Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My dog is dying. As I write this, I am sitting in a chair beside her. She is sprawled in a little blue bed eyes open, taking slow and shallow breaths. Earlier, I came home to find she had fallen on the hard wood floor, feet in every direction, head in a puddle of pee. This is not what we think about when we adopt our pets.

Barbie and her brother Wylie have been our companions for 9 (Wylie) and 9.5 (Barbie) years. They cuddled with me through three moves, a miscarriage, two pregnancies and the birth of three children and many adventures. In October, we made the decision to have Wylie put to sleep. He was in pain, we couldn't hold him and he couldn't hear or see. Even though it seemed to be the right decision, it was heart wrenching. After he died, I went to write about him and found I could not bring myself to. A couple weeks later when his ashes were returned to us, I walked all the way home for the vet, carrying a little box that contained all that was left of my little buddy and sobbed.

This week, we have been faced with an all too familiar situation and so far we have chosen not to euthanize, but tonight it is clear that Barbie is suffering. We sat with her and told her we love her and stroked her tiny body, and there is nothing else we can do. Losing Barbie feels like a double loss in a way. I feel I am losing her brother all over again and losing her as well. I feel guilty because she has received less and less attention as our family has grown and now that we moved to Oregon, she couldn't make it up the stairs to our bedroom and has been sleeping alone downstairs for the first time since we adopted her when she was five.

Losing Barbie is losing a good friend and saying goodbye again to all the chapters of our lives she has accompanied us through.

When I came home to find her sprawled on the wood floor, I quickly scooped her up to help her and to protect my three year old who understands way too much about death and dying already. We have been telling him that our dog is sick and she might go away soon and he remembers that Wylie died and went to heaven so he asked if she would be going there too and when. When Wylie died, our son asked for him and cried for months afterward. After a recent discussion about how everyone dies at some point, Riley turned to me and said, "I hope I stay until my baby sisters are grown up." I had to turn my head to hide the tears that came streaming down my face as I assured him he would live long after his sisters grow up - as if anyone can make that promise to anyone else.

My dog is dying. She suffers from kidney and heart failure and some sort gum or tooth infection that is causing her mouth to bleed. She is dying after 14.5 years of a good life and she is forcing me to remember my own mortality.

I will miss you Barbie.


  1. looking for info on Denmark, I stumbled on your post and after reading it, I couldn't stop my tears. As a 10 year old dog owner, All I can say is to pass on remembering the happiest moments you have shared with both of them, they always live in our memories, their unconditional love cannot be replaced by anyone. RIP to Wylie and I hope Barbie reaches him in peace.