Everything is different now (Synopsis)

“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace.” -Milan Kundera

Many of you have been along on this journey with me for years now. And one of the great joys in my life that I got to share with you -- at least a little bit -- was that of my dog, Cordelia.

Image credit: me. Image credit: me.

You may also have noticed that I didn't do an Ask Ethan this week, I didn't write a Comments of the Week article, and I didn't give you a diversion for this weekend. I hate to share bad news with you, but I have to tell you the truth, too: Cordelia had cancer, and we had to put her down this past Thursday.

Photo credit: Sam from Double Dog Ranch in Rainier, OR. Photo credit: Sam from Double Dog Ranch in Rainier, OR.

If you want to know a little bit about the story of her life -- she was my first dog -- you can read it here. Thanks for understanding.

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I'm sorry. I have had to do that twice, and I know how it hurts. Be well, you and your family. And know that she knew that you loved her.

By ecologist (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

We put down our male Rottweiler just over a year ago. We've had a few dogs but he was the one I most identified with. He was a very hard dog and he was constantly pushing, just waiting for me to get old and weak, at which point he would assume his natural place at the head of the family. He was loyal and brave and his personality filled our house.

Goblin also had cancer that had progressed by the time we found it. A leg amputation might have granted him some limited time, but I wanted to give him the gift of never having his body fail him for no reason he could understand. It was an existential pain for me and my wife but he had a great last weekend and passed from being while he still felt strong and on top of the world.

I'm thinking about you, Ethan.

By Bryan Creel (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

Oh, pets how they sneak into your very soul and become a part of you being. I am so sorry for your loss Ethan and Jamie.

By Lisa Collins (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

So sorry. We had to put our dog down at 14 for the same reason. He still lives in my head seven years later.

By NewEnglandBob (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

I just wanted to tell you how moved I am by Cordelia's story. What a perfect name for such a kick-ass girl. I am so sorry for your loss.

My deepest sympathy. I know how you feel. I lost my 15 year old Rough Collie (had him since 7 weeks) in January this year - old age - and I was just shattered.

I wasn't going to replace him, but 3 days later I went to the RSPCA to look at a 14 month old Staffie terrier-Kelpie cross. The RSPCA has very strict requirements for new owners of their rescue dogs. (She'd been found wandering the streets, her owners hadn't claimed her from the council pound and the RSPCA had her for 6 months, 3 months training her and 3 months available for adoption).

So I was extremely worried to be told after 5 minutes that I can take her home immediately and that I was a perfect match for her. Actually their main requirements were 1. A home with no children under 16. 2. Ability to walk her 1 hour twice a day.

Anyway. After 7 months she's slowly settling down. On the DNA testing, she actually turned out to be a pure breed Australian cattle dog, which explained her personality. She actually looks very similar with the floppy ears and the white face.

By Wayne Robinson (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

I'm sorry for your loss.

Unfortunately the bargain is that living means we all die. What happens in the middle is the difference between a good, or not so good, life. Based upon the photographs and the words you use it looks like Cordelia had a happy, healthy, active life ,and knew she was loved.

When the choice was between delaying your own loss and limiting Cordelia's suffering you chose to carry the burden. Few living things on this planet have it that good in life, or death. You have very done well by your companion and have reason to feel sad, but also proud.

Thank you, Ethan, for sharing Cordelia's story.

It's an amazing thing to know our companions can give of themselves selflessly. Cordelia would have known you to be the same. Grieve as you must, then refill yourself with life to carry on.
Thankyou for sharing.

I am so very sorry for your loss Ethan. I hope your heart heals so you can remember her with love only and no sadness. *Hugs* to you.

So sad for your loss. We're on the verge of losing the little cat we adopted when David and I were at UFlorida together. I'd wanted a calm grey female kitten, we ended up with a rambunctious brown and black striped male, who I now love to all exception. So I definitely understand how those sort of plans work out.

We absolutely know how terrible and hard it is to make that last decision to spare a pet pain. You did a wonderful thing adopting Cordelia, who clearly needed you and you've created a beautiful memorial for her with this story.

Oh, Ethan. Your post about Cordelia broke my heart -- all my sympathy to you and yours.

I imagine friends may have already passed along this Jeffers' poem. If not, a link: http://www.lgd.org/library/housedog.htm

Hi Ethan, my sincere condolences and thanks for sharing this with your audience. I think most of us have had the same experience with the pets we had to say goodbye to... While reading it was almost as if Cordelia was my dog. You took the right decision and fortunately we can do this merciful act for our dear beloved friends. I'm grateful I live in the Netherlands where the same is possible for people should they wish to die with dignity.

By Hans Deuze (not verified) on 15 Sep 2014 #permalink

So sorry for your loss. Been there done that. I was just looking at my Jake's (RIP) hole in the dog pen last evening and told my 8yr old, Jason(ASD) how I missed him. He told me he missed him too but it's all part of life. We lose pets and people but they all are with God. Geez, he really does listen! God doesn't give our pets a very long shelf life but it is a learning experience for us all

Ethan, I feel you, you built some great memories with Cordelia, and sadly not that many people would have had the patience to deal with her the way you did. That was the crux of your story, and endeared me to her too. I have had a lot of dogs over the years, and they have left me in so many different ways. Only the last two had full lives, and I had to end their lives. Absolutely the hardest thing that I asked
myself to do. My new dog is 4 years old now, a rescue also. Thanks for sharing Cordelia with us. Jerry

By Jerry Pohlman (not verified) on 16 Sep 2014 #permalink

God damn it, I said i wasn't going to cry...

My deepest condolences.
Your little girl was very special, as are you. She knew love & comfort that she would probably never known if not for you

By julia miller (not verified) on 16 Sep 2014 #permalink

Ethan, first my condolences... but enough of that. What a wonderful thing the two of you did for Cordelia, you gave her a chance to be happy. Her life started out crappy and it could have ended there. But it didn't. Now that experience, and how it affected to two of you, is her gift back to you, for the rest of your lives.

My condolences on the loss of your beloved one. When you lose someone you love dearly, it doesn't matter if they walk on four legs or two.

Some of the finest souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing were dogs and cats, and all of them second hand.

A very touching and well written story. It takes same real strength to write about your loved pet in this way. She sounds like a wonderful dog, issues not withstanding, she brought love to you and Jamie and made you a dog lover. She will always be around, sleeping in your heart, and sometimes she'll wake up and wag her tail, and you will know the love was real. Bless you my friend.

My DEEPEST of sympathies. This article really hit home. My 16 yr old best friend was just diagnosed 3 weeks ago with bone cancer. The doctor told us that she has 2-6 months, but she's slowing down quickly and it's absolutely horrible to watch. These creatures teach us how to be better beings. I wish the world respected grieving for a four legged family member the way they do with people. You did a truly great thing for that person. Thank you so much for posting this, it made me feel less alone in what I'm going through, and in saying that I hope you know that you are not alone either. A hug to you. So sorry for your loss.

By Magdalena Gomez (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

My condolences. My wife and I recue Border Collies and understand both the absolute joy and heartbreak each of them brings to your life. They leave footprints on your heart forever.