ghost dog

Its amazing when you have lived with someone for over a decade, how you recognize the little nuances of what makes them, well, them. a sigh in another room.  The way they walk. How they have presence, so that you know that they are there, with you, even if you are not even sharing the same space...

Dexterdog was getting old.  We could tell this, after all he was pushing 13, but we still would ask him if he wanted to feed the horses, go to the mailbox; we even did a two mile hike in January, and he was eager to go.  His body not so much, but his attitude? oh yes, lets go!! His mind was always on us, even to the end. So when one week ago, when his breathing was labored even at rest, and he wanted to sleep long hours, we knew something was not right - lets call Dr. Randy and get him checked out - off to town we went. 

Thus began the discussion - for some reason we thought we had time, and now the time was now.  When is it time to put them down? He didnt seem to be in pain - just uncomfortable, more so then less. But then, he still enjoyed a good meal, barked for snacks, loved to eat snow and would tell us to open the door when he had to go potty. His world was now reduced to the lower floor of the house and 10 foot radius outside the house, and his heart may be failing, but that tail wag was still there...So after a few good stories exchanged (and Dr. Randy has good ones, especially one about a COPD mustang stubborn mare, who even had to die her own way; dropping immediately dead of a heart attack right into the hay bale ring, making it almost impossible to pull her out...a true mare right to the end lol) Dr. Randy gave us some drugs to ease his breathing, and we both agreed that maybe the time isnt right now, but its very soon. Mr. Foresterman asked Dr. Randy if he could come out to the homestead to put him down if it becomes sooner rather then later (we were not comfortable with the idea of shooting our forestry co-worker)... being the excellent vet that he is, he said "no problem, let me know and I will be there".  Did you know we live an hour away from town?  any town?  

Dr. Randy is a wonderful vet. the best.

So onward to the store to buy dexterdog a package of cookies, a case of canned junkfood kibbles and bits, and those pepperoni puppy snacks.  If you are going to go, you may as well burn that candle to the very end...and he did. I fed him every time he barked. he loved it.  We even slept in the guest bedroom with him downstairs, as stairs were no longer accessible. All of us, Tomaz kitty included. We gave him love & attention to the point of distraction... But then last Friday night, Dexter took a turn for the worse - it seemed his breathing became more erratic and wheezy, his heart beating faster and out of sync. Saturday morning he refused all food; even his beloved peanut butter - he still would eat snow though, so we brought it in by the bowlful, holding it for him so he could lick it...  By Sunday afternoon, he could no longer stand.  Later I even carried him outside just so he could lay in the late afternoon sun,  licking his snow when he could, for a half hour or so. He looked up at me and wagged that big curly tail slowly to say thanks mom! one last time. Then early Monday morning, we were awakened at 4 am - Death was on his way - and I got a lick on the nose when I told Dexter that he didnt need to stay here anymore, I would be okay, that his body was old and he needed to go be free...That was my last kiss.

By the time sun rose, Mr. Foresterman had called Randy and asked if he could come out - thinking I had a little bit of time left, I went upstairs, asking Mr. Foresterman to stay with Dexter, so I could change out of my pajamas. While coming back down the stairs I heard my name softly called. I kneeled across from Mr. Foresterman, next to Dexterdog's face, the rest of his body stretched out on his dog bed with his favorite blanket... I rubbed behind his ears with both hands like he loves me to do, and told him what a wonderful, good, good dog he is...

its time to go, Dexter... i love you ...

He sighed deeply once, and the light of life slowly dimmed in his eyes. Mr. Foresterman could still feel his heart beating, although his breathing stopped. Then his heart stopped too. We looked at each other over his peaceful, big furry white body.  It was over.  And Dr. Randy? We had 8 inches of snow in our area over the weekend, and as he turned on the road that leads up to us, He said it was the darnedest thing...The Sun was shining, but...sporadic big splotches fell, raindrops, crystal ice RAINDROPS of all things, that froze when it plopped onto his truck's windshield... and nothing but heat or scraping was going to get them off...When he finally arrived, we told him Dexter was gone, but that we were glad that he made it up safely to our place.  And it was then, without any prompting, that Mr. Foresterman made a very tough decision...

