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Just A Dog

I’ve been in a tough place this week; like my skin is thin as tissue paper, and it bleeds raw at the slightest chafe. Yesterday the imbecile at the college financial aid office started arguing with me when I called to inquire about a billing issue. She thought I was complaining, the bitch, when clearly I was merely clarifying. By the time I ended the call, I was brimming with rage and frustration. I thought for a moment that maybe I was the one primed for a fight. But no, she really was unreasonable (the bitch – did I say that?). I was on a cell phone, and I pined momentarily for the ability to slam the handset back into its cradle. That would have felt more satisfying. And I thought: Technology. It sucks, too.

Maybe it’s more like walking around with my insides on my outside, and my flesh and bones and organs clanking noticeably as I walk around, like wares swinging on the flanks of a pack mule. You bruise easily when you walk around like that, so I’m more wary and jumpy. I also want to beat the crap out of somebody.

Chile is dying. And I’m so sad about my boy, but I’m also angry and exhausted along with the worry and fear and sense that I’m perpetually overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the sheer hours spent at the hospital this week, the convoluted conversations with specialists that I struggle to comprehend, getting right the dosage of the half-dozen medications that he’s prescribed.

Exhausted because I don’t sleep well – never knowing whether he’ll still be here when I wake up. I approach his still body quietly each morning, waiting to notice the rise and fall of his red furry chest before I exhale my own sigh of relief that he’s still with us.

And I’m angry: Angry because I feel so helpless to do anything at all to make him breathe more easily and rest without panting, like he did only a day or two ago. It feels excruciatingly unbearable to sit around and do nothing to help him, but instead to go on as usual — to go to work and show up at meetings and answer some emails and toss some laundry in the machine and hear about my daughter’s school day and think about planting those tomato seedlings in a pot on the deck….

Part of me feels slightly crazy and desperate when the vet gives me the latest update on his condition – like I want to shake her thin shoulders until her kind eyes loll around in her head, commanding, “FIX HIM!” But my rational side knows better, and it shushes that inner freak to focus on what we’re dealing with here, and to listen closely for the subtext, which I don’t want to miss. I have to be sure to hear the part when she’ll answer the unspoken question: “Will he get better?”

And I’m angry because I’m feeling gypped out of more time with him – he’s only 9, he’ll be 10 in August (if he makes it is what that inner crazy person just said pointedly). Nine isn’t unreasonable for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. But it isn’t reasonable, either. No time ever is long enough, when you are talking about someone you love.

Are you thinking – even a little bit – he’s just a dog? Yeah, he is a dog. But not “just.” Chile has been with me the longest; longer than the other three dogs in our house. I would like to use this paragraph to relay some amazing anecdote about his life, to recall his fearlessness in the face of tragedy and recount the courageous way he led a child through a burning building to safety, the smoke searing his own brave lungs. His demise should be trending on Twitter.

But of course the truth is anything but that: He was a difficult little dog; we called him “complex.” He was riddled with anxiety and fears. He saw shadows where there were none. He was ridiculously picky with food. He had bad teeth. He was afraid of thunder and swimming pools. He didn’t warm up to most people; he barked through the fence at the neighbors. He was an asshole to other dogs.

In other words, he lived an ordinary life, like most of us. He loved his walks. He chased seagulls on the beach — running like a lunatic through the muddy surf, his eyes full of expectation that maybe he might bag one this time. (He never did.) Later, he would roll in the sand and emerge looking breaded, like a cutlet. He made his body boneless and cozy when he pressed it into mine on cold nights. He followed the conversation, shifting his big brown gaze from person to person as they spoke, in a way that made him look weirdly human. I guess he was nothing special. But he was extraordinary.

Was. I just realized I’m using the past tense.

He’s not gone yet. But if I’m being honest with myself — much as it pisses me off to be — I know he won’t be with us much longer. If he manages to squeak through this crisis (inner crazy person: Shut up! He will! Goddamit!), how long before the next? Or the next after that? His body is compromised; it’s a matter of time before he’s too tired to rally; too weak to try.

And so this is the place where I’ve been before – and where you’ve maybe been, too, if you’ve buried someone you love, because every death reminds you of other deaths. It’s not quite a march toward the end but a roller coaster of ups and down, with the peaks a little flatter each time, while the depths drop a little steeper.

Does it seem weird to compare a dog to a human, possibly? And if so, why?

The truth is that Chile is connecting me to my own past – to the loss of my father, my mother, and even my own son. There is no hierarchy here, that exalts the demise of one kind of being and dismisses the other. They are all souls who’ve been loved. I’ve made decisions about Chile that I’ve never had to make for a human: Should we try to make him better? (Yes.) Even if it costs money? (Yes.) What if he needs another echo-cardiogram? (So?) Will you pay for that? (Yes.) In that way, I’m forced to give my love for Chile a dollar value — a bottom line, so to speak — in the way we humans rarely are called to do for one another.

How much would you give to fix him? I would give what I could, because that’s what you do for love.

When my father died, it was a weekday, and the mail came as usual. I was in high school, and I remember I was surprised by the mail truck: How could the world go on, when such a tremendous thing had happened? Didn’t they know? Someone I loved had died, and the world would never be the same. Why is it that the world is the same for everyone else? That’s crazy and egocentric, of course, but that’s what grief (and teen-hood) will do.

Decades later, I’m there again, wondering how the world can tick on, and business can get done, when nothing is the same. At the vet, they’re doing all they can. I kiss Chile goodnight on the top of his little red head and I tell him: You’ll be okay. Love you, you knucklehead. See you tomorrow. I don’t want to go, but I have to.

Meanwhile, my parts are on the outside, aching. There’s a little bit of crazy, inside. I want to punch somebody. I want to climb into the cage and never leave my weird little boy. Or one better: I want to watch him tackle the beach and run at top-speed down the hard sand, and remember how it feels – maybe just one more time – when my heart fills with his joy.

Chile died the morning of July 3rd. I wrote this piece three weeks ago, in the midst of Chile’s treatments for one of two major illnesses. Despite his medical issues, Chile’s last few weeks were happy. He died peacefully, beside me, at our house in Maine, his favorite place on earth.

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228 Responses to Just A Dog

  1. Anonymous says:

    As someone equally attached to our dog, there are no words.  I’m so sorry for your loss and I am grieving with you, my friend.  Consider yourself hugged. :-(

  2. Ann – this hurt to read. I am so so sorry for your loss. If I had better words, I’d use them. If I lived by you, I’d give you a hug. But since I can’t do either, please know that I’m thinking of you.

  3. Adam Zand says:

    Gosh Ann – I’m sorry for your loss.

  4. C.C. Chapman says:

    I’m really happy that I got to meet Chile before he passed, even if it was only for a couple of moments.

    Thank you for sharing this even if it did sort of sucker punch the afternoon.

    Losing a family pet is never an easy thing. *big hugs*

  5. Ann, so sorry to hear about Chile. I have two King Charles Spaniels and will give them an extra hug today in Chile’s memory.

  6. Ann, so sorry to hear about Chile. I have two King Charles Spaniels and will give them an extra hug today in Chile’s memory.

