Goodbye, Sweet Love

Today’s post is a little different.  Last week I had to say goodbye to my dog, and I’m crushed.  Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one.  It’s so permanent.  No matter how much you want to change things, you can’t.  It just feels like a heavy weight crushing down on your chest.  And you can’t think or focus.  You just sit in silent disbelief replaying how it all went down.IMG_0315Ruby was my husband’s dog.  I met her when she was 3, and I’ve always thought we had a cute little story.  Nick had a girlfriend (before me, of course) who worked at the Humane Society.  He went to a Humane Society auction with her simply because they got free tickets to the fundraiser and (I should mention) whiskey tasting.  Little did he know that he would hold a sweet puppy and fall in love with her.  That was Ruby.  I guess you could call her an impulse buy.  When bidding for her began, he couldn’t resist.  He ended up in a bidding war, and being just out of school with no money and steep loans to pay off, Nick had to let her go to the higher bidder.  He left that night with a hole in his heart already.  Two weeks later he received a surprise phone call from the Humane Society.  The other guy never came to pick the puppy up, and Nick could have her for the standard adoption fee of $60.  Score!

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Silly girl sitting on her favorite perch

A few years later, I spotted Nick on a popular dating website.  At the time I swore I would never do online dating until I became desperate.  I guess I became desperate because I came home from a wedding and agreed “just to look.”  I saw Nick’s profile, and decided I needed to meet him.  After a lot of deliberation I went for it, and I created my profile in hopes of meeting Nick.  I sent him an email, but days went by, and I never received a reply.  Finally, after a whole week an answer came.  What I didn’t know was that Nick had only been active on this website for 1 month.  He didn’t go out with anyone, and he decided it wasn’t worth using any longer.  So when he got my message, he had to decide if he wanted to pay another monthly subscription of $30 just to read my email.  Luckily he took a leap of faith.  And the rest is history.

Our life was like a MasterCard commercial.  The pup. $60.  The girl. $60.  Eternal love. Priceless.

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Why? Always surprising us.

So you can see how disgustingly cute we were as a family!  It was a bunch of near misses, but the stars aligned and brought us all together.  The moment I met her, I loved this dog’s personality.  She was sweet and loving.  She was cute and did funny things.  She loved everyone she met, and they loved her back.  She went to work with Nick everyday, creating quite a fan club.  We think she lived so long because she had a job, a purpose.  We hiked with her, took her everywhere with us, and often times stayed in on weekends just so we could spend time with her.  She lit up our lives.  Nick, being a dog whisperer, trained her so well.  She was never a beggar dog.  At meal times she just hung out nearby without pestering us.  One time I put some chicken in her food bowl to give her a little treat.  I went about my business cleaning the kitchen for the next 10 minutes.  And then I felt the intense stare-down she was giving me.  She was such a good girl that she patiently waited with anticipation that whole time for me to give her the “okay” to eat the food out of her own bowl.  I had never known a dog to be so well-behaved.  She was more than just a sweet, well-behaved dog though.  She was clever and quite a master manipulator.  When left alone in the house, she would jump on the sofa and mess up the pillows.  One time I caught her in the act, and she was having a ball!  It was as if she knew she was doing something bad.

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Busted!
She loved chewing her bones.  How cute is that tongue!?!
She loved chewing her bones. How cute is that tongue!?!

When she turned 12 I noticed her starting to age.  She slowed down a bit, tripped more, and I cried the first day she didn’t bark when the doorbell rang.  She even got sick one time and couldn’t walk for a few days.  She recovered, and we got used to a new normal.  In those times I went through a mourning period, anticipating her death that I had no idea was a good 3 years out.  I cried a lot, envisioning how I would tell people about her passing.  As more time went on, I realized I was wasting time worrying needlessly over her death, and learned that I was just mourning the loss of her youth.  So I decided I wasn’t going to mourn her until I really needed to.  We had 2 and a half more good years with her, and 6 months ago, things started to change even more.

