When I first posted here a couple weeks back, some of you remembered that I used to post here a long time ago – 2008 actually. And a couple of you even remembered that I had a dog at the time – a Black Labrador Retriever named Charlotte. Well, I’m happy to report that she still exists and is doing well. Of course, “well” is relative nowadays. In 2008, she was just 6 years old, completely active, and a handful. A couple of weeks ago, she passed the 14.5 year mark.

Like everyone, I’ve gone through some shit. For 14 years, this girl has been with me through it all. She’s been the constant in my life – from a divorce, to dating, to marrying again. I used to always tell people what a wonderful dog she is – especially a friend at work who had to remind me that I wasn’t the only one who loved my dog. Sometimes I think we love our own pets so much that we forget that other people have them and love them just as much!

Charlotte at the vet. She’s not happy. She’s scared shitless.

Of course, she’s the one going through stuff now. At 14+, which is pretty much two-years past the due date for a lot of Labs, she’s experiencing the same things all old dogs and people experience. Mostly mobility issues. There was a time a year back when she would pace the house late at night, panting and seeming distressed. We discovered that she was pretty much deaf and, of course, at night she became deaf and blind. So leaving a light on for her in the living room really helped. She has a bit of arthritis in her front shoulders, but not enough to bother her too much, and easily controlled with pain medication. It’s her back legs I worry about most. They’re giving out, pretty quickly actually. We don’t go for walks anymore, but we do go to the courtyard a couple times a day. I sometimes have to carry her there, but not usually. She just finds the sunniest spot and lays there. We’ve put carpet runners throughout the condo so she doesn’t slip on the hardwood floors. And one sofa cushion is always left off so there’s 4-5 inches less between her and a comfortable place to lay down.

We’ve had to stop traveling together so one of us can stay home and take care of her. My cousin lives in Atlanta and lost his old Lab a couple years ago, and even though he would take her in a heartbeat, we don’t want to put the responsibility on him to make a difficult decision if it comes up. We also don’t want to stress Charlotte out by being in a less familiar home.

It’s been hard for us, but we don’t question it. It just is.

It’s heartbreaking for me to know that this will almost certainly be the year we we have to let our girl go. She’s still completely sharp mentally, but her body just isn’t lasting as long as her brain. I made her a promise when she was little that I would never keep her alive just to make me happy, and I intend to keep that promise, sad as it will be. But for now, I think she’s OK. The vet seems to think so, too. Still, we chatted about the “right time” and I think it’ll be here sooner rather than later. Until that time, I am going to enjoy the hell out of her!

It’s hard to believe she went from this:

Charlotte as a baby

to this:

Charlotte at Lake Lanier in Atlanta this summer

I don’t think I will ever feel the same way about a person as I have about Charlotte. Bet I’m not the only one. Anyway, this was not meant to be a depressing post. I actually feel exceptionally lucky and happy to have had more than 14 years with her. She’s honestly made my life infinitely more full.

Happy Friday!

79 replies
  1. 1
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Another good old soul gone, yet Cheney still lives.

    Michael, my sympathies…and happiness, in that Charlotte so illuminated your life.

  2. 2
    Humdog says:

    Really the only bad thing about pets is their life span means we have to keep saying goodbye throughout our lives. The pain is worth the enrichment they give our lives, but it gets hard to remember that as the time comes to make the most difficult call. BTW, my only regrets have been when I feared I made the call a touch too early.

    Best wishes to you and Charlotte.

  3. 3

    @Villago Delenda Est: She’s still alive! Don’t write her off yet!!

  4. 4
    Chat Noir says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Another good old soul gone, yet Cheney still lives.

    That’s exactly how I felt in 2014 when I had to put my two feline angels down three months apart (actually, I still feel that way). It was the sign that told me there is no god.

    Thank you, Michael, for the lovely tribute to the lovely Charlotte. Our fur babies are the best.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    Beautiful girl. Hope you and she enjoy all the time left together.

    @Villago Delenda Est: Hey! The pup is still with us.

    Cheney too, albeit regrettably.

