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Emotional farewell between loving man and his first dog

Dogsarefamily_thumb By Dogs Are Family | September 29, 2013 | Comments (60)

When it came time to say goodbye to his first dog Gracie, Douglas Korn kept his promise to her. He promised her long ago that he would be by her side on her final journey. Here is their story...

Gracie on her last car ride with her guardian
"My Dog Gracie watching me while we take our last drive to the park together; she never took her eyes off of me during the entire drive. You can see how swollen and puffy her face is below her left eye and across the nose where the tumor grew back. She was a very sweet girl."

"I said goodbye to my dog today.

The time was too soon, the reason was not fair, but I would keep the promise I made to her long ago, that my voice would be the last thing she heard and my loving smile would be the last sight she saw. Just as it was when our journey began, only the two of us, so it ended in the same way.

Cancer sucks; more so when the one who has it can't tell you where or how much it hurts. It literally appeared out of nowhere, a small bump at the bridge of her nose and it kept getting bigger; fast. There would be no chance for a miracle remission, no amount of surgery, radiation, medicine or prayer would make it go away. The decision to undergo surgery and remove it was not an attempt to cure her; merely to extend her life long enough to shower her with the affection and gratitude for all of the love she had shown my family over the years. It was the best $2000 I ever spent, and the gift of sharing a little more quality time with her was priceless in the end.

She had lived with my Mom for the last 4 years; the bond her dog and mine had formed was a beautiful one, and the decision to let them stay together was a quick and easy decision when I moved into my apartment, but I did, and always will, consider Gracie as my dog. My first dog.

Mom called to let me know Gracie wasn't herself today. "I think it's time" was all I remember from the conversation. The lump under her left eye was steadily growing; the tumor returned quickly and daily evaluation of her health was the prevailing topic of several calls each day. She said if I was busy with work that she would take her down to the vet, but that was not how I wanted things to end for us. Mom had spent the past 4 weeks spoiling her with toys and treats of every variety. Donato's pizza, Olive Garden, Frosty's from Wendy's...definitely one of her favorites, and the endless bag of dog treats...all helping to add at least 10 pounds to her not-so-lady like frame anymore. The steroids she was on probably helped to add some thickness and the slightly puffy look she had, but she still looked like the same little dog I desperately sought out and adopted from the Humane Society 9 years ago.

I called ahead and let Mom know I would be there in 20 minutes, so that she could have some time alone to say goodbye however she needed to. I stopped by the clinic to take care of all the formalities before I brought her down. That is when the real emotion of what I had to do started to exude itself. I was putting my dog to sleep and the mechanism just turned on. Get through it somehow and keep your promise.

The interaction at Mom's house was brief; I gave the dogs one last moment together, neither of them realizing it would be their last, and quickly led her to the passenger seat of the car. She just sat there and looked at me as I drove to the park. I think she knew; perhaps the gaze she had upon my face was her way of letting me know she was hurting and that she wanted it to end. She didn't care to stick her head out the window and let the wind blow in her face, she wasn't distracted by the other cars, people or even other dogs we passed on the street. She looked at me the entire time and then laid down in the seat for me to gently pet her head.

I wanted to walk with her one more time, the way we did several times a day when I lived in a small apartment and had no yard for her to roam. This was our daily ritual and I wanted to experience it with her one last time. Lay in the grass, throw a ball, walk on a leash, tell her peacefully and sincerely how much I loved her and how sorry I was that I had been so absent from her life in recent years. Something happy to hold onto, when the time to recall stories and memories of her arise. There was no interest in a ball. She let me lay in the grass and hold her without resistance. No wiggling to shake free and scamper away to play; the energy was gone and only acknowledgment of my being there remained. She sat still for a few last pictures; posing, as if she knew how important it was for me to capture the last moments we had together. She granted me one last walk around the park, knowing all too well by her labored breathing that she was doing it just for me; perhaps one last gift from her to help ease my pain in return. I cried as I walked her back to the car.

Watching someone say goodbye to a pet can't be an easy thing for anyone to do, and I am grateful to have found a clinic and veterinarian who value the love of animals as much as me. They gave me some quiet time in a private room to say goodbye, but Gracie and I were already long past that now. I think she was ready to rest. There was no resisting, no barking or trying to get down from the table. She saw my face the entire time and her eyes never left mine. There was a look of peace; I could see it in her gaze and I believe she was grateful that I was there to see her off. I held her pretty little face in my hands and gently stroked both of her ears. She put a paw on my arm and licked my face one last time before being sedated. I watched the sleep descend upon her and closed her eyes after kissing her nose one last time. My hand rested upon her chest until I felt her last breath and I knew she was gone.

