Saying Good-bye to Oliver

Oliver as a pup at one of his favorite places- the beach.

Oliver as a pup at one of his favorite places- the beach.

We spent part of Sunday sitting on the floor with Oliver, petting him and showering him with love, knowing that it wouldn’t be much time before he would be gone. We didn’t think he’d decline so rapidly. We hoped we would have a few months left with him after his cancer diagnosis but the medicine wasn’t helping. He wasn’t himself- he could barely get up on his own and his breathing was labored, more like puffs of air than breaths and my mom had made the appointment for the vet to come out and help him pass. It was a tearful time with the family as we remembered good times with Ollie- all his romps at the beach and games of fetch, how he’d often show up from the bedroom with one of my mom’s slippers in his mouth, the way he would happily greet everyone with a tail wag and sometimes with his nose directly into your crotch, and how all humans and dogs were happy in his company. He looked like a big Muppet when he ran and, man, he loved to run. So seeing him lying there unable to barely walk was so heartbreaking.

We gave him final kisses and hugged my mom. As we were all standing around outside in the driveway- Finn and Dokey playing a game of chase before they got into the car, and Darcy and I hugging my mom and sharing a laugh through tears- my mom said, “Shhh, I hear something!” It was the clop of Oliver’s feet through the kitchen as he came out to join us. How he got up on his own, we don’t know but we greeted him merrily and with great affection, “Oliver! What a good boy!” and he wagged his tail like the good ol’ days when he’d stand by my mom’s side and watch us all drive away after a family dinner. We got into our separate cars and I watched my mom and Oliver painstakingly walk into the backyard for what I knew would be the last time. I felt so sad for my mom, knowing these were her final hours with her best friend. In the car on the way to park, Finn composed a song about losing his best “furry friend” as he tried to make sense of his grief. He’s known Oliver, or “Olls” as he calls him, his whole life and losing him is confusing and hard for a six and a half-year old.

I really thought that at some point in the night Oliver would pass on his own. But when I checked my phone at 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, my mom had not contacted me. I got up, went to my dance class shift, and headed over to her house to sit with her and Oliver while we waited for the vet to arrive. We circled through the feelings as we petted him. He couldn’t get up. He hadn’t really eaten in a day and barely drank any water. He could barely lift his head and his breathing was worse. It was painful to see him in that state and as much as I didn’t want him to go, I was anxious for the vet to arrive to help him end his suffering. I do believe he was hanging on for my mom. He was incredibly loyal and such a sweet love of a dog. He needed someone to help him let go because he’d never leave her given the choice.

I’ve never bore witness to a pet’s passing. I’ve lost pets but I’ve never been strong enough to take them through their final moments. As scared as I was to be there, I knew I needed to do it for my mom and for Oliver. It was as peaceful as it could be given the circumstances. They gave him the first shot right there in my mom’s house on the floor he’d spent countless hours sleeping on. My mom and I petted him and cried as we told him we loved him, that he was a good boy, that we were so sorry he had to go. Then they gave him the second shot and it was pretty quick before he stopped his labored breathing and rested his head on his paws.

My poor mom, lying there on the floor crying into his big head, just broke my heart. He was her first dog she got all on her own. He was with her all the time and everywhere she looks, there is a memory of him. She lives alone now and the emptiness left from his passing is tangible in that house. I spent the afternoon with her there after they took him out on a stretcher, just talking or crying or laughing when we could. It was the hardest thing for me to leave her there, knowing she’s in pain and feeling that hollowness of loss.

oliver's last photo

Sweet Oliver on his final day.

Where there is love, there is heartbreak. But the love part is so worth the pain of loss, isn’t it? We were so lucky to have Oliver as part of our family. We will miss his big sweetness and boisterous affection. We will miss the way he kept my mom company and ran out to greet us whenever we’d come over. We’ll miss him and love him, always.

I hope he and my sweet Lou are playing in the ocean together like the good old days, wherever they are.

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34 thoughts on “Saying Good-bye to Oliver

  1. So sad to hear of Oliver’s passing. As cliche as it is, when you know they’ve been suffering in our world, we know that it is time for them to pass to the next, where there is no pain. My heart goes out to you and your family, especially your mom.

    I’ve been there when my golden retriever (“Pepsi”) passed away after 15 years. It tore my heart and every day I’m thankful for everything she gave me in the time we had together.

