Sad Something


Some of the things that happen when you put a dog down.

You become conscious, in the middle of the injections, that there is no going back.

How soft their bodies are, as the vet turns them over, in the case of a small body, looking for a vein.  And warm.  Even that fur that got so matted as they aged, that you could not torment with brushing any more or too many baths.

You realize, looking, that one reason you have always loved the dog is simply because it is beautiful—-even a dog not at its best–and how amazing it is, if you have not always felt beautiful in yourself, to have this beautiful creature love you back.

It fell asleep in your arms, what with the sedative, and is not in pain now and maybe you should run away with it before they give the death solution.

But how long it seems to breathe, its veins collapsed so the solution does not carry.  The doctor says you might want to look away as he points the needle at the heart itself.  He is kind but in a hurry.

You do turn away, thinking of the two women in the parking lot earlier–an old lady who looked half like a fairy tale godmother, half like a gnome, short squat her face all pink and dimples wearing a large turquoise cape, which may have been meant for hip length but descended to the ground.  A bit odd-looking but not unattractive but then her daughter (I’m guessing) who got out of the car too seemed to have inherited all the gnome aspects with none of the boppity boo- her hunched shoulders leading straight into shrunken hips, actually her head leading straight into shrunken hips–her body seeming almost a cork with facial features painted on and stuck black hair–but she smiled, she hugged the old lady, she laughed, and in the midst of their good-bye, she pulled from one of the cars a perfect Papillon–well, that kind of dog always looks pretty perfect, what with the symmetrically stroked fur, and heart-pointed face/muzzle, and the cork woman held the dog above her own tubed face, beaming love, and the dog looked down from her grasp, beaming uncritical, if slightly distracted, cuteness, and then the dog was brought to the face of the old boppity-boo woman who smiled, playing with its paws, and to the driver’s window where some similar loving interaction happened even just through a crack in the glass–oh such enthusiastic happiness–until the cork woman finally took the dog back to her own car where she and the perfectly beautiful being that attends her in a way that, you know, a human Papillon might not, drove off into the muted distance.

And my poor little still-soft dog, who has done that for me, lies now on the metal table which has these clouds on it, smears from being wiped down through long-pawed days– and they ask do I have something to hold her in, and I say yes, pointing to a cloth bag, but they suggest plastic–bringing a dark garbage sack, which my face must say is too much, but the nurse mumbles something about leakage and how I can always take her out again and I thank her and even help hold wide its dark lip as we slip the dog inside, so that it–and now I’ll say she–for she was a girl dog–stays even, and so when I do take the dark plastic in my own lone arms, I can be sure that what feels like the head is held higher than the rest, the way that one might hold a child, or anyone truly.


So sorry to burden readers with this–many know I lost my 18 year old dog just after Thanksgiving–and am still thinking of it–a short prosey drafty piece.  

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16 Comments on “Sad Something”

  1. janehewey Says:

    there is something sobering and simultaneously enlightening about the two women in the parking lot. connections, similarity, and the continuation of love and appreciation that lives on, despite any bodily changes. I am so sorry for your loss. I have held the bodies of my dead pets just after watching them leave their bodies. My memories are painful and comforting at the same time– though that hardly makes sense. Holding the head higher than the rest… yes.

  2. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, dogs are not concerned about looks–I presume even in each other, they are indifferent to that sort of perfection–your analogy is well-worked and expressive, k, and I read this through tears, both of sorrow, and of gratitude that we have such beautiful beings who ask so little to love us simply for being there with them. I’m glad you could write about it–so tough.

  3. Sherry Marr Says:

    This is so tender and touching and moving and beautiful. How much love she must have given in eighteen years. And how you loved her back. I love the story about the people in the parking lot with the one creature who looked at them with eyes of utter devotion. Sigh. There is no love like a dog’s love. You will miss her dearly for a long time. I know. I still cry for Pup. He was such a Presence that his absence has been – too big.

    I am glad you can write about it. I actually made a book of all the poems I have written for Pup, and all the photos. It was a labor of love.

  4. claudia Says:

    tears… and hugs… i can imagine how tough it must be k….

  5. brian miller Says:

    i really cant say anything…hard enough to type through the tears…i have before…hugs k…there is little like the love of a pups….

  6. Mama Zen Says:

    I wept as I read this. I’m so, so sorry.

  7. Don’t be sorry for sharing this, you’re amazing and I tonally understand where you’re at with this…in May my 15 yr old girl had to be put down, too. You really capture every aspect of these kinds of experiences. My heart will hold your burden and send you love and light through this very difficult transition. You two were so lucky to have each other…she was so blessed to have you be with her. ♥

  8. ladynyo Says:

    You are braver than I. I feel this so deeply, having lost three cats, Rose 16, Sophie 14 and her litter mate, tiny Thumper 14 this summer. June, July, August. A season of death, a season of mourning.

    I could not write about it except for a short announcement. But you are made of braver stuff. This prose, (and I am so glad you are writing longgggg) is so touching without the stain of sentimentality, though I don’t know why we go after sentimentality so much: sometimes nothing else will do.

    It’s strong stuff, and you can’t look away. It is the combined love of pet and owner and is sacred.

  9. Dear Karin, thank you for sharing this intimate, pain-filled moment so sensitively. Those of us who have been there need no apologies. So glad I saw this. Virtual hugs.

  10. sian Says:

    Dear Karin, you brought me to tears. I suppose that’s good – it doesn’t feel good but it’s what we have left. Thank you for linking loss to love, children and mothers. Something I don’t want to think about but must. You are a surgeon of a writer.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Sian, thanks so much for your kind words. I often wonder why I do this blog, and why I keep trying to write at all, and then I get something like your comment. It is very much appreciated. K.

  11. Zeb Says:

    So said, Karin. We had to “put down” our beloved cat Lymon last winter and memories of the experience still creep up on me. One good thing, though, is that my memories of him have spread out beyond his last, sickly few weeks. I can easily remember him in all his glory. Pearl will stay with you forever.

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