I wrapped her body in the patch quilt my Mom made for me when I was 5 years old. In our early years together, before I experienced any real success in my business, this same quilt kept me warm in bed when I could afford nothing more. She would sleep on it every night with me and it was as much hers as it was mine. It was only appropriate that her final rest be found there as well. I needed to take her back to my Mom's house so that her dog knew she was gone. Shadow would sit by the door and cry whenever I took Grace away from the house, and I knew he would not be at peace if he didn't know where she went. I brought her into the house and laid her on the couch and carefully unwrapped her from the blanket. Shadow had a very lost and disoriented demeanor to him as his friend lay lifeless before him. He licked her face, cleaning her as he always did, sniffed her entire body in the hope of some response in return, but none would come. He walked to his bed and lay down; crying ever so slightly, acknowledging what I wanted him to know. His heart will hurt for a long time too. I moved away from the couch to pet him so that Mom could say goodbye to our little girl; I could hear the camera on her phone click twice and she softly, lovingly petted her head amidst a steady flow of tears.

It was decided long ago that she was to be cremated; as is the tradition with all of our family pets. I took her back to the clinic and gently put her on the table, removed her collar and left one of her toys with the request that it be included in her remains. The squeaky kind, that I so often found annoying but so painfully wished to hear one last time. Her ashes will be sealed into a box with a picture attached for many memories to be later recalled. I kissed her face one last time, said thank you for the years of love she provided and hugged her face; feeling the wetness of her face from my own tears, and said one final goodbye.

I kept my promise. I continue to cry."

~ Submitted to DogHeirs by Douglas Korn

 