Isabel, our 15 year old cat, was having good weeks and bad weeks - but each time she was losing weight.  Youd have thought though she was a kitten the way she acted when it was a good week, but her bad weeks, she was miserable and in pain. And even though I was taking care of her health needs, she just was not regaining the weight she lost each time, and now her head was wider then her body. but she was not my cat- she was true blue Mr. Foresterman's all the way...

To tell you the truth, She actually hated me, and my big white fluffy dog too. No, hate is not a strong enough word in this case. she tolerated us up to a certain point. Oh, she would come up for a pat, but would bite me when I petted her too much, or scratch me if i didnt do it right - she would swat at Dexter even if he was just walking by, and gosh forbid if he nosed her. But She didnt bite mr. Foresterman, nor swat at him.  He could do no wrong in her little green cat eyes...she was his...and what did he ask of Dr. Randy?

"Could you put down Isabel while you are here?"

So, in her favorite place in front of our fireplace's nice warm fire, on her favorite ottoman, Mr. Foresterman stroked her while Dr. Randy did the right thing... and she went peacefully, chasing after Dexter. After a few more stories exchanged, we said goodbye to Dr. Randy, the best Vet ever. The house was now quiet.  We placed the two of them side by side on the blanket in the Mudroom; Tomaz was confused. He sniffed, and walked away, then would come back to stare. Get up, you guys! Come on! he seemed to be he was all alone. All his friends were gone.  

And thats when I started to finally cry...

We buried the two deep, next to Sally the pony, at the old gate in back. They were buried separately because I couldnt stand the thought of evil kitty Izzy sneering at lugalug Dexterdog for an eternity. Side by side with a little dirt distance in between thank you. Mr. Foresterman humored me, but it wasnt easy; there was 6 inch frost line that we had to bust through. Taking turns, we broke through, and he placed Isabel's body in her spot, I place Dexter's in his, 3 feet down.  After we were done, We were both tired, muddied with thick gumbo, and little disoriented; we really didnt have time to eat much because of all what transpired...we lost two of our best friends on the same day. well, I lost mine, and Mr. Foresterman lost his cat that he has had since she was a tiny kitten...Dexter was always my dog, my bud. I adopted him from a dog rescue back in 2002; he was 18 months old, was a purebred Samoyed but had been through TWO homes - the last one he had caused thousands of dollars of damage when he chewed on a expensive backyard spa and cover. Well, I didnt have a spa so he came home with me.  And the rest is history.  Mr. Foresterman let him be my dog, because he knew Dexter would take care of me, especially when i was alone working or playing in the woods.  And he did. I was never ate by a bear, mountain lion or human in all his years of duty...He was the best dog ever and i dont think i want another dog for a very long time. My grief is very real - we lost half of our "pack" family in one day...

or did we?

At first I thought it was just me, and didnt say anything.  im difficult enough to live with, i didnt want to give anyone grounds to get me commited.  It started with a Dexter sigh, i swear I heard - maybe it was the snow melting off the roof?  Then I heard a clunk; the way his elbows would hit the floor when he got up - maybe thats the plumbing? And when I came home from the post office yesterday to an empty house - he used to ride shotgun with me - I felt like he was in the other room, and he was going to come out to greet me in his sammy grin way, tail wagging...I was preparing myself to have to explain why I didnt take him with and then accept his forgiveness... At that point I thought I just better stop entertaining these thoughts and "pretend" sounds. Maybe its my mind's way of handling loss...

 But then Mr. Foresterman mentioned something to me today.

The same night after Dexter died, he was awakened by a noise upstairs; how could it be? the sound of Dexter brushing up and rattling against the bathroom door, like he always did - because well, big fur, big body, small opening - he brushed up against everything, tattletale white fur at a 3ft height everywhere. Mr. Foresterman listened again, but didnt hear anything more... well, maybe it was Tomaz...He moved his leg over.  

