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In his grief over the loss of a dog, a little boy stands for the first time on tiptoe, peering into the rueful morrow of manhood. After this most inconsolable of sorrows there is nothing life can do to him that he will not be able somehow to bear. – James Thurber
In July of 2004, my brother James held Dutch, his German Shorthaired Pointer, for the first time. On November 20, 2014, James held Dutch for the last time. After ten incredible years Dutch succumbed to the ravaging effects of hemangiosarcoma, a deadly and unfortunately common cancer in dogs.
Ten years, that’s the deal. The lucky get more time, far too many get less. But we all must inevitably face the end. That end – the only end – is heartbreak. When Dutch died I held James and we cried. I wasted no breath on neat and impotent words. James howled an ancient pain.
Some admonish, “While epidemics rage, wars destroy and poverty runs rampant, your sorrow is for a dog?” Some miss the point.
I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog. – Napoleon Bonaparte
The point is this – each and every one of us is alone. Profoundly, inexorably and inescapably alone. We have family and friends with whom we share parts of our journey and parts of who we are, but it is impossible to ever truly understand the experience of being anyone else. We are each stuck inside ourselves with no one but ourselves. Scary, I know.
There we are, stumbling through the darkness, finding our way when we see a wagging tail and we’re made a simple but profound offer. “I’ll come with you!” says a dog. A dog has no journey of their own, no thoughts of past or future, so they give themselves fully to us in a way no person ever could.
James accepted Dutch’s uncompromising offer and for ten years Dutch followed James from Boston to Washington DC, to New Jersey and finally to Chicago. Cities and circumstance changed but Dutch never did. No matter what and no matter where, James would come home and find Dutch wagging his tail furiously with a bone hanging out of the side of his mouth like a cigar. To be greeted at the door by a dog like Dutch is to know, if only for a moment, what it feels to be completely accepted and unequivocally loved. And oh what a feeling that is.
In Washington DC James was a police officer in the narcotics division. He became all too familiar with poverty, addiction, crime and violence. You can never let go of all the things that weigh on you, but you can always count on a dog to help carry that weight. I remember one night when James came home after responding to a particularly harrowing shooting. James didn’t say much and Dutch didn’t need him to. With a deep sigh James settled into the couch, Dutch jumped into his lap, and the two held each other in silent comfort.
I have a Scottie. In him I find consolation and diversion… he is the “one person” to whom I can talk without the conversation coming back to war. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
That’s what we do – we hold them close. We hold our dogs so close that parts of ourselves overflow and fall directly onto their furry heads. So when we look at our dogs we see our worst sorrows, our greatest joys and the deepest part of ourselves for which there is no name. The story of our dogs is the story of us.
Like our own story, a dog’s story ends. Just much, much too soon. We know that, yet we repeatedly subject ourselves to this wrenching pain. Why? I suspect there’s no shared answer, but there is a shared lesson. We must measure life not in loss but in experience. Through our relationship with dogs we experience not just man’s best friend. We also experience man’s best quality – unconditional, selfless love.
When Dutch died, so did the some of the best parts of James. But before Dutch died, he gave all of the best parts of himself to James. It’s a painful trade but it’s one James, I and you never regret.
There’s such beauty in the hard honesty of that, in accepting and giving love [to dogs] while always aware that it comes with an unbearable price. -Dean Koontz
As I’ve said before, a dog can’t change the world but they can change your world. And if each of us can pass along even a fraction of the unmitigated, world changing love we receive from our dogs? Maybe we can see about that whole changing the world thing.
Today we cry and howl. Tomorrow we wake up and change the world the same way Dutch did – one small act of selfless love at a time.
When the Man waked up he said, ‘What is Wild Dog doing here?’ And the Woman said, ‘His name is not Wild Dog any more, but the First Friend, because he will be our friend for always and always and always’ – Rudyard Kipling
Well said and very touching. I’m sorry such a good friend has passed from your family. I grieve the loss of my companion animals far more than any person (so far) because they accepted, supported, and comforted me the way no person every could or would.
The photos are beautiful and the quotes perfect illustrations of what you’re saying. It’s my greatest fear, losing loved ones, maybe because I know it’s inevitable.
I’m in tears reading this. I’m so sorry for James’ loss, and for yours. Words can’t express sorrow so deep. Our hearts go out to you both.
Probably the best tribute I have ever read. Beautifully said. I had grown to love Dutch and his “old man” ways in the blog. Upon reading this, I miss him terribly.
Well, Mom is crying at work, a wonderful post, for terrible news. We had no idea he was ill and were looking so forward to hearing more of his adventures with your two pups. So very sad, ten years passes so quickly. We will miss seeing him on your blog, but our brother and all of you that really knew him will miss him so very much. Hold on to the great memories! Just a reminder to cherish every day you have with your pets.
I am so sorry to hear about your brother James loss of his precious dog Dutch. My eyes are filled with tears rolling down my face, that I had to read your post twice to catch everything. Even though I don’t know James or Dutch, I send them my heartfelt love. From one dog lover to another, it is something that we all hope we never have to deal with, as you feel like you died inside too. Dutch sounds like he had the best life, with lots of love. Hugs to you & your family.
Perfectly written and poignant. A great tribute to Dutch! My heart breaks for James, and for you. I cry with you, dreading the day I will have to face losing my Rusty.
I’m so sorry for Dutch and James….please give your bro a hug from me… I agree with you they change our world… and if they go, a part of us and a part of our heart goes with them…
I send my most heartfelt sympathies to your brother and to you. I know the empty hole that is left behind by a dog who is so much a part of you that you feel like you’ve lost a limb when they go. It’s hard and lonely and painful, and howling feels like the only outlet possible. Howl on…and know that every one of us who has lost a dog howls with you. Dutch is young again, over the Rainbow Bridge, and waiting once again to meet you there.
Oh, I am so deeply sorry for James’ loss.
It is the horrible, horrible price we all pay for the love and devotion we get from our pets. There was an article in the Washington Post a while back that said it is more difficult to lose a pet than a person. I thought about that article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/the-death-of-pet-can-hurt-as-much-as-the-loss-of-a-relative/2012/02/21/gIQALXTXcS_story.html) a lot as I grieved for Cooper last year. It is very true, because of all the reasons you mentioned.
It’s commonly said, “Words cannot express…” but you my friend have managed to discount that quote. Your words express grief, love and dedication with such poignancy I feel as if I am experiencing your loss personally. Actually, in reality it is a personal loss for all of us that follow your writings and smile every time we read the adventures of your friends and family. Yours have become our very own friends and family making your losses our losses and your triumphs our pride. Through you your brother also has a following of faceless friends that support him “just because” and send love and support his way. We understand his grief because of our common love of the canine species, and know with certainty Dutch will never really be gone. Listen carefully…There he is…where he has always been and will always be.
So Sorry for James that Dutch passed but glad he had Dutch for as long as he did – he will never forget him and Dutch will always hold a place in his heart –
I’m so sorry for all of you as you have lost a dear member of your family. You expressed the loss very well. I am touched.
So sorry to read this news. I loved Dutch from a great distance but you could just see what sort of adorable, soft and kind hearted dog he was. Having lost my own dog at just 4 years old I know the unique piecing pain of this grief. It is one that many people are flippant about but it is deep and your carry it with you for life. Always grateful for the joy and love that your dear dog brings into your life but always missing his greeting, silly shimmy of his back end, noisy eating, yawning, hiding when I hiccup (I could go on!). You have put into words the grief I still carry with me. My message to James is this searing pain does ease but it takes time. Rejoice in time that you shared with your beloved Dutch. x Esther
trying to type and bawl my eyes out at the same time is quite hard. Beautifully written. My heart still aches when I think of my Jeddyboy who I was blessed with for 13 years. He holds a special place in my heart and took an even bigger piece with him. James my heart goes out to you at the loss of Dutch but I feel through your blog Will that I also had the pleasure to meet him. Love your dogs but having a GSP myself every time I saw one of your photos with Dutch in it my heart fluttered with joy just a little bit more. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the loss of a dog. We’re all going to have to go through it – for some again, and it won’t be the last time – it is a dreadful time but we treasure the time we do have with our kids.
Me and sisfur Nalle sing fur Dutch as he goes to the Rainbow Bridge: woooooooooooowoooooooooooooooooooooo! Much wuvwuvwuv to all of youwoowooooooo!
I am so very sorry for the huge hole Dutch’s loss has left in James’ heart and all of your lives. Please give him a huge hug of understanding, love and commiseration for me. I still mourn the loss of my Oskar 5 years later.
A topic I’ve been reflecting on this week, and this post is one of the most beautiful variations on the theme I’ve ever read. Thank you.
Such a wonderful post – like many others I am typing through tears. Having recently lost close family members – both dogs and humans – your article hit home a lot sharper than I has anticipated. Thank you.
I’m so sad to hear of Dutch’s passing…..We loved seeing the photos when you “babysat” for him and how he just “fit in” everywhere he was. Such a beautiful boy and I know James’ heart feels like it will never heal…..but it will in its’ own time. I’m glad you brothers have each other for those hugs and tears together. Losing a cat is just as painful – they trust us to keep them safe and happy and well fed and all of those things and give us their love and heart along the way – when they’re gone, life is “empty” for a time but it soon fills with the wonderful memories and the feeling that even knowing that it doesn’t last forever, we WILL go through it again – unconditional love is PRICELESS no matter what the consequences…………………….we’re so sorry……………
Hugs, Pam and Sammy
Omg, Will, I am so, so sorry for your loss. Please tell your brother James that all of us, Marcela, Cynthia and Alex, are extremely sorry for the loss of Dutch. He was such a handsome boy. Yes, their lives are quite sure, but they make such an impact on ours. I look at Alex now more than I did before. She is now 12 years and 7 months old. Yes, nowadays I count the months. Beautifully written post.
Will, what you’ve written here, there’s nothing else like it, just like grief, it’s raw, haunting and very real. One of the worst pains is to lose a companion, I’m truly sorry for your loss. Through your writing I feel you’ve honored Dutch’s life and I will miss reading about him.
Not much I can add to all the previous posts except to add my condolences. Ten years is indeed too short a time. Steffi at 14 years 7 months passed over the Rainbow Bridge late last June. Even the vet was crying. It’s still very hard. We do grieve just as much for our pets (she WAS our dogter) as we would a child. My husband is still not ready to get another pup. And, it’s taken us awhile to take care of what she left behind…toys, food, blankets, etc. As others have said, even though we didn’t know James or Dutch personally, through your blog, you all have become part of the family. Hugs to all of you at this difficult time.
Oh, Will, I sit here with tears streaming down my face. Thank you for this deeply moving, loving tribute to Dutch. I feel so bad for your brother right now, and for all of us who have faced and/or will face this day.
What a beautiful and moving tribute to a wonderful friend! I’m so sorry for the loss you and your brother are experiencing. Your words brought tears to my eyes, as they made me recall parting company with all of the wonderful canine companions I’ve had over the years. We can only be thankful for the time that our precious animals have with us, however short or long that time may be. They truly bless us and enrich our lives every day. Now I’m going to go hug my 3 year-old RR, Rudy, and thank him profusely for all the joy he constantly brings to me!
I hope James gets another dog. Preferably one that needs a home or its life will be snuffed before it even gets going. There’s no better way to honor Dutch.
This was the most beautiful thing you have ever written. Thank you, it must be shared….
Lovely written post, Will. Some might say ‘it’s only a dog’, but we all know they are more than just a dog. They are family members and best friends…. the most loyal of friends. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my Bear, but I feel blessed to have had him in my life for 14 wonderful years. Condolences to you, James, and your family for the loss of Dutch.
Oh my gosh this was so so so beautiful. Thank you.
Momwithoutpaws cried for hours after she lost her last pawbaby. Love is love
I’m so sorry for the loss of Dutch. I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. Your tribute to Dutch is very touching. Please send our hugs to James as well. RIP Dutch.
Just had to leave a comment to say I am so, so sorry to hear about this. Your post had me in tears. Dutch was a beautiful pup, and I’m sending lots of caring thoughts to his family.
