Sunday, January 24, 2016

Loss and the run


2016 has not started out well. This was the week I was ready to get myself back on track. Over the weekend, I prepared last week's 3 blog posts. I was on a roll, and the words just flowed. I love when that happens.

No sooner had I hit publish on my blog post about getting out of my January funk did the wheels once again come off the proverbial bus.

We noticed during dinner that my dog Cleo, who had been acting perfectly fine all day, did not come to beg hang out at the dinner table as she usually does. But at age 13, she was sleeping more than she used to and we just figured she was tired.

After dinner, I heard a noise from her crate. I was shocked to find her moaning and panting. I carefully picked her up and took her to bed with me, just like I used to do with the boys when they were little and sick. Restless, she couldn't get comfortable. She kept panting. I couldn't sleep. Worried, I finally packed her up and took her to the animal ER.

Tests were run, IV fluids given, and some morphine for pain. The blood work showed something really bad was happening to her. The vet wanted her to stay overnight. But I brought her home where I knew she'd be more comfortable.

I couldn't sleep. The sun came up and Cleo was still panting and shaking. She couldn't stand up. I woke up my youngest son and together, we drove back to the vet, Cleo on my lap.

After an ultrasound of her abdomen, the vet laid it all out for us.

Tumor. Bleeding. Old age.

No options to treat. Actually, no options at all. Except for one.

The decision was surprisingly easy. She was miserable. End her suffering. Let her go.

At the vet, getting ready to say goodbye to my sweet pup. One last picture for mom.
My head was spinning. 24 hours ago, she was sitting next to me, begging for Cheerios. Later, walking through the freshly folded laundry. We had just bought a new bag of food for her.

And now, we were making end of life decisions?

We left the vet with only her collar and a pawprint. And so many tears.

The next morning, I awoke in my bed, alone, exhausted after another sleepless night. All night I swear I heard Cleo padding around the house. Click, click, click. The sound of her nails on the hardwood floors. A deep sigh as she settles into deep sleep. My imagination hard at work. Playing cruel tricks on me.

Unable to relax, I got out of bed, I knew what I had to do.

The sun was coming up. It was 3 degrees outside. Brutally cold. No matter. I needed this run. I layered up and headed out into the cold. I let myself go. I didn't feel the cold. My legs felt light. My music, so familiar to me, carried me through my familiar neighborhood route. I ran mindlessly.

My ninja eagle on this cold morning
In the past, there have been other runs like this one.

After a miscarriage, so many years before. Fast and sweaty, finding power and strength from a body that I felt had betrayed me.

Another powerful run after the loss of my mother-in-law. Aversive to doctors, she was diagnosed and gone in 6 weeks. The only medical person in the family, the medical decision making rested on my shoulders. On my runs, I found strength to lead the family forward.

And just last year after our troubles with my oldest son came to a head. Anger, sadness, and feelings of failure all propelled me forward on the road.

When I came home from this run, chilled to the bone, there was no Cleo to greet me. The house felt empty. I shrugged off my layers and got ready for work.

On my way through the house, on the floor, was one of Cleo's toys. Just where she had left it the day before after carrying it around to show us. Triggering a flood of memories. And more tears.

This is the hard part.

I miss my little pup. She greeted me at the door every night and announced to the family that mom was home. This was the dog who couldn't wait to go to bed at night and "helped" me to pull down the covers so she could get her spot on the pillows. Who showed everyone who came to our house Elmo, her favorite stuffed toy. The pup who begged for pizza crust on Friday nights. Who sang in her crate when she was lonely. Who ate a pound of bacon she managed to snatch off my parents' kitchen counter. With no ill effects. Who loved to swim with the ducks in the lakes where we vacationed in Wisconsin. Who couldn't wait for me to pull my sweaty socks off after a run so she could run away with them.

So many memories.

Sweet, sweet Cleo. So much personality. She was a character. She loved everyone. And everyone loved her. Her tail never stopped wagging.

We all can only be so lucky to have such a dog. Unbridled joy. Unconditional love. A life well lived.

My life, so much better for having Cleo.

Keep wagging, my friends. Run like someone left the gate open. Chase your dreams. Never stop playing.



