Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login

On this day, the world did not end.

In the past month, I had a feeling it was happening. Cogniscently, it registered that this was an inevitability. I was counting down the hours, though no one tells you how many there are to count. Work. School. Food. Mess. Things don't slow down in the last days, they speed up. Little things eat up more time than you ever thought they would. Food. Bread. Toast. Butter. Take the bag out of the fridge. Take a slice out. Put it down. Wait. In the meantime, see if she needs anything.

Some days were better than others. We didn't go for walks anymore, but pride made her champion up and down those stairs every time. In her later years, she wobbled, but accepted no help. If a dog could show disdain, she managed it better than any other. She started to turn her nose up at her old food. We gave her canned. After six months, she turned her nose up at that. We gave her the vet stuff. The good stuff. The lamb-and-rice premium aged dog formula. I think my dog became an expert haggler in her old age. If she was going to leave, she was going to do it with dignity, and damned if we weren't going to pay for it. She liked it when we mixed salmon or peanut butter in her meals.

The hair was nothing new. The dog always shed. Hair was always everywhere. It was part of the home environment. You own a dog, you get the hair. Dad complained about the hair for sixteen years, and for sixteen years followed that dog around relentlessly with a vaccuum cleaner glowering and grumbling expletives, shaking his fist at the sky and fiddling with corner attachments. The rest of us didn't care. "Gonna skin you, dog," he would say, "Gonna skin you real good. Can't wait until you're dead." The dog would
gaze up at him from her pillow and sort of shrug, licking her lips, staring defiantly up at him as if to say, "Fuck you, old man. I'm gonna live till I'm 20. See how you like that!" I believe that if she had really put her mind to it, she could have done it. She just got tired of spiting him.

It was the last month, and the messes, that changed things.

"Ugh. She shat again. Oh. God. It smells." You knew when it happened, just not what room. It was an awful anti-easter hunt to find where the dog had gotten sick. Buckets. Soap. Cloths. Paper towel. "Go out and bring the garbage can in while I wipe this up. Don't gag." My mom had a much stronger constitution than I. I assume from years of raising children and cleaning up their messes. "Put the kettle on an boil me some water. Then go downstairs and find the bottle with the orange label on it. It's in the laundry room. Don't swear, I'm the one that's cleaning it up."

The dog, when not hurried outside in case she was going to do it again, would usually hover around, offering an apologetic lick that was quickly, politely declined. Her breath had gotten so much worse. Wipe. Scrub. Disinfect. Rinse. Step on the towel to draw up the moisture. Rinse the water and do it again. Why did she always get sick on the carpet?

It wasn't grief I felt in those moments. That was just a chore. Just a ritual that needed to be done. The same as when her mouth started to rot and the drool came. Grab a tissue, stick it in her mouth and wipe. Somehow in my mind I knew this was all temporary. I wouldn't be doing this for the rest of my life. But it gave me something to do, and something to complain about. "Dog, you stink. Really stink. You're really lucky mum still loves you, because dad and I have just about had it," I teased as I smeared the tissue around her mouth, noticing the black that came out. She knew it was a lie, too, because she still kissed me with that horrible breath and wagged, wandering once around the kitchen block and then shuffling off for a long nap by the couch.

Eat. Come on, you have to eat. Mum, dad and I stood around, thinking of ways to entice the dog. She had lost so much weight in the last week. She was still drinking, but her food remained untouched. No amount of warm oatmeal, peanut butter or even bacon fat seemed appealing. She really just wanted to be as close as possible to us. Maybe because she was mostly blind and mostly deaf at this point, or maybe just to make sure we were all ok. She'd done her job all these years. The night patrol. The home watcher. Now retired to a warm bed beside the television.

Everyone always thinks they could have or should have done more on the last days, but you just don't know when they are. You go to school and come home, and the dog's just a little lazier. A little slower getting down the stairs. Took more time out on the lawn. Have a sniff. Look at the moon. Check the telephone pole out front, check the bush at the side of the house and amble back in where it's warm. I think she knew what was coming, but she kept her cool about it. So did I. Didn't want to really upset everyone.

"Dog, I have school today and I have to stay longer. I'll be home later this evening." A scratch on the head, and the wrinkle-eyed expression of gladness was replaced by the knowing sigh and cocked head of me heading out the door. "Keep mom company. She's still sick. I know you're not doing too hot, either, but at least you have each other. I'll be back later. Dad will be here, too."