  6. 6
    Kristine says:

    Thanks for this. A lovely story.

    I hope you have more time with Charlotte. My guys let me know when it was time. I think she will too.

    This is the time when you recall how tiny they once were, and wonder where the years went.

  7. 7
    Sab says:

    Does she like car rides? I had to get a hammocks thingy to keep my 15 year old labbish from pooping on the car seat, but she does love riding around with her nose out the back window. My old girl has the same problem. Her back end just doesn’the work all that well.

  8. 8
    p.a. says:

    Good girl! Also too, dogs like reggae.

  9. 9
    the Conster, la Citoyenne says:

    So incredibly sweet. The love of my life is a cat named Woody, who lives for full body contact with me after a long day of being separated by my work. He’s been like that since he came in from the cold as a feral kitten, 12 years ago. I too will not allow him to suffer when the time comes which I can’t even think about.

  10. 10
    Yarrow says:

    She’s adorable. May you enjoy all the time you have left together as much as possible.

  11. 11

    @p.a.: Hahaha! I heard this on CBS this morning. Soft rock, too, apparently!

  12. 12

    I’m two years into the reign of Bixby and I, too, think of the future. So big, so present, so bossy, but having been this route before, I know there will come a time , too soon, when he’d rather sleep than play, so I enjoy every moment now with him and Bailey.

    Such a beautiful puppy you have, thanks for sharing her photos and story. Look forward to more as your journey together continues.

  13. 13
    rikyrah says:

    What a beautiful tribute.

  14. 14

    Very moved by your post, Michael. The reality that we can’t help but love them to pieces, and then we have to let them go, is hard.

  15. 15
    laura says:

    The end always comes too soon with our companion animals. It’s a high price to pay for unconditional love, occasional inconvenience and a fierce insistence that it’s always NOW!
    Our animal friends make us better people.
    It’s a debt that cannot be repaid, but trying to live up to their opinion of us is a many-splendored thing.
    Good dog Charlotte.

  16. 16
    LAO says:

    Boy, does this post make me feel like a jerk. Just this morning I questioned exactly why I adopted a now 10 month old puppy — in the last week (1) she destroyed her 7th dog bed (2) cost me $400 in vet bills (3) puked all over my bed (4) ate my favorite jeans and (5) created a new game called, “look at me carrying my full water bowl.”

    Now, I know — part of this is a lack of exercise because of the injured paw, which is now healed — but, it’s a good thing she’s so cute.

  17. 17
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Such a lovely post. I love that BJ commenters love and adore their pets. They keep us happy and sane. Charlotte is gorgeous and I hope she has many more good days to come.

    @Villago Delenda Est: Argh about Cheney. Thought he had a bad heart.

  18. 18
    cosima says:

    We have a much-loved black lab in our house, too, and a much-loved Charlotte — but they are not the same… Our brother & sister beagle pair died about 8 years ago now, and it took us until last summer to decide that we were ready to go down that happy/sad road again. But our Lola the Lab is a lover, and definitely already a firm member of the family. We’ve had several dogs, but none as loving as Lola. It could be because we’ve always had pairs, so our dogs had each other as much (or more) than they had us, but Lola, a singleton, thinks she’s one of us. If I am hugging Charlotte, or she’s sitting with me, Lola comes over to be included — every single time. She’s post-op right now, and not up to much exercise, but she’s great company walking the forests when she’s well.

  19. 19

    @LAO: When Charlotte was a puppy, we put $400 worth of wallpaper on our wall and left for the day. We didn’t re-attach the baseboards. We were saving that till we got home.

    When we got home, we discovered that the little $%^&* grabbed the loose bottoms of the wallpaper and tore strips of it off – all along the entire wall. $400 down the toilet. She also destroyed my partner’s great grandmother’s chair.

    You will laugh at all this someday.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Michael Demmons: Ooops.


  21. 21
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Michael Demmons: She’s gotten better since then, obviously.