Oh, that was just so beautifully written. I wasn’t planning to cry today, but have tears running down my face. The thought of losing Moo just takes my breath away, but I know it will happen one day. My sincere condolences to you and your brother.
There is nothing like having to say goodbye to a four-legged family member. The sadness is terrible, but tempered a tiny bit by knowing we gave them the best life we could. Dutch was one lucky dog to have people (and dogs) who loved him for his whole life.
Thank you all for your nice comments and for sharing in my grief. Dutch was an amazing pup with a great big heart. I wish everyone could have met him. He loved nestling up to strangers for a good rub on the head. He did this even in his last weeks when he was supposed to be exclusively hanging with me!! 🙂
I wish you all many loving years with your pups and send my condolences to those loved ones you’ve lost along the way.
With heartfelt gratitude,
[…] On Losing a Dog | Marking Our Territory __________________ "To my mind, I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man." "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Mahatma Gandhi Golden Retriever Rescue of North Texashttp://www.goldenretrievers.org […]
No one could have written it better. I will hold my guys closer tonight.
Have a good trip sweet boy..
I’m very sorry for James’ loss and you wrote a great tribute to Dutch. I always laughed at his picture with your two. He always seemed to be able to keep up with them somehow at the beach. Will really miss his face in future pictures. Sending the whole family my prayers.
Reblogged this on meANXIETYme and commented:
I warn you that this is a tear-jerker of a post. But it is one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read about the life of a much beloved dog. I’m very appreciative that Will was able to share to eloquently with all of us. Thank you, Will, for adding your amazing words to our world. And thank you to your brother, James, for sharing Dutch with us, even in this very small way.
Oh Will I am so sorry for your brother james and your family in the loss of Dutch. What a beautiful tribute you did. I’m glad that Penny got to meet and spend some time with him. Death Leaves a Heartache No One Can Heal. Love
Leaves a Memory No One Can Steal.
“I’ll come with you”, you nailed the journey with those words. I’m sorry that the journey of James and Dutch has physically ended but I’m so glad they traveled for ten years together. That love will move with James and guide him in crazy, wonderful ways. These dogs of ours, they imprint forever.
Once I was able to clear my vision, I forwarded your blog to all the dog people I know. Thank you for so eloquently describing the bonds we have with our devoted companions. I would put your words right up there with the notable quotes you sited. My condolences to James. And thank you for sharing with us at such a difficult time. We’ll miss Dutch’s sideways glares at Penny.
I’m so sorry to hear about Dutch. James is lucky to have had you with him during that difficult time. This was one of the most touching tributes to all the dogs in our lives I have ever read. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this incredibly painful and personal situation. It pains me to no end to even contemplate losing my RR soul, Chi-Chi. Your choice in words and how you expressed everything was beautiful and timeless. I will share this passage with all my family & friends.
So true, of all the unconditional love over the years our dogs give, and expect nothing in return. My condolences to you & yours, especially to James. May he find peace and solace in the wonderful memories he had with Dutch.
Most sincerely, Rene
Sent from my iPad
Will, this is a beautiful tribute that captures our full…then broken hearts for the love of a dog. We wonder how we can ever do it again. But we do. And with each one, our hearts do something magical…they grow larger. Hugs to James. They will meet again, I know.
Dogs are part of the family and you never expect to lose a family member and yet the truth is none of us two-legged or four-legged get out of here alive. We are never ready for the loss and sorrow. All we can do is give as much unconditional love back to our furry friends as they give to us in their short lives. Time never heals the hole left behind, but the memories are worth the short ride.
We are so very, very sorry. Run free Dutch, until we all meet again.
Wallace & Samuel
Amazing tribute and so beautifully written. This has been posted in multiple pet loss forums I want you to know. Thank you. I lost my dog this year and reading it brought comfort to me.
This absolutely perfectly describes how it is to lose a dog, yet why we will always get another: each dog leaves a hole in your heart that another dog can never fill, but you find a new place in your hert for your new dog.
I am so very sorry for your loss. There is nothing more painful than to lose a friend and family member and that is what a pet becomes. I can’t find the words to say exactly how it feels or how reading your post made me feel. It’s like a pang of longing and an ache of knowing and a fond remembering all at once if that even makes sense.
All I can say is I understand what you’re feeling. I know words don’t help but I do understand.
Thinking of you all
Tender thoughts and sweet memories…
So sorry for the loss of your loyal friend with special thanks for such an elegantly stated remembrance. <3
We grieve our losses but inside the broken heart lies the spirit of our pets. It’s never easy, it’s not designed to be. After I read your post, nearly in tears, I went home, hugged my husband & my dogs. Remembered all who are no longer here physically both human & furry. Thank you for a wonderful post
I am so sorry for your lost… Please, hug your brother, and tell him that he was lucky having Dutch in his life even for that short period of time.
It’s my greatest fear, losing my fur-monsters, and I know that day will come, so we try to make their life better every single day and we raise them with so much love… that is important… time becomes relative then and our pain is a small price we have to pay for every day we were given to share with them…
I don’t know what to say, Will, except this: Your post is a beautiful tribute to Dutch and to your brother, and to their eternal bond. I’ll keep them in my prayers.
Thank you for this. While the loss of my own heart dog, Merlin, is not unlike the loss of your brother’s heart dog (because that is what Dutch was), the utter grief and despair is individual and unique. I cannot possibly tell you with complete honesty that I understand James’ pain, but I am joined to that ancient pain with my own.
Your post caused me to reminisce about my boy, and, in no small fashion, relive the pain and sorrow. But, each bout of tears is a cleansing. An opening of the soul that ensures we do not lose our humanity. And helps to pave the way toward keeping the heart open just enough so another heart dog may find his or her space there. I sincerely hope that for you and James.
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Oh No!!! This is the most AWFUL, AWFUL news. Tears are streaming down my face. This post was so beautiful. I am so deeply sorry to hear about Dutch and we send ALL OF YOU our love and deepest sympathy. This is just terrible. Please, please send our love, we are keeping you all in our prayers. Will miss seeing Dutch visiting Eko and Penny xoxo
This was very well written and I thank you for sharing it. I have lost a lot this year, including my dad and my sister. My family doesn’t quite understand how losing my dog is the one that has left me the most devastated. Maybe it was because he was the last to go, but I don’t think so. He was my heart and soul. He lived a very good, long life, and I was blessed to help him cross the rainbow bridge.
My heart aches.
I lost my best friend this year, the only creature to ever love me unconditionally. All the time. The one creature who I wanted to take with me everywhere. And who always wanted to be next to me.
I know this loss. I couldn’t have expressed the sentiment better than you did. Thank you for reminding me how fantastically lucky I am to have had Jackson in my life. How lucky we all are to know that kind of love.
I am so sorry for your family’s loss, but grateful for your words… My Morgan was the same age as Dutch. Born just a few months before and died a month earlier. My husband and I have been dealing with the grief you have written about…and others not always understanding he was so much more than a dog. So much of what you have written I connect with. I am trying to honor him…one act of loving kindness at a time, because he gave me so much more. Thank you.
I’m 67 years old. I’ve had 14 dogs sharing my life over the years. I could write volumes about each of them. The best thing I know about them all, though is what a friend told me when I was grinding through the loss of my friend Bodhi so many years ago: “They’re not here for long, they’re just here for good.”
For me, nothing more honors the memory of the dog I’ve just lost than accepting the care of another one. When my heart cries at the thought I ask the spirits of all the ones who came before what I should do, each of them tells me the same thing, “Don’t hold back, if you loved us, love another the same way. As soon as you can, not sooner, but as soon as you can.”
Dutch was a good dog, there’s no better thing that can be said of any being.
I am so sorry for your and James’ loss! It is so heartbreaking!
So beautiful Will…I cannot say much…we all know that pain and indeed the crying and howling comes from a part of us that can never be reached by anything or anyone like a dog. I can only send my love to you brother and yourself and all who had the luck to share Dutch’s life..it is never long enough..and I know only too well that we are on borrowed time here with and 11 and 12 year old…but I would not trade that heartbreak for the love joy and utter friendship that my boys have given me..a sad trade..a hard one and one we all fear. Much love to all Bev xxxx
This made me ‘cry and howl’…..
Beautifully written tribute to your sweet Dutch. As much as we love our families and friends, dogs touch a part of our soul meant only for them. Dutch felt your love for 10 years and as he crossed over. I hope he meets my angel girl Magic at the Bridge. Even after such loss please know that your heart will make room for another dog who will find their unique place in your life.
I personally have lost 4 dogs within the last 5 years and know this pain far to well. All I can say is “Thank you”.
He is running with Orion now.
I think you’ve put into words something all dog lovers have experienced and have not found the words to say… Truly a beautifully written, touching article. Thank you. The loss of a dog is indescribable… just as it is equally impossible to describe the feeling one has when they have the privilege of sharing their life with a dog who loves them unconditionally. Our dogs see into the deepest, and sometimes darkest part of our souls, and love us anyways. My thoughts are with all of you in this difficult time.
So perfectly said. Lost my Bogart, my “heart dog” to hemangio last year and my Desi to another condition seven months later. Both far too soon – three months shy of 11 and just barely 9. I will never be quite the same. I spend a great deal of time trying to capture the unique qualities of our companions both for myself and for others. That, and the experience, is all we have left.
We know your pain too well. We just lost our gentle giant Ox a beautiful, gentle and sweet greyhound. He died of cancer, a sarcoma. He was 3 months exactly shy of turning 10. A part of our hearts died that day and We will never get over losing him but We still have Delta our beautiful 11 year old greyhound. We have to be brave and strong for her . Her grief was so strong and heartbreaking losing her best friend that we were approached by a rescue agency that we knew about, asking if we wanted to adopt a Spanish greyhound named Alma( meaning Soul in Spanish) that endured a terrible life in Spain. She was rescued from a kill station. How could we say no so we adopted her! I know Ox would be so proud that we are showering her with all the love we showered him with. There are days that are hard to get through when We look at pictures and videos of him but then Delta gives us sweet love and Alma makes us laugh and We see the fear and mistrust leaving her! We know Ox is proud of us! And with Alma and Delta, our hearts are slowly healing. We will always love Ox and will never forget him! We pray that you can find a way to heal and be able to get through each day and learn to live without Dutch. We are on the same journey. A journey everyone fears will come too soon and often does!
Juanita and Mike
This is the best thing I’ve seen written on this topic.
Some admonish, “While epidemics rage, wars destroy and poverty runs rampant, your sorrow is for a dog?” Some miss the point.
You have managed to put into words all of my frustrations, anger, miscommunication, pain and joy which I have not been able to do. Thank you. This is just beautiful.
I think this is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. Your brother is so fortunate to have you in his life . . . someone who understands what it means, and how much it hurts, to say goodbye to your dog. When Harper Lee first came into our family, and I held that tiny ball of fluff, I started crying. My husband asked, “Why are you crying?” and I said, “Because one day I’ll have to let her go.” (We had lost our first Golden Retriever several years before, and it was devastating.) That’s when my husband said, “Don’t cry about the end. Enjoy every moment until the end come.” And that’s exactly what Harper Lee and I try do do every single day. Thank you for reminding me to enjoy the moment.
I’ve seen my share of death having worked in the medical field for so long. I have had my mother and father go before me. I have watched a friend bury one of her twins, who died the very first day she came back to work. As a teen my second horse had to be put down and watched him go. Nothing has ever prepared me for the loss of my Aussie. His name was Maui. I rescued him from a shelter or should say he chose me so he could rescue me. He came to me at a time that I was in so much pain, anger, and confusion. 15 years later my brave man just didn’t look right, he wasn’t acting right, he wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t drink. I just knew in my heart it was his time. I called his second favorite person, my sister, and told her if you want to see him alive you better come on over. She came and he perked up. He tried to be the same old guy with her, but it was just too much. Two days later he passed in my lap, on his own, no help needed from the vet. I pet him and pet him long after he was cold. Then I cried like I have never cried in my life. God how I loved this dog. No rhyme or reason. He was with me every day 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everyone in town knew him. And when he was gone I had to explain to all of them, who missed him. It is six years later and I still cry, I still miss him, and sure do hope he IS waiting at Rainbow Bridge. I love you Maui. I am so sorry you have lost your Dutch.