I was late to school on Friday. Very late. I'd been late all semester and never bothered to say why, mumbling my sorries and throwing myself into my work. I used my work as a physical distraction from my life, but every pass of the shuttle on the loom was just my dog, my mom, my dog, my mom. I couldn't help either of them, and the feeling of
uselessness dug around inside of me, scraping at all the wrong bits of my personality. I'd try to cry and I just sort of laughed. Tried to laugh and I teared up as heat flushed my face. Do they even have names for these kinds of emotions?

I came home late, just as I'd said. It was peaceful, and had been peaceful all day. The two of them just slept, then dad brought home take-out. He told me he saw
how hard I'd been working, and that he just wanted to say how much my help meant to him. His normally curt bark was softened by our current situation. Everyone forced to get along. To be kind to one another. It's the only way to get through it.

When you know death is coming, you try to prepare for it. "It's ok, you tell yourself. She's sixteen. She's had a good life." I predicted that I would be devastated, crushed, physically immobile and blanked-out to the world at large. It's not like that. It's the slow drain of energy that gets you. Like there's a few tiny holes in your regular reserves
and that vital just-get-through-my-day energy just slowly dribbles its way out. Sleep doesn't replenish it. You wake up and you find that even more energy leaked out of that imaginary container while you were sleeping, and so you sleep some more.

I shouldn't have slept in on Saturday. On the last day, I heard mumblings outside my bedroom door in the morning. "Dad, she can't get up. You'll have to pick her up and put her on her pillow." A tiny yelp. "Not like that! She's very frail!" My father apologized, both to the dog and to my mom. I rolled back to sleep for a while longer, assuming the dog had simply pooped somewhere in the house. I didn't want to clean it up.

It got really quiet. I couldn't smell food. One leg out of the bed. Another. Sit up. Jeans. Bra? No. Shirt. Hoodie. Sock. Sock? I dug into the sheets for the pair to last night's socks. Sock. It's Saturday and my dog is dying. Don't judge me.

They were standing around her pillow. And on it was my dog, who had somehow become more wasted and gaunt in one night than the entire week before. She was sad. She was suffering. She cried and tried to get up to meet me as I crossed through the kitchen to her, but she couldn't. Legs would not submit to will. Shaking legs turned to panting effort, effort turned to strain, and the strain, unbearable. She collapsed and lay there, head down, embarassed. We patted her, mum, dad and I. Told her she was a good dog. An excellent and loved dog. And through the last six months of job worries, school assignments and sickness for my family, we were united by this.

The appointment was for monday. That was too far away, and everyone knew it. We called the vet and got an emergency appointment in twenty minutes.

This was the point when my body went numb and my mind became lucid. It was sunny of all things it could have been in late November. The past two weeks had been drenching cold November rain but the sky was nearly cloudless and I could feel heat on my skin from the sunlight. I remember telling friends a few days ago how I was somewhat ready for my dog to die, before my mom got so sick. Back in September or October, when it was sunny and dry and the leaves were ablaze with colour but not fully fallen yet. I said that I would go for a walk to places my dog liked and it would all be ok. I got my wish. It was sunny.

I was so unhelpful that morning. Dad did most of the work helping mom down the stairs, warming up the car, tucking the dog in a new blanket to replace the one she'd peed on and putting her in the car. She didn't complain about any of this. Neither did I. I wandered around downstairs not knowing what to do with my body, picking up random objects and putting them down in other places until it was time to go.

Inevitabilities do strange things to human beings.

I was in the back seat with my dog. I rested her head on my lap, circling my thumb on her ear. It soothed both of us. Down the long road through town, past the religious
anti-abortion protestors waving giant posters with gruesome images of aborted fetuses on them. I didn't need that. Not today. Not today.

Turn in to the vet. Park. Wait.

I wonder what our vet felt during the process. He'd known our dog for those same sixteen years. Raised her, repaired her. Was on the sudden and emphatic recieving end of every story thrown at him in a whirlwind to the office because the dog was hit by a car or swallowed god knows what. When she gashed her side on a hidden nail in a pile of wood searching for a ball and when on that one day, she ran so hard back and forth down the asphalt road she wore her paw pads completely off. You'd be surprised that that dog made it to death by old age. A lifetime of hijinks wasn't enough.