  22. 22
    Miss Bianca says:

    @LAO: I understand how you feel! Siberian Husky puppies are the ne plus ultra of chewy destructiveness, a fact I had conveniently forgotten/blanked out when I undertook to get a new one after my Sovay died – she who I had raised from an eight-week-old till she died at the age of 14. (and damn…I still miss that girl so much. I adore Luna to pieces, and in some ways she is a more easily loveable girl – more Princess than Queen – but I will never, ever lose that Sovay-sized hole in my heart). Shoes, car upholstery (including seat belts in the back seat, which I still haven’t got round to replacing), anything…

    She’s five now, so she’s mellowed out with the destructo tendencies somewhat, but I still have to take her everywhere with me if the alternative is that she’s going to be alone for more than an hour or so – and since she can tear her way out of her crate, crating is not an option! BORED HUSKY NOT GOOD.

  23. 23
    dexwood says:

    Thanks, Michael. Thanks Charlotte.

    “My sunshine doesn’t come from the skies, it comes from the love in my dog’s eyes.” Unknown

  24. 24
    HeidiMom says:

    You have a beautiful dog, and you’re giving her a beautiful life.

  25. 25
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Michael Demmons:

    Charlotte is a beauty. You have made her life very happy.

  26. 26
    Larkspur says:

    @Michael Demmons:

    …$400 down the toilet….

    Jeez, for a second I took that literally: she tore off the wallpaper and created a flood when she pushed it into the toilet. But she’d have had to move the handle, and maybe that’s a hard thing for dogs to do. I’m sure it’s been done, though.

    @LAO: Glad to hear your pup is recovering nicely. Did you tell the story of how you ended up getting her to the vet? Carrying or Pet Transport? I may have missed the story.

  27. 27
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Charlotte was an adorable puppy who grew up to be a beautiful dog.

  28. 28
    Eric NNY says:

    I’m going through the same thing with my Grace who turns 17 on Feb. 2nd. It’s sad watching her body going downhill, but she’s had a good long life. My Emma is only 6 and she has bone cancer like Walter. It’s not going to be a happy year in our houshould this year, but I try to take solace in the fact that we gave these rescue pups a good life and they were happy.

  29. 29
    Another Scott says:

    @LAO: :-)

    On the way home from one of Sophie’s puppy training classes, within a month or so of when we got her, she decided that she wanted to jump out of our moving car to chase a squirrel that was across the street. The leash was still attached to the shift lever. By the time I realized what was happening and started to yell “NO!” she was hanging by the side of the car… I stopped as quick as I could, but her left front leg got some abrasion against the rear tire. I jumped out and she was howling pitifully, doing pirouettes in the street while holding her front leg up.

    I picked her up and we immediately drove to an emergency vet (it was Saturday after our regular vet closed).

    They did surgery on her to somehow fix a cut thingy (tendon? ligament?). There went $1800? Something like that. :-/

    She hobbled around on it for a few weeks until it fully healed.

    Once she got out before she fully healed and tried to run down the sidewalk to give a neighbor dog a piece of her mind. Even on 3.5 legs she was pretty quick. It was kinda funny to see her trying to run, like one of her legs was 4 inches shorter than the other, but she was determined!

    Enjoy her puppy days. They’ll be over before you know it. :-)


  30. 30
    RoonieRoo says:

    A beautiful post and it made me hug my lab Isaac, the little shit. He turns 4 years old in March and all I can do is hope we all survive until he decides he’s an adult lab. Apparently we aren’t there yet.

  31. 31
    The Moar You Know says:

    Word for word you’re living through my 2013, my last year with our dear Hannah.

    Her back legs did the same thing you’re describing (it’s a result of spinal compression and it happens to big dogs, especially labs and shepherds a lot) and then September 04, 2013, her right front leg gave out and that was the end. We had her put down right at noon, sunny beautiful day on the front lawn where she always liked to hang out and watch the neighborhood.

    I have a new dog now, in many ways her polar opposite (raised from a puppy Golden Retriever, which is a good way for YOU to age prematurely, he is a trial but I love him dearly) but damn if there’s not a day that doesn’t go by where I don’t think about her. Miss her terribly.