  7. Joe Chernov says:

    Hm. So part of me wants to relay my grief when I lost my boxer, but I know that such a story from my perspective would be a bond, but from yours, would feel like I was robbing a bit of your grief. Part of me wants to applaud your remarkable writing, but I know that’s the wrong compliment for  you to receive right now. (Who cares about good writing? Good writing didn’t add a moment to his life.)  Part of me reaches for the tried and true cliches about better places and having loved, but you’d see right through those. So what’s the whole of me to do (and why do I keep saying “me”?), when it’s so unclear what needs to be done (and why does anything need to be done, that’s such a “guy” thing, isn’t it?)? I will say this: Dogs, probably more than any other creature, know when they are loved. They know when they are admired. They know when they are celebrated. They know when they are part of something. And what they want most is to be part of a family. Their drive to be part of a family is exceeded only by that creepy kid in that awful movie AI. You gave Chili that: a family. He knew every second of his life that he was part of your life, part of your family, part of a home. Sadly, that’s more than all but a tiny percentage of dogs get. While he was on this Earth, he won the lottery. Not just once, but every day. Imagine that, his scratch ticket contained matching numbers every single day. Ok I digress. Back to me. When Rocco passed, I sent a note to my vet’s office thanking them for all they had done. I said that today didn’t mark the day Rocco died, but the day his legend began in my family’s folklore. That perspective helped me, this notion of the birth of lore. I hope it helps you too. If not, you can always come over and I’ll wrap your hands and give you my boxing gloves and let you hit the heavy bag in my basement. It feels good for a moment. Promise.

    Love,
    Joe

  8. This is, as usual, powerful and heartfelt and wonderful, all at once. As a dog lover and “parent”… I so feel every little twinge and worry and the overwhelming sadness. I am so sorry for your loss. May I share this on the BlogPaws blog? This is one of the most wonderfully written posts on “just a dog” that I’ve ever read and I’d like to share with my community of pet bloggers. http://www.blogpaws.com

  9. mandyml says:

    Lovely post – hope it helped to write it and hope it helps just a little bit to know that no one thinks you’re crazy because Chile was “just a dog.” Hang in there.

  10. madeinlowell says:

    Well, hey. I didn’t know Chile and still I cried when I saw his little end date on Instagram. So add me to the list of people who don’t believe in “just” animals.  This essay eloquently, heartrendingly, spells out exactly how I would feel in the same situation. Thanks for putting such difficult feelings into words. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  11. Donna Tocci says:

    Chile was a lucky doggie to be loved so much…and lucky to be with you, the person who loved him most, at the end…sending you all good thoughts and virtual hugs….

  12. Jen Zingsheim says:

    So sorry for your loss. Dogs give us so much and ask so little of us in return; there is no such thing as “just a dog.”

  13. Jesse Noyes says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Chile.

    Whether it’s the loss of a human or animal friend, when it comes to grief, there’s no cure for the cocktail of anger and befuddlement you experience when the world just keeps moving: that you have to go to work, you have to eat, etc. The best we can do, I guess, is share this feeling with others. So thank you for doing that here.

  14. Alice says:

    Ann, my condolences on your loss of Chili… “not just a dog” but YOUR family member. Thanks for posting, it makes me feel just a tad more normal when I cry about my cats (I lost Cello – the cat love of my life in 2007 and still cry) and treat them as worthy members of my family…. as I do with all my friends and their furbabies. Take heart and remember Chili’ – the difficult dog.

  15. CAS says:

    What a lucky little fur child to have a good momma to love and care for him. What a tragedy that there are so many sweet faced creatures out there without that love. No doubt you made a difference in his life just as much as he did in yours. I hope that another lucky “kid” will find you someday soon… I’ve buried three of my dogs in the last year. A pair of 14 y.o. Springer Spaniels and an 11 y.o. Golden. I will always miss them but also know they were among the lucky ones.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Ugh…I’m so sorry, Ann.  It’s cliche, but they are very much ‘members of the family’.

    FWIW…If thinking of our poochies as humans is weird, our family will be guilty.  At bedtime, my kids still BEG me to do my ‘routine’ — giving each dog her “voice” and carrying on a conversation according to her personality.   :)

  17. I’m very sorry for your loss, Ann.

    “Does it seem weird to compare a dog to a human, possibly?”

    No, it doesn’t seem weird. It seems right. Dogs love us with their whole hearts, forgive us our trespasses and pay no attention to our many weaknesses and character defects.

    Chile was part of your family. Of course you’re enraged and grief-stricken at his passing.

    My old boxer’s death gutted me. When he died, it felt like an era died with him: This dog’s life was entwined with our family memories and the lives and events of my children, from their infancy to young adulthood.

    I love what Joe wrote about Chile: “While he was on this Earth, he won the lottery.” I hope you feel some comfort knowing you cared for Chile better than anyone else could have. You made him the center of your family and your days–and that was all he ever wanted in this life.

    • Ann Handley says:

      “Gutting” is a good phrase. It’s how I feel this week.

      I wish we had better rituals for moments like these. We humans do it for each other – but I feel like I need a funeral and a plate of finger sandwiches. I’m being flip — a little — but you know what I mean…?

  18. Michelle says:

    This was so beautiful Ann—of course I’m crying.  I have a theory. It’s takes 3 days to start feeling better. I need 3 nights of sleep and 3 days of crying. Now when I think of Artie, I laugh. He was a knucklehead too and I just think about the good stuff. But it hurts getting to that point.

  19. Maral says:

    Oh Ann, so sorry. Big patougs and bachigs. Hang in there.

  20. As someone who loves her own dog as if he is a person (I clearly need to have a baby), this made me cry. I know the hopeful breath you take as you look to see if his chest is moving; if he’s still breathing. Many people think, “Oh it’s just a dog.” But I know Chile wasn’t just a dog; he was part of the family, one of your kids. I am so very, very sorry.

  21. Linda Ziskind says:

    I don’t think anyone, human or canine, could want a more loving and honest endnote to their life. Your description of loss – the exposed-nerve sensitivity, the grief that wraps around your gut, the affront of watching ordinary life go on – is wrenching and familiar and I don’t know of any words that help. But, there’s a poem by W.H. Auden called “Funeral Blues” that, at the time I needed to, I could read without wanting to kick someone in the shins. “The stars are not wanted now; put out every one / Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.”
    http://bit.ly/8veNo

  22. Stephanie Tilton says:

    Ann, heart hitting the floor for you, Vahe, and Chile. That sweet boy knows he had it good with you…and I’m sure he loved a million moments with you by this side. Wish I could take away your pain.

    XOX – Stephanie

  23. Lori Magno says:

    Never just a dog. And the pain of the stupid f*ing world going on about its business while someone precious is slipping away is the worst feeling in the world. When that precious creature who holds such a central part of your heart is in pain and some jackwad has the nerve to ask if the presentation has been printed, there really can be only one reaction; ‘You, sir, are the stupidest f*ck on the f*ing planet and f*ck you and f*ck your stupid presentation”.  (The presentation which ensures that I have a job, and health insurance, etc. etc.)

