My house feels so empty right now. Yes, Lily is below me in her dog bed, and Steve is behind me, but you just don’t realize what a presence an animal has until they are gone.
For the last six months, Rosie was no real joy. She was having potty issues, getting stuck everywhere, just being a general nuisance. But now that she is gone, it is dawning on me how much of my time she consumed. At least ten times today I have stopped what I was doing to listen for Rosie to see if she was in distress somewhere or couldn’t get up the stairs. I haven’t mopped once today, but I still keep turning on all the lights everywhere to make sure I have not stepped in anything. I don’t smell Murphy’s oil soap or nature’s miracle.
It hit home last night as I was getting ready for bed. I didn’t need to shut my office door so she couldn’t get stuck underneath the desk. I didn’t need to close my bedroom door so she could not pee on the floor and have me step in it first thing in the morning. And I know this sounds weird, but not having to do those things makes me sad.
I just feel like the tribe is incomplete. I wonder when I am going to be sent my next stray and what it is going to be.
Aww, John. You didn’t even mention Thurston, who must be wondering where his buddy Rosie is. And another will find you. Rosie will make sure of it.
We all wonder that, John. Whatever it turns out to be, it’s predestined to become legendary.
@geg6: Yeah. And Thurston is not taking up the slack? Where he be?
Had not realized that Rosie was getting stuck everywhere. Can you imagine if that dog had the gift of language? Oy vey.
@geg6: Thurston is downstairs- he really like sleeping on the back of the couch, perched like royalty. He does not use doggie beds. He uses the back of the couch or a pillow on top of two blankets on the couch I have set up like he is the princess and the pea.
Oh Cole …you are such good people.
The next one is out there…..just waiting to choose you..
I felt like that when my elderly cocker died. The amount of free time I had on my hands was shocking. She wasn’t sleeping through the night and would get me up out of bed at least twice to go outside. You just do what you need to in order to take care of them, and you have no idea just how much you’ve been doing until you are not doing it anymore.
I know you loved Rosie even at the times when you didn’t feel like you liked her, and now there is a big Rosie-shaped hole in your life.
How are Lily, Steve and Thurston doing? Sometimes the most heartbreaking part is how lost they are, the ones who are left.
“So I rounded the curve and there standing on the road was the cutest baby hippo….”
That’s hilarious because Lovey is exactly the same. Back of a couch or chair or propped on a pillow on the couch. But she likes her dog beds, too. She has about five because she steals all of Koda’s.
@WaterGirl: They are all fine, oddly enough.
That’s been the hardest part for me – the food dishes, toys, and litter box in their places and no one to use them. Picking them up and putting them away somehow makes the loss more real.
Rosie was old and grumpy and sick, and a very good girl. Some relationships are like that. She loved you, in her way, and it is clear you loved her, very much.
John, you are a great animal daddy and Rosie was a Very Good Dog and lucky to have you as her loving human, even if she was particular about people like a cat.
Years later, spouse and I still get a fleeting glimpse of the rear quarter panel of the ghost of Timmy, the gentlest tabby who ever lived. Just a leg and a tail heading around a corner or behind something. It’s oddly comforting to have this presence of absence.
J R in WV
The fur balls have their own opinions about what is all correct and proper, as Thurston does up on the back of the couch. He is all correct once he’s way up there.
Our two elderly cats are on special thyroid diet cat food now, fed twice a day, but actually more often than that. They don’t finish a meal, never have really. So to keep the dogs from ingesting medically necessary cat food we pick it up, play keep away, but then when a kitty shows up we round up those partial servings for them.
This morning Spike left her food with plenty left and went over to work on Punkin’s left overs. I’ve been feeding her on a kitchen chair, so she can glare at the dogs while she eats.
Mary Ellen Sandahl
John, I know exactly what you mean. All our lives – humans, pets, and other beings too, wild creatures, birds – form an interlocking daily structure. Being a self-involved human, full of concerns about present,past and future, means you’re likely to be, or become, pretty blind to the way that network is supporting the passage of each day. When our beloved pug Albert succumbed at 13 to diabetic complications some years ago, the emptiness of his absence just echoed.
I didn’t learn about Rosie and Bixby until late yesterday, but I’ll add my sympathies to you both, along with all the others you got from everyone else. Love to you both and to all members of your households.
I was thinking “llama.” A llama would look very nice in Cole’s back yard. ?