  32. 32
    Yoda Dog says:

    My beagle, Audrey, is ten years old and going in for surgery next month to remove a tumor and repair a torn ACL. No idea how she tore her ACL, one second she was running around fine, the next she’s limping in obvious pain. It was right after the election and I just wanted to give up, my poor dog was the last straw.

    But we’re better now, she’s doing much better with her leg and I’m so thankful we can afford this surgery. She’s been with us since ’06 and she means everything to us.

    All the best to you and Charlotte. She is a beautiful girl.

  33. 33
    Pogonip says:

    @LAO: Are you fencing her off or tying her up when no one’s able to supervise her? If not, start today; most of that stuff she shouldn’t have been able to get to in the first place. I know crating is fashionable these days because it makes it convenient for working people to get a dog, but I don’t recommend it because I would not want to spend 10 hours a day in a cage barely big enough for me to turn around.

  34. 34
    LAO says:

    It’s good to know that I’m not alone. I had conveniently forgotten how destructive puppy can be.

    @Larkspur: She hopped herself there on three legs! Dragging me all the way. How a 27 lbs pound mutt has that much pull is a mystery to me.

  35. 35
  36. 36

    @The Moar You Know: I know I am going to miss her too. But unlike you, I am never getting another dog. Although I am SO glad I’ve had these years with Charlotte, I simply was ignorant of what I was getting myself into. I never thought about end of life issues at that time. Now it’s all I can think of.

    I think I am as good of a dog owner as anyone has been, but I don’t think I’m cut out, emotionally, to do it again.

  37. 37

    @Yoda Dog: If it makes you feel any better, Charlotte tore her ACL when she was 5 or 6 and it was bad. They put a titanium rod in to replace something or another. She hasn’t had an issue with it since.

    I’m glad I had health insurance for her at the time!!

  38. 38
    LAO says:

    @Yoda Dog: Good luck to your pup.

    @Pogonip: I live in NYC — she is crated when I’m not home. (She’s never there for longer than 3 hours — have a dog walker twice a day). She tends to take advantage of shower time. I used to leave the bathroom door open, but then Maggie just comes in and steals the bath mat. It’s amazing how much damage she can do in 10 minutes.

  39. 39
    The Moar You Know says:

    created a new game called, “look at me carrying my full water bowl.”

    @LAO: HAHAHAHAHAHA oh fuck that is not a good game. I’m sorry but I’m laughing with tears coming out my eyes. I feel for you.

    Pretty sure your pup is old enough, obedience classes are in order. You and pup will be happier for it. Any obedience classes are fine with the following caveats: no hitting/kicking the dog (chuck under the chin is OK) , no “hanging” the dog by the leash. Most do positive reinforcement anyway, but some dogs REQUIRE the potential for negative as well (I have one, we have to do it rarely, but when he gets “bitey” that is just one thing you can’t allow as it will eventually get your dog killed).

  40. 40
    LAO says:

    @Michael Demmons:

    I think I am as good of a dog owner as anyone has been, but I don’t think I’m cut out, emotionally, to do it again.

    I said the same thing. Maggie’s predecessor Garbo, was simply the GREATEST DOG EVER! 15 years later — I was ready (or so I thought).

  41. 41
    debbie says:

    I don’t care what people here say. Labs are brilliant and compassionate.

  42. 42
    LAO says:

    @The Moar You Know: Now I’m crying — Maggie is trained! $300 for 5 classes and daily practice since she graduated. Occasionally, she remembers that she is not a pure bred beagle and will respond to the clicker. I’m think of agility classes because she is very physical and agile.

  43. 43
    The Moar You Know says:

    I don’t recommend it because I would not want to spend 10 hours a day in a cage barely big enough for me to turn around.

    @Pogonip: You are making a horrendous mistake here in anthropomorphizing the dog. His needs for physical space are totally different than yours. Now, you don’t want to put a dog in a crate that’s too small (they should be able to fully stand and turn around but not much larger) and it’s not OK to leave him in it all day (Guide Dogs, who we raise for, has a four-hour maximum during the day, and not every day) but ours sleeps in his every night and prefers that to anything save The Forbidden Zone, AKA my bed.