Thanks for reading. I'm linking up with Holly and Tricia at their Weekly Wrap. This was my week. How was yours?



132 comments :

  1. Oh Wendy, big hugs. Lola does the exact same thing -- pulls down the covers to nest (Chester never laid on the bed unless I was in there, and then he liked to be under the covers, until he was sick).

    While I had cats with pancreatitis, as I said, it was the chronic kind, not the acute kind, like your sweet Cleo had. I don't know which is worse. I do know that running has helped me so much through this time.

    Although in the end it was quick like that. And if you'd asked me when I did my new year's day race if we would be putting Chester to sleep the next day, I would've said no.

    As I told you, I'm always here to listen if you need that.

    They leave pawprints on our hearts and are gone far too soon.

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    1. But no regrets. My life was so much fuller for having Cleo and all my dogs. Last night my youngest asked if we'd be getting another dog. "I can't imagine not having a dog," he said. We will. This spring.

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  2. Wendy I'm so sorry for the loss of your sweet companion. I'm a bit out of words about this one, because I know the pain you feel. Huge hug from me to you! :)

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    1. Thanks so much. The one nice thing is that anyone who owns a dog understands how tough it is to lose one.

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    2. Yes, it's amazing the impact they have on our lives:)

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  3. Cleo sounds like the most amazing dog. I can feel your pain through your words and I just hope that writing this post was a little therapeutic for you. Sending virtual hugs.

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    1. I wrote this post earlier in the week and it was so raw. I couldn't edit it until yesterday. Now I smile when I think about Cleo.

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  4. Wendy, I am so sorry for the loss of your dear, sweet Cleo. As an animal lover and someone who has had to say goodbye to one of my kitties a few years ago, I know that there is nothing to say to ease the pain. It is a horrible, sucky situation. My tears are flowing for you right now and for your loss. Please know that love and caring thoughts are being sent from Pennsylvania. <3

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    1. The worst part about having a pet is that they are only with us for a short time. But they sure make our life better!

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    2. It really is the worst part. So many years of unconditional love and then goodbye. :*(

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  5. I'm so sorry Wendy! Losing a pet is always terrible - Cleo sounds like she was an amazing dog who lived a good long life.

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  6. I am so sorry, Wendy. The loss of a beloved pet is so incredibly hard. Your words about running through loss definitely resonate with me. I too suffered a miscarriage, 3 years ago, and a few days after it happened, when I had been in bed crying for days, I suddenly got up and just ran and ran. 6 miles, long for me at the time. I will never forget that run. So therapeutic. It didn't fix anything, but it did clear my head and help me move forward. Keep wagging that tail!! <3

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  7. So so sorry about your dog. I have lost 2 cats and although it's been a while, I still think of them.

    Animals bring more into your life than they take.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. I think that's why I miss her so much.

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  8. What a rough time you've had - I'm so, so sorry for your loss. Cleo was beautiful, right up to the end. I remember missing the sound of toenails clacking, too, as well as having someone ALWAYS so happy to see me when I came home...which is why we ended up getting another dog just a couple months after our beloved dachshund died. I'm glad you have such great memories of Cleo (the bacon episode made me giggle).

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    1. We will be getting another dog in the spring, after Big Sur. The timing is right. I have time to grieve my pup, and the new pup won't be a "replacement" dog. She'll be a new family member. Who will bring us joy as well.

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  9. So sorry for the loss of your beloved Cleo. I remember crying my eyes out on a run shortly after my dad passed away. I needed the run and the cry.

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    1. It's really hard to run and cry, isn't it? The whole breathing thing..

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  10. "When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." Khalil Gibran

    Cleo sounds like she was one in a million and lucky to have you as her Momma.

    On a different note, it was fun for me to have a celeb blogger sighting at WF this morning while we both bought out the whole store :).

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    1. What a great quote! We were lucky to have Cleo. She was the best.

      And yep, it was a thrill to meet you--I'm always happy to know that people actually read my blog. LOL! We should plan a meetup IRL!

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  11. Oh Wendy. I knew this post was coming...and still, I have no prepared words. Hugs to you <3 I'm sure you have many, many precious memories to give you some comfort. Baby Cleo will live in your heart forever.