So sorry about Rosie. Sounds like her last few months were rough on everybody and you are fortunate that she couldn’t speak – imagine the stream of profanity she could have let fly.
The salsa isn’t the same without jalapenos, but eventually you’ll get used to flavor again. And you did right by the salty old broad
@CaseyL: Alpaca or GTFO!
Been there, done that over the last year of our dear Italian Greyhound “Florence’s” life – she passed away on April 27 just a month shy of 19 years old. Her passing has been a double-edged major event – there’s a huge hole in our lives where a beloved dog who was almost like a third daughter to us, yet we now also have freedom to do things (particularly travel together at the same time) that was impossible for over a year prior to her passing, because we couldn’t in good conscience nor practicality try to foist a semi=incontinent dog on someone else to care for. Even so, miss her snuggles greatly, and every time we eat some kind of meat she loved, we miss saving her some of it as a treat.
It’s always the little things that get to me after a loss too. Hope that next stray finds you soon!
No one ever tells you what to do with the leashes, collars, food dishes.
I’ve never been able to bear using them for the next arrival, so I have a sad and weird stash of leashes and collars going back to my first Great Dane.
We are all wondering about who will arrive next, John.
Of course for me, it’s already a given…it’s just about the timing.
Really sorry to hear about Rosie, John. It is hard losing an animal.
I made a shadowbox frame when my dog Jake died with his collar and tags in the bottom frame and a favorite photo of him in the top frame. I can never bear to throw those things away or recycle them either.
Anze the Dog just turned 13, old for a German Shepherd. About 2 years ago I started helping him get in the back of the Jeep. I was walking him the other night, he spotted two bunnies in the neighbor’s yard, he gave a half-hearted tug on the leash, then said to hell with it. Not that long ago he could have pulled me over if he spotted a rabbit. Last year he was diagnosed with Megaesophagus, he’s on a liquid diet, I have to stand him up with my left arm and hold the bowl in my right to feed him. 11 times a day. I don’t care, he’s worth all the extra time and effort. And he still gives his Mommy all the kisses she needs.
We keep the collar and tags sitting on top of the boxes of our beloved pups’ ashes. We opt for beautiful carved boxes and they are on our living room mantel. It’s a little used room, but my heart grows large every time I glimpse that mantel.
I still have leashes, collars, etc from Alice a Border Collie/Australian shepherd I put down in 2005. We were together nearly 15 years. My first wife was her favorite person. She was a great comfort to Sue during her 5 year illness and grieved terribly when cancer took her from us. Like Sue I had to help her stand toward the end and carry her on the stairs.
Goodness, you have already identified the next Lucky Dane?
Or are you just assuming the Universe will reveal her plans when she’s ready?
(Have to confess, I vicariously searched Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue website, because remembered how hard it was to find one in the past. They had some cute pups. But will not link out of respect)
My pups for the last decade have all come from the pound. It’s heart wrenching looking at all of them but getting to save one of them and make them family is worth it.
@CaseyL: Llamas are mean. They spit and bite like camels if they don’t know you. Alpacas are 3/4 a llama’s size and much more docile.
@TaMara (HFG): Is there a shelter or rescue nearby you could donate them to?
“Don’t cry because it’s over: smile because it happened”. –Dr. Seuss
It’s crazy, but both of our current pups are Balloon Juice rescues. No wonder I love this place.
I had Shayna the Siamese from high school through my second move to Seattle: nearly 20 years. As she got really elderly, her favorite place was snuggled under the covers in the waterbed (cats adore waterbeds). She was a tiny thing, and if the bed wasn’t made (which was always) it was hard to know where she was in there.
After I almost laid down on her once, I would always lift the covers before getting into bed, to check and see where she was.
I kept doing that for days after her death.
Our beloved Cavalier’s ashes, collar, and favorite toys are in a memory box in our living room. Losing him still hurts. Our current big boy is my kids’ childhood dog and has worked his way into my heart more than any of our various beloved rescues, weirdos, and adoptees.
This is the nut of the matter. Nature abhors a vacuum. I don’t pretend to understand it.
After Conni passed, I kept looking for her to make sure I didn’t step on her. When Nikki passed, that’s when the times that I’d have to do something that I didn’t have to do anymore hit.
A woman from anywhere (formerly Mohagan)
@John Cole: Most of my cats have loved sleeping on the sofa back top.