    Crating is a valuable tool. Use them. You need all the tools you can get.

  44. 44
    Paul B. says:

    Dogs lives are so short because theirs is life perfected.

  45. 45
    Rob Lll says:

    What a beautiful girl, and what a great life you’ve given her. It’s so hard when you lose them, but the grief is more than balanced out by the love and joy they bring to you. We lost our wonderful Akita/Border Collie mix in 2014 at the age of 18 years, 11 months. It crushed my heart but there isn’t a day now that I don’t think about her and smile. May you enjoy the time you have remaining with Charlotte.

  46. 46
    dexwood says:

    @Michael Demmons:
    I’ve said that a few times over the decades. Between Christmas 2007 and June 2008, I lost two, great elderly dogs. I told my wife no more, I can’t go through this again, it’s too painful. Six weeks after the death of the second dog I adopted Dexter, a fantastic Golden Retriever who helped make our lives whole again. I simply hated coming home to an empty house, to the hole I felt. We added two more small dogs over the next couple of years. I lost Dexter to bone cancer a year ago, but I am thoroughly, happily, owned by the other dogs Dexter helped me train. Never say never, or so I hear.

  47. 47
    oklahomo says:

    We have 2 short-tailed cats rescued long ago as kittens. These sisters are now 24, so they’ve been around for almost half of my life. One was just diagnosed with bone cancer, so it won’t be much longer; but they’ve had a good long life.

  48. 48
    MomSense says:


    I confess your post made me laugh but only because my dog ate my couch and a bunch of walls her first year – not to mention shoes, accessories, all the pencils, every one of her dog beds, and much much more. I tell her all the time it’s a good thing she is so beautiful or she would be on the other side of town (the place I threaten to drive her when she is bad) by now.

    Michael, my lab lived to be 14 and looking back I really treasure those last few months. I still tear up when I remember my son carrying him upstairs to bed his last night with us.

  49. 49
    Yoda Dog says:

    @Michael Demmons: I bet. This surgery is not cheap. But well worth it for my baby girl. We’re hoping, according to the vets, to get 3-4 more good years.

    I’m not getting another dog either, totally with you there. Maybe one day many years from now I’ll change my mind. The end is just too much for this old softy to bear.

  50. 50
    Yoda Dog says:

    @LAO: Thank you. Good luck with that pup. I been there too, Audrey was quite the little terror as a puppy. :)

  51. 51
    The Moar You Know says:

    Although I am SO glad I’ve had these years with Charlotte, I simply was ignorant of what I was getting myself into. I never thought about end of life issues at that time. Now it’s all I can think of.

    I think I am as good of a dog owner as anyone has been, but I don’t think I’m cut out, emotionally, to do it again.

    @Michael Demmons: It’s fucking brutal. I don’t deny that. I had cats most of my life before taking the plunge late in life and getting married to my wife and Hannah (marry a woman with a dog and it’s just like marrying a woman with kids, they’re yours now!). Cat or dog, it’s been all the same and Hannah was the fourth I’ve had to put down from old age. My father, who spent his life with me being an emotional blank wall, came over the day after and very kindly told me “there are some things that will leave a black scar on your heart for the rest of your life and this is one of them.” You could have picked my jaw up off the floor. He is right, of course, but the last person I expected to hear that from was him. Just a sign of how deep this cuts people. He’s had dogs too. He knows.

    I consider it a privilege and enormous responsibility to look after an animal in their old age and insure that they depart in grace, dignity, and lack of pain. And that sense of a job well done and of sparing your friend the horror of a “natural death” is about the only payback you get as you find yourself crying in your truck six months after the fact.

    So we have a new one, and there will probably be another after that, and then that really will be that because I’ll be in my late seventies by then and I REFUSE to die and leave a dog to be “disposed of” by someone else as that’s my job, my responsibility, the promise I make to them all. I will be there at the end.