We lost our German Shorthair about a year ago, the day after Thanksgiving, 2013. It was a horrifying thing, but yet less painful than some because we had a vet come to the house, so she was calm and relaxed in her own house. The pain is still there underneath a year of many changes, moving, new jobs, etc. I can’t get another dog yet. Just can’t. Maybe someday some four-legged friend will just walk into my life, but right now, I just can’t do it. Your very last picture of Dutch, the black and white, looks almost identical to my Lexie. Thank you for your honest feelings. I needed that.
Reblogged this on Tidbits n Treasures and commented:
Tender truth… One small act of love at a time. I really love this post.
Reblogged this on Parrots, Prose, and Poetry.
I am so sorry to read this. It was a lovely tribute to a lovely dog xxx
I lost my dog 11/4/14, He was born 9/11/01, I have had many dogs and it usually would take 3 days and I could talk about it,but this time it was 7 days maybe because of the way he died. He was a diabetic and when I would get home from work he would know he had to have his shot so he would stand by the refrige with his head bowed. He would not leave that spot until I gave him his injection and then he would not go eat unless I sat by him. He was my dog. He protected me from my husband’s kisses. Or from anyone coming to close to me. Now that he is gone he has left a large hole in my heart. I am hoping one day it will be healed.
We recently had to say goodbye to our miniature schnauzer Minnie. Minnie had been suffering from kidney and heart issues for the past 2 years or so. My wife and I adopted her in 2007 from a local shelter. We don’t really know much about her life before us, but we assume she made someone very happy and was loved. She was not your typical abused, neglected rescue dog. She was groomed with a proper haircut, and judging by her robust body, was rather well fed. We always wondered where she came from, why she was given up, did her previous owner become to ill to take care of her, or possibly pass away. I had four dogs growing up, so saying goodbye to my dear four legged friends was something that I had experienced. This time was very different, and emotionally devastating. Minnie was becoming picky when it came to eating her meals, she was losing a significant amount of weight. I decided to book a vet appointment. I did tell my wife to say her goodbyes, and to take a photo of Minnie with our 7 month old and 2 year old. My mother met me at the vet, since she had been through this many times, and knew how hard it was. After my vets examination of Minnie, she did suggest that it may be the time to consider saying goodbye. I realized that this was the best choice, Minnie was in pain, she wasn’t getting any better this time. I held her as she slipped away. This was the hardest and worst decision of my life. The guilt was overwhelming, I felt that maybe if we tried other treatments she could have gotten better. I felt like I pulled the plug on my best friend. The reality is I was being selfish, this was the right decision. The hardest part was how to tell my 2 year old that her dog is gone forever. I knew that she could not comprehend death at her age. We explained that Minnie’s body was old and tired and that she had gone to doggy heaven. She did not seem to understand. It took me a while to begin accepting the loss of my dog. It was different with this one, it was the disrupted routine, the daily reminders, the missing part of me. I questioned if I was being silly grieving so heavily over a dog. It wasn’t until one evening having dinner with my daughter that I realized that the grief was not just my burden. My daughter made a joke about spilling her food on the floor and that it was ok because Minnie would eat it. I was about to say something to her along the lines of Minnie being gone, when she put her head face down on the table. When I asked her what was wrong, she lifted her head and spoke with a giant tear dripping down her cheek that she was sad, and missed Minnie. This is when I realized even more how much a loved pet is to a family. When I read this article it brought it all back, Minnie has only been gone for two weeks. Having a pet is one of life’s greatest experiences and losing one is one of the worst. But for all the sadness of losing a pet, you have to think of all the great memories and love that comes with having a pet.
Been through it myself. Sorry your loss.
Your story comes just a couple of short weeks after we had to say goodbye to our Max, also a German Shorthaired Pointer. A wonderful dog who loved the company of us humans and couldn’t wait until we got back from church or bible study or any other social activities. We were always mindful of the time we left him alone and would excuse ourselves from those social engagements to get back home to Max. We knew the time was coming closer with Max but we thought we had another year or so when he had a stroke and needed to go to eternal sleep. I am thankful for the love of that dog, unconditional….always. If I were to get frustrated with him for bugging me he would never hold it against me but would return to my side with a welcome look or kind word from me. Thank you for sharing your story and giving so many an outlet to share theirs as well! Someday if we ever decide to get another dog I only hope that we can share with him/her as much love as Max shared with us up to his last day.
I got my first dog in 2009. He was the runt of a litter found in a box at the end of a rural road where it meets the main road. His sister lives next door with the young man who found them, they were barely five weeks old, but healthy and clean, well cared for. But abandoned. I like to tell myself that whoever put them there just left them a couple of hours a day, and came to the corner to care for them, coming back to take them home for the night.
So, yeah, got him in August. In Septenber I had knee replacement surgery. He was great with me walking around on crutches. In November I had my other knee replaced. Then I got an infection and spent eight weeks in the hospital while my little guy stayed at my sister’s. I got home and he still loved me for a while. Then another infection, ten weeks in the hospital. This time he went to visit his doggie cousins at my brother’s house in DC. His wife is a dog lover and she loved on mine the way she did on hers. He made many friends there. My ten week stay turned to twelve, and I was sent home to await another surgery. We all decided it would be difficult, and dangerous for me to have my rambunctious guy around, so he stayed in DC. Another surgery and hospital stay and I was home, hopefully for good. A couple of weeks of recuperation and, yea! My no longer little buddy was coming home! He came in and it was like he’d just been gone long enough to walk the block! We loved on each other for awhile, then he settled right back in like he’d never been gone. This year, one last surgery. The attempts to repair the knee and get rid of infection had failed, misersbly. So the bad stuff had to come off. One last (hopefully) surgery and an extended rehab stay.
Off to his local cousins. They looked like Goldielock’s dogs. One really big one @ 150 lbs., mine @ 90 and the little guy maybe 35-40? They made quite a trio sprawled out on the grass, or the deck, or the carpet in the living room.
A couple of weeks after I came home from rehab I felt steady enough on crutches and one leg to bring my buddy home. My sister and brother-in-law came over with him, thinking we’d spend the afternoon together and they’d bring him home that night, then we could do another trial session. But he’s so good, and I felt so confident, I thought he could stay. I also didn’t want to bring him home then send him away anymore. But that day I just told them he needed to stay, he needed to be home. I needed him to be home. And home he is, laying at the bottom of my bed as I type this.
I’m glad he’s here. I had a pity party one day, just for the two of us. I realized I wasn’t being fair, keeping a dog who needs daily exercise, and me unable to provide it. I considered trying to find him a new home, either here or in DC. People in both places know him and love him and could help me place him with somebody who would love and treat him the way he deserves. I cried about it. I tried to rationalize. I kept telling myself it would be best for him. But then I realized he seemed pretty damn happy to live a more sedentary life. I’m strong enough and balanced enough that I can take him into our small backyard and throw the ball. And that seems to be enough. And I need him.
I think he knew he was destined for this kind of life. To be more a companion dog than a working dog. He was the tiniest little guy when I got him. His older siblings were already picking on him. And maybe I coddled him a little too much. Or maybe he just knows I’m his momma. Cuz no matter where he was living when we were apart, I got to go and visit and it was like we’d never been separated. It was hard to leave him, but I couldn’t take care of him. I couldn’t be hopping up and letting him out. I couldn’t risk trying to carry dog food or water to his bowl, or have him near my injured leg. But finally he’s home. He sometimes follows me around, like he did as a puppy. He loves to ride in the car, even the two miles to the pharmacy drive thru. And when we visit the places where he’s lived for months, when he and his cousin are done playing, he always comes to me.
I know I’ll lose him one day. If I move it may need to be an apartment, and he’s bigger than most places allow. I hope that doesn’t happen but I have to be prepared. Or maybe I’ll have many years with him. I hope so. And I know when he goes, wherever he goes he will be loved and happy and he’ll get along fine with the other doggies in heaven. Maybe he’ll find his big ol Leonberger cousin and his same size Golden Retriever cousin, and his Border Collie instincts will kick in and he’ll herd them up there the way he did down here, the younger brother bothering the big kids.
Thank you for letting me share this.
We just lost our beautiful Labrador the day after Thanksgiving this year after a short but deadly illness. She was 8 years old. Our family feels so lost without her. The house is too quiet, no wagging banging tail, no one to greet you when you come home from work. The pain at times is unbearable. A lot of people wouldn’t understand the connection you make your dog. They are a family member and love unconditionally. Thanks for this wonderful story.
In my 62 years I’ve had several dogs that I have Loved so much. I have a Pug now and The joy and Laughter this little guy has brought to my life, money couldn’t buy. He’s my best friend
Going through the final stages of my Fergus’ life. His health has deteriorated so rapidly in these last two weeks that Im lost and devastated, to put it mildly. He has dementia, but then he is only a ten year old westie! I have ead the beautiful stories of those that have gone through this devastating experience and can see myself missing him until the day I die. My strong faith will hold me together until that day when we meet once again, in greener pastures, and forever. My heart goes out to all you wonderful dads and mommies! God bless you for the love you gave your babies.
[…] Territory” fame – wrote a beautiful tribute this week to his brother’s dog, Dutch, titled “On Losing a Dog.” If you haven’t read it; you should. He captures so perfectly the grief we feel when our most […]
I am so sorry to read of your family’s loss. I know you all feel it since Dutch touched all of your lives. You wrote a beautiful farewell. I think about the dogs we’ve lost every day…they are part of our family and always will be.
Reblogged this on Entropy isn’t what it used to be. and commented:
Una sera di 2 mesi ho pianto tutte le lacrime che non pensavo di avere e aspettato un mattino che non sapevo se avrebbe portato strazio o speranza.
Che sia un cane o sia un gatto, il post parla di quella perdita straziante che è la perdita del tuo compagno peloso.
Chi ci è passato sa eppure sa anche che tornerà ad avere un altro compagno peloso e tanti angoli nella memoria dedicati a chi c’è stato prima.
Perchè loro sono un dono d’amore incondizionato e di quell’amore abbiamo tutti bisogno.
What a beautiful story! I’m sitting here with tears streaming down my face. !3 years ago, someone dropped Sally near our house. She was a Heinz 57, and my husband, Keith, took her in. It was instant love for both of them. She became his shadow and the other half of his heart. She loved to ride in his truck, and whenever he would get, leaving her there, she would immediately get behind the steering wheel and patiently wait until his return . Unfortunately, Keith became very sick, and when we would have to leave her with someone, she was overjoyed to be with him.
The time came when Keith had to leave us and go on ahead. Sally became my dog. I cried into her fur and told her things that I have never told anyone else. Sally would sit there patiently, then give me a big kiss, then lie down by my feet. She loved me, but she was strictly a one-man dog. Her heart was his. She would wander down the hall to his bedroom and just stand in the door like she was listening to him. Then she would turn, come back to me, and lie down . Sally became very arthritic, but about once a month she would still make the pilgrimage to his room. In October of this year, I left her with my son and took a short vacation that I’d had planned for a while. I knew she was sick when I left, and my son said she had gotten worse. As soon as I picked her up at this house, we put her in my SUV. I rolled the windows down, and she was sitting up with a big grin on her face and a smile from ear to ear. We had a vet’s appointment, and kept it. Dr. Elizabeth asked me how I wanted her taken care of, and I replied that when Sally was ready, I wanted her put down, that I didn’t want to see her suffer. She told me that Sally was ready, that her heart and kidneys were failing and that she wasn’t going to live more than a couple of days at the very most. Dr. Elizabeth kissed Sally on the nose and told her that she was going to be with her Daddy. I put my arms around her neck and hugged her while Dr. Elizabeth gave her the shot. She passed away on October 23 , 2014 at the age of 13 years and 7 months.
