Changes and Losses II: Life’s Sequel

RMpuppies 001


Get over it. It’s just a dog [cat, fish, bird, whatever].

How many times have you heard that?  How many times have you maybe said that?

In the last year, we have lost many animals from old-age-related issues.  I once had four tanks of gerbils (started with two individual gerbils which were supposed to be different sexes, but then had to separate the resulting boys and girls) – they all died of old age.  Ok, gerbils don’t stimulate sympathy in most people, but I was still sad when each one passed.  God bless the little things, each one made it to about 3-1/2 years or more, which is pretty amazing for such small animals.

Granted animals are not people, and perhaps grief should be retained for humans only.  Heaven knows, we all grieved when our Dan died of cancer last year, and my mother died of old age shortly thereafter.


Riggsie At Ease

But somehow, losing our black German Shepherd, Riggsie, just made the grief so much more unbearable.  Riggsie lived to be 12 years old, and then succumbed to bloat (gastric volvulus).  Sure, surgery might have been an option, but the emergency room vet could not guarantee an elderly dog would survive the anesthesia and surgery, especially since poor Riggsie had immunodeficiency problems.  The dog was in agony.  The decision was made.

We went home from the emergency clinic without our Riggsie.


Morgan Waiting for Mom

That was one year and 10 days ago.  In the last year, we still had our smaller, mixed border collie/shepherd, Morgan.  Morgan turned 13 last November.

Morgan enjoyed having the house all to herself without her “big brother.”   She “stole” all his toys, one of which was even bigger than she was!  She began snoozing next to my feet while I was working on the computer – Riggsie was the alpha dog and previously that was HIS spot, along with first dibs on the couch.


Riggsie Being Scary

Just before Christmas of this year, Morgan developed a cough which wouldn’t go away.  We took her to our regular vet, thinking it was an allergy or something.  Sure, we had all noticed she had lost weight over the last few months, but just figured it was old age catching up with her.  Or perhaps it was her previous neurological problems reasserting themselves.  The vet examined her and took blood work – diagnosis:  Stage 3 canine lymphoma.

Without treatment, the prognosis was four to six weeks.  On prednisone only, she would have maybe two months.  If we opted for chemotherapy, we could stretch that to maybe six months.

The dog was over 13 years old and was already having trouble breathing.  Chemotherapy is expensive, tough on the dog, might not work for such an old dog, and even if it did work would only extend her life by a few months at most.  We opted for the prednisone therapy.

The day before yesterday, despite increased doses of prednisone, Morgan began gasping at night, and the fear in her eyes did me in.


Morgan’s Last Photo Shoot

Yesterday, when Morgan woke up, she seemed perfectly OK again – almost like she thought she was a puppy.  But I remembered her eyes the night before, and knew she was declining rapidly

I called our vet to ask how I could know when it was “time.”  I truly expected the vet to tell me to bring the dog in for an exam.  But instead the vet explained to me just how aggressive Morgan’s lymphoma was and that things would likely be getting ugly very quickly.  She left it to my husband and me to determine if we wanted to try to keep Morgan around for another week or two, with the very real possibility that she would soon be in dire distress, or put her down gently now, before the real suffering began.

I made the appointment– the last appointment of the day, and the vet said she would wait for us to get there.

Although showing signs of her disease at the vet’s office, Morgan was still acting fairly peppy and friendly.  My husband and I developed enough doubts that the 5:00 pm appointment became 6:00 pm and required another conversation with the vet prior to the ultimate decision.  The vet reassured us that easing Morgan’s current suffering and preventing even worse future suffering was the right thing to do.

We came home without our Morgan.

I’m sure we did the right thing in preventing further suffering – the situation was hopeless.  But I still feel guilty.

And now we are dog-less.

It was so strange this morning that I did not have to put the dog out, did not have to shut doors to rooms the dog was not allowed in, did not have to feed the dog, did not have to worry about rolling my desk chair back and accidentally running over the dog’s tail or paw.

Sure, they’re just animals.

But it still hurts.

We’ll get past this grief like we have before, for both people and animals.

We may eventually get more pets, or we may not – that decision will wait until we’ve had time to process the current situation.

Meanwhile, Riggsie and Morgan can play with Dan and my mother in heaven, and watch over all those little children who have died unexpectedly over the past year.  Maybe God decided our losses were necessary in order to help those little children.

Rest in peace, lost loving souls.

And don’t anyone dare to tell me to get over it already – it’s just an animal.


ADDENDUM:  As it turned out, I couldn’t stand living without a dog in the house.  Thus began the story of Puppy Cody.


I love to hear from my readers.  You may comment on this post, comment on my Facebook page, or email me at


Images by:  Cordelia’s Mom

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21 Responses to Changes and Losses II: Life’s Sequel

  1. Karen J says:

    Oh, CM, I’m soo sorry to see this – I know how it hurts to say good-bye to a long-time companion, no matter how much “it was the best decision”!
    … and sure, now there’ll be room for all kinds of new things, first comes the grief and the habit-rearranging.

    Big Zen Hugs for {{{you and your hunny and the girls}}}, especially, and anyone else who will miss Morgan ~


  2. Charlotte says:

    CM, I am sorry for your loss. I know what you are going through. Ten years ago I had to make the same decision for my dog, she was 18, my parents got her when I was 2, we literally grew up together. They are family, and decisions like that are not something you just get over. It takes time and Cody will never replace Riggsie and Morgan, though hopefully she can help ease the hurt.


  3. You are so right, they are not just an animal. They are welcomed and treated as a member of the family. Riggsie does look alot like our Titan. You put your family members first. Riggsie and Morgan are at peace now and I know that your new pup will be loved just as much.

    People who feel like “its just an animal” shouldn’t say things like that. Losing a pet is difficult and it takes time. Those people have also probably never had the privilege of having a pet greet them at the door. I feel sorry for those people.

    Thank you for sharing this and thank you for visiting my blog.


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  6. So sorry to hear about Riggsie and Morgan. I lost my Rottweiler on 2/10/14….(̥ ̥এ́ ̼ এ̥̀)̥̥


  7. My Rottie was about 11 years old when he died. I adopted him since 2004. If you click on the link in my comment, you’ll see some picture of him. And his name is Monster _へ__(‾◡◝ )>


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