  52. 52
    Miss Dashwood says:

    You and Charlotte have more time to treasure each other and make more special moments. I lost two of my minature schauzers from old age complications within a year of each other and, like Charlotte, they stayed and loved until they let me know they were ready. I never once regretted a single thing given up to stay with them and love them through the rough spots and I held them and loved them at the end. So for now, I send healing love to Charlotte that her days be pain-free and filled with love and hugs to you because I know what you are going through.

  53. 53
    raven says:

    We’re not in the same place with Bohdi and Lil Bit yet but, as a friend said, they are on the other side of the hill. Many of you know I’ve gotten a big doggie push cart and have been walking them for half of our normal 2 miles every morning. We all do what we can but letting them go is the worst and best thing we do,

  54. 54
    MelissaM says:

    That dog by the lake is one damn happy dog! May she last longer than you think.

  55. 55
    petesh says:

    The avatar I use on sites that show them is a picture of the best (OK, equal best) dog in the universe, Maddie the yellow Lab, who was 13 as she developed the kind of symptoms you describe but retained her lovely (and occasionally just a little naughty) nature. She passed away peacefully in her sleep one morning — awake when I made the coffee, gone when I went for a second cup. I wish us all a passing like that. The geranium we planted on her grave in the front yard is flourishing.

  56. 56
    Mobile says:

    I have a thirteen year old rottie I picked up on the side of a Virginia country road when she was a pup. I have two other dogs with a similar provenance. About two years ago my rottie’s hip dysplasia, which she has had issues with since I found her, started acting up. I thought this was going to be the beginning of the end. At the time, her vet prescribed rimadyl and gabapentin, to which I added fish oil supplements, CoQ10 and glucosamine chondroitin. The affects were remarkable. Today, she is an active and happy pup, going up and down the stairs displaying limited discomfort. I mention this, thinking of Walter, Charlotte and other dogs mentioned on this blog who are having hip issues.

  57. 57
    MazeDancer says:

    Wonderful post. It is quite needed these days to remember how much love there is in the world.

    Grief doesn’t happen without the big love. We all know that. But the grief gets so piercingly crammed into a compressed time – as they leave us. And it’s so hard to remember the longer stretch of so much love.

    Been thinking adopting Senior Pets may in some ways be a healthy alternative for people who can’t bear to “go through this again”. Yet, don’t like living with no animals.

    Senior Pets, especially those whose people have died before them, or, like Walter, got abandoned, are so grateful for your efforts. You can know you brought light and goodness into the world. And when they die, you can just be grateful they got to have some joy. Different kind of emotional investment. Still painful, but you know you helped make the world a better place. And got to pet some sweet, furry heads, too.

    I may be naive is this theory. And since cats continually just show up, the day may never come when there are no pets around to be able to adopt some Seniors.

    Many hugs and great appreciation to Michael and Charlotte and to all who have helped animals and have faced, or are facing, the pain of their loss. Everyone here knows how you feel, and sends heartfelt support.

  58. 58

    I’ve taken considerable moral improvement in recent decades from the company of dogs simply by attempting to live up to their opinion of me. One of the factors in my decision to retire this fall rather than two years from now (my originally contemplated timetable) was the desire to spend as much time as possible with my big Tamaskan, who’ll turn ten at year’s end.

  59. 59
    eclare says:

    @Miss Bianca: I keep looking for the “off” switch on my dog, who is now 7 or 8. Still a destructive chewer. One thing that has helped somewhat is putting her on anxiety meds, Trazodone. I give her one before I leave to go to work, and it seems to work. Don’t like drugging her, but if that is the only option to destructive, anxious, and bored, I’ll take it.

  60. 60
    sherparick says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: She’s not dead yet. Just a little slower getting around. Again, as I am doing with my 18 or 19 year old cat, I just try to live with them in the moment, right now, and enjoy the love.

  61. 61
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    Currently dogless, but our last and perhaps best dog was our black/chocolate mix, Cinnamon (named after the color of the highlights that only showed up in bright sunlight). She was a compact powerful bundle of muscle who declined very suddenly after 14, got paralyzed in both back legs.

