Sweet Dexter


We’ve known for a long time that this day was coming. Right now, that doesn’t make it feel any easier. At about 4 am this morning, Dexter went outside to go potty, and when he came back in, I could tell he was struggling, and when I turned on a light, I saw why. He had a massive nose bleed, the big bad that we’d been warned about. We were able to stop it within minutes, but it was clear that this was the moment, the day to help him, time to let go. When his cancer was first diagnosed, he was given 2-3 months, and here we are, just a few weeks shy of a year later. We are so grateful for the extra time we’ve had.

He ate breakfast and went on a walk. He’s still here in this moment, asleep in his crate, his nose still slowly bleeding and his breathing loud enough that I can hear it from here. The vet is coming in a few hours and we’ll let him go. In moments like this, it’s hard to know what to do with yourself, waiting for the thing you don’t want to happen even though you know it will mean that someone you love won’t have to suffer anymore, even though you know it is the wise and compassionate thing to do.

I’ve been following him around all morning, loving on him, and while he appreciates it, at a certain point he wants me to leave him alone, wants to rest, so I’m letting him do that too. This is a big day, a sad day, but it also feels good to treat it a little like a normal day, and this is just what we do — he rests near me while I write.

If you could, kind and gentle reader, we’d appreciate some extra love sent our way at 1:00 p.m. Mountain Time today. I have always wished for him an easy death, and I’m still wishing that today. He’s been such a good dog, we’ve had such a good life together, and I am going to miss him like crazy.


To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
~Mary Oliver

35 thoughts on “Sweet Dexter

  1. Barbara Markway

    Sending healing thoughts your way. So sorry for your loss (these words sound woefully inadequate). What a beautiful dog.

  2. piercedfuzzis

    Oh! I am so sorry that this day has come. Even when we prepare, it is never easy when it arrives. Hope that there is much peace and comfort this afternoon. Blessings to you all today.

  3. Lindsey Mead (@lemead)

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I am going to be sending lots of love and ease and grace to you and to Dexter at 1pm MT. Those lines that you quote are some of the ones I love most dearly of all. So hard, and so true. xox

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Thank you so much, Lindsey. We really did feel the love, the ease and the grace you sent. I’m so grateful for you help, your kindness. ♥

  4. carlene

    This is my first visit to your blog. Peace to you and your family on this day. That quote is my favorite. Good dog.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Yes, I have a graduate degree in letting go, in knowing that I am going to get creamed by this experience, but inviting it anyway, knowing it’s going to end badly but opening my heart wide, all in. And like my husband said today, as much as it hurts, it’s so worth it.

  5. Barbara Daley

    I feel for you! I have had that experience with OUR beautiful old dog, then our aged cat. Being able to hold them in your arms as they pass out of this world is a gift, though, and a privilege. Be kind to yourself in the days to come… beautiful blog site, by the way

  6. Rita Ott Ramstad

    Oh Jill, I am so sorry. You will be in my thoughts all day, not just at 1:00. I wish I could do something for you. All I can think is to give you this words from William Stafford’s “Choosing a Dog”:

    “It’s love,” they say. You touch
    the right one and a whole half of the universe
    wakes up, a new half.

    Some people never find
    that half, or they neglect it or trade it
    for money or success and it dies.

    I hope the knowledge that you got to be awake in that sweet half of the universe will give you comfort.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      My only argument with Mr. Stafford on this one is that it’s a bit more than half the universe, but maybe that’s just me ♥ Thank you, Rita.

  7. eviegwatts

    Oh Jill. I remember having to do this many years ago and then again a few years ago. The first time I will never forget my wonderful vet saying, “This is one of the hardest, but one of the kindest things you well ever do”. Still… tears for you, my heart is breaking open for you.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Yes, a hard thing but the right thing, wise and compassionate. This is also the second time I’ve been lucky enough to help one of my dogs — I say lucky because releasing them from their suffering, being able to do it at home where they are comfortable, surrounded by those that love them most, is a gift. ♥

  8. Frances D

    Our family has been through this twice. I am sending healing vibes your way – now, then and after. Take care. A hug and a pat to dear Dexter from Frances.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Yes, Frances, this is my second time too. We lost our sweet Obi to lymphoma four years ago, and Dexter was there with him when he passed. Thank you for the love ♥

  9. Danielle

    I’ve only just read this Jill. I’m so sorry for your loss but moved by your courage and compassion. Sending much love and light your way. Big hugs xxx

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Thank you, Danielle. This is so so hard, but the love that’s been sent our way has eased the weight of it, made me even more sure that it’s always the right thing to keep my heart open, no matter how difficult things get. ♥

  10. Julia

    Oh Jill I happened to read this from Andrea Scher’s status about another post and I am tearing up here. All your feelings so bring back the loss of my Lucy, last September. That moment. The moment. Lots of warmth your way and hope you’re doing ok. Love, Julia xx

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Oh Julia, I’m so sorry you are a member of this awful club. This is my second time (we lost our Obi to a different but similarly terminal cancer four years ago) and it just doesn’t get any easier. You know it’s the right thing, are glad they won’t suffer anymore, but you also are aware that your own suffering has just begun. And yet, I will continue to do it again and again, because loving them is so worth it, isn’t it? ♥

  11. Lissa @ lafCustomDesigns

    Jill … I’m so sorry I missed this post. I’ve had trouble keeping up with myself let alone all my friends’ blogs. My heart goes out to you, my friend. I can only relate by my experience of love for my sweet Kobi … and know how much you love Dexter. Your tribute is lovely. And those big brown eyes in the last picture bring tears … reaching out to you as you grieve and heal.

      1. jillsalahub Post author

        You’re right, Lissa! I meant the dog you had and lost before Kobi. And yes, let’s hope he’s around for many more years to come ♥

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