I miss her almost as much as I miss Keith, but I know that she’s with him now and that they are both well and happy. Her heart was broken when he passed on, and I would loved to have seen that reunion!
God gave us dogs both to love us and to be loved, even though it is for only a short time. But, boy, is there ever a lot of love packed into that time! A dog’s love is the purest love we will ever know on this earth. Only God’s love surpasses that of a dog. They are members of our family, and we both love and grieve them accordingly. I know exactly how your brother and you feel.
I gave my Matty up a year ago. Circumstances were such that I could not keep him. I am still grieving. I miss him so much.
Oh so well written! Love the quotes, tears and sentiments.
Comforting for me to read these words……I just lost my 16yr old Golden Retreiver and feel like I’ve lost part of my soul!
I am so sorry to hear about your loss and you have written about the lesson we should take away from it so well. It is an unthinkable, yet I always remind myself that the end will, and can arrive, at any time. We can only make sure we treat each day we have with them with great respect for what they are giving us.
Reblogged this on Loss, Grief, Transitions and Relationship Support.
After my 12-year-old Border Collie died unexpectedly last week, a couple of friends shared this column with me. Thank you so much for expressing these timeless truths about our relationship with dogs. I was — and still am — deeply shaken by Charm’s passing, but your words have helped me begin the long emotional healing process.
Moved to tears by your words. Man experiences no pain like the loss of his dog.
Lost my 17 year old Pekingese on October 6, 2014. Gizmo. Even his name is so much a part of my world that I can’t even imagine not calling it out every day. I told him all the time that I thanked Jesus for him, and I still do, for the love and the companionship that surpassed everything and everyone else for the last 17 years. He transitioned through so many stages of life with me. I miss him with every breath. I howl with you. For Dutch. For Gizmo. For Sally and all of the other fur babies we have all loved with our hearts and souls.
I loved reading this and i can relate to every single thing you wrote. I lost both my cockers Bella and Cody in the last 4 months … my heart aches for them every day. I have lost such a big part of myself. Being loved unconditionally for almost 14 years makes me one of the lucky ones.
This brought me to tears. You could not have said it better.
That was so beautiful
I grieve with you. Deepest sympathies on the loss of Dutch. I hope he left you the gift of strength to go on with saving the life of another dog.
having been thru the loss of my dogs over my lifetime I can say it never gets any easier. Each one of them lives forever in my heart, each one had special qualities, I cannot imagine life without a dog!
I lost my boy to hemangisarcoma the first of December this year. My English Mastiff. My love, my companion, my buddy. He was only 4, and was supposed to turn 5 on Christmas Day. This article was so articulately written that it helped me with my loss and my grief. Thank you, and thank Dutch for giving you the strength to share this with those of us that feel lost and alone.
I know how they can’t wait for you to come home , I could cry how my grand son German Shepard can’ t wait for him to get home , then he gets yelled at to go lay down, I could just cry. It took me 6 years , before I could still
Stop tearing up , thinking of my Addy , a Doxy.
Will and Eko…
I don’t believe I’ve ever read more beautifully written words about mankind’s relationship with their kindred canine spirits. Thank you for sharing your journey.
I’ve often said to date, that the most honored moment of my life has been the gift of holding my last dog as she made that final earthly exhale of breath… nothing is more sacred than to be there during this experience, not so much for oneself, but for the unconditional love expressed in appreciation for their life. And as you say in one of your response comments, “…the pain of the loss never comes close to the joy of the experience.” No truer words could be spoken. I currently have two canine companions that share my journey along this amazing adventure of being alive.
I will add, as I know you understand, that the pain of the loss subsides when we begin to look for our past friends were they now are, and not for where they once were. They never really go anywhere, they just change forms. And indeed we are the better for having known the experience. And if one is open and willing to look and feel for them where they now are, they show up in the most brilliant ways and we find a smile appearing upon our face and a familiar warmth within our hearts.
I wish to share with you a quote that has been around for sometime…
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” – Anonymous
Continue to enjoy this epic journey my friends, enhanced immensely for having the experience of loving a four-legged friend known as a dog…
I look forward to following your posts via you email updates.
On 8/29/2014 (my birthday )we took our female GSD to our vet for the last time. Shannon was just 4 months shy of her 15th birthday. She suffered from hip dysplasia. We got her when she was 5 weeks old,Shannon never spent a nite outside.She could sleep anywhere she wanted. Shannon was my wife’s guardian angel while I was at work. Holding and being with her till her last breath was a comfort for her and a huge heartache for us. Yesterday Dec 12th would of been her 15th birthday. Our Christmas tree is up and she always loved Christmas. This will be a lonely Christmas. Shannon will be waiting at Rainbow Bridge for us. Right now Shannon and Dutch are romping and having fun.
You put into words perfectly the loss, the importance of our furry family members in our hearts and for this world. This resonates so strongly with me: “As I’ve said before, a dog can’t change the world but they can change your world.” EXACTLY. I had a pup that I loved dearly and who I miss so much. She was with me for 15 years and 4 months, from when I was 18 years old to just before my 34th birthday. She was my best friend and closest family member. I have since adopted another dog who I also love deeply. But my new companion doesn’t replace the deceased pup any more than one sibling replaces another, or than a mother takes the place of a father.
My baby Sparkey got his angel wings yesterday and I am so glad that a friend sent me your story – A howl was the only thing that I was able to do – I miss every little thing about him – he shared so much of my life and bought true joy everday. To say I miss him is so to say so little.
Extraordinarily moving post, Will. My heart aches for all of you.
So beautifully written, we like many in the replies, lost Zeke our beloved Rhodesian Ridgeback on August 5th this year 3 days after his 12th birthday. He was the most amazing boy, a personality all of his own, he greeted us with the same bark every time we opened the front gate as he cam bounding down our driveway to greet us. It was heartbreaking, still having Kiah another Ridgie has bought us much comfort, She will be 14 in April and we don’t think she will make her birthday. We are heartbroken at this thought.
Thank you so much for sharing this story, it makes me feel a little less alone in that place where some people say “It was just a dog”. Never just a dog, our dogs are a very big part of our family!
When you loose a dog that has been your best friend for over 14 years a large part of you can’t seem to go on. They have been your family they know what time you’re coming home from work, they know what time you’re going to bed. They are your families and when you lose one it’s like losing one of your family members. I really appreciated reading your story and it brings back a lot of old memories and heartbreak but I’m glad I read it. You are truly a wonderful person and thanks for writing such a wonderful story.
Thank you so much sharing this – this is probably the beautifully written tribute I have ever read and conveys the depths of sorrow and loss over the death of Dutch. I actually lost my chocolate lab of 15 1/2 years on November 18th, 2014 (so 2 days before Dutch died) of a similar skin sarcoma that too ravaged his body. Your article is probably the first thing I have read that truly conveys every emotion that I am feeling and speaks to me on so many levels. I know that a part of me died when my dog died and it’s definitely a void that cannot be comprehended or filled. I am sorry for yours and your brother’s loss and thank you for sharing your story because I too understand the story as well.
I am so very sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute, beautiful pictures! We just lost our Longhaired Chihuahua the end of October, 2014, he was only 9. It has been very difficult. My heart breaks as I read your article because I understand.
It’s hard to explain in words: guess it’s something you have to experience to fully
understand. I know it leaves a hole in you that you can never fill up again. You do
have all those memories which continually unwind like a coiled spring. Their pleasure
is so strong it makes the parting so so hard. I lost a Aussy shepherd two months ago
to a sudden cancer that caught me off guard. Think about her every day and look
at her collar, hanging on the mantel as well. I work at two dog rescue kennels every
week in memory of my Crystal 2000-2011). Makes me feel good and humble.I’m
convinced they take a part of you with them and I don’t mind that.
Our precious German Shorthair died just a couple of days prior to Dutch. You’ve help me heal with your words. My grief is so overwhelming. Ike helped my sixteen year old son recover from painful chemo treatments. My son is back in school but Ike is gone. He was my best friend. I think Ike knew my son was healthy and decided to die. He waited until our kids were gone and died with my husband holding him. It was a shock that he died so quickly for no apparent reason. I still cannot talk about him to my kids or husband. Thank you for sharing.
2 weeks ago today we lost a beloved member of our family, Brody. 14 yrs of love. So very sad inside but thankful he was part of our family’s life.
i currently feel the authors pain as I have to make a tough decision. My GSP was just diagnosed with a tumor on her pancreatic. Galena has been my side kick for 11 years and always cheered me up when I was down. I will miss her everyday when the time comes. My heart is broken.
Thank you so much for your beautifully written words. We lost our dog two weeks ago to brain tumors and your article adequately describes our experience. We had him for only 5 years but he gave us enough love and happiness for a lifetime. We miss him every day.
We lost our little Yorkshire terrier Chico he was 14 years old he has ruled our lives conpletly he was the love of our lives he gave us undying love he always greeted us with a wag of his tail we thought he would go into orbite his loss is so great it hurts he was our best freind he was a comfort when you felt down in the dumps he would cheer you up with a tap on the leg to say mummy I’m hear just for you our lives revolved around this wonderful little fellow every one that meet Chico feel in love with him every one misses him and our house is emty without him our loss is so great I don’t think we could ever go throu this pain again I can’t beleave one little fellow could leave such a inpact on our lives thank you Chico for the love joy and happyness you brought into our lives for 14 wonderful years you will always have a special place in our hearts and we will love you forever mummy and daddy xxx
Your words perfectly describe the feelings of loss. We lost our beautiful samoyed baby Hudson a few days ago of an aggressive form of spleen cancer. He was only a year and a old, his death has devastated our family, he was our baby. Although he wasn’t on this earth very long, he made an amazing impact on our lives. He brought us so much and touched every person he came into contact with. His passing has left a giant hole in our hearts and we will never forget him
I just found your blog and this very moving post. My condolences. Indeed, many still reply to one’s grief with ‘it’s just a dog,’ but you’ve a marvelous facility with language that can make cynics see. I just posted our most recent post on the experience of grief during the holidays. I will look forward to reading more from you. http://greenpetburial.org/2014/12/24/memories-and-holidays/
I was going to write and tell you how much this piece meant to me, and how beautifully written it is, and how it hit every thing I feel — and then I was blown away by the many many responses detailing all the loving details of people’s bonds to their dogs and vice versa. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the author for this article — which reduced me to quiet tears and I pride myself on never crying — and to the words of love shared by everyone on this page. My oldest dog will be 18 this year, and a sweeter, gentler, more loving soul (but fierce guardian) I have never known….and she will take my heart with her when she goes. Gotta go, gonna cry again, darn it!
Such a well-written and poignant post! Once you experience the kind of pain you describe, you can so totally feel it when someone else writes or talks about their pain from losing a beloved pet. Last March I lost my cat of 16 yrs and the pain from that loss was (is?) indescribable. I consider myself quite a strong person, but I had moments where I wondered how could I live my life without my girl there! Like you say, I also have many good friends and family, am married, but (and you give life to this reality) I felt so unconditionally and nonjudgmentally loved and trusted by my cat, Molly. You have given words to how so many of us feel and experience such a loss. Nine months later I still mourn her. I am not sure I am strong enough, or brave enough, to ever get another pet, the pain was palpable and not sure I ever want to go through that again. Thank you for giving life, and making “real,” what so many of us experience.
Thank you for your wonderful essay. My wife forwarded the piece to me one day before our buddy “Jake” passed away unexpectedly. Talk about timing …
Jake came to us 12.5 years ago, having been scooped up off the side of the road as a brand new puppy by our younger son. He was a mixed breed, shepherd/collie/chow, but he was a noble animal. His attributes were myriad, so much so that many of our friends called him “the human dog”. His health was failing, but we never dreamed he’d pass so quickly. The vet thinks there may have been something more sinister at work, like cancer. Regardless, our hearts are broken and as you can imagine, recovery is not coming quickly. We’re kicking around the idea of another dog, but we’ll take some time before another adoption. I suspect there’ll be a new family member in out future, but there’ll never be another Jake.
