One reason why I miss my dog…

Three months ago, our dog Echo died a mere three weeks after we discovered a tumor on her flank. That tumor turned out to be hemangiosarcoma and was already widely metastatic. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but amazingly it has. My wife and I still miss her–a lot.

Now GruntDoc reminds me why, as he links to the return of an Air Force serviceman after 14 months away from home:

Dammit. Where’s my Kleenex®?

I miss those greetings, particularly when Echo used to talk to me in that bizarre bark/howl that reminded me of a combination of Scooby-Doo and Chewbacca. It was almost as though she was scolding me for being away. Maybe she was, but she was always happy and excited to see me or my wife. She always forgave us for leaving her alone. Even now, I still half expect to hear that greeting as I slip my key in the door lock and open the door to my all too frequently silent house.


  1. #1 anjou
    October 15, 2008

    My Dog died about a year ago…I got a new pup recently and I often slip and call her by by old dogs name– yeah, I miss her too.

    The new pup is wonderful- its nice to have a dog in the house again. Hmm, it will be nicer when she stops chewing everything….

  2. #2 Bee
    October 15, 2008

    I’ve been passing that video along to friends for a week or two. Needs tissues to watch, if you love dogs.

    Glad you got a new pup. Yes, the chewing on stuff is a pain, but then there’s all the good bits. I remember our good dog (still missed, two years and more) when she was a pup – big round eyes pleading to be helped onto the couch, big puppy paws on the edge. Then when you weren’t looking, she’d jump up by herself, easy as pie.

    I hadn’t had a dog of my own before, and had no idea at all how really smart they are – she was a constant learning experience, a beautiful companion.

  3. #3 The Perky Skeptic
    October 15, 2008

    Dogs are so great! My condolences on your loss. We haven’t had one in a long time (my son’s afraid of them– he is such a cat person!), and I miss having a canine companion.

  4. #4 Phoenix Woman
    October 15, 2008

    Look at the tails on those guys! Wagging so fast they’re blurring!

  5. #5 Annie
    October 15, 2008

    Since so many people are being forced to abandon their dogs, why don’t you consider adopting one or two now?

    While there is never any replacement for a dog, there is the reward of having another in your life again.

    Maybe it’s time to consider the possibility.

    I used to have a sanctuary for senior and special needs animals, and I can’t tell you how going to crowded shelters and pulling the animals from the kill holding pens lifted the workers’ morale, not to mention the animals.

    From my own experience, may I especially suggest adopting animals who aren’t considered “adoptable” due to age or disfigurements? My blind, three legged, deaf, arthritic, nobby, toothless and tail-less critters were also the kindest, most playful, joyful, comic, conniving and interesting. They’ve already learned to adapt, and they develop, shall I say, “talents” to amuse and amaze.


  6. #6 Joseph T Major
    October 15, 2008

    Argus the while,
    Ulysses’ dog, uplifted where he lay
    His head and ears erect. Ulysses him
    Had bred long since, himself, but rarely used,
    Departing, first, to Ilium. Him the youths
    In other days led frequent to the chace
    Of wild goat, hart and hare; but now he lodg’d
    A poor old cast-off, of his Lord forlorn,
    Where mules and oxen had before the gate
    Much ordure left, with which Ulysses’ hinds
    Should, in due time, manure his spacious fields.
    There lay, with dog-devouring vermin foul
    All over, Argus; soon as he perceived
    Long-lost Ulysses nigh, down fell his ears
    Clapp’d close, and with his tail glad sign he gave
    Of gratulation, impotent to rise
    And to approach his master as of old.
    Ulysses, noting him, wiped off a tear
    Unmark’d, and of Eumæus quick enquired.
    I can but wonder seeing such a dog
    Thus lodg’d, Eumæus! beautiful in form
    He is, past doubt, but whether he hath been
    As fleet as fair I know not; rather such
    Perchance as masters sometimes keep to grace
    Their tables, nourish’d more for shew than use.
    To whom, Eumæus, thou didst thus reply.
    He is the dog of one dead far remote.
    But had he now such feat-performing strength
    As when Ulysses left him, going hence
    To Ilium, in one moment thou shouldst mark,
    Astonish’d, his agility and force.
    He never in the sylvan deep recess
    The wild beast saw that ‘scaped him, and he track’d
    Their steps infallible; but he hath now
    No comfort, for (the master dead afar)
    The heedless servants care not for his dog.
    Domestics, missing once their Lord’s control,
    Grow wilful, and refuse their proper tasks;
    For whom Jove dooms to servitude, he takes
    At once the half of that man’s worth away.
    He said, and, ent’ring at the portal, join’d
    The suitors. Then his destiny released
    Old Argus, soon as he had lived to see
    Ulysses in the twentieth year restored.

