Sunday, February 17, 2008

Today is Not a Good Day

Did you ever have a great pet? One that fulfilled every family member’s expectations of what a great pet is?

We have one—Alix. A chocolate lab. She’s the type of dog that the kids could pull her ears, or try to ride her, or take her on walks, and she would look at you with those chocolate eyes shining with love. The kids would fight over who got to sleep with Alix each night.

Being a lab she loved the water. We took her up north and she would hardly get out of the lake. At night she would splay out in the middle of the living room, snoring loudly. Exhausted from swimming, splashing and fishing. (Since she refused to put her nose in the water, she wasn’t very good at fishing.)

But Alix is 14 years old. (My oldest child is 15, so you can see all three kids have never known life without her.) And she has not been doing well for the last few months. She has had a few episodes showing her age.

This morning was the worst. Today it is time. So we called the vet at about 11 a.m. and scheduled an appointment for 4:45 p.m. As I type this, we prepare to take Alix in to be put to sleep.

Needless to say, this has not been a good day for the kids. There has been many a tear-filled eye in my house. Nothing will break your heart more than see your 8-year-old drawing a picture of her and “laxe” (my daughter is dyslexic) with great big wet marks on the paper where the tears have dripped off her nose.

Little hard to get excited about the theistic/non-theistic debate right now. Because today has not been a good day…


  1. Sorry to hear that, man. I know how that goes.

  2. I'm so sorry to hear that. We had to let go of two of our dogs over the last few years (a lab-golden mix who was as gentle as could be and a German Shepherd who thought he was still a puppy), and it's never easy. I do think that in their own ways, both Honey and Hoover were grateful both for the gentle release from their pain but also for rescuing them both and loving them so.

    My thoughts are with your kids, you and your wife in this difficult time.

  3. Thank you, The Barefoot Bum, John and Flycandler.

    It seems…well…stupid to shed a few tears over a dog. There are millions of people—Humans!—who died yesterday; many without a single tear over their passing. What is one dog in that light?

    It is not so much the dog as watching my kids’ hearts break. They truly feel they have lost a family member.

    I was going to entitle this “A funny thing happened on the way to my blog…” Yesterday, I happened across this particularly vitriolic blog entry in which a Christian revels in his God-given right to spew rancid venom at those the Christian deems unworthy, and I was prepared to write something on this evilness within…but then this happened.

    My heart just wasn’t in it—ya know? I am being skewered for being such a horrible, rotten person for daring (gasp!) to support homosexuals, and all this horrible, rotten person wanted to do was lighten his kids’ hearts just a bit from intense pain.

  4. Sorry to hear about your dog. I've had to put down two cats, one when my daughter was only two years old, but the second one last year when she was 5. The first one she really didn't "get". But last year she definitely did.

    Your feelings definitely aren't "stupid." You're a father. You love your children. Enough said.


  5. I have a yellow lab we all love! She is 13 years old and slowing down fast. My 9 year old will have the hardest time when the time comes to make the same decision.

    I'm very sorry for your loss. Sometimes dogs are a better comfort than people!

    Pastor Rob

  6. If you don't mind my telling a little story (as southerners are wont to do)...

    As I was dealing with some heartache related to my coming out to my parents earlier in the year, I came home from my summer job one rainy afternoon to see a tiny orange and white ball of fluff waiting to meet me. I named the kitten Neesha, and she was so tiny (we think she was separated from her mother) that she couldn't even eat her kitten food til we softened it up for her. She was so tiny she was able to curl up in the sole of my foot while I was lying on my stomach reading a book.

    Neesha grew up, following me from home to college and back and then on to my own apartments, just as sweet as she could be. We moved to an historic (read, old) apartment with great views of the dog park and my neighbor's bird feeder. We were doing well, my baby girl and me.

    In early 2006, I was at work when I caught sight of an apartment fire on the news. The camera pulled back, and I saw my and my neighbor's apartments in flames. I jumped in my car and sped toward my apartment. My sister, who had just graduated college and was still at home, came to meet me. Two cats were brought out from lower floors, neither of them was Neeshee. I stood there blubbing into my sister's arms in the worst few hours of my life so far. Afterwards, I wandered over to my pastor's house (she was recovering from ankle surgery) and spoke with her a while. While I was doing so, one of the ladies in the church (which I had only joined about 10 months earlier) called me on my cellphone, saying she saw me on TV and wanted to know if I was ok. That was one of the more touching moments in my life so far, as were all the hugs, kind words, and even cards I received on Sunday.

    I went back a couple days later, and my dad and I searched the rubble. We never found any remains or her collar & tags, and the door looked like it was untouched when it was kicked in by the firefighters. We put up signs and laid some traps, but no luck. I like to think that she wandered into the yard of some old lady who's taking good care of her now (it's my tragedy, I can deal with it how I like).

    It's been two years, and it still hurts like hell.

    No moralizing here. No great theological pronouncements. No scripture references or quotes from Calvin or Barth.

    Just empathy.

    I'll be thinking about you and yours.

  7. Damn Dag,

    I'm sorry.

    Sure, there are lots of "humans" who died yesterday...but they haven't been a part of your family for the last 14 years. They haven't slept with or played with your kids for 14 years. Life can be hard. Death sucks. I am sorry for your pain and your families pain...a new puppy might help?

  8. Gentle hugs & warm thoughts for all of you.

  9. I had a chocolate lab a few years back, and their ability to love and forgive is simply amazing. It really drives the point home of "May I be the person my dog thinks I am."

    Perhaps part of what you're grieving is losing that lens, in a way? Most of our pets, when they look at us, don't see all of the flaws, or how tired you are, or anything bad going on. They just see this shiny great person.

    I don't mean that in a selfish way, of you're just upset because now you can't hide or anything. You've simply lost a family member who just accepted you, with no strings. Even if the acceptence is coming from a pet, it still can do wonders. And your children probably treasured this aspect of Alix even more.

    And the dog probably brought out the best in you and your family.

    I'm sorry.

  10. Sad to hear about your loss and how it has effected everyone in your household...I think we all know how loss feels and it stings a little. I am hoping that all is well for everyone and that the next few days help in the healing process.

  11. DagoodS,

    To clarify, it's obvious you know why you're grieving, based on the post. My "psychoanalysis" was a result of one of your responses about how lots of humans have died, and you're grieving over a dog.

  12. Again, thank you all for your kind comments.

    Ten Minas Ministries – you are right—it is just hard parenting.

    Rob’s rants – having done this, all I can say is there is no good way to prepare for it.

    flycandler, your story was fine. I wasn’t writing this blog entry for any precise theological point. It is just a fact of living these things happen. Your comment was spot on.

    paul, we had discussed getting a new dog “when it happens”…but right now it seems too early.

    OneSmallStep – I understood what you meant.

    SocietyVs, I see you went over to the vicious blog. Be prepared to wear your flame-proof underwear!

  13. So sorry. :(

    And it's not stupid to love other creatures, whatever species they belong to. We're all just part of the continuum of life.

  14. December 23, 1991 - Max Junior the French standard poodle didn't make it through the night. I remember the feeling. My condolescences to you.

    One good-natured dog is a better companion than a dozen brilliant humans.