Thursday, October 17, 2013

You Were a Good Dog

Eighteen months ago, when Our Dog Pepper had a health crisis, an animal-loving friend who works with veterinarians had wise advice.

"We always promise our pets that they will not suffer. Ever. Luckily, doctors can treat our four-legged family much more humanely than those with two legs," she wrote. "Your pet is a family member and he or she will 'tell you' how far to go and when it's time. You will know."

Yesterday, we knew.

Pepper had turned 15 years old in the spring, and these days she wasn't doing much more than finding a spot in the sun for napping, but she still was eating well and loved to be scratched behind the ears--until Monday of this week. That's when we discovered that the food we had left for her the day before was still in her bowl and her water dish was untouched. We tried giving her some left-over stewed chicken, but even that didn't tempt her to eat.

The vet diagnosed a kidney problem. With aggressive treatment she might live another month, he told Husband, or we could decide it was time to let her go humanely.

I didn't cry until Husband sent me the picture of Pepper he snapped just before her final walk down the hall with the vet. She looked old and gray and sad.

It was time.

Before I left for work yesterday morning I told Pepper that she had been a good dog. I thought of the tiny bundle of black fur that had come home with us from the Wal-Mart parking lot on Palm Sunday in 1988, and of the part she played in our family over the intervening years. I knew it would be a while before I stopped expecting her to greet us when we get home, or watch us through the patio doors as we eat supper.

I'm glad she could be eased out of her old age into whatever is beyond for dogs, but I will miss her. 


  1. Peace out, Pepper. Hugs to you and the family Sara.

  2. Oh I'm so sorry. The end of a good pet's life is always so hard.