Ruby helping out at work
Ruby helping out at work

She slowed down a lot.  Our hikes that were already downgraded to long walks around the park had to be shortened to a mere 3 blocks.  Two months ago it progressed even more.  She stopped wagging her tail.  She stopped licking us.  But it was a new normal again.  We adapted.  We didn’t want to let her go.  Adapting was our way of hanging on to her.  And last week it just all became too much for her.  We had to make the difficult choice all dog parents dread.  In the moment it’s so hard to decide.  You rationalize that she’s still okay.  Even though most moments are tough, you cling to the very few good moments because you don’t want to make that decision, and you don’t want to let go.  But now looking back, every fiber in my body tells me that it was her time.

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More help at work

Her bed looks more empty now.  I feel motivated to do nothing; especially picking up remnants of her life in the house.  The clutter and mess from the mismatched rugs we moved to our hardwood floors in the last month to keep her upright were the only thing left we had of her.  I hated having them mess up my house, but now I procrastinate to get rid of them.

Why?!? Always surprising us.
Why?!? Always surprising us.

It’s amazing how permanent this is.  It’s more amazing to notice how compassionate others can be in times like this.  Life has a way of showing you beautiful things when you are having some of the saddest times.  It doesn’t make the sadness go away, but it helps.  The community of people who reached out simply sharing their love for Ruby eased a little of the heartache.  The people who shared stories of recently losing their own furry loved ones softened the blow.  Patients who knew and loved her, co-workers in our office, and friends and family who loved her too helped make us feel a little less alone without her.  The bittersweet nature of saying goodbye gets a little less bitter and a little more sweet knowing how much she touched so many lives.

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Stealing a kiss from her cousin

To those of you who reached out with a note or a call, thank you.  You helped us say goodbye with a little more grace.  Oh, and thank God for ex-girlfriends.

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35 thoughts on “Goodbye, Sweet Love

    1. So sorry to hear, Paolo. I’m already going nuts for all the puppies I see around. We will get another one too… when the time is right. Glad you were able to find a new friend.

  1. And don’t forget she made a man who never expressed interest in other dogs bring a dog cookie every time he saw her and light up when she rolled over for a tummy rub.

  2. Laura and Nick,

    I’m so sorry to hear this news. Ruby was absolutely the best dog I’ve ever met. When I would go to see Nick Ruby always was around to make the office feel warm and cozy. Now I’m not a Dog person, but Ruby was the BEST dog I’ve ever been around. May you both heal your hearts and find love again for another.

    Monique

    1. Thanks so much Monique. She had that effect, didn’t she? She could turn anyone into a fan! We will definitely find more space to give love to another pup. xo

  3. We went through a similar demise of our last 2 cats, it’s so hard to let them go. It took us 3 years to get over it and decide to have cats again, and really we still miss our boys. The ones we have now are not replacements, they’re a thing apart (oh boy are they a thing apart!!). I can only sympathise with how you feel, do those feelings go away..? no not really, but it gets easier to live with them as time goes on. We now remember and laugh about their funny ways, but never forget how much they are missed. So sorry for you and Nick, my thoughts are with you. xx

    1. Oh, fraggs. I can tell you love your cats. Must be so hard to always compare. I often worry about that with Ruby, but somehow we find extra space to love the new ones. It’s funny… each day gets easier, and then there is a piece of you that doesn’t want to move on because you feel like that equates to letting go forever. But we have to move on, and I don’t think it means we forget– like you said, we just remember and laugh.

  4. I’m so sorry to hear the sad news. It’s taken me a long time to heal from the loss of my dog, but with time it does get easier. Thank you for sharing your special story. My sincerest condolences.

    1. Oh, Ingrid, I do remember your dog traveling and hiking with you! That seems like so long ago to me… I’m sure it seems like yesterday to you. Thanks for the wishes. Each day does get a little easier.