Powerful and insightful. You described it perfectly.
OK… this is NOT going to be a popular reply. I have experienced the loss of a dog that I loved dearly. I found my german shepherd when she was a puppy and I was 5… Ginger passed of essentially old age when I was a sophomore in college. I was blessed to have gone home to visit and had one sunny afternoon playing with her a couple weeks before she went quietly into the night. I cried.. I have many memories of her and I loved her.
I am much older now, and have not been able to get another dog due to my work travel schedule.
BUT… this suggestion that a dog’s love is the only pure, unwavering, accepting love that a person could count on is so very sad to me. You speak of your friend James, the cop, having his dog as his only comfort during the tough days on the job… and you say this as if his dog could provide all that he needed. Again… such a sad commentary. It is true that relationships with humans can be complicated… but the reward is worth the risk. You suggest that pet relationships are simpler. Not really. Turns out that much like people… dogs will do things that you don’t like.. they will eat your shoes, refuse to heel, bark at the invisible. They will frustrate you.. even anger you. And you will not be able to reason with them… they are inherently unreasonable. They will get moody… and not be able to tell you why.
But while true personal relationships will bring you a measure of frustration and pain… there is no substitute for a partner in life… one who will stop and bring you chicken soup when you are sick… one that laughs at the silly things you find randomly amusing. One that will love all of you… kookiness, irrational fears, crazy family included. When the demons growl at the door of your spirit.. they will hold you and comfort you first in silence and then in words of understanding, of sympathy, of love. My Ginger could not do these things.
I love a pet… and I appreciate the love that you have for yours. But please do not ever think that a dog will bring you the completeness that the love of friendship and partnership with other humans will bring you. To suggest that it will is to lead a life alone… and that is truly sad. It is in the connection with other humans that our true humanity is found…
[…] On Losing a Dog […]
While my sweet Jake passed away my father held his front paws in his hands. My mother held his face. I put my head on his chest and my arms around the rest of his body. After euthanasia was administered I kept my head on his chest and the vet had to ask me to step away from his body so he could check him for a heartbeat and couldnt hear it through my sobs as I cried into his fur. I will never forget the day I heard his heart stop beating
I have not yet lost a dog (dreading the day I do), but a decade ago, I lost a beloved chinchilla. I was half out of my mind with grief, and people around me were responding with, “He was just a rodent.” I started to wonder if the depth of my grief made me “crazy.” Then I read a book and it said that losing a beloved pet is JUST LIKE losing a beloved human because what survivors are mourning is the loss of an important, fulfilling RELATIONSHIP. If all the “it’s just a pet” people could understand that sentence, they would stop making their “it’s just a pet” comments.
Beautiful. Thank you. We lost our 15 year old GSP a week ago. Life outside our household continues at its “normal” pace. Inside our household, life moves slowly as we, our GSD and a cat, are learning to adjust to life without our beloved Brande.
Thank you for sharing your story–James and Dutch’s story. I am so sorry for the loss of your dear family member, Dutch. I wish that I had known him! I first read this piece shortly after it was written, and it certainly hit home, as they say, because my beloved Maddie was sick at the time, and although she had responded to treatment over the last few months, her situation was guarded all along. She lost her battle the weekend before Christmas, 5 weeks ago, and I have read this piece several times since then. It is comforting to read these words, although a heartbreaking reality. I know that I will miss my beautiful Brittany Spaniel for all my life, and her death has left an enormous hole in my heart. She was not just my companion at home, she went everywhere with me…..even to work with me, lying only a few feet from wherever I was and keeping me always within her sight. She was great, and at 10 yrs old, she was still so much a puppy, except for the end when she felt so bad. Had she been human, one could have said that she never complained, because she adjusted to everything in life with ease. Such an easy going little dog, a fun-loving personality with a true enjoyment for entertaining anyone who participated in life with her. She was athletic and talented and so so smart. I had her with me for 10 years, and she was as important to my husband and me as any other family member, and we loved her and cared for her through it all because she deserved the very best. She was so worthwhile, and I will miss her always. Thank you for sharing your touching story and insight into this amazing bond that we can share with the dogs in our lives. It IS a special bond, and only people who have experienced this can truly understand. How wonderful the world would be if every person could have this gift in life at least once.
What a wonderful story of your dog and your loss. I lost my Riley back in July 2014 suddenly. I had that experience of howling in painful grief while holding him as he went to sleep. He was the one who watched my back, got me out of bed, and lounged with me for many years. He was my service dog too. I don’t find it odd at all that I should feel more for the death of a dog more than a person. Riley put no conditions or limitations on me, and gave his love freely and frequently. Recently, Pope Francis declared that we “will see our pets in Heaven”……I am more hopeful now.
[…] How can it be possible to love a dog so much? I saw this explanation written in the heartfelt article “On Losing a Dog”, and it rang true for me: “We hold our dogs so close that parts of ourselves overflow and fall directly onto their furry heads. So when we look at our dogs we see our worst sorrows, our greatest joys and the deepest part of ourselves for which there is no name. The story of our dogs is the story of us.” https://markingourterritory.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/on-losing-a-dog/ […]
Thank you so much for these words. My home waa ravaged by fire and we lost 3 dogs and 2 cats. The pain and sorrow I feel daily is unbearable. They lived a life too short. But I will rise from this tragedy and build a rescue on their behalf. These were my children and I miss them greatly. Their love was ALL I have ever wanted. And they gave it. They were all rescuse’s. I will never forget them. Again, thank you for allowing me to grieve.
This is a beautiful articulation of love. “Croce e delizia del core” as Verdi said. Music is usually a medium that can convey the feelings that emanate from a source beyond language, but I find your words to be a poetic rendering of love beyond language. I’ve had three rescue dogs. The first two times I adopted senior dogs, knowing that they are usually left behind at the shelters. Both dogs brought me intense joy, but in both cases my time with them was too short, no more than five to six years. To experience such wrenching pain twice in a short time was more than I could face. It took me several years before I could seek out another dog. This time, when I consulted the rescue sites, I looked for a young dog, wishing to postpone the pain as long as possible. My Kasha has grown with me and it’s been a joy to see the fear, pain and mistrust slowly leave as she has settled into the bower of love my husband and I provide her. She’s six now. I’ve had her for five years and I’m anticipating many more before I once again face the devastation of loss.
Cynthia, you are a kind, compassionate, eloquent person. I would be proud to call you my friend. Thank you for taking the time to remind us of the importance of human connection. Particularly in this day and age of people with their faces buried in screens for far too much of the short time that we get to be alive. I agree with both perspectives about the very unique unconditional and very “true” love a dog gives to us. But I also agree that it is no substitute for genuine human connection. The love for an animal should not make us give up on loving our fellow human beings. We should strive to have “both” in our lives.
[…] past November my brother James lost Dutch, his German Shorthaired Pointer, to cancer. Dutch was not a dog for James, Dutch was the dog for James. They first embraced as a wide-eyed […]
[…] This will resonate with the many dog lovers on iOTWr […]
Such a beautifully written tribute to this special kind of love. Thank you.
I find that I can only bear the deaths of those I loved (human and animal) by thinking of their lives as, yes, stories (as in books or movies) that are finished, and re-playing their stories as often as I need to. There is far less pain in remembering them that way, and we can concentrate on the parts that are the most cheering or inspiring. When they leave this world and us, there’s nothing more to be done except regularly revisit their lives, often with more understanding than we had previously.
Remembering a Jack Russell Terrier who lived to be nearly 16.
I know the reason she hung on for so long was because she knew I needed her so much.
When we had to put her down, while I held her, the sounds that came forth from my soul shocked even me.
I miss her every day.
I completely understand James’ feelings. I hope James find comfort that the Dutch had a good life by having James in it. Mine two shitzu’s are 10 years old. I see one of them is slowing down day by day and the thought of losing one of them scares me to death. I try not to think about it, but I know that it will become, I hope it’ll be much late. So every day I have put them, I love them with everything I have and I’m sure they love me just as much.
Comet came to me when I was twelve. We had bred his mother (chocolate lab) and we kept one of the puppies. He was born at Christmas hence his name. He and I were inseparable until I moved out to go to college. I could not afford to take him with me, but I also couldn’t separate him from his mother. I came home to visit whenever I could and spent every moment with him to make up for the ones I wasn’t there for. When he died at the age of 12 I cried like I thought I would never stop. It has been almost twenty years since he left me and I still miss him. What I have, besides the scar on my hand, from an accidental bite (which I treasure) is the love, companionship and connection that he gave me with no compromise. I know I will remember him into my old age even if I forget everything else because he was there for me every time I needed him and asked nothing in return. We were the best of friends and I’m sure I will see him one day again.
Awesome heartfelt post Will. Well written. I have not been reading blogs due to the change in my life and all the new demands I must deal with now. (I hope to start reading again soon) But your title caught my eye and I had to read on. How lucky James was to have Dutch. And vise versa.
Our dogs make us laugh, smile, love – and at the end, cry – but they always make us better.
Thank you for this beautifully written piece. It is the only thing I have read that finds the words I could never find to express the profound experience of having a dog and the tremendous loss of being without her. Thank you.
A beautiful and well written tribute…..I had to put down my Old English on Saturday and it about killed me. A punch in the gut like no other. No better friend than her and I am waiting for that true healer of pain….time. Thanks for sharing……
Much appreciated. We all carry the loss of our pets with us forever, but the joy of the experience always outshines that loss in the end.
A friend of mine coincidentally recommended this page a day before our dachshund / pitbull mix died suddenly in his sleep at age 13, yesterday… Thank you for putting words to the glory of the human-dog bond, the exquisite value of the bargain we make even knowing that after just a few years the bill will come due, and this wretched desolation we are feeling right now – it helps.
April 04 2015
The Love Of ANY ANIMAL is so Unconditional and All Knowing. They are so connected with Us as Caretakers of Us not Us of them. Their lives benefit us beyond our own boundaries. Sad is the owner who does not realize the benefits provided by that all LOVING Animal. God must direct those Pets into our LIVES to guide and help us be better more compassionate caring Humans.
yup lost my pal March 12..been writing too..it helps..sorry for your loss.
[…] On Losing a Dog. […]
This is so touching,and so TRUE!!! My little fur baby crossed the bridge on 12/18/2013,after 16 years,and not a day passes without a thought of him!!! Had him from 7 weeks old,and he is missed,and remembered so fondly!!!
Incredibly beautifully written.
Having lost our first dog five years ago, I feel your pain. Having four dogs left, I dread the day they will no longer be with us, and therefore I strive to give them a life like in doggy-paradise every single day we have left together.
Thank you for this touching post.
I clicked on this link thru your email notification and see it’s a bit ago. But I read it thru and felt all that anguish that is familiar to me and anyone who’s ever had the love of a dog. Really really well written Will.
On behalf of Oliver, who can speak no more, thank you
What a beautiful post! In 2004, we lost our 6 year-old dog to heart failure and the loss was unimaginable. You have described it so beautifully!
Once we recovered from our dog’s death, we adopted a new one from a dog shelter; she is 11 years old (today, actually!) and she means the world to my wife and me. I do know that she, too, will die but, as you put it, she is our world! Thanks for sharing!
I am 40 years old. I bought my first dog at the age of 21, an 8 weeks old black lab. He was with me for 13 ½ year.
Since i bought him, I’ve taken three rescues into my life, most of the time having two dogs together. I have lost two dogs so far.
I have always lived by my self, and my dogs are my furry little family.
I must say, this post really describes so well, what it’s like having and loosing a dog. Nothing I’ve ever read, have nailed it so well. I read the post back in december, and today I’ve read all the comments. Most of them are as beautiful, as the post it self. There are so much love and grief and love again, put into words here.
I want to share with you all a quote, that I think summarizes both the post and the comments so well.
“There is a cycle of love and death, that shapes the lives of those who chose to travel in the company of animals.
It is a cycle unlike any other.
To those who have never lived through its turnings, or walked it’s rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken, seems incomprehensible.
Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.”
