The Death of a Pet

Shadow first came into our lives in the late summer of 2007. A neighbor found her wandering around and asked if we could keep her while they looked for the owner. She did have a collar, but no tags, and even though my landlord didn’t allow pets, I couldn’t say no. Besides, the kids fell in love with her instantly. So did I.


I’d contacted animal control right way, and after a few days hoped I’d never hear from them. Long story short, we did. The woman said if we wanted to keep her – and we did – we needed to bring her in and wait for three days. If no one claimed her in that time, we could have her. My daughter and I cried the entire drive to the building, and in the lobby telling her goodbye.

The owners did come forward, but had been looking for a new home for Shadow, as they were moving, so she came home to live with us.

Counting the family who gave her to us, Shadow had at least three other owners, and one of them must have used a shock collar on her. In five and a half years, she only barked one time. It’s always made me want to track the person who did that to her down and put a collar…controlled by me…around their neck for a few weeks.

So not only has she been a quiet dog, she was very well behaved…until her hearing started to go. And then it wasn’t that she misbehaved, she just didn’t know what she was supposed to do. Except when it came to eating the cat food. I’m pretty sure she always knew not to get into that, but she liked it and it was hard to tell her no.

Shadow was kind of old when we got her. The vet estimated her to be six or eight. All I know is that her ‘beard’ had a lot of white in it even then, and it always made me laugh to say it. “She has a white beard.”

I didn’t think the time would fly by as fast as it did, but the same as with your kids…it’s the same with your pets. Only they age at such an accelerated rate that before you even realize it, and long before you’re ready…it’s time to say goodbye.

Just after this past Christmas, it looked as though that might happen. She took a turn for the worse, and it was bad. But then she bounced back, and I was so relieved. I just couldn’t bear the thought of not having her in my life, and was hoping for a couple of more years. What we got though, was a few more months, and then it became obvious that she wasn’t going to come back from it this time.

Having been raised in a household where pets weren’t allowed, I never realized exactly how attached you can get to a four-legged family member. And that’s what they are, too. Family. You fall in love with them just like you do the people in your life. And when they die, it hurts.

Watching her get worse again over the past few weeks, knowing the end was near, has been awful. It made me question whether it was worth it. It’s hard enough losing the people in our lives, why would anyone choose to love a dog…or any pet…when their lifespan is so much shorter than that of a human.

But it was worth it. She brought much joy to our lives, and even though it hurts now, if I could turn the time back, I’d do it all over again. Except I’d try to squeeze in a few more games of fetch, a few more walks, a few more pieces of roast beef…which she loved.

Shadow… I’m so very glad that you were a part of my family. You weren’t here long enough, and I’ll always miss you. I really hope there’s a place in heaven for you because someday when I get there, I hope you’re waiting for me. I want to see you run and jump and play, and I want to hear you bark your little head off. I love you.

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10 Responses to The Death of a Pet

  1. I have chills, and am hugging you virtually—as hard as I can! I’m so sorry for your loss, Kristy. Thank you for giving Shadow a beautiful life.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks, August. I only hope she thought she had a beautiful life. I do know that she was loved…a lot. 🙂

  2. What a sweet story to share with us. I’m so sorry for your loss of a loved one. They really are family members and so very dear to our hearts. Huge hugs to you and your kids.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks, Tameri. Yes, she was definitely part of the family…and it’s not right that she isn’t here. My son keeps saying he walks into the living room and expects to see her on the sofa. So do I. It was one of her favorite spots to nap. Hugs to you, too. 🙂

  3. Debra Kristi says:

    Touching post, dear friend. Shadow was lucky to have you for a family in the end. I’m so sorry you had to go through the pain of loss. But to never experience the relationship may have been an even greater loss. Hugging you through the cyber lines.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks Deborah. As I told Diana, I think we were the lucky ones. She was my first real experience in having a dog in the family, and I couldn’t have asked for a better one. I would have asked that she wasn’t so old by the time I met her though. Five and a half years wasn’t long enough. Hugs back. 🙂

  4. What a sweet doggie! She must’ve been since she melded into your family so quickly Kristy. And when they die, it’s like one of our kids or something. Heart-wrenching. Big hugs to you and yours girl. So glad you got to enjoy her so much while she was with you. 🙂

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks, Karen. You’re right about them being like our kids. Okay. Keeping this short. I’m okay as long as I stay busy, but when I think about it too much, it’s too hard. 🙂

  5. Diana Beebe says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. She was really blessed to have you and your family to love her so much in her last years.

    • Kristy K. James says:

      Thanks, Diana. I think we were the blessed ones though. She was the sweetest dog you could ever hope to know. 🙂

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