And pieces of my heart are scattered here, there, and everywhere, shattered glass on a stone cold ceramic floor.

Spirit is gone and he must be my last dog.

At age 83 and with the quality of my health beginning to show signs of deteriorating, it would be irresponsible for me to entertain the idea of getting another dog.

It was time to let him go – not second guessing myself about that – the cancerous tumor on his jaw was growing rapidly – it had reached the point where he was having a hard time even drinking water and I am guessing the cancer had spread to other parts of his body because he was hardly pooping anymore and it was almost liquid when he did. And to keep him in the game, I was giving him pain medication 3-4 times/day. I don’t think he was in pain but dogs (animals) are so stoic ……. I hope I did not allow him suffer to please me.

On Sunday, August 8, I looked into his eyes and he told me he was ready. I cried and cried and cried. But, I agreed to let him go. Truth is, I had been mourning his passing for many weeks now as I saw the time approaching. I am crying now as I write this.

I have learned to embrace my grieving process. When my wife, Dianna died, I chose to face it head on, to be willing to fully experience all of it, no matter how long it takes or how painful it feels and to go through it all with an open, vulnerable heart. This is what I am doing now, and will continue to do until I have released all the sadness, pain and sorrow I feel now.

Below is the letter of his last day I sent to friends:

Spirit left this reality at 11:36 AM this morning.
He ate a good sized pure chicken breakfast at around 7 AM while I was driving us to Heritage Park, about a 20 minute drive, and a huge expanse near Adrian. It was our favorite place to walk – tons of walking trails. Whenever I had to go to Adrian, it was always our first stop. Today, we went on a brief 20 minute walk. Then he climbed back into the car without encouragement. He was done. From there, we toured the back country gravel roads of Lenawee county for a bit less than 2 hours, seeing deer, sand hill cranes here and there.
The vet came out to our house, took off her shoes and Spirit immediately grabbed one of them. I gently took it away from him, as she went through her process to gently put him down while he lay on our bed with the ceiling fan running full blast. He offered no resistance and was comfortable throughout the entire process. Carol and I petted him and talked to him as he was dying. He barely moved a muscle.
I tried not to but I cried.
Then I transported his body to a local crematorium.
I will spread his ashes in the Onsted Village Park, a walking place we visited almost daily during his life, where he met so many people, so many kids, so many dogs, so many smells, chased so many squirrels, finished off quite a few half eaten sandwiches and other “treats”, as we roamed the park and connected trail. It also had a small creek running through it, which he loved to lay in during low water times and run through when it was running high. I will sprinkle some of his ashes into that creek.
I have never had to put down a dog who still had this much energy, active life force, enthusiasm for life – though very much diminished from his normal way of being by the time of his passing. Painful, unsettling, disturbing in every way. This guy had SO much energy to begin with, it is probably not out of line that he still had some left.
My heart was breaking minute by minute, hour by hour, over the past few weeks but the tumors on his jaw and leg were out of control and expanding so rapidly, he had a hard time even drinking. And without pain pills, he would have been in agony.
So, I ignored my own feelings and let him go.
Still, he LOVED life! I never wanted to train this quality out of him, or, in any way, inhibit his enthusiasm. So glad I did not. I loved this about him.
So it is goodbye dear lovely friend, my blessing for over nine magical years. Not long enough but there is no time that would have been long enough. I am eternally grateful for every moment we were given together. And yet, the hole in my life is too big for me to grasp – he was with me during every moment of the day and now ………………..
You are always be in my heart, sweet Spiritdog.  
We will re-unite on the other side. Will find out just how when my time comes.
A baby rabbit is eating seeds outside my window.
Life goes on.
Love to you all
John

My middle son, Stephan, died on August 31, 2020, one year ago.

Before that, I lost dear friends, Mark Schelereth, and a couple of years before that, Steve Kridelbaugh, and recently, his wife, Linda.

The downside of getting old and still being alive is the loss of friends and family as they peel off, one by one.

But, maybe not so oddly, of all of these lovely souls, I miss Spirit most of all. It is the simple practical reality that he was at the center of my daily life; friends and family lived far away and were not an integral part of my daily life – though I love them all dearly.

Spirit and I were together essentially every minute of every day for 9 years. I can still see him the day we first met, the day he chose me, a seven week old puppy who rolled over on his back between my legs so I could scratch his little belly – and as he would do so often during the years that followed.

I so deeply miss his standing on the car console staring out the window to see what is going on as we cruised down the road, tapping my right hand with his left paw if I stopped scratching him under his neck, occasionally laying his head into the curve of my neck, and resting it there just so we could feel closer, or sticking half his body out the rear window to catch the wind, and those spurious passing scents only he knew were there. Or laying next to me, or under my computer table, as I wrote my book or emailed, or searched the internet. Those spots are empty now and when I look at them, my heart is heavy.

Where is my boy?

Has my Spiritdog stopped talking?

We will see.

So happy to meet you my dear friend


Spirit at around age 2

 

 



Wait, wait for me. I will be with you soon enough

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