We waited in the back of my car and comforted the dog, while a dirty pickup truck rolled up and parked near us. A man got out and went in, a gaunt look on his face
that I guess now I could recognise on anyone. The woman in the truck went around to the back and opened the trailer. There was no leash in her hand, nothing hopped out. Just a blue towel wrapped around a still figure in the back. She stroked it lovingly, waiting her turn to see the vet. There was no urgency in either of their actions. This was death. Mine was death. Looks exchanged. No words need be said.

As my dad carried our dog up those back steps, my numbness drained away and adrenaline surged through me. Each step made me nauseous. My dog is dying. My dog is dying. Mother put her arm around my shoulder and I lifted her up, away from her walker. Mechanically, we made it up those steps. One leg, than another. Step by step. My dog is dying. My dog is dying.

People talk about life-changing events going in slow-motion. This wasn't it. It was exactly as fast as the vet said it would be. It was quick. My dog lay wrapped in that old brown blanket on the table. My shudders turned into uncontrollable sobbing. My mom wept, my dad stayed stern and I stood there, shaking, gasping and sobbing. No words, not even-half-formed thoughts. Just one hand holding my dog's ear, my other held by my mother and my father holding hers.

She looked at me. I was the one who picked her out as a puppy from that parking lot. She was our dog, but she was my dog. I was crying the loudest. She knew I needed her support the most. I couldn't meet my dog's eyes as she lay on the table, the syringe sliding into her foreleg, but I knew she was telling me, "It's all right. I've had enough. I'm done now."

"Deep breaths, love, deep breaths, otherwise you'll pass out." My mother's words were distant in my head as I sobbed more and more. This was death.

Then it was done.

My family entered with four and left with three.
The sun shone brightly and warm.
I staggered down the steps, light-headed and exhausted.
My dog is dead now.
The world did not end.

I've been struggling lately.
It helped to write my experiences down.
Add a Comment:
Rishan Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2013   General Artist
Very touching story. Thanks
Oskana Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
It's curious how life is... I've been going through some... hard and awful things around me and this year just started with the left foot... I had managed to avoid crying until now, but honestly... I need to do so, I just was avoinding it and culdn't find a reason to do it.

While I saw this and read it through teary eyes and wiping my cheeks to be able to keep reading I felt relieved somehow. I love dogs, I've had one or another all my life since I was 3 months old, I've had to let go of them for one reaosn or another and cryied my eyes out with their passing.

I do feel you and hope that you are doing better, tough I know that's a wishful thinking. Hugs and kisses for you and licks from my little chihuahua Bandit who was by my side and licking me as I cried
Sylistra-The-Scholar Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
My dog Shadow was bitten by a rattlesnake a few years ago. He didn't bark or freak out until it was too late, so I know your pain.

Many Hugs to you. :hug:
Pookasydi Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2013
I know this was posted back in November, but I stumbled across it just now. My dog just turned 18 two days ago, and he's in that same slow decline you wrote about. I tell myself and others that I'm ready for it, but I know I'm not. I'm terrified of that day, and every time I find him napping, I think it's that day.

This wasn't exactly comforting, I certainly teared up, but I guess it's good to be able to read someone else's experiences that feel so familiar.
arachelle905 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I won't burden you with a longwinded comment about the several pets I've lost, but I just wanted to say that, for one thing, this little story was exceptionally well written and brought tears to my eyes frequently (which is an accomplishment, as I don't tend to be moved to tears all that easily) and also that I love your reference works very much. You have my sympathies on your loss, and my thanks for both the photos that you post and for sharing this very powerful moment of your life. Thank you. :)

TheSkaldofNvrwinter Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm so sorry. I came here to look for more reference and got sad. :(

I think sometimes it would be better if our pets would just vanish without a trace, maybe even fade away from the world without being seen doing it, saving us the grief of the day.
Ceraline Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012
You have no idea how much this helped weird as it sounds. One year ago my dog Peggy vanished. She had been living with my Granny, just outside the city, for 2 years. She was almost 20 years old. She could hardly move those days, Getting up took her a long time and she would whine a little. We searched for 4 days...eventually everyone knew that she had gone off to silently pass away. I don't think I was ever able to fully grieve, just miss her, wonder if she was scared, if it was quick.....Reading this....helped bring out those emotions I couldn't face. Peggy was a black lab/sharpei mix and the sweetest dog I've ever known. I loved her more than I can express, iIn fact when I brought my now fiance home to meet my family, her approval was the most important.