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    1. Although I wrote it earlier this week, I wasn't able to edit it until yesterday. What a tough experience for all of us. But we are talking about getting another dog, later in the spring. A new family member, not a replacement. Thank you, friend.

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  12. Those of us who have lost pets, integral pieces of our family, know the sharp pain of loss you are going through and how you are caught unaware by a thought, a sight, a sound.

    I'm deeply sorry that you lost Cleo so fast. I have experienced that, too. It takes your breath away.

    The Gibran quote is lovely and comforting for you, I hope. You are already smiling. That is good.

    Sending love and huge from the East Coast.

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    1. I'm still reeling from the shock and the suddenness. The support and kindness of so many people is astonishing, and makes me feel better. We sure do love our pets, don't we?

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  13. Oh Wendy I am so sorry about Cleo. As a nurse I bet it was especially hard for you. It must be comforting to know that she didn't suffer for too long. Sometimes doing the right thing is the hardest thing. Hugs to you all

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    1. I did the right thing for her. Any heroics would have been for me and that's kind of selfish. She gave us so much, I didn't want to see her suffer. You're right. It was hard. Thanks.

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  14. I am so sorry to hear about your loss. It's funny growing up I was afraid of dogs. I think my mother traumatized me by saying that dogs can bite, because she was scared of the too. Since then I got over the fear of dogs and now I have a beautiful golden doodle, she is my little girl. I can not imagine what my life will be like with out her.

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    1. I knew that this day would come sooner or later...but this was just such a shock. Better for her, tho. She didn't suffer much at all.

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  15. So sorry. I had to put my cat down last fall and it was so hard. I never thought I could do it but when the time came I knew it was right.

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    1. It's so nice that our pets don't have to suffer, isn't it? What a blessing for them.

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  16. I knew as soon as I started reading this that I should just stop now cus I knew it wasn't going to end well. I am not emotionally strong enough to read about passing dogs, so of course the tears are now flowing down my face! We just had to put one of our dogs down in august and it wasn't easy. When I get sad my husband reminds me that we gave him the best life we could. He reminds me that our dogs do not belong to us, we are only "borrowing" them from God. This all of course makes sense but no matter what, the loss still hurts very much. Hugs to you my friend.

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    1. I thought about that movie Marley and Me. How I sobbed through most of the movie. There is something about a dog. This is my 3rd dog to pass, and it never gets easier. I like what your husband says. Dogs are amazing creatures.

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    1. Thank you Liz. I sure miss seeing your posts!

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  18. What a moving post Wendy, I can feel the love for Cleo just soak up the pages here as I read your words. I too have a love for a pet just like you do. I too can relate, I too hope that when the time comes it is as quick as this. No time to suffer, no time to sit and ponder what to do, you did what any loving pet owner would do. Sending hugs to you Wendy, I hope the precious memories replace the sadness your feeling now.

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    1. Thank you Tricia. It's been a tough week. I sure miss her.

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your dog. I know that dogs are family members.

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    1. Isn't that the truth? All of us are feeling the loss.

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  20. I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Hugs to you. Having lost miller this year, I know how you feel. My emotions are still really raw from loosing him. They are never here long enough.

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    1. Isn't it tough? You're so right. We don't get them long enough. I thought I had more time.

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  21. So sorry for your loss.... what a beautiful post...every single word.

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    1. It's been a tough week. I wrote this earlier in the week but couldn't edit it until this weekend. So many tears.

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  22. Sending such a big hug your way. I lost my dog two years ago and I can vividly remember all the sadness and shock that you are feeling now. Dogs leave such an imprint on our hearts. Its so so hard to let them go but I imagine that they are all in doggie heaven running and playing.

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    1. I like to think that she's with my other dogs and they're all having fun. It's much harder for us than it is for them.

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  23. Ach, Wendy - I'm so so sorry for your loss. This post brought me to tears. Our cat, Osker, is a truly special guy and he's getting on in age, so I know the time will eventually come. But it can't be easy. My thoughts are with you, sending warmth and comfort. Sweet memories of your Cleo.