Tomaz was sleeping at the foot of the bed.



"Devotional love extends beyond the finality of death...and it is the strongest magic there is..."



  1. Oh this is beautiful my friend and when I can stop crying/sobbing I will be back again to read it again. Incredible writing you ripped my heart out. xoxo B

  2. He's just checking to make sure you're okay.

  3. years ago, when i had to put down my indoor cat, i'd still catch sight of her out of the corner of my eye, at times. when my sweet marigold had to leave, i had 4 other dogs to make up for her sounds and snarfles. but it almost killed me to vacuum up the remnants of her fluffy hair around the house as i knew it'd never be replaced. she was my dear girl.

  4. Good grief that was beautiful and I can't make the tears stop rolling down my cheeks. What a lovely, lovely tribute to a life well lived and furry family member's well loved. Bless you.

  5. I am so sorry for your loss. My dog Panic was 17 and she was on her way out. The vet told us that she was going to die of heart failure and that we should put her down soon. I remember being so heart broken, she was still so alive and loving. How could I put her down when her tail was still wagging and she was still giving every one kisses. He gave us some pain meds and we went home. As I was doing research on treatments for heart failure she came up and laid by my feet. She licked my leg and that was it. She died right then and there. It is soo hard losing a pet that had been a family member for so long. I swear I still hear her feet in the kitchen floor in the middle of the night. Thanks so much for sharing this heartbreaking story!

  6. een heel lang verhaal maar wel heel mooi verteld.

  7. Yes, they are always with us. Always. I hear Bernie almost every day - I know she is there. Lovely post, as always.

  8. This is so very touching and beautiful. I'm so sorry for your dual loss and understand it well as I had to put my two 14 year old dogs to sleep last summer within a week of one another. Their presence goes as deep as our love and doesn't fade.

  9. Oh, Dexter Dog was there with you for sure. He'll be around for a very long time to come, too. I had my Tiger kitty for 18 years and he's been gone since 2005, but there are times when I STILL expect to see him come around the corner or wonder where he is. That's the kind of gift they give you. Unconditional love and acceptance and a lifetime companion.

  10. oh my dear - lovely post. I will be back to comment.

  11. Oh Janice, I'm so so sorry. I do believe that their spirits stay with us awhile before they move on to heaven. I felt my sweet cat (Hobie) walking around with me and I swear to this day, that he has walked across the bed at night. I felt footsteps. I haven't felt them in a while now, hopefully he has moved on. Bless you and your husband. I know your grief.

  12. I'm with Buttons. It's not easy to keep reading when you have tears in your eyes. I'm sorry you have lost these two members of your family...

  13. The tears flowed from this can write so well that I could feel the pain of what you both went thru...sorry to hear of your losses! They really are just like our own human family and it is just as hard to lose one of them. My condolences....

  14. We can feel your pain as we have also been in those shoes. May your memories of those two give you comfort!

  15. Sorry for your loss. Must be good to have him at home in his last moments.
    Great post but my tears got my keyboard wet......
    have to cuddle my dogs ......
    Hugs from Sweden

  16. Animals are amazing... and losing them, even the biters; is just the hardest thing.
    I must add, I have to stop reading this blog when I am work~ sobbing all over the paper work is just not good office etiquette.... *sniff*
    So sorry for your losses.....

  17. RIP Dexterdog. Well now here I am crying and blowing my nose. I know how you feel, I put my siamese kitty down when she was almost 22 years old.

    Please don't say you don't want another dog for a long time. I said that too about a kitty. But you know what. there are so many beautiful pets in shelters that will be put down unless someone adopts them like you did Dexter and I my Tucker James.

    I changed my mind and I hope you will too because I bet Dexter dog would want you to get another dog....not to replace him but to take over the chore of being your companion and guard.