    There is no such thing as just a dog, or just a cat, or a gerbil (I draw the line at reptiles however) they are family, they are a part of your soul. And they never leave you. Badcat is not gone, nor T-Bone, or Lucky, or Jennifer or Miles, or Bodhi or Missy. They are still with us in some measure, and each provides a smile at just the right time. 

    Chile will do that for you when you are ready. For now just huddle close and think of the best times and know that he loved you and knew that you loved him, very, very much.

  24. Elle Woulfe says:

    I remember driving 80 miles an hour through pouring rain in the middle of the night to take our cat-child to Angell Memorial to see a kitty cardiologist. My in-laws thought we were crazy… “he’s just a cat.” I would have gladly remortgaged my condo to save that animal. Our relationships with our pets is so personal and we don’t owe anyone an explanation for the crazy things we do to alleviate their pain or the stress and sadness we feel upon their passing.

    Take some comfort knowing that he had you and that lived out his days in OP. I know my animals love it there too. So sorry for your loss.

  25. Skip Bensley says:

    I am sorry your dog isn’t well, I have a 12 year old golden that is winding down now also. I don’t have her with me as mush as my kids do so my worry is for them and how they will deal with it if at all. I empathize with your situation. 

  26. Anonymous says:

    Wow, my emotions were raised and my eyes welled in tears at this very moving post. It took me back in time to the many days I struggled with “Is today the day?”…when one of my relatives or pets was going to pass.

    You and Chile, even though I never knew him, touched my heart. You warmed my soul with the powerful
    images of you and Chile together. It brought a smile to my face and a hurt to my heart.

    Chile was obviously more than just a dog. He was a companion. A loved one. A welcoming friend. A listening ear. A comfort. A family member. He was more than just a dog.

    Here’s to the thousands of Chile’s that bring moments of life, emotion, respect, joy and sadness to our lives. They make us feel and we are enriched by them all.

    Thank you for sharing Chile with us!

    • Ann Handley says:

       Thank you Jeff. Yes – he was a special little guy. I mean — he wasn’t really. But to me he was. Thanks for your note here — I appreciate it.

  27. Katybeth says:

    I am so sorry. Losing a beloved pup sucks and  the one’s with issues are the hardest to lose. Never a dog-a cherished part of your life  and a special part of your broken heart. Sure time will help;  your memories will always be with you but don’t you just want to kick grief and his sidekick to the moon and back?  

    Big Hug. 

  28. A painfully beautiful tribute, Ann. Thanks for letting it escape even when the skin is very raw…

  29. Ann – My heart hit the floor for you, Vahe, and Chile. I have no doubt that Chile knew he had it good with you. I’m sure he experienced a million memorable moments by your side. XOX – Stephanie

  30. He was so much more than a dog Anne, and will forever be in your heart.  Thank you for sharing this and for putting into words so much of what we all feel but don’t always express.  

  31. He was so much more than just a dog Ann, and will forever be a part of your heart.  Thank you for sharing this and for expressing so much of what many of us feel but don’t always express.  

  32. Oh Ann, as always, thank you for sharing your raw life with us. Your writing touches not my head but my heart and soul.  So very sorry for your loss.  You might find some comfort in the beautiful post that Bonnie Simon wrote about her loss http://bit.ly/kAtKXX 

  33. Oh Ann, as always, thank you for sharing your raw life with us. Your writing touches not my head but my heart and soul.  So very sorry for your loss.  You might find some comfort in the beautiful post that Bonnie Simon wrote about her loss http://bit.ly/kAtKXX 

  34. DJ Waldow says:

    So sorry for you loss, Ann. As an animal lover (currently: 1 dog, 3 cats <–all rescued) and someone who has lost many pets in the past, I feel your pain. I feel all of your emotions.

    Animals are very much like humans. They are very much like family. We often grieve in similar ways. 

    It's been a long time since I've read something that's made me laugh, cry, laugh again, nod my head in agreement, cry again, be angry, and then really cry (out loud). This blog post did all of that – and more. I think the last time I had a similar range of emotions in a short period of time was while reading Marley and Me.

    You are a good egg, Ann. Chile was lucky to have you as a owner/parent. Your children are lucky to call you mom. Your friends and other family – we are lucky too.

  35. ebsmom says:

    We lost our pain-in-the-butt lovable mutt two years ago on the 3rd.  Your story made me teary, remembering the ten thousand times I told her to “Drop it” only to see her turn, just out of reach and chew whatever it was.  We have a new pal to love and he’s a delight but no one can ever fill the old pawprints.

  36. Meg Fowler says:

    This was as lovely a tribute to a complex little being as any I’ve ever read, and I feel like I know a bit about who he was, and who he will continue to be in your memories and stories for years to come. We never had a pet who was “typical” in any way — they were all funny, quirky, pain-in-the-ass creatures who were loved anyway (just like us) and who made life better for all their craziness.

    Here’s to Chile and his presence in your family’s life. I’m so sorry for your loss, and so lucky to know a bit more about someone you love.

  37. Ann, you are a damn good writer! I am glad I came across your post. Am so sorry about Chile.

  38. Oh, Ann. I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing so much of you in this so that people like me can nod, and cry, find ourselves and our crazy animals in this, and wish that just for a moment we could help ease the pain. Thank heaven for the people like you that give the knuckleheads like Chile a place to call home.

  39. Thanks for sharing this. I’m sorry for your loss and grateful for your writing.

  40. Lara Dickson says:

    Sorry for your loss, Ann.  Beautiful tribute about him.

  41. A wonderful tribute Ann. As blessed as you were to have him in your life, he was equally blessed to have you! Maine? We should all be so blessed to slip away in that amazingly beautiful place. Thinking of you this week…. 

  42. Lisa Oden says:

    Oh Ann, I’m so sorry for your loss.  We have a 16 year old “brown dog”.  He was with us before our children.  They have only known life with him in it.  I know it will happen one day, but can’t bear the thought.  I’m sure my insides will be on the outside, as well.  
    It’s sounds like Chile lived his life exactly where he needed to be.  How wonderful that he had you to love and care for him.  Celebrate Chile’s life and keep him close to your heart. <3

  43. amanda_pants says:

    Oh Ann, thank you so much for sharing your story (and making me cry at work). 

    I know too well those feelings you have of helplessness, anger and being told they are ‘just a dog’. My dog and BFF of 11+ years, Brody, has bone cancer and we amputated one of his hind legs a month ago. The anger I feel but I am not sure I would have named it anger until your post, but it is. I am angry I can’t make him better, I am angry at the sad process and I am angry I bought this extra time with him and I have to be a member of the real world. I want to spend all my moments with him but I have to work, I have obligations and the world carried on even though your heart is breaking. 

    Thank you again for letting us all into this part of your life. I hope your heart heels and the memory of your “complex” carries on. He sounds like a character and you sound like you were an amazing mom to him. Something about the unconditional love of a dog makes this hurt as hard as it is.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Amanda – I loved your words here — thank you. I hope Brody has a lot more memories to make with you — he sounds like a very lucky guy, too, to have found you. Hugs from here.

  44. Gosh, this really resonates with me and I’m sitting here, like everyone else, with tears.  I can relate to all you have written because I too feel this way about my “just dog” the lovely Lucy who’s nearly 13.  My heart sends you love, warmth and soulful healing and I am thankful to have been able to pop to your site to read such eloquent words and emotions.  

