In memory of dogs loved and lost

Lucky and Me (Author photo for Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders

Lucky and Me (Author photo for Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders

This morning my daughter’s dog Sequoia died peacefully at the vet’s office in Woodstock. A black chow mix, Sequoia had been Stacey’s devoted companion for 16 years. The dog had been abandoned, tied for hours to a fence post in Tompkins Square Park in New York’s East Village when Stacey rescued her, and they’ve been together since before her marriage and the birth of her children.

Over the past couple of years, Sequoia’s been declining both physically and mentally. She developed a form of dementia not unlike Alzheimer’s, and became unpredictably aggressive to the point where she could no longer safely coexist with my young granddaughters. She still regarded me with affection, though, and I spent quality time with her yesterday, stroking her, giving her treats and tummy rubs. I couldn’t bear to accompany Sequoia and Stacey on that final visit to the vet, but my husband was there for them.

Within the past few years, I’ve had to take three dogs on that last journey. All three were critically, terminally ill, and their passing through lethal injection at the hands of the veterinarian was peaceful. In my novel Eldercide, an elderly gentleman suffering from Parkinson’s comments that he wishes society allowed people the same gentle exit we provide our beloved pets. But humane as these assisted deaths may be, it’s never easy for the human families left behind. 

Do you have a pet you’d like to remember here? I’d love to her about him or her.

In the author photo above, I’m joined by Lucky, a beautiful golden retriever who graced our lives for less than a year. A family in Woodstock could no longer keep him because of rivalry with other pets, so we adopted him. As it turned out, he was suffering from lymphoma, and despite aggressive treatment, he died at only four years old.

Dogs have figured prominently in both my mysteries. Now that my husband and I share our home only with two cats, I expect cats to play a stronger role in my fiction. (Photograph by Hot Shot Photos in Albany)

12 thoughts on “In memory of dogs loved and lost

    • Thanks for your kind thoughts, Alexis. Lucky was a sweetheart, as was our first golden, Shawna, whom we enjoyed for many years.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. It’s especially hard for my daughter’s family because her husband died unexpectedly last summer, and it’s bound to stir up the pain of that loss. But I hope and trust they’ll be getting a new dog before too long.

      BTW I just commented on your post before reading your comment here. What are we doing at the computer on a beautiful June afternoon?

  1. I am sorry for your family’s loss. I’ve had to stand in the waiting room as our guinea pig and house rabbit were put to sleep by the vet. The passings of even those small creatures were hard. I felt as though the entire universe were just hurtling onward with no regard for the life that was disappearing. Wordsworth wrote a poignant poem, “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways,” which is relevant here.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Therese. I will definitely look up the poem.

    Although I wasn’t there for Sequoia’s passing yesterday, it would probably have been harder for me to remain in the waiting room when Rishi, Shasta and Lucky were put to sleep. It’s a gentle, humane process, and none of the dogs suffered; at least that’s how it looked, although of course we can never be totally sure. The animal is given a powerful tranquillizer preceding the final injection, and the passing appears very peaceful.

    For anyone faced with this agonizing decision, I recommend being there to stroke and reassure the animal during the transition. It helped for me, at any rate.

  3. Pets can be family, so condolences from me to you and yours. I have always had pets since a young child including cats, dogs, parrots, fish, and guinea pigs and its easy to become attached to them.

    Many famous authors are photographed with their pets on their dust covers. Dean Koontz immediately comes to mind.

    Have a great week.

    – Steve Tremp
    Breakthrough Blogs

    • Yes, I like Dean Koontz’s cover photos as well – he often includes a golden. And he wrote a wonderful short book from the viewpoint of his golden retriever, though I can’t recall the title right now. I like his writing too!

  4. My heartfelt condolences on your daughter’s loss and the loss of that beautiful Golden. My husband and I lost our beloved Tibetan Spaniel about a month ago, and there is still a huge hole in our heats. Our papillon, Luca (aka His Lordship of Eternal Cuteness, Light of a Thousand Suns) is bereft too.


    • Thanks for your kind thoughts, Beth, and my condolences on your loss. I hope the hurt will lessen with time for you, your husband and Luca.

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