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    1. Thank you so much. I knew that this time would come but to come so quickly? We're still in shock. All of us miss her terribly. Truly the best dog ever.

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  24. oh I'm n tears, I'm so sorry. What a beautiful post - I can feel the puppy love. Thinking of you...

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    1. Oh Mar, thank you! I wrote this earlier in the week but couldn't touch it until today. I sure miss her!

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  25. I'm so sorry. My baby girl is on my lap as I write this, trying to lick up my tears. Our babies are so sweet and provide so much joy. I can not imagine what you are going through - thinking about you, friend. xx

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    1. My fellow dog lovers have been such a source of support! Thank you.

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  26. I'm so sorry Wendy. They are such an integral part of our lives and leave such big holes when they are gone. My heart goes out to you. I know you will miss her. Big hug! Thanks for linking.

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    1. Thank you! That's exactly how it feels--a big hole where she used to be.

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  27. Oh, I am so sorry! Our dogs are such integral parts of our lives. They leave a big hole when they go. (((hugs)))

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    1. Thank you! A piece of my heart has definitely gone missing.

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  28. Oh, I am so, so sad to read this. I am sad for you and for your family, it is so hard to say goodbye. I know those tears, I had to put my dog to sleep years ago and it is such a heart wrenching moment.
    That is so sweet you slept with her to comfort her, you are a good momma Wendy.

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    1. She slept with me every night. I miss that a lot.

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  29. I am terribly sorry to hear of Chole, as well as the losses you endured previously.

    I absolutely love the sincere and genuine honesty you put into this post... you have put your heart out there for all of your readers. Your blog is very inspirational, and I wish for you peace and lovingkindness :)

    Diana

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    1. Thank you. I appreciate your kind words.

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  30. So sorry to hear about your dog! What a great post that shares your memories with her!

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  31. Wendy I'm so very sorry. Dogs are BFFs. I just saw Cleo and Elmo so I can just imagine your shock. Their lives are too short indeed. Big hugs.

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    1. That's exactly right--they are our BFFs. Love us no matter what, and especially when we are eating...

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  32. I was so sorry to hear about your pup. But at least you were able to take care of her. Animals don't understand pain, they just know that they are in it. The ability to deliver them from that pain and that confusion is one of the greatest gifts that we as their parents can give them.

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    1. I'm just glad her suffering was brief.

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  33. Wendy, I have no words that can make the pain go away. Losing a dog is so hard. I am just glad that she didn't seem to suffer. You are in my thoughts today.

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    1. Thank you. Even though the suddenness of her passing is so hard for us, I find great comfort that she didn't suffer.

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  34. Oh Wendy. :( I had to take a break to grab some Kleenex so I could finish the end of your post. My heart breaks for you. Losing a dog is so hard.

    My Paddy also does "turn down service" in our bed. I get so mad at her because I have a bit of an obsession with a neatly made, pristine bed.

    Sending you love and hugs during this difficult time. You gave Cleo a wonderful home and life. And hopefully you can find a bit of solace on the roads. <3 -C

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    1. Haha, I never thought of it as a turn down service, but I sure do miss that special touch at bedtime!

      Thank you for your kind words!

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  35. Oh, Wendy. I'm so sorry for your loss. It is so incredibly hard to lose a pet. I've lost my BFF of 19 years a while ago but it's still so raw. And now my husband's BFF is growing older by the minute and I'm already grieving her loss even though she's still with us because I know what's to come. Hang in there, mama. It doesn't get easier but instead of tears you'll soon be able to smile at her memory.

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    1. I liked what you said that you are already grieving the loss of your older pet...that is what I had been starting to do this year. We really let Cleo have a lot more freedom this year because we knew her time with us was limited. No regrets.

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  36. I tried to post from my phone last night without luck. Wendy, I am so so so very sorry. I cried when I read your initial post, and this post made me just sob for you. I have a 4 legged companion as well, and I can't even imagine losing him. Please let me know if you need anything at all, really. A hug, a glass of wine, a run, you name it. I'm here for you!

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    1. Thank you so much for your empathy and your friendship. I couldn't get through this without all the love of the people around me.

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  37. This made me tear up. I'm so sorry. Cleo sounds like a wonderful dog, and it's sad that her end came so suddenly. Hugs to you.

