Grieving The Loss Of A Dog

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I’m sitting on a pile of grief. A big ugly mound of pitiful sorrow. I had to make “that” phone call to the veterinarian, that my beloved dog was ready.

It was a surreal moment given that I have never put a dog down. My last dog Turtle, who also lived to 15, passed in her sleep 8 years ago. I’m quite sure by all medical accounts she’d been dead for some time before that, but my denial and avoidance of losing her blinded me so much so that I walked around carrying all 4 pounds of her blind, deaf and immobile as if she was going to live another 10 years and I was just going to ignore the fact that this old gal was not living. I swore to my Millie, I’d never do that to her.

Writing this is more for me than for you. Dumping sorrow onto paper for some people feels cleansing. Not for me. There isn’t anything therapeutic about it. It sucks. But what I do know is that anyone who has a soul and knows the gloom that you live in after a pet dies. realizes I’m venting. I’m so fucking sad without this dog. I see you all out there nodding your heads in solidarity and some may be thinking “it’s sad yes, but it’s just a dog.”

I work with a lovely man, James, who has buried two of his three children. That’s grief. THAT is insurmountable anguish. But even he knows the sadness of losing, no matter what level.

You’ve most likely read hundreds of articles about losing a pet…..but I’m far more funny and entertaining than those writers. Not that any of this is funny but the memories are truly what lift me when I find myself looking at her empty bed missing her face. She was kind of butch. I used to say she was like a lesbian softball coach.
That bitch would plow you over for food or if she saw anything resembling a squirrel. She once knocked my feet out from under me to chase a bunny which turned out to be a lawn ornament. She tried to brush her embarrassment off as if she knew it was inanimate as I lay on a neighbor’s lawn trying to do the same.

Or the time I was in the bank and left her in the car and the teller peered over my shoulder and asked “is that your dog?” Millie stepped on the window button of the car, rolling it down so she could  jump out and march herself into the bank (after waiting for someone to activate the banks automatic doors.)

She was willful and funny. She was independent and stubborn. She was super stingy with kisses but loved to be touched and loved. She was tolerant of her scrappy little brother but made sure he knew she was queen.
When she was diagnosed with diabetes three years ago, and subsequently went blind, neither of us knew what the hell we were doing. But we evolved together. She bonded to me like she’d never had before and it was mutual. I miss caring for her. I miss nurturing her health.


It was my responsibility to see to it that she was happy and healthy until Father Time and Mother Nature took over for me. My job was done. And she let me know.  It was an unmistakable and profound moment for the two of us. I loved her deeply and I owed her peace. I have overwhelming moments of sadness when I’m alone. Having a second dog softens the blow. He misses her too. I cry a lot. I get pissy and sappy and I’m sure I talk about her way too much but it’s my process.

Rescuing/adopting and being Millie’s dog mom for her 15 years of life was an honor. What she gave me in return was far more than I could have ever given her. Not sure what either one of our lives would have looked like otherwise. I will most likely get another dog. Having two is double the responsibility but quadruple the laughs, love and rewards.

I read or heard  that “dogs reach a place in our souls that no human can touch.” This could not be more accurate. I’m not a PSA kind of person but if you are considering getting an animal please consider adoption. There are so many hood-rat, clearance rack, mixed mutt dogs who are spending their nights alone in shelters and the only pure purpose in their lives is to belong to someone.
There is no more genuinely grateful animal on the planet, than a dog who has been saved.

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  1. So beautiful and poignant. I know Millie could not have had a better life.- how lucky you found each other. Sending you hugs!

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