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Comments on this Article

In tears....my baby had to be put to sleep a year ago after also being diagnosed with lymphoma. Cancer sucks...had a visiting vet come to our house to put her to sleep in my arms. Hardest thing ever, but kind of in the contract of being a pet owner. My heart goes out to you.
"Cancer sucks; more so when the one who has it can't tell you where or how much it hurts." This line and the picture of Gracie had made my eyes already blurred. It is aching to lose your beloved companion to something so cruel as cancer. But you kept your promise, you gave her a wonderful farewell gift as well as you let the other doggy to realize she is gone. She will be so peaceful and happy up there, relieved from pain and suffering, knowing that she had a great life. RIP Gracie.. God Bless..!!
I know exactly how you are feeling because we had to put our precious little one down due to cancer. My family and I were there for her when we said our final goodbyes. I will never forget the tear she had in her eye when she was gone. I gently wiped it away and told her it was okay to go to heaven. To this day, still cry for her. Thank you for sharing your love of Gracie.
I am so sorry for your loss of Gracie.....
Oh God, I cried so hard! I am SO SORRY about Gracie. I've only had one dog in my whole life. His name is Barkley and I got him when I was in my 40's. He's seven, and I don't know what I'll do when it's his time to go. I love him so much. RIP, sweet Gracie.
Even though I never knew Gracie, my heart hurts right along with yours.
Crying like a baby :( Sorry for your loss
...Doug, this was me re-living my event(s) enduring Coco's bout with cancer. It was never put in written format, and now happening upon your story, well, I find so many of us have a common bond. Every day keep them in your heart and mind. Bless you Gracie.
I was really crying while reading this...
20 years ago my first dog was put to sleep, at age 14 he went out the way he enjoyed life - a big fight with mean raccoon. He had been in my life since I was a little girl, and the pain of losing him was so intense. Even all these years later I can remember the moment when I knew what we had to do, how it felt like something was always missing after. As much as we love them and care for them all their lives, what we do for them at the end is the true testament to how much they really mean to us.
“Only in the agony of parting do we look into the depths of love.” ― George Eliot Rest In Peace Gracie.....
She will always be near you. I still feel the presence of my Lillie when I feel lonely and it's been almost 3 years since her passing.
Am still balling my eyes out 10 minutes later :-( . I still miss my first companion, cass, I got him when I was 13 ... I'm now 47. The pain eases, and hopefully, in time is replaced with the happy memories. Thank you for sharing your story Douglas, I don't imagine it was easy. Rest assured, at least she had a wonderful life with you and your mum - May she rest in peace.
Dear Doug, So sorry for your loss, my heart aches at the thought of losing my big boy and for all you have endured. Gracie was so lucky to have you and your mom in her life, I pray for peace right now for I know it hurts and does not stop hurting. Maybe in time you could open your heart for another to care for. God bless and RIP Gracie in God's loving arms. I do believe you will be together again in heaven one day. : (
Started tearing up at paragraph two, choking by the 4th and sobbing at the very end. I just kept imagining that one day I may have to say my last goodbye to my beloved Chis. How unbearably heart wrenching.
Gracie knew she was loved...every day of her life..including the last...my heart breaks for you from first hand knowledge of having been there to do that for my own beloved furry family members. You are the kind of person your dog thought you were...no higher compliment can be paid to a true animal lover.She's waiting at the Rainbow Bridge for you.
Dear Douglas Korn - The true character of a person is shown by the way they treat an animal or a child. You, sir, are a beautiful person with a beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing Gracie's story. I wish you peace and comfort. Godspeed Gracie.
Thank you so much for sharing your story about Gracie. My Teebow was a rescue as well. she was such a devoted dog. Everyone loved her. She loved going to my sister's place visiting with her 3 cousins. They had a ball together until at the end. I lost her to cancer as well. it was heart wrenching to see her suffer so much. i too spent thousands on her but every penny was worth it. she was diognosed with cancer in 2009. PEI hospital said she had months to live i swear i cried every day for a month then decided i was going to see if i could keep her around with me for a while longer. i started her on Prednizone and was able to have her in my life for another 3+ years. i too promised my beautiful family member that I would not be selfish and let her suffer. After battling with whether to let her walk over rainbow bridge, so at the great age of 15 I decided with the help of my sister that it was time to let her go. that was the hardest thing i ever had to do. although that was in april 2013, i still miss her every day and cry often. i was fortunate enough to be allowed to have my niece's dog and although Chanelle will not take the place of my beloved Teebow, she has certainly been good for the healing process. I cremated Teebow and she sits itn my dining room with her picture. I was fortunate to have her in my wedding 2 years ago and i am so happy i did that. SHE WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN. RIP my dear Teebow
that was so lovely,,, i also promised all my dogs i would be there for them till the very end,,,, it is so very hard to do, but i do it, and then be heartbroken for ever... when i had my first german shepherd girl,she lost all feeling in her bad legs, for a while she was o.k. in her wheels, but as she lost control of her bowels and bladder i knew she had no dignity left, so i asked the vet for sleeping pills, gave them too her as she lay in front of a lovely fire, on her favourite rug, along with a piece of chocolate, and she was almost asleep when the vet arrived to end her lovely life, i did not take her into the vets office, as she had never liked it,, but he was a good man and had no problem putting her to rest in the place she loved the best,,, at the time i also had a german shepherd lovely boy, and he was taken out of the house during the time it took, and when she had gone to the pet cemetary, he came back, he looked all over for her, and then lay looking out onto the patio with his head down and i swear to you, tears running down his face.... but within a week he had taken over all the things she used to do,, barking at the post man, bringing the letters in,, everything, he did it i think because he knew she would want him to..... in time, he also had to go to rainbow bridge,,, another sad day,, but he knew his time had come, and he lay with his head on his front paws, looked at me, took one long last breath as if to say, thank you, mum... and went... this was when we lived in cornwall u.k...... when we moved to cyprus, we where not going to have anymore dogs,, but of course we did, and now i find myself with two more 'seniors' both rescue dogs, who are now 11,,, so i know i will have to face the sorrow all over again, but they have given us so much love and fun, we will be there for them till the end.... i hope, that if and when i get to rainbow bridge, i will be knocked over in the rush,,,,
GOD BLESS YOU, DOUGLAS... YOUR PRECIOUS GRACIE IS NOW WITH MY BELOVED ITTYBITTY, WHO DIED IN MY ARMS AT THE VETERINARY CARDIOLOGIST'S OFFICE A YEAR AGO TOMORROW, OCT. 4. ITTY WEIGHED ONLY 9 LBS. AND WAS VERY SHY WITH PEOPLE SHE DIDN'T KNOW.....SO GRACIE WILL PROBABLY WATCH OUT FOR HER FROM NOW ON. THAT THOUGHT GIVES ME A LITTLE PEACE IN REGARD TO BOTH MY LITTLE ITTY AND YOUR SPECIAL GRACIE.
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