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The Pain and Grief of Saying Goodbye to 'Joey the Dog'

Updated on March 28, 2017

My Dog Joey

My sweet boy enjoying a nice summer day
My sweet boy enjoying a nice summer day | Source

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I knew it was time to say goodbye to my dog

I knew it was time to put my dog down this past August of 2016 when he struggled to get up from his bed and could barely walk without falling down. Watching my furry best friend slow down from arthritis, and lose his usual upbeat spirit was like stabbing a knife into my heart. He and I have quite the history together which goes back to the year 2004. This was a year ripe with trials and tribulations which made it the perfect time to adopt a family dog.

Adopting our beloved dog

As I mentioned earlier, our family was facing many hardships back in 2004. I was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of that year and moved in with my twin sister and her two children. I'm like a second mom to my niece and nephew, so news of auntie mama having cancer was very scary for them. They were also dealing with the pain of their mom and dad's recent divorce. Things were pretty serious around our house, so my sister and I decided it was time to adopt a dog. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.

I wasn't there when Joey was adopted because I was having a garage sale with a friend. I remember the family coming to the sale with the sweetest male, black lab mix. Joey was three years old and had a hint of grey already coming in around his mouth. He was well behaved and I was excited to finish the sale and make my way home to share in the excitement of our new addition to the family.

When I arrived home, Joey was already acting like he'd lived with us for years. He excitedly barked (what we got to know was ) his 'happy bark' when I walked in the door. It was a really special night getting to know our new dog and establishing family rituals.



Joey and I Did Everything Together

Joey and I formed a special bond from from the very beginning. We spent hours together because I was too sick to work while I underwent chemo and radiation. While my sister worked and the kids were at school, Joey and I hung out and took care of each other. I even brought him to radiation treatments with me for moral support. Joey became everything to me, and I wondered how I ever got along without him. He and I had a special connection and understanding of each other that's hard to put into words. I'll share one of many stories to illustrate it.

I was in the thick of chemotherapy and my body was starting to revolt. The oncologist had warned me that with every chemo treatment, you get sicker because the drugs have a cumulative effect on your body. This particular day, I was feeling crummy, but no worse than usual. I started noticing that my furry best friend was following me everywhere. He even tried to follow me into the shower, which is strange as he was always afraid of it. I had no idea at the time that Joey sensed impending doom. He knew that my health was off and kept close to me throughout the day. The answer to his behavior came later in the day when I collapsed on my way to the bathroom. Turns out my blood counts were extremely off from the chemotherapy drugs, and my body just shut down. I remember waking up on my bed with Joey laying his head in the nape of my neck. He laid there until the paramedics put me on a stretcher and wheeled me into the ambulance.

It was my Turn to Take Care of Joey

Joey took such good care of my family and I throughout the years. I remember when we used to bring him to the ice rink and he'd pull the kids around with a rope. It was great exercise and fun for all. When I was getting weak from cancer treatments, Joey would pull me up the hill on our daily walk. He lifted our spirits when we were facing something difficult, like divorce or illness. We always knew without a doubt, Joey was there for us. As Joey got older and the tides were changing, we knew it was our time to give extra love and care to him. He was having a hard time getting out of his bed and up the living room stairs to go outside. We were his loyal cheerleaders rooting him on as he summoned the courage to hop up that last step. It was a beautiful thing actually; picture two teenagers and two grown adults engrossed in helping our furry family member get outside to do his business. That's what family love is all about. He gifted us with the raw meaning of unconditional love all these years, and now, as he slowed down, it was time to make sure he knew we were there for him. Those last few months I was still able to get him out for a walk in the neighborhood with his younger sister 'Spooky' who is much younger and has lots of energy. We both sensed at some level that getting Joey out for a walk was nearing an end. The walks were getting slower and shorter but we respected his journey and went with the flow. There were times when Joey fell because he had lost most of the muscle strength in his back legs. Spooky and I would patiently wait until Joey was ready to get back up and continue on. We rejoiced in our time together on those last walks; not how fast they were or how far we went. The daily walk was all about giving joy to Joey, wherever he was on any given day.

