I got a call yesterday from my sister who wanted me to go with her to put her dog down. He has been sick for a while. He has problems breathing. He has seizures. I guess he had a seizure that morning that convinced my sister it was time. I agreed to go with her. To support her. After all, it wasn’t my dog.
She picks me up at my house (we live 5 minutes from each other) and her dog, Hobbit, a cute, fluffy white Pomeranian, is in the front seat. He appears just as happy as can be. I get in and hold him. I give him lots of love and pets.
The vet is only another 3 minutes from my house. We get out and he’s happy. He walks fine. He does his business. My sister lavishes him with bacon she cooked. He appears perfectly fine and normal and healthy.
We enter the vets office and are greeted with a friendly, “How are you?” My sister almost loses it. The receptionist realizes her mistake immediately.
We wait. Hobbit is fine. Happy. Unknowing of what is to come. I observe him. Devoted as all dogs are. Completely and totally trusting in us. Never doubting. Never questioning.
We are taken back. My sister is crying. I’m trying not to. The vet comes in and explains euthanasia and what to expect. First a sedative to put the dog to sleep. Then an injection which will stop the heart. He will breathe his last breath.
Hobbit is happy, walking around, eating treats. My sister holds him as she administers the sedative. In about 10 minutes, he is asleep. He is so calm and oblivious to all that is happening around him. He does not know he won’t wake up. He does not know he is going to a better place. And he does not care. For he is a dog, a lower animal that only lives moment by moment, and for him, he is just sleepy. So he sleeps.
I fight the urge to whisk Hobbit out of her arms and dog-nap him. For to me he is fine. Only my sister knows how much pain and suffering he is in. Still, there’s a part of me who wants to rescue him from his fate–a fate we all have and none of us can be rescued from. But that hope is what keeps me alive at least…
The vet comes back in. My sister puts the dog on a table as they shave a place to find a vein to administer the fatal dose. She is uncontrollably crying. She pets him and kisses him his last as the vet pushes the plunger in. In under 30 seconds, Hobbit is gone. It is sad and I cry. I kiss the dog. I tell him what a good dog he is/was. I tell him he will play with my dog, Bay, who died almost two years ago to the day. Oh, how I miss her!
I think of my 12-year old ancient English Mastiff at home who will be alive when I return. Who is ailing himself. Whom I love with all my heart. Who is having trouble walking and standing. But who takes it all in stride. Who cries when he wants me to pet him because he can no longer come to me. But who is happy each and every moment of his remaining days. I know not how much longer I will have him but I hope and I pray God takes him and not me. So then he can be with his sister and Hobbit too. So he too can have his body back and he can run like the wind again and he can play with the kids in heaven and bring them joy–as he has done to me down here.
We walk out. My sister says “Well, that’s over.” And I say ironically and melancholy, “Yeah, now we get to go on with our lives,” sadness consuming me as we’ve left a companion behind who no longer has theirs.
I love dogs. I love owning dogs. But I hate it when they get old. I can hardly stand it. I know they are dying because of our sins and it eats at me. It does.
Some say it is good to see life and death and to accept it. I say they are crazy. It should be unacceptable that all things die because of our sins. It should sadden you. It should make you want to repent and turn to Him even more.
My sister will have her dog cremated and a paw print made. She will keep him for now. As I have kept mine who sits on a bookshelf in my house, silently watching over our family and our dogs, always abiding in my heart. I miss her, but she is alive in my memories and thanks be to God in my kids’ memories as well.
Yesterday, I experienced death when I didn’t want to. And I learned Hobbit was my dog as well as are all living creatures. He was a sweet, sweet puppy who lived a good, faithful, happy life, which is what gives me comfort. He will be missed and remembered by those around him. But more importantly he is in a better place, waiting faithfully for his owners to join him.
God, will you pet my dog for me? She probably needs a pet. She liked to be petted but unlike her brother never demanded it. She’d sometimes bark at him when he was hogging all the love, but she never once refused a pet.
It’s been one month now since I lost my precious and not a day goes by I don’t think of her. We all do. We talk about her all the time. We’ve all written songs about her and we play them frequently. She sits in a special spot on our bookcase and we are in the process of making her a memorial with her pictures.
And I know your brother misses you so!
He’s bored without you. Nothing to do. And I pray he howls again since he hasn’t since you’ve left.
But he’s hanging in there. Getting all the leftovers and all the love. Gets both dog pillows too. Something I’m sure you wouldn’t mind.
He goes where I go. Even took him for a car ride when it was thundering out (since he’s afraid of the thunder). He seemed happy although I think you were the only one who truly knew that or not.
We’re planning our hunting trip again. I still look at that photo of both of you in the mountains from last year. I think your brother will be happy when he goes. Maybe he’ll get to drink some deer blood like last year! Maybe he’ll get to chase an elk for me. But I know he’ll get to smell all the smells only dogs are privileged to smell.
Still, it won’t be the same without you. Trying to lay with us when it got too cold. Guarding the camp.