  45. Ed says:

    Totally feel you. I still miss my dog  Zep – 27 years later. 
    Sorry Ann.

  46. DJ Waldow says:

    Ann: Not that you are looking to write another book, but dude. The comments alone are some great content for a new book. I’m going through the entire emotion pendulum again just reading the comments!

  47. RJ Deal says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. We vainly fought to keep our nine-year-old Westie alive when he fought stomach cancer so I know what you mean about making decisions and feeling cheated. That was over two years ago and I miss him everyday. My thoughts are with you.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Right… my experience with Chile made me wonder what kind of choices we humans might make for each other, you know? Thanks, RJ. And I’m sorry for the loss of your Westie.

  48. David Murray says:

    Very sorry for your loss. Pets are family. Sounds like Chile had a great family who loved him, I’m sure he was happy to be with you. He will always be with you. 

  49. Lise Conde says:

    Wow.  I love this.  I just saw a link to this on twitter and….  I feel it too.  After my grandparents passed away I was sitting in an airport, watching a video loop through how a new terminal was being built next door.  In the city they loved and spent their lives in.  And I thought how can something happen hear that I won’t hear my grandfather tell stories about in years to come?  How come the mail continues to come?

    I have a 9 year old dog named Mojo who has been through the best and the worst with me.  I’m so sorry about Chile.  All dogs go to heaven.  And people who give their hearts in the care of animals are special people indeed.

  50. TimWeaver says:

    Ann,
    They’re never “just a dog”. I still miss Abby, who passed in 2009 after being with us 12 years. And the first dog I could call my own, who died over 20 years ago.

    They’re never “just” a dog.

  51. Eugene says:

    Thanks for bringing love and loss back into focus.

  52. I am so sorry for your loss. I have been blessed with three great dogs in our lives. Each of them left a lifetime of smiles that, upon reflection, more than filled the immense whole they left in my heart. I loved – still love! – our wonderful dogs. Thank you for sharing this. 

  53. Anonymous says:

    Your beautiful words sent chills down my spine, Ann. It is our dogs who really teach us the meaning of ‘unconditional love.’ While your story started the healing process for you, it reminds each of us about a time when we were faced in a similar situation. Our dogs become such a part of our lives, ingrained in who we are and how we face the world. No one can ever take that away. Thank you for sharing your story.

  54. One need only look at that face to see what a irreplaceable character your little pup was. Thank you for sharing so much about him, allowing us in turn to share in the memory keeping as well as in the comforting. Many thoughts are with you, Ann.

  55. One need only look at that face to see what a irreplaceable character your little pup was. Thank you for sharing so much about him, allowing us in turn to share in the memory keeping as well as in the comforting. Many thoughts are with you, Ann.

  56. Courtney Bosch says:

    Truly sorry for your loss Ann. Chile could not have asked for a better tribute.

  57. Amanda says:

    Oh, Ann, I don’t know you but I feel your pain.  I lost my beloved little dog Charlie last month.  A friend just sent me this quote: “When
    you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in
    truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.”
     Kahlil Gibran

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Amanda. I’m very sorry for the loss of Charlie. Thanks for the beautiful quote – I love Gibran too.

      • Amanda says:

         Your writing is beautiful and thank you for articulating so many of we dog lovers’ feelings. The
        Tuesday that Charlie moved on was certainly one of the saddest days of my
        life.  It was a blur, but some sort of clarity
        let me know with certainty that that moment was his time to go home.  After twelve and a half wonderful years, it
        was his time.  I didn’t leave the house
        or wear make-up (I’m a Southern woman.) for three days.  I didn’t exercise for almost a week.  I did the work that I had to do and thank God
        the rest of the week was slow.  I cried;
        I drank; I slept and cried some more.  I
        was heartbroken and out of my mind.  I
        stayed in bed as long as I could each day to avoid the dread of walking down
        the stairs and knowing that Charlie wouldn’t be there.  We’ll take our time and get through this. : )

  58. I’m so sorry for your loss, Ann. While my lab Trajan wasn’t as sick as Chile was a few weeks ago when you wrote this, it still hits me hard. This weekend, my 8 year old (diabetic) lab started going blind. What? He’s too young. I took him to the vet today and the only option to fix it is a $1,500 surgery. Like you said, you pay to give them a better life.

    Hang in there but don’t be afraid to grieve. Chile sounds like he lived a beautiful life and I’m glad he was with you at the end.

  59. Peggy says:

    My husband died six years ago and I have told more than one person that when Chloe, my 10-year old Scottie, leaves this world, the cork is coming out.  I don’t know if I can bear to think of life without that best friend.  I also wanted to say, Ann … I am sorry for your dad’s death when you were only in high school.  My parents just marked 63 years of marriage and I am reminded with that simple sentence in your piece that the gratitude needs to be perpetual for the gift of “length of days.”  Keep the good stuff coming … 

  60. Julie says:

    I’m so sorry Ann. I remember when he was a little pup and you walked around the house with him in a doll’s baby-sling against your chest, in the garden and round the pool. That was a lovely few days. Sending you a cyber hug xxxx

  61. David says:

    Oh Ann, I know the pain and emptiness all too well.  I’ve gone through it twice so far, with Muffin and then Flapper, both black lab mixes.  Muffin was 14; Flapper was not quite 11.

    People who say it’s only a dog are missing a lot.  A dog’s companionship and love is something very special.  Unfortunately,  since their life span is so much shorter than ours, there’s a very heavy price we pay for loving a dog.  But it is SO much worth the pain.

    My guy Loki will be 11 in September, and we see signs of him slowing down.  I don’t want to even begin to imagine what our home would be like without him, although we know we will someday know — hopefully, a lot later rather than sooner.

     So Ann, keep the good memories of Chile alive in your heart.  Think of him and smile, as you remember all that you shared with him during his 10 years with you.  And remember how happy he was to be with you, even during his last few weeks.
     

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, David. I do take comfort in that. I feel like he is one of the few beings I never let down… in part, of course, it’s because his demands were so inherently reasonable. I feel good about that, and that counts for a lot.  Thank you for chiming in here.

  62. Lennie says:

    No pet is “just” a pet. I understand your pain.

  63. Jo Tyler says:

    Here’s to all the marvelously “complex” ones…just living ordinary lives. What a wonderful tribute to a great little friend. So glad I got to see him one last time. He will be missed… xo

  64. Ann: 

    I’m sorry for the loss of your friend. Thank you for sharing your world which anyone who has owned a pet, or more likely, been owned by a pet, can relate. 

  65. Dee (dmd) says:

    I was already sad to read your post, sadder still to read the epilogue.  Yes, it is right and just and *human* to care this way for a dog.  They *are* more than just animals.  Sometimes, they are more than just human.  And it’s even more natural for the loss of one particular dog, a “complex” dog, to hurt more and be harder to take. 

    I lost my Kenya girl more than a decade ago, but still miss her.  We traveled the U.S. together, sleeping in a van in campgrounds from the Outer Banks to Yellowstone to Taos.  She was only 5 when she was diagnosed and 6 when she died after a year and a half of chemotherapy.