Joey's Last Night Celebration

I innately knew it was time to put Joey to sleep. It wasn't just about his age related health problems but his diminishing zest for life. I could tell my sweet boy wasn't having fun anymore. The bright sparkle in his eyes became dimmer and dimmer his last week on earth. We made the dreaded appointment with our local veterinarian with a stinging apprehension. We designated his last night on earth a 'Joey celebration'. We all laid on the floor next to him and told family stories of our time together. The stories poured out from our hearts like they happened only yesterday. I could have sworn Joey was smiling during one of his favorite memories of he and the kids. That night, Joey enjoyed his favorite treat, awarded for only special occasions. Bittersweet tears flowed as we watched him lick his last Vanilla ice cream cone. What a painfully beautiful night it was, that last night celebrating our beautiful boy. Surrounding Joey in our blankets and sleeping bags, we performed our last goodnight ritual together as a family,




Our Final Goodbye at the Animal Hospital

We sat cross legged, gathered around Joey as the doctor explained the process ahead of us. I could see that the first medication he administered caused Joey to get extremely groggy and out of it. I panicked and moved from my place at Joey's side to the front of his beautiful face. I wanted my face to be the last face my sweet boy saw. I tried my best to speak clearly as emotions took over me. I whispered words I often spoke when he was scared or not feeling good. "Mama's here Joey, everything will be alright." I caressed Joey's face and repeated these words until he took his last breath. The heartache in the room was palpable as we all faced a life ahead without our beloved family member. Our only solace as we grieve the loss of Joey is the vision of him running, pain free on his favorite walking trail.

“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

Josh Billings (a.k.a. Henry Wheeler Shaw; humorist and lecturer)

My beautiful dog

My sweet boy taking a nap in his favorite doggy bed
My sweet boy taking a nap in his favorite doggy bed | Source

Video of Joey and Spooky Getting Excited for a Walk

My Dog and I

Joey and I sharing a special moment
Joey and I sharing a special moment | Source

© 2017 Linda Rogers

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  • MEDerby profile image

    MEDerby 3 weeks ago

    Lovely and well written. It brought back so many memories of pets, long gone that have touched my heart and soul.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 3 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

    I'm sitting here with tears flowing. You wrote such a beautiful story. I felt your pain of losing Joey. God bless and thanks for sharing...

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 3 weeks ago from Jeffersonville PA

    This brought me to tears as I remember (like it was yesterday) saying goodbye to my Alvin and Aunt Baby (both Labs).

    Joey was your friend, your nurse and your son...thank you for sharing his beautiful story with us, dear Linda - so sorry for this loss.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Thanks for coming by MEDerby. It's taken me since August to write about Joey. The pain of his loss is still deep. Much thanks for your support during this hard time.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Hi Ruby-thank you so much for coming by. My heart is still aching after saying goodbye to my boy. I'm still raw with emotion. It means a lot that you came by my frien.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Thank you so much for coming by Maria as I know how this hits you with your loss of labs. I am still so raw but it is helping that to have friend like you, stop by. I will never forget him. Ouch!

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 3 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

    Linda....Dear me....please don't take this the wrong way but I probably should not have read this heart-wrenching tale first thing this morning. I am sobbing and my heart is so heavy. Linda, please know I can truly feel your sadness. We love our loyal babies and their loss takes a chunk out of our lives.

    I know you have wonderful memories of Joey that can bring you smiles for years to come. This story will linger with me, Linda. I send you hugs of understanding.....Peace, Paula

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

    My heart breaks for you. I know that Joey understood the d put of your love and commitment to him. I am so happy that you shared yours west and moving story of adopting a dog. I have (primarily older and disabled) cats in my life and have lost several in the past few years that have made me so sad. I encourage you, however, not to be afraid to adopt and like he again when the time is right. Joey cannot be replaced but he'd want you to someday know that love again and especially give it to a homeless animal who needs such a tender head such as yours. Not all people are as good with animals as you. Joey was as lucky to know you as you were to have him.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

    We put one down last year and will have to do the same this year. It never gets easier. Hugs from Olympia!

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Oh, sweet Paula-sorry you didn't know what you were in for this morning. Your heart felt comment means a lot to me. I dream about my boy almost every night. God Bless for coming by.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 3 weeks ago from South Africa

    Oh, Linda, this is so sad, I am crying my heart out for you. Yes, the pain is incredible. Since I've experienced this pain for the forth time in 1998, I have decided to never put myself through it again. Nobody agree with me, but I refuse to look twice at a kitten or a puppy, too afraid to fall in love again, or rather to lose a beloved pet again. Now the grandchildren and their pets have to put up with all my love and affection.

    My heart goes out to all of you!