    Iliad, Book XVII

  7. #7 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    October 15, 2008

    Sitting next to my 12 year old Black lab right now now has advanced lymphoma.

    Friday is the day. Hardest decision I’ve ever made, but it’s the right one.

    I saw that video earlier and couldn’t watch it.

  8. #8 Orac
    October 15, 2008

    Aw, hell, Rev, I’m really sorry to hear that.

    It was a very hard decision with Echo, too. However, it was made somewhat easier by the grim and rapidly fatal prognosis we knew she had. We decided that the first sign of significant deterioriation it would be time, although we were walking on glass worried that her massively enlarged spleen would burst and she would just collapse and die. The night before we decided, her breathing became fast and labored, and it continued. She looked somewhat better in the morning, but it was a Friday. One thing we decided was that we would not choose a situation where we would have to take her to an emergency room to have it done, and I didn’t think she’d make it through the weekend without a serious decompensation.

    So we decided to do it that Friday. I had already checked out a couple of vets that would do house calls, and fortunately one of them was available. I blew out of work by noon, and we took care of Echo. She died at home peacefully. I’m convinced that we timed it as well as humans could, given the rapid progression of Echo’s cancer.

    Since that Friday afternoon in July, one thing I’ve learned in my admittedly limited anecdotal experience talking to other people who’ve had to make this decision is that none of them think they did it too soon. The only ones who expressed a lot of regret were the ones who felt that they had waited too long and allowed their pet to suffer. I’ve come to the conclusion that when it’s clear that euthanasia is necessary it’s better to take care of it a little “too soon” than too late.

  9. #9 D. C. Sessions
    October 15, 2008

    Our twelve-year-old I-don’t-know-what bitch is slowing down a bit, but she still sheds like a cream-colored champion. By the time she decides to leave us, I think we’ll have enough long silky wool to knit several litters of puppies.

    Care to adopt one? They’re quiet and don’t make much of a mess at all 🙂

  10. #10 SES
    October 15, 2008

    For a long time after our dog Annie died, I would think that I saw her lurking in my peripheral vision. About a year later, we adopted Mr. Will, a rescue dog of the same breed (Bouvier des Flandres). He’s still with us and he sure filled the empty spot that Annie left behind. You’re not really being disloyal Echo by getting a new dog – it’s just an affirmation of how much she meant to you.

  11. #11 Sastra
    October 15, 2008

    Ah, my condolences again on your loss. Although some of your commenters eagerly greet your posts with what sound suspiciously like bizarre bark/howls combining Scooby-Doo and Chewbacca — especially on your “hot” topics — I guess it’s really not the same thing, is it?

  12. #12 Chris H.
    October 15, 2008

    I was going to put in a snide remark about cats, but I recalled that the cat I had in high school would remember me when I went to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas. Plus my son’s cat spent her entire time hiding and attacking the vet-techs while she was being boarded during a vacation, only to become happy and purry when I came to pick her up. It seems that cats do have people preferences, or at least favored servants…;-)

    Now continuing on the sad thing about pets and deployments. After spending time in Vietnam my dad was stationed in Ft. Ord, CA during the mid-1960s (the abandoned neighborhood used by the Mythbusters to demonstrated mad and blind driving is where we lived). Unfortunately a few families would abandon their pets when they moved away.

    My mother could not stand to see animals suffering. Home movies and photos of her as a teenager almost always included her dogs. So at this time our house was a temporary home to a couple of dogs and a cat. Since my mother worked full time and the housing did not include fences, she found homes for the dogs. The cat we kept for a while until the cat became very ill and had to be put down. 🙁

    Sigh, I would love having a dog. When I worked full time it would have been difficult, but now I have a child with very bad fear of dogs. So we have cats (that the kids are supposed to take care of).

  13. #13 Richard
    October 15, 2008

    Who says dogs can’t sense the passage of time?

    Oh yeah, the half bark, half growl greeting. Our previous pooch was Kandy; a corgie / blue heeler mix that would do that when we’d displeased her by staying away too long. That video was great, and it made me go back and read my own entry from the last week of Kandy’s exceptionally long life.

