My Dog Died Today

Thx in advance for your sympathies, all.

Of course, we weren’t lucky enough she died in her sleep. That was wishful thinking, that the decision would be taken out of our hands.

Middie the Wonder Dog was 15 afterall, and that’s stretching it even in dog years. To explain, she’d suddenly stopped eating her usual food a month ago, and even though we came up with a new formulation that kept her eating, eating had become her last and only pleasure.

She was going away from us.

Yesterday, she had her second attack of vestibular syndrome, which makes ’em dizzy as hell. Recovering from a second bout at age 15 is clinically contraindicated. It was time.

She couldn’t sleep last night; she was sitting up because laying down made her dizzy. We got up together around dawn although I never get up at dawn, and we went outside together. I held her up so she could pee at my feet.

Good dog, as she’s always been. She held it until the proper time.

Woke Mrs. TVD after making an appointment at the vet, said she should come this time. She knew what I meant.

They spent time together in the back seat of the car while the vet got ready. And we were ready, me, the missus, and Middie. Help me, said Middie. So we did help Middie, over what pet lovers call the Rainbow Bridge.

C.S. Lewis said that heaven is perfect, and if that means we need Middie there for it to be perfect, then yes, dogs go to heaven and she will be waiting for us there.

I think there’s a reason dogs only live 15 years or so. Their love for us is perfect, and so is our love for them.

And when they are gone, we humans have to look to each other, and none of us is perfect. It’s so much harder for us to love each other than it is to love what is perfect.

That’s my lesson for today anyway, why Middie the Wonder Dog was given to us, and why she had to be taken away. If she could have lived forever, everything would have been perfect. But that’s not what this life is for.

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


    • James, a black and tan? Still in love and still sad over my beloved Molly. Nothing like the sound of that Coonhound going completely nuts when the universal word to induce dog insanity, w.a.l.k. was uttered. She eventually caught on to the spelling of walk and even the sign language for walk.

  1. A wonderful post, Tom, for a wonderful family member.

    My thoughts, sympathies & everything else go out to you and Mrs. TVD.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss. I’m a cat person, who’s owned only one dog in her life, an aging pug who is now sleeping (and snoring and snuffling) besides me as I type this. Dog love is indeed perfect and enriches our lives. May Middie’s memory be a blessing for you.

  3. A poem that helped me after our little Chumky died:

    (Hal Summers)

    My old cat is dead,
    Who would butt me with his head.
    He had the sleekest fur.
    He had the loudest purr.
    Always gentle with us,
    Was this black puss,
    But when I found him today
    Stiff and cold where he lay,
    His look was a lion’s,
    Full of rage and defiance;
    Oh, he would not pretend
    That what came was a friend
    But met it in pure hate.
    Well died, my old cat.

  4. Tell the missus that me and mine have you and yours in our thoughts.

    There ain’t nothing like a good dog. My heartfelt condolences to you, Tom.

  5. In the first year my wife and I were together 13 years ago now, we found a stray cat on a freeway onramp. She was a beloved companion to us, but had a special bond with my wife. When she became gravely ill three years ago, the vet told us to say our goodbyes. My wife refused, and asked the doctor what else could be done. This went on for three visits, and each time the kindly vet—and by the end, me with him—trying to convince my wife to let go. Miraculously, however, our pet suddenly began responding to the treatment, overjoying my wife and me, and dumbfounding the poor vet, who felt guilty about having urged us to give up on our companion.

    She’s still with us, though getting older now. She won’t likely have the strength to push through another illness like that. Not looking forward to going down that road again.

    My condolences to you, Tom.

