Knowing When to Say Goodbye

We’ve been preparing for prom and graduation.  In the process, I’ve made 1001 decisions.  Paint colors–for fingernails and walls.  Carpet, shoes, food and flowers.  Yet, no decision has been as difficult as the one we now face.

After a morning at the vet clinic, it is clear that our geriatric lab is suffering tremendously.  She never complains–no whining or whimpering, no growling or yipping–and she’s never lost her temper in that curmudgeonly way aging animals do.  She’s as sweet as ever and loyal to a fault.

You see, despite every joint in her legs being affected, she still follows the kids up and down the stairs.  She still gets up whenever her humans look at her, talk to her or walk away.  She would lay down her life for any of us, a sad irony when you consider we now have to choose her fate.

If the pain medication does not ease her discomfort, we will have no choice.  If it does work, it’s likely that she will simply sleep all day in a drug-induced stupor, and we will be forced to choose between saying goodbye to our dearest family pet or keeping her alive despite her failed quality of life.

Her mind is sound.  Her eyes are bright and her love for us deep and more clear than if she could voice it.  My heart breaks at the very thought of what the next week will bring.

For some, trunking a novel elicits the same heartbreaking emotion.  We’ve lived and breathed these characters.  Heck, we’ve given birth to them.  By some estimates, the writing journey–from the first excited “Once upon a time” to “The End” of a book contract–averages ten years.  Ten years.

That’s how old Kallie is.

Saying goodbye to a manuscript or a beloved pet is never easy, yet sometimes, it is the right thing to do.

When the time comes, we will say goodbye to Kallie at the farm–hunting land that has been in the family for generations.  A few years ago, Middle Son received a tree for Arbor Day.  It’s planted on a crest overlooking the pond.  I can’t think of a better place for Kallie to rest in peace.

May your day be filled with hope and happiness.

Hugs~ Cat

14 responses to “Knowing When to Say Goodbye

  1. Thinking of you guys:( sorry that grandma kallie isn’t doing so well. She is a good dog. Poor thing.

    • Thanks. She is and always has been quite amazing. Even when she chewed the seat off the snowmobile…or the cushions off the patio furniture 127 times!

  2. Oh Cat, you’ve brought tears to my eyes. This is such a difficult cross-roads that we reach, with all our beloved pets, and I’ve been there too, prevaricated, fooled myself, fooled others. Looking back now I’d have one rule of thumb for the future, always supposing I could bear to go down that path again. The rule is this: A dog that’s still eating is a dog that’s still enjoying life and still sees a reason to get up in the morning. I guess it boils down to what they can stand, rather than what we can stand to watch. I hope you can bring yourself to make the right decision at the right time and wish you the strength to do what must be done, when it must.(hugs)

    And yes, I trunked my manuscript recently; maybe one day I’ll have learned enough to make it right; all I know for the moment is that it’s not and it’s not within my power yet to make it so.


    • Sandra,

      Thanks for these words. She does still eat about every other meal, so that makes me feel better. And she hasn’t turned cranky yet, which is always a good sign.

      This is the first time I’ve been through this, as my childhood pets (Fluffy and Spot) both curled up in the barn in the straw when I was away at college, and our first family dog grew severely allergic to something in our house so we gave her away to a neighborhood family who loved her dearly. She was only five at the time.

      It’s easy to think you know what to do, but reality hurts so much more than you think possible. Your kindness will help us get through the decisions we have to make.


  3. My heart’s breaking for you and your family. It’s so incredibly hard on everyone. Such a hard decision to make. I know you’ll do the right thing at the right time – you’re not built to do anything else. *hugs*

    • Thanks, Jemi.

      We haven’t told the kids yet. I don’t know how…or when. I guess maybe I’m hoping the meds will help and we won’t have to make the decision now. Even though in reality, we are only putting off the inevitable. Thanks for you hugs. I needed them.

  4. Aww Cat, I’m so sorry your dog isn’t doing well. I know how heartbreaking that is. *hugs* to you and your family.

    • Thanks, Jen. Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re the only ones who hurt, but in reality, virtually everyone has had to deal with the death of a beloved pet at some time. The support and kindness of the writing community is amazing.


  5. Sorry about Kallie. Sounds like a great dog.

    • She was, Steven. Great and naughty, too. Funny how her naughtiness, which used to frustrate me to no end, now amuses me. I guess that means we don’t have to be perfect to be loved. A great revelation at this time. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I felt so sad reading this, I am so sorry about Kallie.

  7. Oh Cat, you made me cry. My sweet little love pug is almost 10 years old and while she’s still healthy and acts like a puppy, I’m scared to death of having to make the decision you’re about to. My thoughts are with you and I know you’ll make the decision that’s best for your Kallie. ❤

    • Sorry about the tears, MK. Hopefully you won’t have to make any decisions any time soon. We’ve known Kallie’s joints were bad years ago–she hurt front shoulders by jumping out of the window of a truck into a steep ditch and she’s about 15 pounds overweight despite everyone’s intentions to keep her slim. I’ve seen pics of your pug and she looks svelt.

      Hugs and thanks so much for your kind thoughts.

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