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

Updated on June 4, 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. He watched and whined as he saw mama pulling away in a big scary truck; knowing something was not right.

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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  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
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    Linda Rogers 4 months ago from Minnesota

    Dear Tamara-thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kind and comforting words. I miss my boy so much! Thankfully, I have Joey's little sister to help with the deep wound of his loss. I appreciate you coming by and reading this story as it's a source of strength for me.

    Linda

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    Tamara Moore 4 months ago

    This is deeply poignant and beautiful. I am so sorry for your loss. They become like our own children. Blessings and Peace to you!

    Love,

    Tamara

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 4 months ago from Minnesota

    It means a lot to me that you read the story about my Joey. I still cry often because it left such a hole in my heart. It will be one year on August 1st that we put him down. I still have the younger dog 'Spooky' which helps ease a little of the pain.

    I am sorry about your losses as well-I do think cats and dogs can have strokes. That is so sad to hear. Did you bring the cat to the vet to see what they think?

    It's amazing, isn't it? how animals find a place in our hearts that no one else can fill.

    Again, thank you for taking time out to read the story about my boy. It helps to know there are others who understand the pain of losing a pet.

    HUGS

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

    This is so sad, Linda. I am actually brushing away tears. I have lost quite a few beloved pets over the years. We currently have three dogs, all about 12 years old. Ginger, a toy poodle has recently become deaf, and almost blind, but she still has a zest for life. It made it difficult because we recently moved to a new house and it took her some time to get her bearings. One of our cats went missing for two days but came home losing her balance and not able to walk properly. she doesn't seem in pain...so I was wondering if cats can have strokes. That is what it is like. Anyway, so sorry to hear of your friend, Joey's passing. It is always a sad time.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
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    Linda Rogers 5 months ago from Minnesota

    Dear Shauna-you just brought me to tears with your loving and supportive comment. The comfort in your words will hold me up in spite of the loss of my loving Joey. God Bless you my friend.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 5 months ago from Central Florida

    Linda, this is a heart-wrenching story, but so beautiful. Your Joey Celebration was the perfect way to spend your last evening together. I know how hard it was for you to be in the room with him when the vet gave Joey relief. I also know you wouldn't have had it any other way. I know because I've been there.

    This is a wonderful tribute to one of the most important souls in your life, Linda. May Joey rest in peace and may your heart heal from the pain and only remember the joy.

    Peace, my friend.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 6 months 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

  • manatita44 profile image

    manatita44 6 months 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.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 6 months 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.

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 6 months 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.

  • Shyron E Shenko profile image

    Shyron E Shenko 6 months 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 6 months 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.

  • Maria Cecilia profile image

    Maria Cecilia 6 months 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 6 months 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

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
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    Linda Rogers 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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 6 months 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.

  • Rachel L Alba profile image

    Rachel L Alba 6 months 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.

  • clivewilliams profile image

    Clive Williams 6 months ago from Nibiru

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

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 6 months 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!

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 6 months 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.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 6 months 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!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 6 months 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.

  • fpherj48 profile image

    Paula 6 months 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

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 6 months 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!

  • Minnetonka Twin profile image
    Author

    Linda Rogers 6 months 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 6 months 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.

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 6 months 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.

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 6 months 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...

  • MEDerby profile image

    MEDerby 6 months ago

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