We’re getting to the horrible decision point with our dog. She’s 13-15 years old, we got her as an adult so not really sure of her exact age. The eyesight and hearing are going, but she still loves her walks and doesn’t appear to be in pain. She remains the best dog in the world.
She is in heart failure – and has already lived a year longer than original estimates. That’s on 4 medications per day. We put them in treats so she very much looks forward to them.
@CaseyL: I vote Lama…
I had the same experience after losing my Lab in November. It was at least 3 weeks after that before I stopped mentally preparing for the “leaving the house routine” any time I needed to run out. They leave a void when they go. I lasted until the end of March before adopting another dog.
For Pete’s sake, Cole, give us something to do with our feels. Pick an animal cause that needs a boost right now, set a goal, and let us donate for Rosie. Maybe a JRT-supporting group needs some equipment? Or a rescue group focusing on dogs so we can include Bixby?
There’s restless energy here waiting to do some good.
John and Tamara – So sorry for both your losses and understand the emptiness that you feel. Both Rosie and Bixby left good stories for us blog folk and we will remember them well.
I lost my pack in 2019-20 – my Weim and beagle sisters- all with chronic endocrine troubles- lots of challenges that left me lost for a while after they each passed. My little man, Henry (another beagle- what am I, crazy?) can’t take there places, but is a good start for the next pack.
I know what you mean. My cat Cthulhu passed on two weeks ago, and she was 19 – I spent a lot of time caring for her. Things like making sure all the doors in the house were closed before we went to sleep, keeping most pillows and blankets off the floor, rearranging furniture so she’d have safe areas she could get to easily, and the nightly and morning inspection trips through the house to clean things up and look for urps and pee puddles, examining the litter box for diarrhea or blood, just… yeah.
And yet, I do kind of miss it. Things feel very strange without all that.
John, whatever animal comes your way, asshole or not, they will be very fortunate because as much as you are a misanthrope, you are a wonderful animal person.
@tinare: My Lab girl, Luna, is getting up there in years. We adopted her from the local Humane Society when we lived in PHX in 2010. She is really starting to slow down and I think her aches and pains are getting achier and painier. The vet wants us to have her lose weight, but she has gotten craftier in her old age about stealing food, and so she has gained weight instead. Erghhhh.
I’m so sorry, John. I remember when you got Rosie and the chaos and cantankerous spirit she brought really tied the room together—I mean suited your personality. You love to do for others but being thanked makes you uncomfortable so her demanding free spirit suited you down to the ground. Someone new will bully her way into your tribe! Can’t wait for that magic moment.
It’s been a lot of years, but I still remember, after I had to put my Spottie down, how huge and empty my apartment became without her.
I have a friend who I’ve known for longer than he’s known his wife, and they’ve been married for over 40 yrs. They have always had a couple of cats, who of course are the lords of the manner. They have been through a few cats over time and just lost one of the latest. As my friend is older than I am I’m not sure they will get more, but I’d still bet they will. I’d like to get another rescue pup, but my current living situation makes that difficult. But I will be moving sometime in the near future and I’m hopeful that a pup will fit in there.
Just One More Canuck
@MelissaM: in a just world, John’s next dog will have the sweetness of Lily, the feistiness of Rosie and the soul of Walter
@Suzanne: oh gosh it’s so hard when they get older and Labs are always good at finding the food! I have to say that despite his pain, mine went out eating all the treats at the Vet’s office like a true Lab! Hope you are able to get a little weight off of Luna and help her joints be less painful. Preston couldn’t take any stairs at the end and had to be lifted in and out of the car. He also had nasal cancer and got to the point of really not seeming to enjoy much. When I realized how little my formerly enthusiastic pup even wagged his tail, I realized he must have been in horrible pain and then the decision was a bit easier, even if still super hard. He lived to about 14 (he was a stray at the shelter, so not completely sure of his age) so hopefully Luna has some good years left even if she’s living a little slower paced.
@Aimai: Over the years I have so appreciated and admired your ability to write something that is just what is needed, comfort and caring and perspective when someone experiences a loss.
We moved to a new state and got two sister kittens almost 4 years ago now, but I still sometimes catch a glimpse in shadows of my soul kitty that we lost almost 7 years ago. I guess her spirit stays with me.