We lost our beautiful Candy, a yellow lab in Sept of 2013, I visit her grave almost daily as she is buried in our backyard. She always gave more than she got as all dogs do. We loved her through her seizures and the meds. I finally told her it was ok to go as she was so ill. It still makes me cry when I think of her and miss her. We have a small dog now Lucille and she is like a baby as you can pick her up and rock her. She is a chihuahua so much smaller than a lab but gives her all. She was a rescue and now my sisters dog, Sammie has come as her husband had a stroke and is trying to get his strength back. Sammie is a chocolate lab, 9 months old. As much as they take a huge pc of your heart it recovers to love another. I look forward to the day when I see all those gone before again.
Reblogged this on happygirl524.
I too lost my soul mate on June 21, 2013. I am still grieving…It always hurt me when I hear of animal abuse. How can someone intentionally hurt a defenseless dog or cat…
Even though your wrote and posted this months ago, it is just now coming to me….such amazing writing…..I love every single word…..and know all too well the grief you speak of here…..currently all my dogs are advanced seniors and in the next 2 years I will feel incredible loss over and over…..but it would not trade the precious love of these animals for anything…..I am honored to share this planet with them. Thank you!!
Reblogged this on Tail Waggin' Times.
What a touching and poignant tribute and how lucky your brother and Dutch were to have each other. How sad that there are people who will never know the joy that a dog brings. We have 3 Norwich Terriers. We lost one 10/2013 and his littermate 2/2015. We have their sister who is 15 1/2 and their mother who is 17 1/2. We also have a 4 year old (not related). I know that any day now our youngest could be alone. Our oldest is feeble and every day is a gift. It doesn’t hurt any less when they are old.
I cannot fathom the sadness I will feel when my Tess leaves me. She is 9, her face is almost totally white where it had once been all black. She smiles when she is happy and her face is beautiful in white. Her eyes are still bright. She is by my side every minute that she can be. I love her so, and I know she loves me too, more than she loves herself.
Reblogged this on marygropp's Blog and commented:
I’m just speechless.
One day many years ago, as I cried my heart out to an elderly friend of mine about my best friend passing away that day, he spoke words to me I will never forget. I had just said to him that I would NEVER get another dog because their lives were too short and the pain was just too much to bear when we had to say goodbye to them. My elderly friend replied back to me, “If you never get another dog, you are in essence saying that Toro did not do his job well enough. The years of friendship, protection, love, and loyalty that he gave was not enough payment in kind for the roof you put over his head, the food you put in his belly, and the bed you made for him to sleep next to your side. If you never give another dog the chance to pay for his keep, the way Toro did for you through the years, then you are saying he did not do his job well enough and that he failed you.” Truer words not spoken……<3
I am crying now, not only for your and your brother’s lossm but for the dogs we have lost, most recently our little female pit bull Madalyn to cancer in February. Her brother was there at the vet with us and he is very lonely now without her. She completed him. They never went anywhere without each other. We saw to that. Now we give all our love to him so that he bonds even closer with us.
I had a lovely Kelpie for 17yrs. He will always be in my memory and heart
I like that you reference the dates as moments of introduction and good bye. It is with every dog we love that good bye is inevitable. But your true in saying measure life in experience not goodbyrs. #petlosd2015
I still grieve wildly for my beloved Jazmine – my soul dog. Thank you for writing this. In some heart felt way, it helps to know that others feel this same kind of profound grief. We are the “dog lover tribe”. Our hearts are shaped the same way (to love) by our beloved companions in a way that changes us forever, and helps us love more deeply and profoundly because we were gifted and blessed with their unconditional love.
Rose Kumar M.D.
Well put! My seniors are my bestest buddies. I will always have a dog and it will be a rescue because that’s what they do rescue us.
Reblogged this on Reading, Drinking and Dancing with a Chaser of Snark and commented:
I’ve said that my dogs are my K9 kids, because they give me much more than I give them. They have been with me through some of my darkest days, offering themselves and their love, unconditionally. My heart both broke and was filled with joy after reading this post, because I could truly related. I wish you all peace and the awesome experience of adopting a pet.
I feel your pain. I am truly humbled by your words. I have a dog she is my girl. My first dog. I have had her for almost ten years. she has some tumors. I have no money for vet care, but she is will be ten in December so I don’t know if I want to treat what ever it is. I think I just want to let her live out her life. If it is cancer then she deserves to just live happy. She is my heart and soul. She get’s natural spring water and good food and her milk bone everyday, sometimes two. She can sniff them out where ever I hide them. I will loose my very best friend when I loose her. I don’t even know how I will get through it. She is such a part of me. She goes almost everywhere I go or I don’t go there as far as friends anyways. She is welcome almost over to any ones house. She is a shepherd mix. I never knew so much love until I knew her. I have had my cat for ten years and I love her just as much but it is not the same. My Dog, my girl is my heart. I am trying to prepare myself because I am sick and I just dont want to loose her she is my best friend. I will be so empty without her. We are so co-dependent on each other, it’s not even funny. I go somewhere without her and I NEED to get back to her. If I leave her with my sister who she loves she is lays waiting for me and whines under my sisters bed because I left her there. Like I said I understand how you must feel. I know when I loose her I will loose a part of my world, a part of myself. I have no words to console because I don’t know what will be able to console me when that time comes. I thank God for her everyday. I am so sad for you loss It makes my eyes feel with tears for your pain and for my own upcoming pain that I must go through as well. May you be comforted by all the memories of the times you shared and the joy an extension of yourself gave you that no one else could ever understand even if others gone though it themselves. This is your experience with Dutch and yours alone<3 Take care of yourself. <3
Thank you for this eloquent and moving article. You said it just right.
This reading was so timely. I’ve lost my beloved dogs over the years and always wanted another even though I knew that I would be left again broke hearted. Now after almost 12 years my Cyrus is failing. He is a pit bull mastiff. Big sweet baby. I’m crying that our time together is growing short I love him with all my heart forever.
My son had a dog that changed his life, Cooper. My son was a perfectionist and a neatnick and Cooper taught him that all did not have to be perfect. Cooper too was here too short only 9 years but he loved my son unconditionally. They hung out they watched games they chilled on sweat pants Sundays together. I will forever thank that big hearted goofy dog for being my son’s best friend. We will always miss you Cooper!
Pets are always worth it, no matter how long they live. Unconditional love is rare in the world of humans…………….
Beautifully written and very apt at the moment for us as we said goodbye to our gorgeous GSP last month; he had tumours on his lungs.
Only a dog owner can understand the loss and sadness you feel. However, we have so many memories of our wee chaps flowing through our minds, it helps with the healing.
Thank you for this. Almost 3 weeks ago, I lost my beloved dog. He was 11; my husband and I rescued him 10 1/2 years ago from a Los Angeles animal shelter. Growing up with dogs, I started bracing myself when he turned 10 but when the moment came, I was a basket case. He died in our arms, surrounded by love. Whatever pain I have now from saying goodbye is completely worth the moments of joy and love I had since hello.
Reblogged this on radcliffdeafdog and commented:
A furkid will always be with you in your heart. Mom believed that Peg would want mom to rescue a homeless furkid the love and home that she left behind.
You put words together beautifully! I hope James’s heart will soon be ready to accept another BFF (best furry friend).
The joy of having a dog in our lives is an experience that my husband and I are both gratefully for. Their passing is a pain I personally can never forget. My two furbaby Boxers sit in glass bottles in our home in honor of their memory. We lost our last sweet Boxer “Gabby” this past November at the age of twelve and recently looking at pictures of her with her majestic head gazing out over the flowers, I could feel the tears flowing all over again. Even at the age of twelve our doll baby could still pull 180 jumps of joy in greeting as if she were a puppy. Where could you ever get a reaction of love like that from a human? We currently own a brother and sister set of “Catbull” puppies that Gabby played Grandma to. They also miss her terribly.
Our dogs have saved my life more than once by just being there for me when I needed a friend. They have never judged me and always loved me more than anyone I know. The pain of losing them when their time comes terrifies me but in the mean time we do everything in our power to make sure that their time on earth is quality and full of love. We are all they have and we know they live for us. Each one of our furkids have put their lasting mark on our life and the lives our children and we are blessed that we have had them with us.
My Husband and I really go with idea that there is a Rainbow Bridge, and when we get there, there is going to be some big party I tell you!! You just wait for us….. Sadie and Gabby we’re coming babies, Mom and Dad have not forgotten you!!
I too know how it feels to love and lose a dog. I recently lost my second dog Carrie, a bichon frise, on June 10, 2015, 5 days after my birthday. She was 14 years old. She out lived my first bichon frise who was 9 yrs old. I realized for the last few years she was getting older. She couldn’t hear well, And had other small health issues but she hung in there because we brought her to the vet and got her medicine so she could live longer. I think about her everyday, miss her terribly and sometimes still cry. She was always there when I needed a friend, felt lonely or sad. wish I could cuddle with her again. Everyone said that she lived a good life, was very loved and that we have lots of memories with her. I hope someday to get another best furry friend. But never forget my Carrie.
I can’t begin to say how hard this hit home for me. I too, lost my best friend to hemangiosarcoma this past March. It was far too soon, far too out of nowhere. And we are lost without him. But I can’t say all was lost. Because of the impact our pup left on our lives, I’ve dedicated my life to helping spread awareness of this ugly cancer. I started an organization called “Scarface’s Benefit” in memory of my pup. We’re on Facebook and we’ve created dog treats in his memory, with all the proceeds going to the National Canine Cancer foundation to help further hemangiosarcoma research. This changing the world thing….yup, we can totally do it. And he helped me get there. Wonderful read, I cried tears that were all too familiar. Thank you for posting.
I understand completely….I lost my lab, Jazz❤ 12/22/14 to this same horrific disease, she was only 10…I still grieve daily over losing my sweet girl. She touched my soul in such a profound way!! I find myself just simply existing without her… I love you my beautiful Jazz❤ RIP baby
I lost my chocolate lab to bone cancer I can still remember the last day with her I fell to the floor when she took her last breath and cried for weeks. I had her cremated as I will do with all my animals so when I die and get cremated their ashes will be released with mine. I have since adopted two other dogs but, I still think of her and miss her.
I still remember the death of my dog. She was a little dog named Tiger. She loved me unconditionally but unfortunately she was hit by a car and died. I cried for years. Everytime I would talk about her. I missed three days of work when she died. I buried her on a cliff near the sea. I still miss her. It took me many years to want to have a dog again. I am ready now but my circumstances aren’t. When I can I will get a senior dog. I want to give back all of the love I received from my little patient dog.
So eloquently written…God Bless You and hold gently your sweet boy Dutch
My Father had a pure-bred German Shepherd named King born in 2007, when Dad got sick with Alzheimer’s I came back home in 2009 when King developed Lymphoma and died at age 7 in 2013, then our neighbor Jamie told us about a Shepherd/Black Lab male named CHIP at a shelter in Georgetown, DE called “Safe Haven”, we’ve had him ever since and he is without a doubt the most loving & beautiful Dog we’ve ever had
In 1994 my son and I went to pick up our new German Shepard pup, Bear. Bear was so tiny he road home in my 4yr old son’s lap. I remember the man we got him from asking me pointedly if the dog was for my son and I answered truthfully that no, he was for me. Our tiny little pup grew into a strong 120lb lovable, protective dog. During the time I was blessed to have him in my life I had just lost my mom and would, 11yrs later, lose my little sister. It was Bear who pulled me through. Bear who understood my silent grief and never asked for anything from me but gave me all that I needed. In 2007 we made the painful decision to let him go when he could no longer lift his back end or control his bodily functions. In truth we probably waited too long but every time I tried to do the right thing my heart broke anew until I finally begged my Vet to tell me when it was time. To explain to me that even though my beautiful boy never complained he was in so much pain and making him endure that was, put bluntly, selfish. It was hard to hear, harder to accept that I had probably made him endure this far longer than I could come to terms with, but in the end surrounded by his people, we held him as he slipped away. The phrase in the story above “James howled an ancient pain.” could be applied to my ex (also a James) and I as we felt him go. Anyone who can’t understand the enormity of grief felt over ‘just a pet’ has surely never truly known the unconditional love that pets bring. I still miss my Bear and it’s been 8yrs. I have two dachshunds now and can’t even allow myself to think about how I’ll survive when their time arrives.