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 3 weeks ago from Nibiru

    Condolences. I remember loosing my cat named Tiger. Sad moment.

  • Rachel L Alba profile image

    Rachel L Alba 3 weeks ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

    Oh my goodness, Linda. I was so sorry to hear what you sent through with cancer. I hope you are in remission and stay there. I couldn't get through that story without tears. I can't imagine you living through it. My younger sister had a similar experience and I remember how she cried when she had to put her dog, April, down to sleep. Thank you for sharing your heart breaking story.

    Blessings to you.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Flourish-it means so much to hear you say that Joey knew how much he was loved. He gave so much to our family. We still have our 7 year old 'Spooky' that we adopted. She loved her brother very much. When I play videos with she and Joey in them, she just stares at him. I don't think she gets what happened to him as we moved the same day Joey was put to sleep. Thankfully, she didn't go signs of depression because I think she thought Joey was still at the other house or we were on vacation or something. I appreciate you coming by and giving me such lovely support.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Thanks Bill-Sorry to hear about your experience with this. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers as you say goodbye again. It's brutal!

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Martie-I totally understand your feelings about not adopting again. It's so incredibly painful; especially when you put down a dog that you adopted to save. The only way I can express my first experience with this is 'Brutal'! I so appreciate your kindness and support. Now go love up those grand kids pets. Love Linda

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Thanks Clive-Yes, those animals sure steal our hearts and it's so hard to lose them. Appreciate you coming by.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Rachel-No worries, I am 14 years out now which is basically a clean bill of health with the kind of cancer I had. They gave me a 20% of making five years. I have to say that my twin sister, kids and Joey are what got me through it. I had an abundance of love. I want to give you a great big hug and thank you for stopping by and giving me support. It truly means the world to me to have my Hubpages family here for me. Love Linda

  • Maria Cecilia profile image

    Maria Cecilia 3 weeks ago from Philippines

    MY dog Peso died on June 2016, It was the saddest months of my life and up to now I still miss him. I often see him in my dreams it was like I wanted to take care of him but I needed to do something important, but when I was done I followed him he was already out but some people a dog walked over the road, so I shouted his name and he came back and I hugged him and I was crying.... recently I dreamt of him again, the same old him barking at me calling my attention, I was surprise to see him and I hugged him again, and we were very happy....I really hope dog have spirit and he is visiting me always.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Maria-so sorry you lost your beloved pet. You and I lost our dogs right around the same time. It's so hard isn't it? I dream about Joey almost every night. In every dream, he's back and I'm so happy & surprised. I believe we dream of them to help us through the grief. I definitely think animals move to the heavenly realm just like humans. Thank you very much for coming by and sharing your story with me. Hang in there and hold on to all the great memories.

  • Shyron E Shenko profile image

    Shyron E Shenko 3 weeks ago from Texas

    Linda, I am so sad for the loss of the special love that was your fur friend. We lost two Pudsie (Pigeon) and Trixie, it hurts and nothing that anyone can say or do will ease the pain of the loss.

    Blessings my friend

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 3 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Shyron, I am so sorry to hear of your losses

    . It's so darn hard, isn't it? My healing is in my great friends here at Hubpages. The support means more to me than you can ever know. Thanks so much for coming by.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 2 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

    I am so sorry for your loss. I had a cat for right at 20 years that died and I realize you can never get as close to cats as you can dogs which seem sometimes to be almost human. We never forget them though nor our love for them or the love we know they had for us. That is really what makes it all bearable.

    Thanks for sharing the love.

  • manatita44 profile image

    manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

    Linda,

    A charming and inspiring tale. Yes, they are very sensitive animals and a model of devotion. It probably recognised your plight and supported you in its own way. Again, dogs also have souls and like humans, some are very mature.

    There is a beautiful story about a King called Bharata who was very advanced spiritually. However, he was very fond of a deer and when he died he was born a deer. However, he innately knew and was always found among Seers and Sages until he passed and regained his human incarnation.

    How are you now? Much better, I hope. God's Love continue to be with you, always ... -Lantern.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 2 weeks ago from Minnesota

    Dearest Manatita-I completely agree that our animals also have souls and I hope to reunite with Joey when it is my time. Animals are so loyal and give unconditional love which we could all learn so much from. God bless you for your loving words and the story of King Bharata.

    I am 14 years cancer free and I owe to to God and all the love I received from my family.

    Blessings my friend

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