It’s an awful feeling. My cats and I have been sending good thoughts your way since I read about Rosie.
someone will come along soon who needs all that John Cole love.
@TaMara (HFG): We’ve always given them away to other pet owners. Mostly because we just don’t want to be constantly triggered by them, and knowing we will happily buy new ones when a new furry friend enters our future.
@Capri: That’s hard. That was basically our last 2 years with our late Juniper (BJ calendar one) until last August when it became clear that she didn’t deserve the suffering anymore. But that endless second-guessing is so hard, since they can’t tell us what they want. We have a great vet who knew her pretty well so we had many conversations that ended with her essentially saying “I think she’s got some more time/joy, though I understand your concern” which would us keep going. Just do the best you can.
John and Tamara,
I am so sorry for your recent losses. I have lurked around here for years and have so enjoyed all the stories of Rosie and Bixby. I do hope time heals your hearts from these great losses.
I just sent a link of JC’s notice about Rosie to a friend with an old dog in extremis, as his explanation of the decision process is so spot on and helpful. I always feared that it would be time to save a beloved pet from suffering but I’d be too selfish, but for exactly the reasons Cole gave, I was able to do it and know it was right.
For my friend, money is tight and getting to a vet is a nightmare (Idaho), so she said they were “just watching her die” and she, her son, and the poor dog are suffering. My heart broke, and I urged her to follow John’s lead. I’ll send her money and encouragement. Once I stop weeping.
Nailed it. John is a mensch, not a misanthrope.
My parents had to have their beloved little dog put to sleep in February, and they swear that he was their last because they don’t think that it would be fair to get another one at their ages – they’re in their 80s. When I go to their house, I still look around for him for a moment before I remember.
So very sorry, Cole. They leave such an empty place in our lives when they go.
Aw, sending love for the loss of your Rosie. I was just wondering about her the other day. You gave her the most bestest life, for the bestest girl. I’m sure another soon-to-be-lucky pupper will make itself known to you.
@Skepticat: IDK if this is an option in Idaho, but, since my Murph is on a downward curve, skid, trajectory, I’ve learned about vets who come out to your place to do the euthanasia. I always say that sending our pets off to the big sleep is the hardest, and yet kindest thing we do. When the time comes, Murphy and I will sit out in the yard right where she likes it, and I can say auf Wiedersehen to my own very good dog.
I had to let go of my beloved Remy nearly two weeks ago. He was 12, had cancer and was declining fast, and when the day came that I could tell he wan’t enjoying life anymore, I took him in. The process was much as Cole described. What I hadn’t fully understood before was how stressful it would be to make that decision. I’ve lost beloved pets before, and I accept that we’re all going to die, but knowing that it was on me to decide when that moment was going to be for my best friend, that I was going to have to pull the plug, was just excruciating. I was so exhausted afterwards I just slept for two days. But the evening of the day I said goodbye to Remy, I found a dog on Petfinder that had the same steady, intelligent gaze and calm, sweet demeanor as Remy, and I decided to take the plunge and rescue another dog.
I’ve had “Cody” for a week now. He’s some sort of border collie/German shepherd mix, 3 years old, rescued from a canine “gulag” in Russia. He’s very affectionate now that he’s learning to trust me, extra smart but a bit stubborn and sassy. He sheds like crazy and has bad breath, but we’re working on that. On the one hand, I’m delighted to have him, but on the other, he makes me miss Remy all the more.
I guess I also missed this sad news. I’m so sorry. Every soul leaves a gap when it’s gone. That’s both depressing and comforting. It’s also proof of their meaningfulness.
@Sis: Honestly, I wish more people were as smart and unselfish as your parents. The saddest rescue calls (and often worst trained pets) we get are after someone has died or gone into a nursing home and no one in the family will take the pet left behind. So a grieving, often older pet with health issues that sometimes have been neglected for years due to their owners infirmity gets dumped in animal control. Which then frantically calls around trying to find a rescue that will take a pet that will probably drain its meager resources and is unlikely to be adopted. And if we can, we try to save them. But we can’t always.
I got my last one at Second Chance Cocker Rescue. They still exist and can always use a bit of spare change. Click on the name, it takes you to their website. There are lots of animal rescue orgs out there, to help or to adopt.