  66. Elle Woulfe says:

    I remember driving 80 miles an hour through pouring rain in the middle
    of the night to take our cat-child to Angell Memorial to see a kitty
    cardiologist.  My in-laws thought we were crazy… “he’s just a cat.”  I
    would have gladly remortgaged my condo to save that animal.  Our
    relationships with our pets is so personal and we don’t owe anyone an
    explanation for the crazy things we do to alleviate their pain or the
    stress and sadness we feel upon their passing.

    Take some comfort
    knowing that he had you and that lived out his days in OP.  I know my
    animals love it there too.  So sorry for your loss.

  67. Maral says:

    Oh Ann, so sorry. Big patougs and bachigs. Hang in there.

  68. As someone who loves her own dog as if he is a person (I clearly need to
    have a baby), this made me cry. I know the hopeful breath you take as
    you look to see if his chest is moving; if he’s still breathing. Many
    people think, “Oh it’s just a dog.” But I know Chile wasn’t just a dog; he was part of the family, one of your kids. I am so very, very sorry.

  69. Hey there! You don’t know me but I’ve been following you Twitter after reading your awesome book.

    I am profoundly sorry for your loss of Chile and was happy (as much as can be under these circumstances) to read that he died at home with you. How great for him that he was home with those he loved rather than in a vet’s office.

  70. Primascopy says:

    My husband and I never had children, but we were lucky to have “the world’s smartest dog” share our lives for nearly 13 years. Sabre was an agility champion and “the son we never had.” When he passed, it made no difference that he had four legs instead of two–we were devastated. As he was a constant and faithful companion, his passing grieved us even more than when some friends and relatives died.  

    We have found some comfort in this (something my mother told us when my father passed): “Don’t cry because he is gone, smile because you knew him.”

  71. Alicia says:

    Wow, I’m sitting here at my desk and work fighting back the tears. Just a dog… I think not. Thanks so much for sharing!

  72. Marty Levine says:

    Ann,

    There is no more helpless feeling than not being able to help someone you love when they are sick. People, dogs, cats, it doesn’t matter. But as others have noted here, Chile had the very good fortune to live with you of all people and that was a great thing for you both. We do not know each other but I hope your grief passes quickly and your memories live on.

    Best,

    Marty Levine

  73. So sorry for your loss – Chile was truly adorable. As my own little pooch Scruffy (the first dog I’ve ever had and my daughter’s constant companion for as long as she can remember) nears 11 yrs. and ages into his teens I worry more and more about the inevitable, and hope it’s still a long way off.

    This caught my eye today amidst an overflowing inbox upon returning yesterday from – of all places – Chile.  Yeah, weird, but I was in Chile for the first time on vacation with husband and daughter. I can tell you it is a fantastic country, rugged in its beauty, warm at heart, abundant and growing in prosperity. So I am curious as to how, if you can share it here, Chile got his name.

    I am glad his final days were happy, and that you shared this. I wish you tenderness in your grief and many comforting memories.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks, Karen. I hope you have a long time still with your Scruffy, too.

      Funny about the Chile connection… I’ve never been there, but sounds like I should. Chile got his name because as a puppy his tail was small and smooth and red, and shaped almost exactly like a red chile pepper. He could fit in the palms of my hands, and he was adorable. ; )

  74. sherifitts says:

    Dogs are a heart ache waiting to happen. When my dog died I posted:

    When I got Jazz he was part of a dream. Get a house, a garden, and a dog. He was seven weeks old — all ears and fur. Neither the ears nor the fur went away in fact they stayed pretty much the same, and everything else in between changed. Me too. I’ll never be the same now that I don’t have Jazz. I won’t have my dawg at the bottom of the stairs that howls at me when I put on his leash. I won’t have to “park” him at the coffee shop and worry when the bakery delivery comes. I won’t have my protector in the dark to warn me about the scary garbage can a block down on the left. I won’t have anyone pulling me forward because there could be a cat in that bush. I won’t have stuffed animals littering my living room. I won’t know when the mail man comes on the weekends. I won’t have half eaten bones scattered throughout the house. I won’t have to buy biscuits anymore. I won’t have company in my studio. I won’t have anyone as happy to see me.  And, I won’t have my dream anymore.

  75. Renee Ratte says:

    This brought tears to my eyes, Anne.  I am so sorry for your loss.  Chili was clearly very very special to you and it must really hurt to have him gone.  Hugs.  Renee

  76. Anonymous says:

    I saw your Facebook updates and was sad for you.
    Life stops for no one – not even death. And the ache that we feel contains all the sadness we have for our loss and the deep guilt we carry for continuing to live. 
    But of course, those we love never completely disappear from our lives. They live on in our memories, in our photographs and the stories we tell about ourselves, our families and our lives. Beautifully written and courageously shared Ann. Thanks.

  77. Anonymous says:

    Ann, thank you for sharing in your post the way so many of us feel about our furry family members. We finally have a dog of our own for the first time (our labradoodle Snickers), and I am cherishing every moment we have with him. I am so sorry for the loss of Chile. Please know you are in our thoughts. You and Chile have obviously touched the hearts of many. Thank you for that.

  78. bethharte says:

    Ann, I am so very, very sorry!! There aren’t enough words. Having a dog as my “only child” I can totally relate to the human aspect we give them. When Gráinne looks at me with her amber eyes, I see her soul. 

    God brings people and animals together because he knows they will heal one another, make each other laugh, and prove that unconditional love does exist.  There is nothing better in life than a dog going crazy as if they haven’t seen you in days, even though you just made a trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway.  For that… we will do anything. 

    Hugs, 
    Beth

  79. As I type this my nine-year-old smelly, wonderful, farting, food-obsessed, water-loving, arthritic Lab is at my feet.  I have deleted about 10 attempts at a comment.  Nothing I write seems to capture what is in my heart after reading your incredible post. Chile was as blessed to come in to your life as you were to have him. I am sending you hugs….not to take away the hurt (nothing can do that), but to let you know someone else truly understands what Chile means to you.

  80. Jonna Asher says:

    My pets are a huge part of my life. With my dogs, we compete in agility,flyball,etc.  I am seldom without one, let alone all three.  They give us so much, and expect so little in return.  They are happy just “be.”  When I lose a pet, the void they leave is endless; their presence is still felt.  My deepest condolences.

  81. Ann, I am so sorry to hear about your loss of Chile. As I sit here with two Cavaliers at my feet as I write this, I know all too well how attached you become. Kendall, my Cavalier, and her brother, Bailey, who is visiting for the week, are family to me. It doesn’t seem weird at all to compare Chile to a human. They evoke the same emotions from us as humans. My heart goes out to you. I’ll give these two little Cavaliers a big hug.

  82. Anonymous says:

    Oh Ann, I am so sorry for your loss! I just read this and my heart breaks for you. Sending hugs your way.

  83. Chris Bellezza says:

    Ann, I have spent the past few days, ever since I read your post, trying to think of something to write.  Each time  I see Chile’s face with his soulful look,  I tear up and give up.   The words are locked deep inside, and can’t get past my own grief over my own losses.  So, for now, I’ll say I understand where you’re coming from and I’m sorry for the loss of your little red quirky family member.  Chile was a lucky dog indeed to have made his way, as a tiny pup, to such a fun and loving family…what a life he led with you all!