Thank you for sharing and for putting into words what so many of us feel but fail to be able to do ourselves.
Beautifully written – true and heartfelt. My children often ask, “Will our dogs be in heaven with us?” To which I reply, “Heaven is perfect right? And heaven can’t be perfect without our dogs!”
Thank you for such a beautiful and touching piece. I just said goodbye to my second dachshund in 14 months. My heart is broken, but I know that soon this will pass, and I’ll be ready to love again.
Reblogged this on Foodforthethinkers's Blog.
[…] As I’ve said before, a dog can’t change the world but they can change your world. And if each of us can pass along even a fraction of the unmitigated, world changing love we receive from our dogs? Maybe we can see about that whole changing the world thing.–Will and Eko […]
I lost my best friend less than 2 days ago. He was with me a short 12 years and I cherish every second I had with him. He was my love and soul mate and there will never be another like him. My heart is empty and I miss him so much, my Harley Doo.
Beautiful, poetic. There will never be another Dutch, but there others out there who will also give their heart and soul and their own unique ways!
The Power of the Dog
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie–
Perfect passsion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
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-term 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?
Just beautiful and touching so many broken hearts tonight!
[…] I’m touched, heartbroken, by the James Thurber quote used in blogger Will Kearney’s piece “On losing a dog.” (Read Kearney’s full post here.) […]
I’m so sorry for your loss! We lost our heart and soul Riley on 4.6.15. 12 years young and we got him at 7 weeks. He was our world and we miss him so very much but he had lymphoma, came on strong and fast. We kept our promise we made those first few days we had him to never let him suffer, to do what was best for him. So on that Monday with the 4 most important people in his life, my husband, my parents, we said see you later to the love of our lives. He gave us so much love, made us laugh so very much, was my nurse when I was so very sick. He just knew what we needed. There will never be another him and as hearbroken, lost and miserable as we are to have a love like that is worth the pain.
I lost my Isabella Baby on July 29th 2015, she was a 10 year old Maltese only 5 lbs. April of this year she was diagnosed with IMHA immune mediated hemolytic anemia, she was such a huge part of my life, always with me, on my lap, in the car, or following me from room to room.. Such a a sweet little face she gave me unconditional love and I loved her with all my heart.. But after 4 months of transfusions, tests, steroids, scopes, the last transfusion #5 her kidneys failed, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.. But with the help of my vet, we sat by the pond outside the clinic and I held her for the last time while the vet put her to sleep… Not a evening I have been able to go to bed without crying I wake up looking for her, or thinking I need to give her medicine, I didn’t want her to be in pain anymore but now all I feel is pain and loneliness without her, she truly was my only real love she was the meaning of unconditional love….I miss her so much my heart is broken without her… 10 years was not enough ..
[…] At the time, I wrote about the incredible bond Dutch and James shared […]
[…] It’s been a tough year for the good guys. Twelve months ago, my brother lost Dutch to hemangiosarcoma. […]
I remember every single one of my dogs. I met my first as a toddler. She was a cocker Spaniel named Penny. Penny died when I was 14 and I told my mom and dad I didn’t want to live anymore. A life without Penny wasn’t worth living. I have had many dogs since Penny and each one made a lasting and positive contribution to my life. I hope my love for them has enriched their lives too. My last dog who died was Major – a 130 lb pure black German Shepherd. The day he died I dreamt he was pure white. My daughter had the exact same dream. I was depressed for months after Major died. After 6 months had passed I began searching for a pure white German Shepherd and I found one. I have had him for 7 years and he, like all of my dogs, is my best friend. I know I must prepare myself for the inevitable and I know I will be miserable when he is gone, but that will not stop me from getting another dog. I cannot imagine life without a dog.
Reblogged this on bumpyroadtobubba and commented:
This is a great read. Grab the tissues and your dog before you start reading though, else you’ll be groping for both through blurry vision.
Must save this to read again. What an amazingly sweet post!
Sorry for the passing of Dutch but so happy he brought such joy to those who knew him, especially James. May he rest in peace.
Lost my beloved 10 year old Beagle on Thursday. I’m a mess, and someone sent this to me via Facebook. Thank you for perfectly capturing the nature of this beautiful, symbiotic relationship. Beautiful written, and so, so sad.
I’ve lost 3 dogs in my life, and a lot of what this post says is true, there is some great insight here. However, I don’t think you’re giving dogs enough credit when you say that they have no journey of their own, and don’t think of the future of the past. Of course they have their own journey, and of course they think of the future and the past. It’s far too self-serving and anthropocentric to assume that dogs are simple-minded and their experience is all about us. They are not, and it is not. They are complex social animals, and they’re highly intelligent. We can’t know about all of their hidden depths, but we have every reason to give them the benefit of the doubt of having their own individual personalities, emotions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, disappointments, and struggles. They have a lot to teach us in their relationships with us, but apart from that relationship, they absolutely have their own journey. They deserve the benefit of the doubt, and the same goes for the rest of the domestic animals we keep: cats, pigs, cows, chickens, and all the rest.
Our German short hair pointer was just shy of age 9 when a tumor ruptured and she collapsed on our floor. She didn’t look a day over 2. Not a single grey hair on her velvet black muzzle. After we sent her to the bridge I spoke to a woman who told me benign tumors are common in the breed and I wished we had done the surgery. Now we will never know if she could’ve been given more years. : (
[…] nearly five years I posted here Monday through Friday without exception. From the worst days through my own wedding day, I’ve cherished every moment of […]
Howl is the correct verb for me when I lost my sweet Petunia.
I just lost my beloved Jada Rose to hemangiosarcoma …. I am beyond heartbroken.
Thank you for a wonderful account…we lost our heart dog on July 4, 2016. Aged 11 1/2; severe hip dysplasia …my husband cried like a baby. (not to say that i didn’t cry)
Very interesting and at the same time very heartbroken article. My dog Kristy will be 10 years old on September. She has been suffering from diabetes and cushions disease for the past 4 years. I honestly don’t know how to face the moment when will have to let her go.
Not long ago I read two lovely comments; both questions asked of religious leaders. One to a Rabbi and the other to Pope Francis. Different people, different parts of the world, asked “Do dogs go to heaven”? The answers were similar. ”With the good they do on earth, certainly there is a special place reserved for them when they die”. The thought of being reunited someday with all my dear departed pets is very comforting.
Thank you for sharing your story. It really hits a chord. Two days ago, we lost our beloved Peter Parker Romero. It was a roller-coaster of a day this past Saturday. It began with Petie, our 15 year old American Bulldog being taken to his old vet for a swollen back paw, to them revealing he had a mass in his abdomen to him receiving two salix shots, coming home and dying in just three short hours. Needless to say, we are reeling from the pain, distraught and in complete disbelief and awe in how quickly life as you know it can change in a matter of minutes. The house is so very empty and uninteresting now. We miss seeing Petie in his bed to the right of us each morning as he stretched and yawned all the while with those gorgeous chocolatey hershey eyes of his curiosly behind the black patch over his eye competing his way to the kitchen for his morning breakfast and of course to steal some of his furry kitty sister’s food as well as soon as he was done with his own. I just want to stay in bed for days if not months, curled up and sleeping, as in sleep you are not as consumed with grief, pain and guilt as much. Petie, your poppa is simply destroyed.I have never seen this man cry so much in the 18 years we have been married. He’s lost his soul mate, his best of friends, you buddy, you. I have lost my baby, the one I ran to every night to boil chicken for and prepare his container of food for lunch the next day as I went off to work and grandma babysat all day. It’ll be a very tough long ardous road without you by our side to go on long road trips to PA, CT, MA, RI, with and even on plane trips to Puerto Rico, where you visited on two seperate occasions. Sweet boy, you have taken a huge chunk of our hearts with you but the memories will always remain and forever reign. Your kitty sis, Meschi Raspberry misses you so so much. She doesn’t have a way with words or many tears to spill but her hiding in a corner all day yesterday and cajoling at night to be let out reveals that she too is grieving your departure, big boy.For now, I wish you the happiest, most epic transcendent journey into Heaven where maracas, bongos, salsa music and grandpa’s boleros will greet you simultaneously. You were always up for a party.Honestly, my biggest comfort is knowing that your grandpoppa who left this world just two and a half years ago, awaits you with open, accepting, loving arms as you were one of his best buddies. You definitely had a solid place in grandpa’s last days in this world. You’ll also be lovingly welcomed by your beloved girlfriend, Magnolia the itty bitty pitty and all your kitty sisters, Masch & NeNa whom loved you very much. You sashayed your way into those doors in 2004 with what poppa calls Marlon Brandoof dog good looks, you also pawed your way into our hearts and cemented your love in us forever, Peter Parker. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the best, most fruitful 12 years of love, life and compassion any one living being could ever give. Thank you for being a part of this journey we call life and for accepting and loving us so very unconditionally no matter if the tides were high or low. Grandma misses you too, big boy. Till we meet again. Our hearts are shattered into a million and one pieces today but it’s the thought and expectation of seeing you all in the future that brings us some solace and hope.We ask you Lord Almighty for comfort during this devastating time in our lives, in the loss of our Peter Parker, the one, the only.Fly away sweet little angel, Petie. We shall always love you!
I don’t know why I keep coming back & reading this beautifully written story as I always end up sobbing. I lost my Gibson in early June and scattered his ashes at Battle Creek Dog Park today. My heart goes out to you.
There are times in our lives when we experience loss that reaches our very core
In the case of a few lucky people we get to be graced by truly beautiful pure friends
Those that give so completely of themselves that just being in their presence gives you joy
I’ll not argue to philosophic nature of a soul, for if a dog is without a soul, then we surely are damned
They offer no objection, only their perfect self no strings attached
Pain of the loss is the burden they have borne for us, it’s weight now ours to endure
Their paw prints mark our hearts, if lucky touched our soul
Honour the path they left in memory, dwell not in tears of sorrow
For the Great Ones that have been and may yet come.
Tomorrow, we say goodbye to Glacier, our lovingly aloof, stubborn, 17 year old Siberian Husky. We have had him 14 of those years. Our 16 year old is struggling with the decision and slowly coming to grips that it’s hard either way. Thanks for a great article to help me was through all that is happening.
[…] hours after I left. Except this time he found Eko on the ground, barely breathing. My poor brother, who only two years ago held his own dying dog, now had to hold mine – knowing that as Eko died, so too did his little […]
[…] each of our commitments to foster new love in the world. A living testament to the ideal of an ever generous heart, no matter how many times you’ve been robbed. Penny and Auggie wildly battle was a happy […]
Such a well written dedication to man’s best friend. I lost my pup a couple of months ago and the pain is still so raw. He was my dog through and through. I still miss him every day.
A beautiful tribute to one of God’s most perfect creations. If you want to read another beautiful tribute, try A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by Bruce Cameron. You will laugh and cry and, like me, you will wish your dog could read so that you could discuss this book with him.
When I had to put my husky down several years ago, I came across this. I’ve shared it many times since.
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.” –Anonymous
Loosing a dog always hurt. Some more though than others. I think the worse is when you have to make a decision to put your dog to sleep. At the same time I have to admit that the two most traumatic losses where out of my control. One was my first loss of dog. A young Labrador, not a puppy, that was poisoned. I remembered frantic driving around trying to find a vet that could save her life wile she was convulsing in the lap of my wife. The lesson I took from it is was to never let dogs roam without supervision. And I have never since. The other very traumatic one was the loss of a dobe with bone cancer. She had been struggling, we had amputated one leg but she never behaved like a sick dog. That faithful day she had not be moving much. She died when I entered through the door like she was waiting to greet me one last time. Having owned and lived with dogs for 30 plus year, I have learned the hard way that it is an unavoidable part of owning a dog. It is a reminder of the finiteness of our own existence but I think the best and quickest way to get over the loss it is to get new puppy.
