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)