    It’s a sad read to me, three years later, but she was the family dog for fifteen years. It took a while for us to want to get another dog, but it was worth it.

  14. #14 DonZilla
    October 15, 2008

    Rev. BDC, it truly is the right decision. I had to put mine down around the same time as Echo and can tell you fur deprivation is a very real disease. 🙂

    Love, honor, thank.

  15. #15 DVMKurmes
    October 16, 2008

    I still tear up when I think of the dog I had during vet school-he developed a brain tumor about 7 years ago now and I ended up putting him down myself. I was crying my eyes out, but couldn’t let someone else do it-he was my buddy and that was the last thing I could do for him.

  16. #16 LC
    October 16, 2008

    Annie@ – October 15, 2008 5:16 PM “While there is never any replacement for a dog, there is the reward of having another in your life again”.

    This touches on what annoys me most sometimes. After one dog has died people run out and get another and expect it to be a ‘replacement’ for the original (which is also I suspect was the reasoning behind the brief popularity of cloning you pet).

    My Alsatian died in Feb this year (her pancreas started hemorrhaging for some reason, and she want from happy and bouncy to dead in about 1/2 hour, so I was spared the decision of getting her put down), but I wont even think of getting another for some time. I know she can’t ever be replaced, but unconsciously I may try and ‘force’ a new pup to fit into the empty space she left behind – which is neither fair on the pup or myself.

    Maybe once the memory has faded somewhat, so the new dog can form its own habits and personality as opposed to what I want it to be.

  17. #17 Orac
    October 16, 2008

    Actually, we didn’t do this for some of those reasons and because it’s still too early. Maybe next year or the year after, but right now it’s too early to get another dog.

  18. #18 BraneSpace
    October 16, 2008

    Orac –

    This video, as with many others, well drives me to tears. My dog, a golden retriever, died back in December from an osteosarcoma. There can never be a replacement for him. However, that knowledge doesn’t fill the doggy shaped hole in our hearts. We were lucky enough to get a hold of a breeder who knew a breeder who had actually owned the sister of my dog. And so, we are going to be getting, in December, the great-nephew of my dog. No replacement, but another great friend and family member.


  19. #19 Noadi
    October 16, 2008

    My brother is in the Air Force and that’s how his dog reacts when he comes home on leave. Bandit’s getting pretty old now, 13, and I just keep hoping he stays healthy. I know what it would do to my brother if Bandit died while he’s away.

  20. #20 DLC
    October 16, 2008

    I remember the first dog we ever had when I was a child, and all the ones after. I liked the video. That’s the good thing about dogs. a dog that loves you will always be glad you’re home, even if you’ve been gone for a year.

  21. #21 DonZilla
    October 16, 2008

    “This touches on what annoys me most sometimes. After one dog has died people run out and get another and expect it to be a ‘replacement’ for the original . . .”

    LC, I’m afraid I can top that one. When mine became elderly I was getting asked by people while he was still alive, “Did you get another puppy yet?” As if another puppy was a spare tire, or would somehow soften the blow when my old guy went. Idiots.

    The next pup is out there for you, and Orac, and me, somewhere. I just started socializing and putting my name out there with breeders and rescue again, but it’s not a rush. You never know when your next four-legged soulmate will come along.

  22. #22 Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD
    October 17, 2008

    Doggy kisses! Bruised shins from getting beat up by those wagging tails! More doggy kisses! Getting knocked over by both pooches jumping on you at once! More doggy kisses!

    w0000000000t! I’m not even a dog person. (I was scared to death of ’em until I was about 10 and they couldn’t knock me down any more.) But teh happeez iz teh happeez. How could anyone resist that kind of love?

    Seriously, f*** everyone who says you need to get another pet right away to “replace” the old one. No one you love, and who loves you, is ever “replaceable.”

  23. #23 Samantha Vimes
    October 17, 2008

    Condolences again. I had to have my cat put to sleep this morning. A brain lesion had developed to the point where she couldn’t eat or drink and was trembling constantly.

  24. #24 Mad Hussein LOLscientist, FCD
    October 18, 2008

    I’ve lost two wonderful cats to kidney tumors, one 14 years ago and one 24 years ago, and I still think of them both every so often. I have a mental picture of them up in kitty heaven, chasing the souls of fat mice, birds, and squirrels. It always makes me smile even though I don’t believe in such things. 🙂

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