    Big hugs

  18. I think Dexter passed the way he would have wanted to- peacefully and surrounded by love. I'm so glad you didn't have to do it for him, but at the same time, I think Izzie was probably grateful for the help.
    I've only ever had one dog die of old age, of the many I have had, and it was the same way; peacefully, a sigh at a time, and that look as if to say, "Is it all right that I go now?"
    Hugs to both of you.

  19. I am back ~ like I said a very nice post but definitely brought me to tears. Rest in peace to your precious pets. This is such a hard time "knowing when" ~ we are presently doing the same with our 13 1/2 yr old cocker spaniel (sniff sniff) ~ Yes I believe that all of them that have gone on are still with us by our sides.

  20. OK I am back still misty eyed but at least now I can see what I am typing... Dexter was the luckiest dog in the world to have had a rough start but to find the best home ever one filled with love and a family who would love him and do anything for him till the very end. Of course he would come back just to make sure you were OK. Isabelle was lucky too and if I ever need a forever home I will be dropping myself on your doorstep just so you know, I know you would take care of me and make sure I get to where I was heading because you are that kind of caring person. It is very sad but I know people that are not that lucky in their lives to have a love like that till the very end.Sorry for your losses my friend you and Mr. Foresterman were lucky to have that much love coming also back to you. xoxoxHugs B

  21. So sad. So sad! A month ago we put down one of our wonderful cowgirl helpers. But we got to say goodbye. She had a wonderful life.

  22. Beautiful . . . as I say with tears in my heart . . .
    Very sad for you, and for your loss . . .
    Gorgeous Dexter Dog, rest in peace . . .
    and also you, Isabel . . .

  23. Lovely and so moving. Still very fresh for me too. Everyone grieves differently and obviously I respect your choice not to have another dog for a long time, but... For me the greatest tribute to your old friend is to offer a home to another unwanted, unloved or abused dog that people have failed, in spite of your personal pain. I was and am heartbroken at losing my old girl Tess, and my new girl Amber was equally heartbroken at losing her family. Together we are healing each other's battered hearts.

  24. Huge tears in my eyes and yet smiling and your wonderful insight.
    Hugs my friend,

  25. Hugs to you. Big hugs. What a wonderful friend and companion he was to you.

  26. I can hardly see the screen.
    Goodbye, Dexterdog. You were the very best <3
    My heart breaks for you.

  27. Oh my! Tears fall as I read about Dexter Dog. April 29th will be one year since I lost my Taumee dog! I heard we get but one pet in a life time, that is our soul mate.....and Your Dexter Dog, and My Taumee Girl was that for both of us. With Taumee it was sudden! I was in shock! and when I let my mind wander to long, a few tears will fall. Taumee was 10 years and 23 days old. What a SHORT TIME those 10 years were!

  28. I'm playing catch-up on reading blogs and want you to know how sorry I am about Dexter Dog and Izzy. I'm glad ya'll are going to get a new kitten so Tomaz will have a buddy!

  29. Well now I'm crying. And it's time for bed and my Shug is not going to understand why I'm over eating cookies and milk,and going way off of my diet and crying for someone I "don't really know because they are just internet people". Girl....I am SO SORRY. I am just so sorry. I have been trying to get caught up on blogs and I read your most recent post and I thought WHAT? So I kept going back and back and....I'm just so sorry. Nothing else to say.

    Cindy Bee

  30. I read this with tears in my eyes. I've had to let go of 3 Jack Russells that I loved dearly. It's not easy to lose your bestest friends that love you unconditionally. I have them all buried out in the front yard on the edge of the woods. After Leo it was sooo quiet and I didn't know what to do with myself. It was only a few months after Leo was gone that a kitty found me here at work. Then a friend had some manx kitties and I got a feisty orange female tabby that I named Nubbie. THEN a mama kitty from next door (my irresponsible neighbors) came and had babies at my house. So I now have 4 outside kitties, one total inside kitty and one in/out kitty. Funny how life works. And I didn't realize it until just now (because it's been a while since I've read your blog) but I named one of the kitties outside, Thomas. And your Tomaz looks a lot like him. Congrats on the rescue sister kitty for Tomaz.


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