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

Linda writes articles on a variety of genre's; poetry, recipes, mental health, health & wellness and personal stories about her life.

My Dog Joey

My sweet boy enjoying a nice summer day

My sweet boy enjoying a nice summer day

Losing a Pet

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.

Dog Quote

“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

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Linda Rogers

Comments

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on October 14, 2020:

Nell, I so relate to that. Putting my boy down was one of the most brutal things I've ever gone through. Our dogs find places in our hearts you never knew existed. Sorry about your loss too but we have life-long memories.

Nell Rose from England on October 14, 2020:

That is so sad. I remember when we lost our Sheba. She was a huge Alsatian cross. I stayed in the kitchen and just sobbed for hours.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on August 02, 2020:

Thank you for your lovely comment about Joey. We are lucky to have had the love and loyalty of these dogs through hard times. I agree, we will see them some day again. Thanks so much for reading about my sweet boy.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on August 02, 2020:

To lose a dog like Joey is so heart-breaking. What a special boy he was. My Clancey was similar to your Joey. He will forever be a part of me. He was there when I lost my son to cancer...he was there for me through ups and downs. At the same time, how blessed we are to have the unconditional love of our sweet best friends. We will be with them again.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on July 26, 2020:

Rusty & Joey will always live in our hearts. It's hellish putting down your best friend, even though it's the right thing to do. Also sorry to hear about your cat. Let's just remember, loss is hard but it's all worth the love we were given.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 26, 2020:

It sounds like you are telling the story of me and my dog Rusty. He had those same symptoms before we put him down. I also lost my cat last year that I had for almost 14 years. It is so painful to lose a pet you love so much. Joey was like a gift to you for those years just like mine were to me. I appreciate you writing about your experience.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on April 26, 2020:

Hi Meg, thanks for reading the story of my beautiful boy 'Joey'. I think about him everyday. Dog's are definitely a gift from God. Stay safe and healthy during these days of the virus. Blessings, Linda

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on April 26, 2020:

It is so hard to lose a dog, yet that is the last kindness you can do for them, to send them to the rainbow bridge where they can wait and play until you come to collect them. What a lovely last evening you gave him! Beautiful story.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 05, 2019:

Touching narration. Nice reading.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on November 30, 2019:

Hi Manatita-It is so painful putting a dog down; especially after rescuing them through adoption. Felt so guilty and sad.

manatita44 from london on November 30, 2019:

Hi Linda,

As I read I remembered that I had commented here before. We share somethings in common. Wonderful!!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on April 30, 2019:

Thanks much for reading about my sweet 'Joey'. I miss him everyday. Hope you get a cat some day as animals are loyal & loving companions.

schoolgirlforreal on April 29, 2019:

What a beautiful and poignant and sad story but so moving , I have never had the joy of a dog yet, but I hope to someday , I have cats and I really appreciate you sharing this, and the video is the cutest thing I ever saw. Sorry for your loss of Joey, he's in doggy heaven!!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 23, 2019:

Wow Bill, do we ever have a lot in common. I am 15 years cancer free & you finished radiation 15 years ago. Were both a couple of fighters that have lost our furry best friends. Thank you for sharing your story about your special dog & confidante. If you haven't already written about your dog here @ Hubpages, I sure wish you would. God bless you for reading my story & leaving such a heart-felt comment. It means a lot.

Bill Russo from Cape Cod on March 23, 2019:

I cried for Joey as I read this skillfully written outpouring of love and emotion. You described all too well the feeling of losing a treasured friend. We share a double bond Linda, cancer and a guide dog. Mine was Samantha. She gave me the strength to battle through four unsuccessful surgeries over two years as vocal chord cancer was beating me down. Radiation finally stopped the cancer, but it was Sammy who gave me the inner resources that got me through the hardest parts. I survived and have prospered for 15 years since the radiation but Sam did not. She passed away just as I was completing my treatments. I carried her to the vet, though she weighed 80 pounds and radiation had weakened me. I thought she was going to get better but she passed away about five hours after I dropped her off. She was 12 and I had become so close to her that she almost was a surrogate Mom to me. Most people don't understand that when I say it, but I think you will comprehend what I mean. Your writing was wonderful and inspirational. Great job. I am all thumbs, so you get a score of TEN THUMBS UP!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 17, 2019:

Hi Peggy-Thank you for reading my story about Joey the Dog. I miss my buddy so much! Sounds like you can relate to losing a pet. The day we put him down was one if the hardest days of my life. I am glad I dream about him often as ir gives me some solace. Blessings to you.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2019:

Dear Linda,

I have tears in my eyes reading about the loss of your sweet companion. My sincere condolences to you. Your Joey was cherished and will remain so in your heart always. We have had to experience the loss of many of our dear furry friends, and it is hard.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 17, 2019:

Dream On-I am touched by your thoughtful, heartfelt comment about the loss if my dog. I dream about Joey nearly every night. In my dreams he is alive & well. It's amazing how pets find their way into parts of our hearts we didn't even know existed. Joey gave me unconditional love & was my best friend through life's ups & downs. I would give anything to see him one more time. Bless you my sweet friend.

DREAM ON on March 16, 2019:

Just when I thought all my tears have dried up. The waterworks have started again. I have had cats not dogs for pets and have seen them pass away. The sadness and the loss are so painful. Then I think of all the endless joy and unconditional love I have received and I know it is part of life that we have no control over. We have to take the bad with the good. The good outweighs the bad every time. Reading your story and your experiences make me a better person. Learning to accept other peoples loss and sadness and relate to it. Sharing and caring. I am so happy I got to read your personal and moving hub. I do believe we meet up with all those people and animals we love in this life in the afterlife. So we are never really separated. I also believe when we think of all our loved ones and lovely family furry friends they are with us daily. We may not be connected in the body but the spirit continues on. Thank you for being you. I am too choked up to even write any more. Have a sweet night.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on September 02, 2018:

Thanks Ethel-I agree that letting them go is showing them our love; but darn it hurts like hell. I appreciate you reading my story about Joey. He was such a good friend to me.

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 30, 2018:

It is so sad saying goodbye to a beloved pet but if you love them you have to let them go. Thanks for sharing yours and Joey’s story xx

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on August 27, 2018:

Thanks so much for your kind words Arby. I so miss my Joey the dog. Thanks for stopping by today.

Arby Bourne from USA on August 27, 2018:

Oh, my heart. What a wonderful, heartfelt tribute to your dear companion.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on June 20, 2018:

Adrienne-I am so sorry to her your dog is sick. Good job treating her like a queen. Dogs are so amazing, loving and loyal and it's the least we can do to pay them back. Enjoy the time you have left

Adrienne Farricelli on June 14, 2018:

My heart aches reading your story. The great bond you had with Joey transpires greatly throughout the article. My almost 11-year old Rottie has advanced cancer and we are treating her like a queen these days. She is still enjoying life, but I dread seeing her deteriorate.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on April 17, 2018:

Dear Larry-bless you for your comforting words. It helps knowing someone understands the deep pain of losing a dear

pet. So sorry to hear about the loss of your sweet Izzy. Let us live with the loving memories of our fuzzy best friends.

Larry W Fish from Raleigh on April 14, 2018:

Linda, I know very well the pain of loosing a dog that is loved so much. My Izzy, a beagle lab mix, had to have an emergency operation in 2004. She didn't survive. I cried for six months, couldn't eat for days. It is not just a pet, it is family. I know you had the same feeling about Joey. It takes a lot of time before the pain goes away. It is hard for some people to understand, but not for an honest to goodness dog lover.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on June 09, 2017:

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

Tamara Moore on June 09, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on June 08, 2017:

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

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 08, 2017:

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.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on May 03, 2017:

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.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 03, 2017:

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.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on April 08, 2017:

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 from london on April 07, 2017:

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 from the beautiful south on April 06, 2017:

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.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 29, 2017:

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 from Texas on March 29, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 29, 2017:

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 from Philippines on March 29, 2017:

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.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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 from Every Day Cooking and Baking on March 28, 2017:

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.

Clive Williams from Jamaica on March 28, 2017:

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

Martie Coetser from South Africa on March 28, 2017:

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!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 28, 2017:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 28, 2017:

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

FlourishAnyway from USA on March 28, 2017:

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.

Suzie from Carson City on March 28, 2017:

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

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 27, 2017:

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!

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 27, 2017:

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.

Linda Rogers (author) from Minnesota on March 27, 2017:

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.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on March 27, 2017:

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.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on March 27, 2017:

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...

M E Derby on March 27, 2017:

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

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