  6. Condolences Tom. I always felt Kipling said it best:

    There is sorrow enough in the natural way
    From men and women to fill our day;
    And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
    Why do we always arrange for more?
    Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
    Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

    Buy a pup and your money will buy
    Love unflinching that cannot lie–
    Perfect passsion and worship fed
    By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
    Nevertheless it is hardly fair
    To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the fourteen years which Nature permits
    Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
    And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
    To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
    Then you will find–it’s your own affair–
    But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
    When the spirit that answered your every mood
    Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

    We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
    When it comes to burying Christian clay.
    Our loves are not given, but only lent,
    At compound interest of cent per cent.
    Though it is not always the case, I believe,
    That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
    For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
    A short-term loan is as bad as a long–
    So why in–Heaven (before we are there)
    Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

    • I love that, Northie. Beautiful. Deeply beautiful. And to think we humans put these precious animals into fighting rings to mutilate and kill each other. Damn the human race… and our capacity for such heinous, bottomless, cruelty.

  7. Tom, my deepest sympathies and condolences to you and your wife–how deeply the loss of one of God’s most perfect creatures is! Their love is boundless, and their loyalty, forever. They want nothing more in this life than to be with you, whether a walk (their very favorite!) Or to throw a stick, or ball or a scratch behind the ears. Complete, total fulfillment. No wonder we’ve been bonding with these wonderful, lovable animals for the last 10,000 years! Inconsolable, yes. Heartbreaking, absolutely. Only time and warm memories can rescue a broken soul at this difficult time. Durufle wrote a gorgeous Requiem. Although a mass for the dead, better at these difficult moments to focus on In Paradisum—“May angels lead you into paradise; upon your arrival, may the martyrs receive you and lead you to the holy city of Jerusalem. May the ranks of angels receive you, and with Lazarus, the poor man, may you have eternal rest.” Don’t know the proper Roof, Roofs, or Woofs, Woofs to express the Latin, but Middie will certainly know. Best, and peace, Tom

    “THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight,
    To me did seem
    Apparell’d in celestial light,
    The glory and the freshness of a dream.
    It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
    Turn wheresoe’er I may,
    By night or day,
    The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

    The clouds that gather round the setting sun
    Do take a sober colouring from an eye
    That hath kept watch o’er man’s mortality;
    Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
    Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
    Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
    To me the meanest flower that blows can give
    Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. ”

    Intimations of Immortality (and Middie!) William Wordsworth

  8. A sad story for the start of the day.

    Middie the Wonder Dog gave you love and comfort and loyalty all the years of her life. And you were there with her for comfort and security and love when hers came to a painless end, which is the obligation and the bittersweet privilege of the humans who are companions to their dogs.

    I never met Middie but I miss her already on your behalf.

  9. I, too, add my sympathies. If there is a God (and I’m agnostic on the question) the biggest mistake he ever made was making the lifespan of dogs so much shorter than that of humans – they’re the best friends we have.

  10. We’ve seen four cats over the Rainbow Bridge and it’s never easy. It almost feels silly to remember sitting in a car and blubbering away after having to visit the vet that last time. But it isn’t silly at all. I’d like to think the fact that we are so moved by the event, and can grieve so completely over the loss, is testament to our ability to love.

    And it sounds like you loved Middie immensely.

  11. I haven’t much to add, though you gave me reason to give our little mutt a couple extra hugs and tummy rubs today.

  12. Our dog Gypsy died when I was about nine years old. I’m still not over that. They’re so dear and live such short lives, but they’re such good examples of how we should be.

  13. Hope your house and property are okay this morning, Tom.

    Pasadena is a mess. We’re fine, but several houses were severely damaged and streets are blocked everywhere.

    There’s at least one old oak keeled over on every street.

    • All the leaves blew off the trees, Pat, and now it looks like winter. Which is OK, it already felt that way.

      Thx for asking.

    • Thx, Chris. Recovering from it these days after, it was time, and I’m thankful the grave decision was forced on me. To everything, turn turn turn, eh?

  14. Beautifully written. I love the reasoning about the short lifespan of our beloved four-legged partners. Thank you for giving me something to consider in the future as I enter year ten with the best, most loyal dog I have ever known.

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