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    1. I've finally stopped crying! But I do miss her. Thanks for your kind words.

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  38. Oh Wendy. I literally feel your pain. We lost our Reina in a similar way last Spring and the pain is so bad. It does get better with time, but she will never leave your heart.
    Sending love your way!

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    1. Thank you! It is so hard, losing a pet. I miss her so much!

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  39. I feel your sorrow. We recently suffered a heartbreaking loss too. As with every loss, sadness lingers but time heals. I hope the run and yoga gave you the peace and comfort you needed. Hugs to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you. It really helps to keep moving!

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  40. I am so sorry for your loss. I adore my pets and will be a mess when I will have to make that same decision!

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  41. I cant handle these posts... I instantly cry because I know the heartache that is involved with the loss of those fur babies. So hard to make the decisions to let them go but no sense in pain when no relief will come. I am so sorry... truly sorry.

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    1. I worried about upsetting people when I posted this. I needed to share my story because running helps me deal with life stressors so much.

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  42. Wendy, I'm so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is like losing a close family member. I'm glad running was able to give you a few moments to yourself, but I wish you and your family the best during this tough time.

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    1. It really is like losing a family member. We all miss her. Thank you for your kind words!

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  43. Wendy, I am in tears reading your post. I am SO SORRY about Cleo. I've lost a number of fur babies over the years and it is HEARTBREAKING. But I know Cleo had a full, loving, and wonderful life with you taking care of her, so we should celebrate her life! BIG HUGS!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Which is kind of why I wanted to share my story. Plus it's nice to have a way to work it out...running does that for me.

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  44. Elizabeth Collette UrsinJanuary 25, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    OK, this post made my cry for sure, I lost my soulmate dog last year, it's not easy, and you're going to cry for a while. There's nothing like the unconditional love of a dog.

    On a another note, I do enjoy reading your very entertaining blog, and I'm glad I got to meet you through my sister Michelle (you know the one).

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    1. Isn't that the truth? I thought about your sister when she had to say goodbye to one of her dogs this year.

      I'm so glad we met too! I hope to see you more (and her too!)

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  45. So sorry to hear about your loss. So sad that it happened so suddenly. It does make you cherish every moment. Hugs to you and your family during this tough time.

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    1. Yeah, it really is the suddenness that got us. Although she was 13 and we knew our time with her was winding down. I guess you never can be prepared.

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  46. I'm so sorry about Cleo - she sounds like the perfect dog. I lost my 15 year old dog in August and it is still like a punch in the gut when the memories of him flood back. People would say that he was lucky to have had me in his life - but I was the lucky one.

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    1. That's exactly how I feel. We were extraordinarily lucky with Cleo. She was a really nice dog. Sweet.

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  47. Pets truly become a part of our family. They fill a void only they can. They love unconditionally and will do anything to please us. I understand your pain and know it is not easy. The animals in our house are such a presence and as mine are getting older I know difficult decisions will arise at some point. I am also a Veterinary technician, I watch the pain of so many lose their pets. Cleo was lucky to have been in your home for as long as she was. May her memory, remaining hair and toys bring you smiles in the days ahead. Big hugs!

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    1. Oh my gosh,you have such a hard job! I always think about that when I'm at the vet. I'm grateful for you and all your colleagues. The support we received from the vet and his staff was amazing.

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  48. This made me tear up. I'm so sorry about Cleo and hope that today is a little easier than yesterday. I'm glad that running was able to help you and know that I"m sending good thoughts your way!

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    1. We are so lucky to have sport to help us through tough times! Thank you!

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  49. OMG,I'm sitting at my desk tears streaming down my face. I've never had a dog but I've grown attached to several dogs over the years and when it was their time to go, it broke my heart. I can't even imagine what it would be like if it was actually my pet. I'm so sorry for your loss Wendy. Hugs to you! xo

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    1. Thank you Phaedra! There's just something about a dog. Love them.

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  50. I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. We had to put our dog down a few years ago due to old age, so I know how tough that can be. Isn't it amazing, though, how therapeutic getting out and running can be, though? That's been the case for me in the past as well.

