Saltwater Tears

dog fetch

dog fetch (Photo credit: mallix)

I decided that if I cried while swimming in the ocean, it wouldn’t count. I knew there was no logic behind this but it felt like tears would just blend in with salt water. So, while swimming in- between the high green Florida waves, I would cry, sob sometimes, because my dog had died a little more than a week ago.

Many years ago I used to be the kind of person that saw a sympathy card for a dog and I would roll my eyes and think to myself ‘it’s just a dog’ for goodness sake. That was before I ever had a dog. Once I had a dog, who became so ingrained in our family’s lives, things changed. I am grieving the loss of our dog; more emotionally, of course, than the rest of the family.

When I think back on the night before she died I could kick myself. I wasn’t open to receiving her messages like I usually was because I was too upset. But, she told me in the blinks of her eyes that she would be leaving, she was saying good-bye only I wasn’t ready to listen. I know now. Thank you, sweet girl.

Before we took her for surgery I gave her the talk I had given her many times before. I cradled her soft face with my hands and whispered to her my same speech: “You know I love you Callie, I love you so much, we all do but I promise, not to let you suffer. I know you don’t want to suffer pain and I don’t want that for you. I love you too much.” Once I kissed her and nuzzled her she happily went off with the technician at the veterinarian, I didn’t know I would never see her again. I felt optimistic, not a feeling that comes naturally to me.

When the veterinarian called, from surgery, my heart stopped. He had opened my dog up and told me that the mass he had found did indeed turn out to be cancerous. Not only was it cancerous but it had spread to 75 percent of her body. He said “thought what we had said about not wanting her to suffer and this is what he would do personally if she was his dog, he would not wake her up.” I agreed, rationally, as did my husband. In no way, did we want our dog to suffer; I had made a promise to my dog and I was determined to keep it.

After that, reality set in. The healthy looking dog I had cuddled with this morning was dead? How could that be? She had no symptoms at all except for two very quiet little yelps, that I hadn’t even heard, two days before and then she returned to her old,  self. She ate, she played, she climbed up the stairs and jumped on the bed in her usual position right next to me. By moving her neck around she showed me where she wanted to be scratched and I obliged. The only sign that something was different was that for a brief period of an hour or two she wouldn’t look at me and she hid under my husband’s desk and her eyes would not meet mine; she looked away.

I had kept my promise to my dog, I had not let her suffer any pain. I told her how much I loved her and what a great dog she was. I told her how the whole family loved her. All the right things were done. I understand that it was a shock, I understand she is dead. I cannot understand WHY my mind keeps forgetting that when we come home from the airport tomorrow she will not be there, on the other side of the door,  barking and whimpering, eager to welcome us home with her gentle, wet kisses.

I don’t know how to handle that, I think it is just one more thing to get through and yes, I will probably cry.

13 thoughts on “Saltwater Tears

  1. I’ve been trying for a few days to leave a comment, but keep getting blocked by word press.
    Like your grieving for your father and expecting him to be in your world still, you will feel the same about Callie. It’s natural to forget and remember at the same time.
    Like your father, she will always be with you in spirit, and will remain in your heart and soul. Like all loses of someone you love, it takes time to heal from the grief.
    You have written wonderful, heart-felt eulegies (spelling) for both your father and Callie. They are watching over you, I’m sure, even if at times the grief is overpowering, or life seems hard.
    Condolences to you (and your family) on the loss.


  2. Dear Laurie,

    This is beautiful. I don’t know if you know for sure what a gift you gave Callie, but it’s amazing.

    I am deeply sorry for your loss. It was so sudden, so that must be really hard. I didn’t think I could live in my home anymore after my girl Free left, which was on April 4th, 2006. I have azaleas all over my home now, in memory of her. I am remembering our time together.

    This post makes me think of Tiny. Our boy has severe arthritis. His joints are swollen. The doc says I’m doing all I can, but it’s hard. You knew though. In some way, you knew better than I think I do. And I am constantly watching.

    You gave the greatest gift of all without delay so your girl didn’t have to suffer. Again, it is truly amazing. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Bless you, and your heart, with peace, love, and a knowing that your heart will mend in time. Callie will help you with that.


      • Sweet Laurie. My heart breaks for yours. I know it hurts.
        I believe you will see, eventually, the gift you gave Callie. I can’t say too much more, because I promised Free to remember her life, and not the last days. Not my choices to medicate or treat, but her love for rivers and camping and balls. So, I must focus on that.

        You made the most loving choice a human can make for a dog.

        I can tell you that after reading your post I cried for Tiny. I went over and sat with him. Talked to him. Hugged him.

        I do not want him to suffer, or be in pain. Not at all. I know his legs hurt him, but he’s on medication and has a good appetite and wags his tail. He can walk. But he is such a strong dog. He doesn’t show his feelings. Very much like his master.

        I hope and pray, and tell him every day that I want him to let me know if the pain is severe. I hear what the vet says, that he’s okay for now, that many dogs are having a hard time with arthritis in the weather, etc., But I hope I will be as strong as you and that I will know when it is time to give Tiny the gift of my letting go.

        With all my heart, I send you my love, for you and Callie, and your everlasting good memories, and with every tear you cry, I hope you get hugs and love from your husband and your friends.


      • please don’t make me out to be so brave and kind. what could I say? she had cancer that had spread….I don’t think anyone, anyone who has a dog and loves their dog would say “too bad, sew her up so I can play with her for a few more days, weeks, a month?” do you? I knew OUR choice was right for her…..just as I know it will be ok, when we are ready, to get another dog because I know now that I can love another dog when the time is right. He/she won’t be Callie but that’s ok, that’s good. Callie will always be my first dog, the one that grew up with my kids.

        Warm wishes, Laurie



  3. About 3 years after I got sick, I had to give up my cat. We always had cats when I was growing up but Boo was MY cat. We always cuddled when I woke up in the morning before I got out of bed and when I came home the first thing that would happen is we would cuddle some more before I started anything else. It broke my heart when I had to give her up. I couldn’t afford to live on my own any more and had to move in with someone. I couldn’t find a place to live where I could keep her. The day I had to give her up was the one and only time during my illness that I bawled like a baby.

    It is indescribable how attached we become to our fur babies. Even after 9 years I still dream of her. And once in a while, as I’m falling asleep, the comforter will fall just the right way and it feels like she is curling up by my feet again. I know that she’s not there physically, but, who knows. I don’t dismiss it either. It’s still a very comforting feeling after all this time.

    Even though Callie is no longer with you physically, you will have your moments as well. I don’t know how to explain it other than I think it’s something as simple as love knows no bounds.

    Much healing thoughts and hugs to you.



  4. I never imagined how much I would grieve for my dog. Your dog is part of your life, every single day, part of what makes your home a home. Give yourself time. You never “get over” the death, but you learn to accommodate it, and if you allow yourself to grieve when you need to, you also allow yourself to heal.

    The sadness you feel now is proof of your importance to each other. Best wishes to you.


  5. This brought tears to my eyes. I know how you feel. But you did the right thing. Like you said, you loved her too much to let her suffer. She had a happy life and she knew she was loved.
    Something I learned from my mom: every time you get sad because of her absence, think of something really funny you two experienced together. Maybe something silly she did. Any good story that starts with “Remember that time when…” And that will help bring a smile to your face. She wants to see you happy. Be happy, for her.


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