  84. I’m so sorry for your loss. :( I myself just lost a pet…Harley Quinn was my year-old seal point Siamese. She was let outside (wasn’t supposed to be) and got hit by a car. It happened on the morning of July 5th, and I haven’t really been okay since. She was supposed to be with me for years to come, not gone suddenly because someone was careless. I’m so angry and heartbroken…I feel for you. :(

  85. Ann, at the risk of perhaps trying to sound ‘poignant’ in the eyes other folks who might read this, what I have to say is for you alone.

    I just wanted to communicate how my heart goes out to you, as we went thru this two years ago last January with out 15 year-old Fox Terrier who was like a child to us and a sibling to our own kids. Then six months later, we lost my wife’s Dad to cancer. He died in hospice we had set up in our home so that the family could all be together. Though we totally saw it coming, it didn’t make it any easier.

    Death is excruciating, whether met with foreknowledge or by complete surprise; there’s no way to process it soberly; it’s always a blindside, isn’t it? Nevertheless, life goes on; for you and those who continue this journey thru life with you, together by your side.

    Although we’ve never met, I have always felt close to you through the words of your life shared here in your blog. I now feel even closer, and know how better to pray for you going forward. I also feel rewarded that you trust us with even these most vulnerable thoughts. Thank you for that. It’s not something that everyone feels free enough, nor is strong enough to share as openly as you so routinely do.

    Take care and know that you are appreciated, by more people than you could possibly know.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thank you so much, AJ. Really, really appreciate your story… and I’m sorry for your excruciating losses, too. Said another way, death completely and totally sucks. : (

  86. Doriano Carta says:

    My heart goes out to you Ann. I can totally relate to what you’re going through. Our family just lost our beautiful Papillon much too early due to a birth defect. I shared it in a piece called “The Circle of Life” on Dad-O-Matic. http://dadomatic.com/circle-of-life/

    About 10 years ago we lost our min-pin named Spike which I wrote about in a piece called, ironically enough, “Just a Dog” but not nearly as eloquently as you did here. I shared it on my LiveJournal back then and then again on my WordPress in 2008. I cried so much as I buried our sweet dog.
    http://dorianocarta.com/just-a-dog/

    Thanks for sharing your loss with us. I can assure you the memories last forever. The photos and videos help too.

    • Ann Handley says:

      Thanks for those links… will check them out. And I’m very sorry for your losses, too.

      • Paisano® says:

        Thanks Ann. It’s comforting to know we can empathize with others and share compassion when we go through this painful process. They aren’t people but the family pet is a part of our family.
        Ever see the movies “Marley and Me” or “My Dog Skip”? Two of the best movies ever about pets and what they mean to us.

  87. You said it all. Beautifully. Poetically. Gut-wrenchingly. I lost my 18-year-old dog, Mrs. Buddy, in February. Like you, had countless nervous approaches to her little body each morning, waiting for an indication of breath and life. Two weeks ago, the specter of death was back. A sudden and vicious illness threatened the life of my 8-year-old cat. Like you said, you are forced to put a price on the fight to save your loved one. Still stinging from the loss of Mrs. Buddy, we chose the irrational course, the choice that was not the financially wise one. The absolute long-shot, given that the vet did not expect our Twister to survive the night. And guess what? We won. After so many deep and painful losses,  we won. THIS time. Nothing can bring back Mrs. Buddy. Or Chile. But sharing a love so strong and sometimes winning is as close to all-out victory as it gets.

  88. You said it all. Beautifully. Poetically. Gut-wrenchingly. I lost my
    18-year-old dog, Mrs. Buddy, in February. Like you, had countless
    nervous approaches to her little body each morning, waiting for an
    indication of breath and life. Two weeks ago, the specter of death was
    back. A sudden and vicious illness threatened the life of my 8-year-old
    cat. Like you said, you are forced to put a price on the fight to save
    your loved one. Still stinging from the loss of Mrs. Buddy, we chose the
    irrational course, the choice that was not the financially wise one.
    The absolute long-shot, given that the vet did not expect our Twister to
    survive the night. And guess what? We won. After so many deep and
    painful losses,  we won. THIS time. Nothing can bring back Mrs. Buddy.
    Or Chile. But sharing a love so strong and sometimes winning is as close
    to all-out victory as it gets.

  89. B.L. Ochman says:

    Ann- I was on vacation when you were writing about Chile and just wanted to send a hug.

    You gave Chile a great life, and he sure worked hard to fill your heart with his joy. This is a beautiful tribute.

    Just a dog, my ass.

  90. I always grow angry when someone refers to my pug as “just a dog.” I quickly point out, he’s part of the family…he’s my son. As a pet lover, I feel your loss and am truly sorry. When you lose a pet, at least for me, you lose a part of you. Although he’s gone, at least his final moments were with you and in his favorite place on earth. I am truly sorry for your loss, Ann.

  91. Jill says:

    I’m so sorry but so glad he was happy at the end in his favorite spot. I’m sure your Son, Dad and Mom are giving him the snuggles he needs as he transitions to his new life without you…for now. As my father said when our cat passed, you’ll see him again someday.

  92. Kristen says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve been through both losing a dog too early, and fearing the loss of a dog who, after a week in the ICU, managed to come back. Both were incredibly hard.

    I couldn’t agree more about your comment that “He’s a dog. Not just.” I don’t think I’m a crazy dog lady (though I might be walking a fine line), but god, I love these mutts so much it sometimes makes my heart hurt. Not because they can do amazing tricks or walk beside me on leash or anything, because they can’t, but because they’re my girls, and I don’t know how to love them any less.

    I’m thinking of you today and hoping that, soon, you’ll be able to look back and smile about the happy times rather than tearing up while thinking about Chile’s last days.

  93. Smallpaws4 says:

    Beautiful tribute Ann and so many truths in what you say. The world should stop it’s normalcy, even if just for a few moments, when one we love dies. Carolyn

  94. Katie says:

    Thank you for writing this beautiful piece. The brevity of our pups is the only bad part of loving them. I’m sorry for your loss.

  95. Cltls says:

    I wish I could write as eloquently as you and Joe, but I do not possess that gift.  Thank you for sharing your story.  For what it’s worth your & Chile’s story helped someone – me. 

    I received word this morning that my cat has only 4-6 mos.  I’ve been sitting at work, unsuccessfully trying to focus on the work at hand when your link popped up on my FB notice.  Not sure why I clicked on the link, but I did and I’m glad.  You very beautifully put into words my feelings right now.  Just reading them helped.  My pain, frustration and anger aren’t gone.  But I’m dealing better, thank you and please let me extend my most sincere and heartfelt condolences for your loss.