    All the good qualities of a lab and none of the bad ones. She sold us on labs forever. We got her from the shelter about age 3, and she never was a chewer-of-household-objects the way so many young labs are.

  62. 62

    @MazeDancer: We’re actually thinking about this. I used to volunteer at the Atlanta Humane Society. Everyone wants a puppy. I used to take the older dogs out to the dog run for 20-30 minutes at a time. If we do get another dog, we’re thinking we can give neglected older dogs a year of happy life before they go. If we do this again, that’s what we want to do.

  63. 63
    greennotGreen says:

    My former vet (before I moved) had a good guide for when to make the decision to let a pet go. Does the animal eat well and can it find its water? Does it get up (not necessarily out) to pee and poop? (Of course, for a big pet, the “out” would be more important.) Is it comfortable, not in pain? That’s the metric I’m using for my three elderly dogs, one of whom is deaf and very senile. And when you can feel absolutely confidant that you’ve made the right decision at the right time, it makes it a little easier to deal with the loss.

  64. 64
    raven says:

    The Senior Dogs Project
    ………..”Looking Out for Older Dogs” ………..

    “Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”
    – Sydney Jeanne Seward

  65. 65
    J R in WV says:


    My only regrets have been when I waited a little too long. Don’t do that.

    We have had over the past 40+ years had something like nearly 20 rescue cats, and 6 or 7 rescue dogs. Every time I think I’ve listed everyone, then later I remember another. They were all happy, mostly, all the time they lived with us.

    Too many stories, too long to tell briefly. Just don’t wait too long. Congratulations on your great dog, and the wonderful life she had, that you shared a little bit of.

    We’re lucky enough to have a house in the middle of literally thousands of acres of forested hillsides, and our dogs get to course over the hillsides, barking at the deer they wish they could catch. The only critters they actually catch regularly are chipmunks, and I regret that, but there are actually an infinite supply of the little guys in our woods.

    But for dogs who have a need to run, it is a little slice of heaven. We do love our dogs. Same for the cats, they get to skulk in the dark forest, and sometimes even catch a rodent. A couple of times an actual rat! Mostly moles and such. Very rarely a bird, every few years. They get to be wild cats out at night. Even the sedentary ones go out and prowl, pretending to be still the master killer they were 15 years ago. Especially when they’re a little hungry. It’s a good life for our critters out here in the woods.

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    Miss Bianca says:

    @Miss Dashwood: completely o/t, but I can’t resist asking: does your nym refer to Miss Elinor “Sense” Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility fame?

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    The Moar You Know says:

    I’ve done the senior animal adoption thing. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    Back when Air America was a thing, Ed Schulz had his legal adviser, Norman Goldman, on as a substitute DJ one day and I just happened to catch it. I remember all this because I took notes. Dude was a smart guy. The part I just happened to catch was Norman talking about one of his “hobbies” – elderly animal rescue.

    (from my notes of 2007)

    Norman was talking about the two dogs he’d gotten most recently. And then he said something that brought tears to my eyes. He promised both the dogs that no matter what happened, that this would be their “last stop on the train” and that they’d stay with him until the end.

    He also had a great response when people ask him WHY he does this; he tells them “every two years, I need a good cry”. His wife is not a fan of this statement, probably because it’s the brutal truth. Taking on the care of an elderly pet is typically not a decades-long proposition. They stick around just long enough for you to love them, and they come to love you, and then they die.

    It’s also expensive. There are a million reasons not to do it.

    The few good reasons render the reasons not to do it utterly moot. My personal one is this; an animal that has devoted its life to giving love to humans and protecting them deserves a better retirement than being dumped in the doorway of the local humane society. If you’re going to go that route, at least have the courage to have the animal put down yourself, as that’s all a shelter can do with an animal that old.

    In late 2004, I took my lovely kitty Britt into my home. I promised her that this would be the last time she’d have to worry about moving or having the bottom fall out from under her; that her and I would be in it, together, until the end.