  5. I lost my Maya in 2013. She was 17. I went to Bed crying, I woke up crying. I still have her ceramic bowl, leash & collar in my bedroom & my coffee table has her baby picture as well as a plaque that says “all you need is love & a dog”. I eventually rescued 2 small dogs, Dante’ & Mona but they will never replace her. She was, besides my children, my longest relationship. I opted to keep her with us so her resting place is in my yard & there’s a bench out there so I visit her often. I am so sorry for your loss. I know all too well the pain you are feeling but like any family member, it will recede in time but never truly go away. Get another pup. A rescue. I’m sure she’d ant you to love again

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Toni. Wow– 17! Ruby was 15. I too went to bed crying and woke up crying. What a feeling. Luckily the weight on your chest and the need to wake up crying mellows out as the days go on. Your dog was so lucky to be loved so much by you– and to still get visits. I guess the new ones can never compare, but we just create a new space in our hearts and squeeze them all in! I’m so thankful we have a lot of photos and videos. I know that will help keep her memory alive. Definitely a rescue…

  6. We will miss Ruby. I enjoyed the dog stories Nick shared during our chiro visits; look forward to new stories with a new dog. She will be missed.

  7. It’s sad to lose a good pet. I can tell Ruby was a world-class dog. I’m happy that you and Nick are such good dog owners. Some dog will be soon very happy to have you in his or her life.

  8. Oh, I know how painful it is to loose a companion, in some ways loosing a parent is easier. The loss of a furry member of your family is a deep, intimate loss. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    1. Thanks so much, Annie. I’ve decided those pet relationships are so much less complicated than human ones, that it makes the love so much more pure and unconditional.

  9. My sweet, sweet girl died four years ago–I miss her every day. I would not be the person I am today, nor know the father that I try to be had it not been for her. So sorry for your loss, but thanks so much for sharing….

    1. Thank you so much for sharing! I wrote this thinking it was such a self-indulgent post that nobody would relate to, but clearly the loss of a dog touches us all. I am also so sorry to hear about your baby girl. I recently saw a quote that I thought was so cute– it said something like, I hope to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. They make us better people too, they really do.

  10. Oh I am so sorry to read this, and I know exactly how you feel, as I had to put my beloved Shepherd/Chow mix, Lady, down just 3 weeks ago at the age of 15. She’d been with me ever since I adopted her from the pound when she was 3 months old, and it was devastating. We knew it was coming, and one day her legs just completely gave out. Fortunately, I’d just found a local vet who does in-home euthanasia, and he was able to come out that very night and was wonderful.

    Thinking of you and knowing how hard it is.

    1. Thank you so much. Your loss is so recent too. Sounds a little like our story too. We knew it was coming too, but it just felt so sudden. The back legs giving out is just so awful. Shepard/Chow, I bet she was a beautiful dog. We did the same thing! My husband was out of town and arrived at 7 pm, and by 10:30 that night, we had a vet in our house. Our vet was so amazing– she even sent us a handwritten card. I wouldn’t do it any other way. I am so sorry to hear about your loss too. Thanks for sharing that. I know in time we will both find a new space in our hearts for another…

  11. Thank you for this post. We just lost our little dog yesterday aged 15 and your words really resonated with us. I am a dentist in the UK, and my wife married me and my dog similar to your situation. They are a big part of our lives and sadly missed when they are gone.

    1. Chris, so sorry I must have missed your comment. I know how hard that was for you, and here I am replying over 1 year later!! Hope you have found the days a little easier. We got a new puppy who so different from Ruby, but we love her too!

      1. Don’t worry. We still think about our little pal every day, but he is now lying peacefully beneath a special tree we planted in the corner of our garden so we have something beautiful to remember him by! Hope your new dog brings you an abundance of joy and happiness as I am sure they will. Dogs are fantastic. I also read about your journey out of dentistry with great interest. I understand exactly your battle with unhappiness as a dentist. It is great you managed to find a better alternative for yourself.

  12. I met Ruby just a few short months ago, but the effect she had on me is eternal.
    She was absolutely one of the sweetest creatures I have ever had the pleasure of knowing on this planet. I miss seeing her already, but she had a great life and has moved on to a better place.
    In March I had to put down my 13 year old husky “Kona”. In some strange way I felt a connection to Ruby, and I can just see Ruby and Kona up in doggie heaven having fun together.
    Thanks for touching my life Ruby, and thanks for such an amazing article Laura. Ruby was lucky to have such an awesome and caring family!

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