  96. Ronda says:

    Ann – thank you for sharing your story.  My sweet CKCS, Jubilee Rose (JuJu B), also, 9, passed away this past week from complications of a stage 4 heart murmur and congested heart failure. Your article came to me at a perfect time. For this, I thank you. Though I only had her for less than a year, after adopting her from a rescue, she brought more joy and love to me than any dog I had in the past. Thank you, again.  Blessings, Ronda

  97. Peggy says:

    “forced to give my love a dollar value” rings so heavy on my heart. We have been there quite a few times, as we tend to “collect” dogs that people feel are no longer worthy of their company..  The best thing to come out of just such a conversation was one night, after almost losing a beloved furry family member, my 12yo daughter comes to us & says, “when I am a vet I will never deny an animal because of money”. I love that kid. She is going to change the veterinary world for the better. I am so sorry for your loss and want to thank you for sharing Chile with us, even if only for a moment. I hope you found some relief decompressing & sharing with us all. <3

  98. Angelawalker says:

    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  99. connielowe1 says:

    I have three dogs, the oldest is my “baby”. When he goes I will need time off of work and sedatives. These precious creatures worm their way in and stay. Nothing loves you like a dog does, of that I’m convinced.

  100. Sallyinnc says:

    I am so sorry for your loss and your story gave me the opportunity to remember these same raw, angry and helpless feelings I had when I lost Dixe (CKCS) in April. It still aches and I don’t know when this ache will go away. I feel your love for Chile and am grateful you shared. It’s companionship that can’t be explained, only lived. Thank you.

  101. I completely understand where you were.  Our youngest dog (2 year old GSD mix) has been in the hospital since yesterday.  I’m lucky enough to say that he’s still there, for now.  No one even knows what is wrong with him.  Thank you for making me feel real and strangely normal.

  102. Oh, I’m so sorry. As a Cavalier owner, I understand how these beautiful little buggers just crawl into your heart and make themselves at home. Mine is neurotic, intelligent, annoying, loving, sweet little guy who suffers from extreme separation anxiety. He also has bad teeth, chews underwear and regularly gets diarrhea from ingesting anything left in his reach but I love him shamelessly.  He’s only 7 and I can’t even consider the possibility of him not being around. The pain when we lose them is the price we pay for being able to spend those brief years with them, I guess.

    Again, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  103. Oh, I’m so sorry. As a Cavalier owner, I understand how these beautiful little buggers just crawl into your heart and make themselves at home. Mine is neurotic, intelligent, annoying, loving, sweet little guy who suffers from extreme separation anxiety. He also has bad teeth, chews underwear and regularly gets diarrhea from ingesting anything left in his reach but I love him shamelessly.  He’s only 7 and I can’t even consider the possibility of him not being around. The pain when we lose them is the price we pay for being able to spend those brief years with them, I guess.

    Again, I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  104. christina fisher says:

    Reading your post, in a weird way, makes me feel better. Maybe better isn’t the right word, comforted, maybe? My 8 yo dog, too, is dying. Just today the vet asked us to set a hard deadline for how long we would give ourselves/him. He has a nasty virus (3, actually) raging a war on his brain, and no amount of antibiotics seem to be helping us win the battle. And even if they are winning, the amount of brain damage it’s done may never allow him to live a quality life again. The humane thing would be euthanasia, they say – but how do you ever say ok, you’re looking at me, but I’m going to take you in now. You who have brought me so much joy.

    So I won’t say comforted, because I’m crying while stumbling through a comment. But maybe less alone. And maybe it will help you feel a little less alone, too.

  105. Amber from Texas says:

    Beautiful tribute to one wonderful family member.  Amazing how the four legged kind take hold of our heart strings and never let go.  Never.  Even when they are gone.
      I have been in your situation more times than I have ever wanted to.  Getting old sucks, and losing a best friend sucks the worst.  It is total BS that we have to go through pain like this, but I hope you remember ever wonderful part of your little man.   I hope you find comfort in that fact that there are SOOOO many of us that have been in your shoes one way or another and know what you are feeling.  Hugs your way, all the way from Texas.  

  106. Digiscrappin says:

    I’m SOOO sorry for your loss.  Aside from my kids, my little Cooper (maltipoo) was my greatest comfort when my first husband died.  He’s still with me and I can’t imagine how alone I’ll feel when he passes away. SOOOO sorry for you!

  107. Jessica says:

    Ann-
      I’m currently a vet student, and I want you to know how much your beautiful piece of writing really touched me, on a personal and professional level.  Personally, because growing up on a farm surrounded by animals, I’ve been through this painful experience time and time again with a myriad of pets and livestock (that I loved just as much as my pets!).  And professionally, because you remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Why I’m spending hour after countless hour, sleepless night after sleepless night, reading and highlighting and memorizing and spitting it all back out onto the exams.  It’s easy to get lost and bogged down in the monotonous detail of it all, but when I take a step back and read a blog post like yours, I remember that I’m in this to help in a way that so few can.  While us veterinarians (to be) can’t perform miracles, to know someday I’ll be in the shoes to help ease the suffering and prolong the life of a loved one, to then also ease pain and lessen the anxiety that YOU’RE feeling, I feel truly blessed and inspired.  

    Thank you for sharing your story.  I cried along with you from beginning to end.  Thank you for reminding me why I’m here.
    -Jessica

  108. Jessica says:

    Ann-
      I’m currently a vet student, and I want you to know how much your beautiful piece of writing really touched me, on a personal and professional level.  Personally, because growing up on a farm surrounded by animals, I’ve been through this painful experience time and time again with a myriad of pets and livestock (that I loved just as much as my pets!).  And professionally, because you remind me why I’m doing what I’m doing.  Why I’m spending hour after countless hour, sleepless night after sleepless night, reading and highlighting and memorizing and spitting it all back out onto the exams.  It’s easy to get lost and bogged down in the monotonous detail of it all, but when I take a step back and read a blog post like yours, I remember that I’m in this to help in a way that so few can.  While us veterinarians (to be) can’t perform miracles, to know someday I’ll be in the shoes to help ease the suffering and prolong the life of a loved one, to then also ease pain and lessen the anxiety that YOU’RE feeling, I feel truly blessed and inspired.  

    Thank you for sharing your story.  I cried along with you from beginning to end.  Thank you for reminding me why I’m here.
    -Jessica

  109. A testimony to the love we share for our furry children; the tears streaming down my face. I’m not ready. My Cocker Spaniel is 12 and healthy but I know that could turn in a moment. The funny thing is she drives me nuts sometimes. Follows me into every room, barks at the people on the street; no longer cares to snuggle so much but to be near…and yet? When she is gone for a day to the groomer, I miss her being in my way, I miss not knowing that someone is walking in front of the house and I miss not having someone to give a cookie to when I walk into the kitchen for a glass of water.

    So I know in your heartfelt comments how real that missing will be someday soon and yet I’m comforted by the words of another and hope you are too. Our dogs won the lottery. Your love for your dog and the care you gave Chile is a testimony of who you are and why people are here offering you comfort. You gave to that sweet creature all they ever ask for really. To be loved. And, well…maybe a cookie. Take good care; soon the pain will subside and the joy of remembering will take over. I promise.

  110. Jeanette says:

    I feel your pain, pets are like our children..

  111. Francesca says:

    May Chile run free… I have known your pain and will again.  Thank you for sharing your immense love for Chile.

  112. Michelle says:

    The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein made me look at dogs completely differently.
    I’m so sorry for your loss!!

