The Death of Pets

LOGIE PHOEToday I could no longer put off changing the “about Kristin” page on this blog.  What I changed — and my heart slides to my feet as I say it — is the paragraph about sharing my life with Phoebe, a beagle, and Logan, a German shepherd.  Several months ago, they died within weeks of each other.  One moment I had my beautiful animal family, and the next, I didn’t.

Logan’s arthritis finally prevented him from getting up on his own, and he snapped at my husband, John, and me to stop us from helping him to his feet. Phoebe began to cough, and blood tests and x-rays revealed inoperable tumors. There was no choice but to say goodbye to both of our beloved dogs and face the loss.

It’s horrible when one cherished pet dies, but two was sad beyond measure. For weeks the house’s silence gnawed at me.  I hated washing lettuce, the dogs’ favorite treat.  I went to the kitchen to pour kibble into a bowl, and I carefully crossed the bedroom at night so as not to step on paws — and then I remembered my dogs were gone.  Tears slid down my cheeks.

To me, putting down an animal is the hardest task there is.  Though it was my last way to show my love, the guilt for killing what I so deeply loved was overwhelming.  Knowing I did the right thing didn’t help.  All I could do was wait for my heart to process the loss and replace my grievous mental picture of the dogs’ last breaths with memories of happy times.  Now I think of Logan’s prance across the lawn to catch his Frisbee, and Phoebe’s gleeful chomp into her freshly broiled chicken.

For comfort, I remind myself of the beauty in their deaths — the end of suffering, the freedom, the moving on.  I remember the kindness of supportive friends.  Cards and emails poured in.  Kathy and Brad invited us to sunny California.  Elizabeth brought flowers from her family, and Marielle and Bill arrived with memorial rhododendron and camellia bushes to bloom each year on the anniversaries of Logan and Phoebe’s deaths.

I know that life goes on, and other dogs will find their way into my heart and home.  Certainly, life is all about love, which chases us down and catches us, guaranteed.  When I think of the universe’s vastness of space and time, I marvel that my life intersected with Logan and Phoebe’s and we were allowed to love each other and be a family.  That was huge gift.  And our love lives on.

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45 Responses to The Death of Pets

  1. Mary Garland says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s never easy to lose a beloved family member, but in time the good memories take over the sadness & you can smile again when you think of them.

  2. Mike Oliver says:

    what a beautiful post and tribute to your beloved Phoebe & Logan. I must be lots harder still to have an empty home in the days passing by. I’ve never lost two hounds near each other in time, plus purposely had a couple to love on after the loss. My heart breaks for you and many prayers and love offered. I look forward to hearing what is to come.

  3. Melissa Martin says:

    I lost two of my older beagles, both rescues, last year and it is still hard to think those last difficult days about without feeling sad. I just miss them both so much. I really try to remember all the good times we had and the joy they brought to our lives. I have since adopted two other beagles – both rescues – and I feel that they have helped all of us in the family heal. Take care. (ps – I read you book about Bea and I loved it. Thanks for sharing her story.)

    • I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear beagles, Melissa. Certainly, I know how hard that must have been. Thank goodness you’ve adopted two more. They need you! I hope to fill my house with animals again once the mourning period ends.

  4. Geri Colloton says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.

  5. Julie says:

    What a beautiful post. I, too, lost two of my beloved dogs within months of each other. I felt this post deeply. Thanks for sharing

  6. Linda Brandenburg says:

    Kristin, it’s been so long since we’ve visited and so many changes in our animal presence in our home. I’m so sorry that I didn’t know about Phoebe and Logan’s passing. Your message rings straight to my heart. Too much to say here and yet your words comfort me and I wish I could do the same for you. I have never heard of a dog loving lettuce! Even having the “things” of their lives in the house after they’re gone will make me weep. Hugs from us to your heart and to John’s.

  7. Mike Bogart says:

    What a beautifully written post. My heart breaks with yours. You and John are in my thoughts.

  8. Green Knight says:

    No matter how many you lose, it never gets any easier. About 13 years ago i lost my dog Jake and my cat Cupcake within weeks of each other. i still had my Maggie kitty to commiserate with…always good to have younger ones as well as older ones so you don’t end up with a complete void. Now Maggie is getting old. My rescue friend lost his 17-year-old shepherd Nikki last week. I’ll copy him on this post. The wonderful “Mutts” comic strip is doing another weeklong series on shelter pets. i bet you’ll find a new best friend or two in no time!

    • I have always had younger ones waiting to support me when the older ones died, but this time it didn’t work. I’d expected to have at least five years more with Phoebe. It was a terrible shock to learn that she had inoperable cancer. Thank you for writing, and go hug your dear Maggie!

      • Green Knight says:

        My friend’s dog Shamrock has inoperable cancer as well, and just a few months left. by the way, this is Bob Carlson, just writing under my blog ID. if you remember, i was promoting “For Bea” ten years ago when i worked at a bookstore.

