

    He decided that our family was where he liked it best. We discussed it with his owner and she decided her two cats and two teenagers were enough, we could have the boy cat.

    Now we have three pets and are anything but empty nesters. The boy is seven years old.

    Unfortunately, we too are at the end stages for one of our girls. Our sweet and timid white cat is failing. She is weak and emaciated and we do not have much time left with her. My wife and I have had “the talk” and have decided that as long as the little girl is pain-free we will love her until she decides to go. So @spacemanspiff, my heart goes out to you.

    • #21
  22. spaceman_spiff Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    My wife and I have had “the talk” and have decided that as long as the little girl is pain-free we will love her until she decides to go. So @ spacemanspiff, my heart goes out to you.


    Thank you. That’s our calculation too.

    • #22