  113. I am so sorry for your loss.

  114. When I noticed your post on Twitter I didn’t know if I could read it.  I just lost my doggie Solomon on 7/03/2011.  A 14 year old Westie. He was diagnosed with diabetes and because of his age even with insulin we couldn’t keep him comfortable. I made the choice to end his pain and let him go to Jesus.  I am so glad I took courage to read your post. It brought me comfort to know many others feel this way about their pets.  I know Solomon and Chile are together happy, healed and bragging about their wonderful people families below. 

  115. Battynurse says:

    I’m so sorry about Chile.  It sucks so much to lose someone you love regardless of how many legs they have or any other traits.  Hugs to you.

  116. Chris (London) says:

    Thank you for such a heart wrenching piece…. I too get really angry when I hear “its just a dog”, no, it is not “just” an anything…. pets are a part of your family much loved and much grieved for and missed.
    We currently have three dogs, two of them are Cavalier King Charles spaniels, and one American bulldog. I love each and everyone of them with all my heart. Our Cavvies are 7 and 6 years old, the eldest Jarvis is beginning to slow down and has a heart murmur. Hopefully we have many years left with him and all of them but I am aware of the passing time and am dreading the day when I have to say goodbye to any of them! I am so happy to read that Chile had a happy last few weeks and died peacefully in his favourite place next to his favourite person! You! What more can anyone (or dog) ask for? xxx

  117. Bex says:

    Ann, I am so sorry for your loss! It brings a tear to my eye to think of losing any of my cavaliers. I remember back when I lost my beloved Tessy. She was a trained guard dog (bomb and drug trained as well)  for a local security company. She saved my life countless times working in the field. She was a constant companion and when the chance came along for her to retire, I jumped at the chance to take her home. when we got there I came to realise that Tessy didn’t even know how to play and didn’t know what a true family was. It helps me to think that our family was able to show her “the dogs life” before she passed.

    Chile, Tessy and all the other fury angels are now at gods bridge to play for life.

    I wish that every animal in life had the chance to have such a loving mum/family.

    Thank you for loving Chile the way you did/do he will always be in your heart and memory. It does get easier after time, it will never be gone but you will be able to remember the good times without crying in the future.

    Again Thank you for being such a great mum!

    Bex 

  118. E Robinson says:

    The first time I left the house after my German Shepherd mix, Emily, died on October of 2009 I felt as though someone had peeled me like fruit. The tender inner flesh was just out there touching the world without her. It sucks.

    Long before she passed a friend and I started a tradition with our circle of friends, family, acquaintances, readers, anyone. When a pet dies, anyone’s pet, anywhere, all the pets in our homes get extra treats and love just for being. Tonight when I get home my knuckleheads (2 senior cats of questionable intelligence and attitude and a young terrier mix with more brains than sense) will get some extra delicacies in Chile’s honor. We’re so sorry for your loss.

  119. Karla Wilson says:

    Wow.  Ididn’t expect to find such an exceptional piece of writing passed in a Facebook link.  Brought back the searing moment when a cow died…the last animal on earth who had lived while my husband still lived, bovine bearer of unmined sorrow.  Dogs carry lightly for us the weight of past losses.  No wonder we rail at reshouldering the burden when they prepare to leave us.

  120. Tjtakis1 says:

    It was gut wrenchingly true. I got goospimples , remembering when I lost my sweet Maggie.  A beautifully written piece. It tugged at my heart remembering all thoes feelings.

    Joannie & Buddy Bear

  121. Jennifer says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I’d like to think that your Chile is out there somewhere playing with my Forest and Annabel. And all of the other wonderful dogs and cats that make our lives so much better (even when they’re finicky pains in the butt that drive us crazy, but who we love to distraction anyway…)

  122. Jill Foster says:

    I’ve been having a pity party this past week, confronting a chest cold. Then this afternoon was catch-up-on-blogs time with the aim to find happy stories to distract from my self-absorption. The story of your wonderful Chile was an antidote on that front and a beautiful thing. Hope that is not too strange to express now. Thank you for sharing your experiences together, and may those memories carry the pain gently away in due time.

  123. “I’ve been in a tough place this week; like my skin is thin as tissue paper, and it bleeds raw at the slightest chafe.” Fantastic imagery. (Also, I think we’ve all been there.)

    I’m sorry to read about Chile and I’m sorry for your loss.

    Ann, you are a fantastic writer. I lost my father a few months ago. I see myself in your post. I can walk into your experience and your emotions. That’s a rare gift that few writers possess (but a gift that all the good ones share).

  124. Lori says:

    Ann  - There is no “just a dog.” No matter how challenging their behavior, they’re out little buddies and we love them so much. Sad for you. Every loss of life force sucks. Every single one. Thank you for sharing the feelings that any pet owner that’s lost one of the pals too young knows too well. Great piece.

  125. Gianandrea says:

    Ann, you know how much I love dogs. I hear your pain. You sure did all the best for him as he did the best to make you feel better all these years. My biggest hugs.

  126. I’m so sorry, Ann. Been there.

    @FranchiseDog:disqus
      (Yes. that’s right-he had a Twitter account and everything) got sick this past winter. He just started acting weird..spacey. That’s unusual for an 80 lb Airedale Terrier, believe me. 

    At 8 years old, his heart should not have gone bad. But it did. 

    He loved our daughter. He would have died for her, if he had to. He watched out for her, big time. For all of us, actually. His bark was scary.

    Anyway, we made the choice to put him down after several difficult days. The guy wouldn’t eat. Unusual, since he usually ate everything he could.

    I’m still sad. Maybe that’s why I’ve been so depressed as of late. I miss him, even though he was a pain.

    G-D, how he used to love taking car rides, and sticking his head out the window to feel the wind.

    It may be time to get another dog.  Soon.

    We’ll rescue one this time.

    Take care,

    Joel :)

  127. Pingback: Ann Hadley: Enjoying Tweet Success at MarketingProfs | Intuit Small Business Blog

  128. Vidya Sury says:

    My heart ached.

    I hope you punched something (or body), anything (or body).

  129. Jennifer says:

    Ann,

    I’m so sorry for you loss. When you love a soul it’s never “just a dog” Your point about Chile connecting you to different losses in your life really resonated with me. The experiences of a person’s life are hard to compartmentalize; I sometimes don’t know if I’m reacting to the actual event or to culmination of events up to this point.

    Thank you for sharing.

    -Jennifer

  130. I found this post, in a weird sort of way, comical. I don’t mean the part where you are hurting, I get that and I’m very sorry to hear your pain, but rather the candid description of how you feel and what you’re thinking as you walk through this journey with your beloved pet. That you make crystal clear and as a reader it moved me.

    I’m very glad I ran across this blog. Your writing is inspiring. I read your content book (and I now think I can hear your voice) but its nice to read your non business work.

  131. Tara says:

    It’s a tricky thing grief. My Golden Retriever lies next to me and I experience a moment of it even as I gaze at her breathing softly. Her face is whitening—she’s healthy, loving, exuberant still—but that face reveals a ticking clock. These four legged therapists we adopt into our hearts and families come with no guarantees, and such a short time with us. It isn’t fair. It just isn’t.

    I can give you the best two two words I’ve ever been given on loss: Grieve well

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