  9. Elsa says:

    Kristin, it makes me so sad to think of a world without Logie and Phoebe. Whenever we take the ferry, I still look toward your house thinking I might see Logie working with his Frisbees out on the lawn. Thank you for writing this beautiful post!

  10. Judy Hartstone says:

    My condolences go out to Kristin. It will be two years next week since I had to kiss my sweet Sadie good-bye for the last time. I can still feel tears in my heart as I write that, so I know what you mean about your heart falling to your feet as you wrote the opening to this blog. It’s a monumental bond that connects us to our pets. We’re so fortunate to be able to experience the bond, even though the experience includes the pain of saying good-bye (the best gift we can give them is to save them from the pain and indignity of a lengthy illness) and opening our hearts to new pets. Many hugs, Kristin.

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Judy, and thank you for your kindness. You are such a model for watching after the animals of our world. I am so sorry you lost Sadie, but what a lucky dog she was to have found you. And you were lucky, too.

      • Judy Hartstone says:

        And now, Kristin, I have Jolie, a comical little poodle mix who was found wandering the streets…….just so she could crawl into my heart! The timing differs for everyone as the universe brings them together with their next pets.

  11. Julie Valentine says:

    This is beautiful, kris. I’m in awe of your ability to express in words what many of us feel. Love, Joo Joo

    Sent from my iPad

  12. Jane Allan says:

    Without typos

    Dear Kristen, I know the loss of Logan and Phoebe so touched your heart and your life overall. One thing I know from my own witnessing, is that these two dogs could not be greater loved and cared for than Logan and Phoebe by you and John. Having two beings in your life you loved much may also mean their loss hurts much.

    May you carry them in your heart always and the pain subside slowly as you have that knowing of these wonderful beings whom you loved and who loved you – and that was a great gift.

  13. Lisa Di Nicola and Admiral says:

    My dear Kristin,

    I was wondering when and if you would find the strength to address this devastating loss on your blog. You’ve honored both Logie and Phoebe with your words. Admiral and I are hugging you from Boston.

  14. gisele Fitch says:

    Dearest Kristin,

    What you have to say is so so beautifully moving!
    Please forgive me that I didn’t come forward earlier.
    In part, I honestly have been at a loss to imagine an adequate expression
    to meet and comfort you at the great depth of loss you’re experiencing.
    Knowing you and John, as two of the most deeply feeling people I’ve met,
    your loss has beyond stretched my imagination.

    Logie was a noble creature if I ever met one and Phoebe was so very dear! Without a doubt, part of why your beloved beasties were so wonderful was they intertwined with your beautiful gentle sensitive fields.
    They were very blessed, you were blessed
    and all of us who meet you, intertwined beings, were too
    and still are as they continue on in you and John.

    May you lean back increasingly into the arms of God who contains all.
    May you feel a growing safeness, spaciousness and lightness holding you.
    May you know how very loved you were and are and always will be.


    • Thank you, Gisele. Such a lovely and thoughtful response from you. It is wonderful to ponder being loved before and now and in the future, as you suggested. That also applies to Logie and Phoe, a huge comfort. Your kindness is a blessing.

  15. Clellen Bryant says:

    Ah, but think of the lives that Phoebe and Logan lived, surrounded by your boundless love–and then immortalized in your warm and beautiful prose.
    They were rare and lucky dogs.

  16. Michael & Irina says:


    We are so sorry to hear about the loss of your dear beloved pets.
    We wish we could hug you and give our emotional support.

    Love, Misha & Irina

  17. Dear fellow animal author–we are connected in so many ways. I was waiting for you to write about your tragic double loss of Phoebe and Logan. Like you, I lost my wonderful Splash (rottie mix) followed a few weeks later by Jolly (lab/shepherd mix and the star of “Maggie’s Second Chance: A Gentle Dog’s Rescue). It is doubly heartbreaking, but thank goodness we can give our beloved furries the final greatest gift. Healing hugs to you, Kristin.

    • Nancy, thank you so much for your healing hugs. I know you understand how terrible it is to lose two beasties so close together. I gave mine “the final greatest gift,” but it broke my heart. I know you understand that too. Take care.

      • Green Knight says:

        in 1992, on the same day i quit my State job and went to the private sector, my dear Bat Cat died of a diabetic coma, and we didn’t even know she had it, despite annual vet visits. her best pal Big Boy wasted away to nothing since he missed her so, and we had to put him on what i call the “magic elevator” 6 weeks later. then the new job laid me off the same week. that was one HELL of a summer.

        • It’s amazing sometimes how hard things come in clumps like that, Bob. I don’t know why it happens, but there’s nothing to do but try to accept it and move on. Terrible

          Sent from my iPad

  18. dogear6 says:

    Kristin – how very hard to lose both dogs so close together. I was encouraged by your last paragraph that there will be other dogs. It’s hard to remember that at the time though.

    I’ve been through it with the cats and while it was necessary to do when I did, it was hard.


  19. So very sorry for your loss. From experience, time does its best to heal and leave you with only fond memories.

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