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    1. So wonderful having an outlet to release all the pain and stress, isn't it? As always, I'm so grateful for the run.

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  51. Your post is beautiful, so sorry Wendy for your loss. Losing an animal is so hard. My thoughts & prayers are with you.

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    1. Thank you. You are right, it's tough to lose a pet!

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  52. Oh Wendy I'm so sorry. Wish I had some great comforting words...sending you lots of hugs.

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    1. Thank you. No words are necessary...I'm just grateful you read my post. I know it's a sad one!

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  53. Wendy, I'm so so sorry for your loss. No words can make the situation better or easier, but you did the right thing ending her suffering. Now she is in puppy heaven playing with all her favorite toys and begging for (and getting) all her favorite foods. I know you gave her a wonderful life, and she'll be a part of you always. Sending good vibes your way! xoxo

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    1. Thank you! Yep, she's with our other dogs and all her doggie friends. Wish it was easier for us here, tho!

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  54. Bless, lady. I will keep Cleo in my puppy prayers. This was an absolutely beautiful post, and I can't thank you enough for sharing your story here. I know it had to be tough. You had to be brave. We all love and appreciate you and your sweet, encouraging, heart-felt words.

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    1. I almost didn't post it because I knew it would be hard for my readers. But I'm all about keeping it real, and sometimes life gets tough. Thank goodness for running.

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  55. Oh Wendy, I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes reading this post. Just remember that Cleo is in a much better place now and isn't physically suffering anymore.

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    1. I tell myself that a lot. It's still such a shock. You just never know.

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  56. Oh, Wendy. I am so very sorry for your loss. I have been there way too many times, and it never stops hurting. Never.

    Thinking of you. <3

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    1. Isn't that the truth? This is my third dog and I swear it was tougher this time than before.

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  57. I'm so sorry. Losing a pet is like losing a family member or best friend. I cried for days after our cat died. We'd had him for 17 years and it was so hard to let go. {{{HUGS}}}

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    1. It's the little things...the habits, that make me forget for a brief moment that she's gone.

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  58. Wendy I'm so sorry for your loss. I find comfort knowing you're able to find some comfort in your run.

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    1. Heading out into the wind as we speak. So therapeutic!

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  59. big hugs Wendy! I know it is so sad and it takes awhile to catch yourself not looking for them, I still remember it well. Nice how you always find some peace in your running Cleo is missing you too!

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    1. You hit the nail on the head. I keep forgetting for a brief moment that she's gone. Ugh.

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  60. I am so sorry for your loss. Glad you were able to clear your head with a good run. I don't know what I will do when I lose my Italian Greyhounds. They are 10 so I know I only have so many years with them left, but they really do become such a part of your family.

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    1. Thank you. I knew this day was coming but it came so suddenly. I wasn't prepared at all. Of course, are you ever really prepared?

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  61. So sorry for your loss. I definitely use running to cope with my emotions through tough times. I don't have any pets but my parents lost both their dogs over the past 3 years, and I know how hard it can be.

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    1. The hard part is now--I keep looking for her. Then I remind myself...

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  62. So sorry to hear about Cleo. I know the furkids become such a part of our lives. I was super sad about my kitty when I thought he met an unfortunate fate during the blizzard and he's a feral cat that we've been caring for for a year. I can only imagine a pet of 13 years. Hugs to you!

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    1. Thank you! It's been tough. Especially the little things...

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  63. What a sweet tribute to such an adorable pup, and companion. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of Cleo. Nonetheless, I'm glad that you have something healthy to help clear your head and cope with the pain of loss. Sending you a virtual hug!

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    1. It really feels like losing a best friend!

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  64. I have tears in my eyes as I read this...my heart breaks for you. Animals become such a huge part of our lives and our daily routines. Running has (and probably always will be) a type of therapy for me as well. Lots of virtual hugs headed your way!!

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    1. Thank you so much! I miss her terribly.

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  65. I am so, so sorry for your loss. :'( That could not have been easy, but I'm glad she's not suffering anymore. Sending you lots of warm thoughts and hugs. <3

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    1. Thank you so much! It's been tough without her! Funny how much those little furballs get into our hearts.

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