@John Cole: The phrase I remember is “we love because we care.” That apparently we don’t care for small babies because we love them. We come to love them because we do the work of caring for them. I think this is something that Alison Gopnik said. Even if I got the cite wrong, this podcast with Gopnik is worth listening to. (Maybe I found it here on Balloon Juice for all I know. My memory is shot).
@Nutmeg again: Apparently the one vet she can reach won’t do that. Too bad, as it’s an incredibly valuable service, and her dog gets really stressed by going to the vet. Here in Abaco, we have a vet who’s willing to make the long ferry ride from the main island, bless him. I hope never to need his help, though.
I know what you mean about that empty feeling. We have lost 2 elderly cats in the past 2 months, and it felt so strange for a while not to be catering to their various issues multiple times a day. The one we most recently lost, Romeo, was dumped at a local kill shelter with his sister when their elderly owner went into Alzheimers care. (curse her grandchildren forever for doing that at the height of kitten season no less!) They were 12 years old, declawed, and had never lived with other animals. I had just lost a cat, and was just at the shelter donating newspaper. I thought the shelter staff was going to throw me a parade when I said I’d adopt them. There was a ton of drama with them adjusting to life with other cats and 2 dogs, but Romeo had 5 good years with us, and his sister Sophie is still going strong. She was so hateful to him and would dramatically hiss when he tried to sit with her, but now that he’s gone, she seems lost.
Our dog Jasper, who died a few years ago, had the same issue with circling and getting stuck places in the months before he died. It was heartbreaking to see, because he had always been up for a walk, a hike, a pet- anything we wanted to do. He was such a good boy
For me, the hardest part is actually calling the vet and saying the words, “I need to bring my pet in to be put to sleep.” I think I should have taken Romeo in a few days before I did, but I just couldn’t bring myself to call and make the appointment.
You got all sad
So I feel sad too – Pretenders
I actually didn’t just now hit sadness. I was sad when I read your first post about Rosalita passing.
I remember laughing at your first post about her. When she jumped into your car. I can’t believe that’s been ten years. Time flies when it is dragging your bag.
I’m very sorry about Rosie, John. Even though she was a pain in the balls, and she was, I really liked her. I’d like to think I’d be one of the people she’d have taken to, but she’d have probably just bit off one of my fingers and chewed on it while I screamed.
Maybe not. It wouldn’t have been the first time someone’s animal had an affinity towards me to the point where the “owner” said, but he/she hates everyone. Minus said “owner” or one of their kids. I don’t take that as a compliment, typically. I just figure the animal finds in me a kindred soul. Oh, hi, asshole! You and I are going to get along famously.
JC, I truly am sorry she’s gone. I have to tell you, she was one of the things that cemented you as a very good man, in my opinion. No matter how much you grumped, and even at times wanted to smite her, your heart was wide open and in full display. You loved that pissy little bitch. Only a good man, with a good heart, could and would. You did.
I understand and know that you were being true and honest when you described your relationship with her. She was not a perfect pet. She’s no Lily (give that sweet, sweet dog a scratch or even a kiss for me, please). Rosalita was who she was. She had a hard life and you did all you could to give her a better one.
Now you have a bit of a hole in your heart. You wouldn’t be John Cole if you didn’t.
Cole, I’m not blowing smoke up your ass. Ugh! That’s kind of a gross phrase, but I’ll let it stand. I’m not. You don’t know me and I only know you for having read your words since close to the start of this blog (I once knew a guy that posted here as ThymeZone, among other names. I met him while training people on the software I worked with. He was fascinating. He told me stories about some hugely famous people coming over to his parent house when he was just a little kid, in this less than average apartment, just to talk with his father. I’d drop names, but I think I’ve already over-stepped with his username. I’m close to certain he is no longer with us. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so.) My point! My point! I fucking had one.
He turned me on to your blog. It was about the time you were becoming the you that everyone knows now. I’ve never stopped reading since.
I commented once, way back, and someone climbed up my ass so far I think they’re still in there. I think I was called a concern troll. I was nothing of the kind. I just thought the comment, whatever it was, was way over the top and said so. The person was so harsh about it I didn’t post for many years. But I did read this blog.
Jesus wept. This has gone on way too long.
John Cole, I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry for our loss. As much of a pain in the ass as she was, she was another part of the family. I loved her, for all of her faults. So did you. Again, you’re a very good man with a very good heart. STFU, don’t even try to say you’re not. You’re so transparent. At least when it comes to the wonderful animals in your life.