I am extremely deeply sorry for your loss
aurora-colle Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Sigh. I cried so hard reading this. I'm really sorry for your loss and I definitely know how you feel, we lost our fifteen-year-old dog in July, to cancer.

I may be biased because of just how much it resonates with me emotionally, but I think your text itself is really well-written. Very impacting.
charleyed Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2012
I am sorry. The world didn't end, but sometimes it feels like it did. I'm sorry.
Barn0wl Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2012
:hug: Kxhara :hug:

This was simply beautiful. Thank you for sharing it. I'm sorry I didn't comment on it earlier. We lost a geriatric Lhasa Apso a few months back, and have had to go through this several times before. It seems different each time, though it is never easy. You and your family have my sympathy for whatever that is worth.
GrapeSodaGirl Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student General Artist
This is so beautiful and so much like the day my own dog died. He was an Australian Shepherd named Kirby. This almost made me cry because it's so much like what I had to go through, and since I have a twenty-year-old cat Tigger (older than I am, I grew up with both Kirby and Tigger) I know I'm going to have to do it again soon.
Lunalight Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012   Digital Artist
its hard to stay serios and starting not to cry,when i read this,i lost so many bunnys all of them where precious and unique.I loved them from bottom of my heart.I know how you feel( my oldest bun was 7 y old)
Kaywenn Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Halfway through your story I started crying.
I never had to experience the death of a pet of mine like that. My very first cat was run over by a car in the middle of a night. She wasn't even a year old. My guinea pigs passed away after a very long life, again, in the night. My second cat is eight years old now. She probably won't die for a long time. But I'll probably won't know. She moved out when we brought a kitten home. I see her sometimes. But not often. I still love her very much because she was there for a long time. I think it's better if I don't know that she died.

Death is horrible. But the world doesn't end. True.
drcmac Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
Thank you. You're not alone. I wish I was brave enough to write my similar experience like you.
OmairaAndCairistiona Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is very powerful. She will always be remembered. My condolences and deepest sympathies. :hug:
AcoustiqueRain Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
this is a really beautiful work of literature. and also terribly sad :[ i am so sorry for your loss, and i hope that you will be able to be stronger when it feels right and know that your dog will always love you, forever. peace
Chitsuu Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Your writing is beautiful.
I've never had a pet. But this made me feel your sadness. I'm truly sorry for your loss.
sc189 Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I am so sorry for your loss :(. I can't wait to go back home for xmas to see my family and pets, an old bird and old dog. I don't want to think about their time to go.
Be strong.
AmbreeChristineSkye Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2012
I'm sorry for your loss.
SarraDarling Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2012
I cried. You did a beautiful thing writing this in your loved companion's memory. Great job :heart:
lagenerala Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012  Student General Artist
Iīve lost by this time three dogs one of them by an accident in my house, two of them for natural causes.
We may be sado because they say good bye to us.. but itīs better remember the good moments and not the bad ones. Death is part of life after all.
MorrisCat Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
I understand perfectly. Ours is 18, and it is coming.
Quick-Step Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist
I'm sorry for your loss :(...
Enocia Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Honestly, reading this I cried for the first time since Friday when my Labrador passed away. I feel your loss, and I am glad to know that writing this helped, because for as sad as it made me, it helped me too.
Tsiirae Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012
Oh, my. This is heartbreaking. I'm so sorry for your loss; my rat just passed yesterday, so I know how you feel and hope things get easier soon, for the both of us. :hug:
okaminekowiesel Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You have my compassion.

I know myself how sad a ending is.

We, I had a dog, due to a liver shunt he needed a constant vegitarian diet, partitioned on a 3-4hours interval (except night). His life expectancy fell to 2,5 years. After 3 years and some more months, kidney stones clogged up, had him seduced, due to the liver shunt, it became hell of a gamble if he'd ever wake up... I hope I am forgiven for deciding something like that. And I regret not taking him home and burring him under a tree.

Sometimes I wish I had learnt more from my dog: living in the present, following things you are interested in, just take people as they are and enjoy nature. *getting some hankies*

As you said, the world keeps turning, it's not the world that changes, it is us.
PaleSpyder Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I am sorry for the loss of your friend.
DuskymUsHrOoMs Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Student Filmographer
This is so beautiful and sad!
I know that this is what every family goes through when a member dies, and it never gets any easier, even if it is only the dog.
But you are right; the world will not end.
Vyoshere Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist
emilyjyn Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm very sorry about your dog :( Beautifully written.
RJMIllustration Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012
I'm so sorry. I wish there was more i could offer than my condolences.
AardvarkEcho Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional Photographer
Oh, gods, reality check.