    I don’t consider pets any differently than I do kids; you take on that responsibility, you are in it until the day you or they die, thick or thin. Your kids don’t have any other options – neither do your pets, so act accordingly.

    I didn’t have the words then, but thanks to Mr. Goldman today, I do now. My house and my life is there for Britt, all the way until the last stop on the train.

    (Note: less than two months after I wrote this, Britt died in my arms from renal failure. Every day with that cat was a gift and I would do it again in a second. It’s worth it to adopt older animals, folks. Trust me on this.)

    I had Britt for just a bit shy of three years. What I wrote then still totally holds up.

  68. 68
    cosima says:

    If you haven’t seen this video about a man who adopted a rescue dog, you must see it. I cry like a baby over this one, it’s beautiful.

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    Another Scott says:

    @Rand Careaga: Sounds like a great plan.


  70. 70
    vhh says:

    Two days ago, we lost our beautiful Daisy, a Shih-Tzu / Maltese cross at age 15.5 after a valiant effort with wonderful vets to push back against Cushing’s disease and its side effects. We though we were winning until last week, when the roof fell in. Our vet even came to the house to do the necessary so Daisy would not have that frightening trip to the clinic and could pass in peace in our arms.
    For nearly 25 years, as we worked and raised our kids in France, Australia, and the US, we always came home to be greeted by one or more devoted dogs. Our kids are now grown and far away, with dogs of their own, and Daisy was the last link to that part of our lives. In a few months, we will be moving on assignment to Germany, so we cannot get another dog any time soon. Life will just not be the same.

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    Gindy51 says:

    Have you thought about a canine dog cart for her back legs?

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    JosieJ (not Josie) says:

    What a lovely tribute to a beloved companion! I hope you have more time with her than you anticipate.

    @Patricia Kayden:

    Argh about Cheney. Thought he had a bad heart.

    Not any more–he’s had a transplant. Once you get transplanted, you worry about rejection and infection, but your heart problems go away. Of course, before he got transplanted, his heart was on its way out, as I can attest from unfortunately similar personal experience!

  73. 73
    Miss Dashwood says:

    @Miss Bianca: Yes, it does. My Disqus profile even includes a picture of Emma Thompson as Miss Elinor Dashwood. One of Jane Austen’s strong women characters – I strive to be more like Elinor but I’m afraid I’m too much like Elizabeth Bennett in the cheeky department.

  74. 74

    @Gindy51: Hahaha! I wish! If you knew her, you’d know she’d drag herself into a grave before she’d get on something with wheels that wasn’t a car! She’s such a chicken shit dog really! :-)

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    Yoda Dog says:

    @vhh: Very sorry to hear. Rest in peace, Daisy. I had a maltese once and he was the best dog I have ever met in my life. When we would eat at the dinner table, he would bring his food, one bite at a time, in his mouth, over to the table so he could eat with us.

    All the best to you and your’s. Losing them is so very hard. Excuse me, I have to go cry now.

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    @vhh: You know, I think you’ve hit on something for me that I never really thought of before, but always knew. When Charlotte is gone, so will the last link to many important parts of my life since early 2000s.

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    satby says:

    @vhh: condolences on the loss of Daisy vhh. As someone said above, we give our beloved companion animals their version of heaven on earth when we love, care for, and finally say a gentle goodbye. You gave each other great happiness, and that’s what we can take comfort from when we miss them. RIP Daisy.

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    Clem says:

    All the best to you and Charlotte. Cherish every minute and enjoy every picture and video. Been there with you many times and remember them all.

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    SWMBO says:

    My daughter and SIL adopted Chuckie at age 10. He lasted until he was 18 and broke everyone’s heart when he was gone. My husband and I rescued several dogs over the years and we had a pack of 5 for a few years. One by one they passed and in 2010 we started out the year with two of our original 5 and ended the year with 3 entirely different dogs. Two of the three are gone and we’ve added 4 more since then. We’re back to 5 again. We’ve had old rescues and pups as well.

    If you are looking to rescue oldsters, this is the way to go I guess. They do good work and they are committed to the ones they have rescued. They also could use a few shekels every now and again.

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