Such beautiful words. We had to make that awful decision back in June after 13 amazing years of unconditional love my heart aches everyday
We lost our 17 and a half year old Westie, Rosie, yesterday and a friend who runs an animal centre in Jamaica posted this after losing 3 dogs in one week – timely and it says it all <3
I had a hard time reading this through my tears but it speaks so beautifully of the unconditional love our dogs bestow upon us. We lost our sweet Dakota a month ago. I still hurt and I still expect her in all her usual places. But even though the pain is HUGE, I have to have another dog. There’s just nothing to replace that unconditional love.
I have had this in my “saved” file because my dog was 12 when I first saw it. I didn’t actually read it until today. I just lost my Lucy over the weekend to the same aggressive cancer mentioned in this article. Lucy was my best friend and constant companion for the past 13 years, 3 months. I was her “mom” from the time she was 8 weeks old. It will take me a while before I can let another one into my home and heart but I know I will eventually. For now, I am dealing with a broken heart.
[…] answer was, “I don’t know.” But then I’d see an email from someone thanking me for helping articulate the loss they felt with their own dog. Or I’d read a message from someone on the other side of the planet […]
I would like to print this and keep it to have when this tragedy strikes, again. I’ve been through it many times but never could find the words to help. This article did that. Could you please send it to my email address at [email protected]? I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. Bob koser
I emailed the article to you because I didn’t know if the author of the blog would see your comment. I came across this quite some time ago and it also meant a lot to me.
Hey, just wanted to say thanks for passing this along. I do check in on the comments here but you beat me to it! I’m glad you liked the post and appreciate you sharing it with Bob.
Hi Will, I had chosen to receive follow up replies and read Bob’s comment and should have just let you follow up with him. I honestly don’t know what gave me the idea you wouldn’t see his comment. Silly of me. 🙂
Hi Will, I selected to receive replies by email and I honestly don’t know what gave me the idea you wouldn’t see Bob’s request. 🙂
I lost my dog right before two children in my larger community were run over. Of course I did not bring up Kaya’s death, but I was devastated and had no support. It was one of the darkest times in my life so far…She was my SisterGrandmotherDog.
I had posted this a short time ago knowing I would soon be facing the same fate. My Hannah left me yesterday to the same horrible disease..this has helped me try to put into words what I feel. Thank you
I’m in absolute floods of tears. Still grieving for my two boys I lost within 9 months of each other. I will never get over the loss, ever! The emptiness in the house is awful. That wagging tail, that welcome and the love I’ll probably never feel again. Thank you for sharing this. It must have been particularly hard to write. xx xx
What a beautiful story, but am in tears, having, only today, received my certificate of Cremation for one of my babies. 5 dogs and 2 kitties in nine months is a lot to have to deal with. Strange how you scroll through posts, emails and something just tells you to read this one. This was one of those posts that I needed to read. Thank you for writing this, must have been a very difficult post to write. Please may I have this emailed to me, so during those dark days of remembering my babies, I can read through this beautiful post again. Thank you once again.
so painfully true
Thank you for this beautiful true piece of wisdom. My child was murdered on the 24th of June….poisoned by criminals targeting the new tenants 3 dogs. My baby was the only one who died a horrific cruel death. I never knew of 2 step until three and a half weeks ago. I’d heard of a snake with that name, but never a poison used by farmers to kill snails. What an awful and absolutely unnecessary way to kill snails! 5 granules the size of a poppy seed can kill a dog in 20 minutes. It’s been used to murder rhino and other wildlife, as well as to murder dogs standing in the way of criminals gaining access to property. It’s apparently been banned in south Africa but it’s still easily accessible. I will never be able to get that night out of my head….as I watched my best friend, confidante, protector, my wet-nosed daughter, suffer and die the way she did. I thought she had caught a “virus” because the new tenant said her dogs were vomiting and had diarrhea….she neglected to notify me of the dead birds around her cottage and I was only told afterwards. When I got her to the vet he said “who would want to poison your dog? ” I said “no one would want to poison my dog” we had been living happily on this small farm for 15 months without any incidents. I’m shattered…empty….lost…..in a pain so excruciating, something I’ve never experienced. Jasmine was my first dog and my first Bull Terrier. Special unique dogs. Steadfast. Strong. Trustworthy. Loving. Funny. Beautiful. Precious Jasmine I will miss you forever. Taken from me before we even shared 10 years….in the prime of your life, 9 going on 6 according to our vet. 9 years I invested in my only dog, preparing raw food for her, brushing her teeth, cutting and filing her nails, grooming her daily, walking, playing….it feels like when she was taken from me, my joy was taken too. I digress….Apologies it was something I needed to share as sharing anywhere else may give cruel humans ideas. It feels like this is a safe space.
Thank you for sharing your painful experience and giving me permission to howl in pain for my precious child. I’ve been crying softly every night, holding her urn, as to not disturb my neighbours, but I don’t care……I will howl.
I read this and cried because this week I had to put my 14 year old fur baby down. I know it was the best, most loving decision I could have made but my heart is none the less shattered over the idea of not seeing that adorable little face again. I share your grief.
For those who have never known the love of a dog, no words can ever explain what joy they bring to your life and the pain you feel at their loss. For those who have, no words are needed. We know. We just know.
I relate to the “Why do we keep doing this”? I’m 70 now and I’m not even sure how many times I’ve done it. We have three at this time, one is 14 so it’s bound to be just around the corner. I believe that losing a dog leaves an empty feeling that compounds the loss. I have to refill that void, it’s just not an option. If I don’t, the pain and the loss never goes away. I guess it’s that simple.
I came upon this the day after I lost my best friend of 11 years. We received the diagnosis of hemangiosarcoma only 7 weeks before it took him. After reading this I felt by taking him out of any suffering was my only way of thanking him for his endless unconditional love he showed day after day. He lived everyday for me up to the end. This was awesome to read. I have so much respect for these family members. Very touching, hits home.
Our dog Lucky crossed the rainbow bridge almost a month ago. He was a lost and found we had for four years with more illnesses than one dog should bear. He never complained and accepted the life he was given. We miss him terribly.
As a dog trainer, owner/breeder/handler I’ve been surrounded by dogs since a very young age. I’ve lost puppies who had no chance to live beyond birth, yet seen some abandoned and abused dogs flourish with the 2nd chance. I’ve seen mom dogs who had the best of everything lose an entire litter. I’ve seen abandoned street dog’s with barely any food but scraps have a fat and sassy litter. I’ve had to say goodbye to way too many friends, human and canine, to horrible diseases. Yet, even with my current six pack, I trying keep them healthy and exercised, and dread the day I’ll say farewell.
[…] Source: On Losing a Dog […]
[…] expressed in her eyes and wagging tail, said she never stopped loving us. My friend Wes shared a poignant essay on losing a pet and truer words were never […]
I lost my baby boy on September 25th, 2017!! The pain and heart ache is still so fresh, I miss him so much it hurts!! His name was Tobie and he was a great best friend and companion, I will always love him!! Saying goodbye is so painful
I lost my heart-dog to hemaniosarcoma, too. Forrest was amazing- if he had been human, they would have called him a gentleman. Kind, loving, he was my best friend and confidant for ten years. I am coming up on the 6th anniversary of his passing. and i know it will still hurt. But I will hugs my three I have now, grieve, and then be thankful that I knew him.
Just lost my baby girl Shyanne November 19, 2017 to what we believe was stomach cancer. My heart aches every single day and I still cry for her. Had her for an amazing 13 years and I’m incredibly grateful for the time we shared together. Such an incredible dog and best friend. Highly intelligent; almost human like. I could see the pain she was going through and I knew the hard decision I was forced to make…
I love you Shy, always and forever. I’ll never forget you baby girl
People like you, every dog’s dream owner~ I know, I am one! Having said that, I am blessed to be loved by dogs, truly blessed. There is a language shared, spoken, and if you watch and listen carefully, days and nights are filled with life experiences that reach the unreachable, for reasons that become unexplainable. Me and my dogs, me and this dog, all within a somewhat struggling lifetime~ I am proud to have been given this gift and I will think of you always~
No matter how many best friends you have the pain is still the worst! Dogs will always be man’s/woman’s best friend! A dog gives you something no one else can. A love very different then anything else asking very little in return.
So very true. I am a Rescuer of both dogs and cats. Each one that is brought into my life is unique and special. Man’s cruelty to animals knows no bounds. And, yet they come to me and somehow trust that they have found safety and the love they give is unconditional and beyond measure. Each and everyone is special in their turn, and when their time with us is over they leave footprints on our heart, and a piece of me goes with each of them as they make their way to the Rainbow Bridge, to play and be happy until we meet again. Bless them all!
My Jack was diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma in November of 2016. Miraculously, he’s still here, but it’s not been without its up and downs. From time to time I come back to this post because it touches me to my core. Thank you for capturing all of it: the beauty, pain, and joy that comes with loving a dog.
I saved this link years ago in anticipation of this past week. At 3:15 Tuesday morning my beloved friend Bella Grace left behind only her footprints on my heart. This reminds me of the shared grief among lovers of dogs and recalls simpler times of joy. Thank you for sharing this and bringing me comfort. I know we will have another, for it would be foolish to miss out on life’s greatest friendship.
I just had the vet out this past Tuesday to help Teddy Bear, our 16 year old (at least) husky, journey into a place without pain. My last words to him we’re “I love you, wait for me”. Thank you for this post. It is heartbreaking to lose him, but it would be a greater heartbreak to have never known him. I needed to read your words tonight.
A drunk driver recently ran over my minne at white river lake. She passed in my arms .she was my mentor and friend .yet texas sheriffs can put me in jail for threatening to hurt the drunk driver..but didnt go to jail. Yea..but he can get away with being ignorant and appilogized only after officers made him. Yet it doesnt bring my minnie back.after reading posts my heart is better today. To all time mends pain but..drunk drivers seem to b protected by laws i guess. Not sure. Shows how laws need to,change concerning animals. After all they are our lifes godbless .
i lost my special angel, my gargoyle last night. She was remarkable and loved me so much. She was a rescue and from day one stuck to me like glue. Every time i looked at her my heart would skip a beat. I adored her. I loved her far too much. It didn’t matter what problems were going on as long as I had her, I was fine. now i am lost. To live without her i cannot fathom how to do that. I don’t know how. i don’t know if i want to. I always dreaded this day and now it’s here. I hoped I may be graced with more time with her, she was 14 and i had her for a precious nine years. Never apart. She was happy, so happy. It was sudden. What do I do now? I dont’ want to be without her.
Lost Tuxy after one last car ride, he was my rock. Watched him slip away, lifes not the same since he left.
Ode to Wookie.
I grabbed her face, the loose fury skin sagging around her throat. I nuzzled her head into my neck. She has never liked that, yet easily relents. I whisper “gimme kiss” and she gently licks my face and snuggles back in. She is a granny by dog years. To outlive this spirit seems so unfair. She once walked on barrels, nipped at ankles dangling from rope swings…and jumped up on high beds meant for a queen. 16 years ago she was a yelp-ee pup in a concrete and chain link kennel at the shelter. My children were drawn to her and I was reluctant. I couldn’t see all of the gifts she would bring to my life. All the secrets she would keep. All the love I never knew I needed..December 3, 2018 I held her through the night and into the morning. She was calm, she knew and I knew we had to hold ontight to each other for those last few hours of our time together. I miss her terribly. Every day. Always will. RIP Wookums, Wookster, The Wooks..Mama….My love.
I think many times people think…I can’t imagine my life with a dog? But then it ends up being…I can’t imagine my life without a dog!
Losing a dog is as heart breaking as losing a human especially when they are close to you
Losing a dog can be as heart breaking as losing a human.Take heart the bereaved
Kelsey (aka) Hazel (26 April 2014 – 6 March 2022)
Kelsey you were my favourite hello – and my hardest goodbye.
Our beloved Kelsey always in our heart.