“This is a horrible, horrible book,” my 7 year old daughter cries. I try to laugh at her antics amidst my own tears.
Hachiko Waits by Leslea Newman is a fictionalized account of a true story that happened in Japan in the 1920’s.
Professor Ueno gets an Akita puppy named Hachi who goes with the professor to the train station every day and meets him again at 3 pm when the professor arrives home. This goes on for about one year until one day the Professor never arrives on the 3 o’clock train. Hachi waits and waits and waits. He waits for 10 years until his death, always scanning the trains that come in for the Professor.
If you are any kind of animal lover, especially dogs, you are guaranteed to cry at this story. The loyalty and devotion of a dog is never at its finest than right here.
I cried because I felt so sorry for the dog. Hachi will never know his owner is not coming back. Hachi cannot go on with his life because his life was the professor’s life. When the professor’s life ended, so did his.
I have 2 old dogs whom I know will die sooner rather than later. I am not looking forward to this and neither are my children. I think it will be an important learning experience when it happens but it won’t make it any easier–losing a member of your family.
Here, Hachi didn’t know he had lost his family. This is the ultimate tragedy I think. We humans can move on because we understand. Dogs don’t.
I often wonder if Hachi would have been okay if the professor had died at home or if he could have seen the professor’s body. If Hachi would have understood and been able to move on and somehow intuit the meaning of death.
Death happens all the time in Nature and animals do go on. I wonder how animals process death. You see mother elephants who refuse to leave their dead baby’s body. You see monkeys who carry their dead babies around in denial of the truth.
When my husband shot a buffalo (this was a paid hunt on a private ranch where the buffalo were going to either be sold to hunters or sold to the slaughter-houses because the ranch owner had lost his lease), he described how all the other buffalos tried to nudge him to get up.
It seems animals mourn like we do. But Hachi could not mourn. He didn’t know. He sat faithfully every day expecting his master to step off the train like he had done countless times in the past.
Hachi is revered by the people of Japan for his loyalty, devotion, and faithfulness. All the school children are taught his story and there is a statue that stands in the spot Hachi waited in the Shibuya Station. It has become a popular spot for marriage proposals as couples confess their undying devotion to one another–just like Hachi’s.
Every year a memorial service is held to honor this special dog.
I think this paragraph from the book says it all:
“I have come to believe there is a special train to bring those who have obtained Enlightenment up to Heaven. Every day for the past ten years, Professor Ueno has met this special train to see if his beloved Akita-ken is on it. Day after day after day he has waited up in Heaven, just as Hachiko has waited here on earth. And today, when the special train reaches Heaven and opens its doors, Hachiko will be the first one to step out. Just think how happy he will be to see his master again.” P.73
I believe with all my heart dogs do go to Heaven. I believe I will be with my dogs again when they pass and they will be with me. I believe they will be waiting for me and will greet me just as vigorously as they do here on earth.
Dogs are the epitome of unconditional love. No matter what happens they will love you because you are theirs and they are yours. Dogs and other pets are a gift from God because He knows they can give us things we cannot get elsewhere. Dogs give humans so many things and ask for so little in return.
Dogs, especially Hachi, are special indeed.
Below is a picture of Hachi as I envision him waiting:
I can always tell couples who don’t have kids by examining how they treat their dogs. If you don’t have kids, your dogs are your babies. I know because I used to be one of these people. Once kids come along, however, dogs disappear into the background. No more long walks or endless games of fetch. You just don’t have the time anymore.
For quite a while, my poor dogs got ignored–extensively. My first two kids are only 16 months apart so I had no time there for a while. Yet the great thing about dogs is they are loyal to the end and take what they can get. My dogs still loved me every bit as much as they did before kids. Yeah, their lives weren’t quite as exciting as before but they didn’t care. As long as they had their owners, they were content with life.
Then I read “Marley and Me” by John Grogan a few years ago, which really awakened me back up to the importance of dogs in my life.
Yeah, they are old and just one more thing to do on top of the endless chores of taking care of babies. But I love them–love them to the day they die and beyond–and so do my kids. If you even mention how our dogs are close to death, my oldest gets upset. She defends her dogs to the bitter end and since she has never known life without them, she wants nothing else.
I am definitely not looking forward to the day we all have to say good-bye. I think the whole family will be down in the dumps for quite a while. But it will be a good life lesson–for all of us. How you should cherish the days of your life before one day you are gone. How you can live in the moment, content with whatever you have and whatever you are given. “Creatures of Being” as Eckhart Tolle calls them.
I firmly believe all dogs do go to heaven and I tell my kids that. They may be gone for now but they will be in heaven waiting for us just as loyal as they were on Earth. I’m sure we’ll get a huge tail wagging and licking when we arrive. Maybe even we’ll be able to talk to them too and they can tell us what they really think (scary, huh?).
So this is for all the loyal dogs out there who can’t imagine life without their owners and their owners who can’t imagine life without their dogs.