And I thought I was depressed and sullen before. *sigh* It's okay, this happens to me a lot. I have a bad day, a bad week, things pile up, then a straw breaks my spine and I collapse for a while.

Then I get bored with sitting still, and I get back up, and I dig a sad hole in the garden and I shovel dirt over a little piece of my heart, and after the dirt is packed down, I walk away, feeling just that much more empty.

I remember the day my mom's dog, her and I were out trying to retrieve a wayward calf that had gotten onto the road. A truck rolled by, the guy saw me and my mom, waved at my mom, and did not see the dog. He didn't struggle for breath quite like our first dog had... we have not had a dog that died of natural causes since we moved to this farm.

All of them wind up under someone's tires, eventually, and usually pretty young. But Bear tore me apart. I didn't really realize just how much I loved that dog until he was dead, lying in the road behind a blind curve, under the back bumper of a half-ton. I think, at the time, had another truck come up the road and, as it was a blind curve after all, ran me over next, I would not have cared overmuch.

Thankyou for sharing.... it's nice to see humanity in others from time to time.
xXxStarOfMythxXx Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012
I'm so sorry love, nothing prepares you for that, not ever.
egerie7 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
And this is exactly why I'm not EVER getting another dog, even 21 years after a similar story.
MenchiCutlets Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012
I'm sorry for your loss of a member of your family, the bonds we form with out pets is just as strong as the ones we make with people, and the most important thing was that you were there when they passed on. I could say rubbish about how I had a pet that passed on before, but it doesn't matter, you're right that the world does not end, and even with your precious dog passed on, all your memories with them will always remain with you, because of how much you cared for him.

Just try and take it easy for a while, and if anyone pesters you over not putting up odds and ends the people here will gladly slap them.
Bloodymage Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012
I am sorry for your lost, it does help to write it down. I wish you and your family the best.
e-maginings Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
i'm glad you could write it all out and that it helped. sometimes it just feels like there's too much death.
CrimsonSun Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012
In general, the vet feels the heavy sense of inevitability, and a sadness that's more logical than emotional.

Lovely writing as always. I'm sorry for your loss.
SilentEvilx Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm so sorry you had to go through this :( This reminds me of when I had to put my dog down with my family. It's a horrible experience. Things will get easier with time, though, I promise :heart:
Origami-Butterfly Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I don't have any words. I'll try to send you as much strength as I can.
doodler95 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. :( I've lost a pet, too. It's hard. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but sometimes that's just how it feels. Hard, and it'll take a while to get over it. But you do get over it eventually.

Maybe it would help give your family closure if you did something to commemorate her, like a little marker for your backyard or apartment. :twocents:

:hug: It's tough, but you've given her a wonderful life. She obviously left this world happy.
Pavender Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow. This is incredible. I'm sitting here sobbing because your story touched some kind of nerve with me--I've had two dogs go this way, and several other pets that died, and it never gets easier.
XNinjaBabyX Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
I'm sorry. I had to go through the exact situation. I had never spent time with my dog like i should have, and i regret it so much
disrhythmic Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012
My sweet boy died in August. Cancer. I felt the same way--amazed and almost appalled that the world and I just... went on without him.

I'm sorry for your loss, love. :heart:
Saphiroko Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is so sad and so well written. Well done, and I hope writing your thoughts out is helping with the grieving process. Your doggie is bounding around in a field of grass now, not in any pain, and happy for the life she lived with you and your family. That's what I like to think anyway. Stay strong and remember the good times.
kosett Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist
May she play and run and watch you from above.
CosplayerAlchemist Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012
You are a wonderful person. I have a 16 year old dog and she's almost at her end. She will be the first close thing in my life that dies, i've never lost anyone that dear to me before. I don't know how i'll react when it finally happens, but I love you, and i love your dog. She loved you too.
FuriousFurbies Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
All the tears :C
TheDM1 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012
Damn sorry to hear about this :(
xoLadyXannaxo Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Student General Artist
I am so, so, so sorry for your loss...If you need anyone to talk to, I'm here... :hug:
Add a Comment:

:iconrobynrose: More from RobynRose

Featured in Collections

Words by Ashdancer

the written word by Wrayth-Acheron

Literature by e-maginings

More from DeviantArt


Submitted on
November 26, 2012
Submitted with Writer


104 (who?)