    I know that once the pain has eased, the good memories will bring smiles instead of tears.

    Hugs to you all, especially Oliver.

  2. So, so sorry. Huge dog lover here, and now I’m crying at work! I have 2 of my own and know this day will come, and it will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

  3. So sorry for your loss. A beloved pet is truly a family member. I hope your mom (once she’s grieved her sweet boy) can find another companion one day. Dogs are such a blessing.

  4. So sorry for your Mom’s loss. This is a day that I am dreading handing with my mom, as her dog is aging and not in the best of health. So wonderful that you were able to be there for her.

  5. As a fellow dog owner and lover, this post has left me shaken and in tears. Dogs really are man’s (and woman’s) best friend. I’m so sorry to hear of your mom’s loss … my heart aches with you.

  6. I’m so, so sorry for your mom’s loss. It’s so hard losing a beloved pet. They’re members of the family and when it’s their time to go, it’s the most absolutely heartbreaking thing. I still cry when I think of Coffee, the dog I grew up with. It never really goes away, but the love and memories you get in your dog’s lifetime are wonderful and irreplaceable. My condolences and love go out to you and your mom Sizzle. The pain will ease, and Oliver was just as lucky to have had such a loving family like yours.

  7. So deeply, profoundly sorry for your loss, Sizzle and family. You were blessed to have him in your lives and he was so fortunate to be loved by a family like yours. Thank you for sharing your story with us — I feel lucky to have known him through you :) Sending hugest hugs to your mom. Take care of each other.

  8. Oh hon, what a wonderful eulogy for a best friend! Breaks my heart though and couldn’t not cry. Special prayers going out to you and your mom and everyone who knew and loved him. xo

  9. Oh Sizzle, my heart goes out to you and your family. A week ago today I said goodbye to Tobin, my 17-year old terrier. Although I knew the day was coming I was woefully unprepared for the deep aching pain I’ve experienced. I know it hurts so much because I loved so much, and that helps for some reason. It is amazing how these furry beings furrow so deeply in our hearts. Hugs.

  10. I’m so very sorry friend. It was hard to get through this, and I’m just sitting here reading about it. The strength and presence that you offered your mom that day will never be forgotten. What a wonderful daughter you are. Oliver is for sure frolicking in the ocean right now. Hugs to you.

  11. Gosh. This is so well written. I am sitting at my desk crying. And now I feel like I need a hug. But really, I want to give a hug to you and your mom. I am so sorry about Ollie :(

  12. I’m so, so sorry. My heart goes out to your mom, you and the rest of your family. What a blessing to have such a faithful companion. I know it doesn’t make the grief any easier knowing he’s out of pain.

  13. I thought I could get through the post, but when you mentioned Lou, I lost it. I am sending lots of love your way, to you and the family. xo.

  14. So sorry to hear this, Sizzle. We put our golden retriever, Jasper, to sleep about 4 1/2 years ago and I still think of him often… mostly it makes me smile but occasionally I still have tears. I remember 2 days before he passed, he was just lying listlessly around all day but at one point, he heard our neighbour from across the street speaking… she knew he didn’t have long left so she came to say goodbye. When he heard her voice at the door, he also got up to come and see her, tail wagging and everything! Your description of how Oliver did the same reminded me so much of our Jasper. Goldens will forever love their people!! I am sure that through the pain, your mom will be thrilled to have the beautiful memories of her time with her dog and will be comforted by that.

  15. Our pets are so special. I honestly believe in “we will be judged by how we treat the least among us” and dogs are at the top of that list. We give them a lot, but the return is a million-fold. I am glad you can be there for your mom in such a hard time. I hope you all find some solace in remembering the wonderful life Oliver had with your family.

  16. I am so so sorry that Oliver is gone. I can only imagine the pain you and especially your Mom go through. I worked summers at the vet office next door when I was a teenager because I had thought about becoming a vet, but after witnessing the passing of some beloved pets, I knew I would never be able to do it. To know that somebody’s best friend was going to be put down broke my heart.
    I know it is the right thing to do and end a pet’s suffering, but the loss is still felt the same way. I hope you’ll always find comfort in the loving memories of your Oliver.

  17. I’m so sorry to hear about Oliver. I am sitting here teary-eyed thinking about my cat who got sick before Christmas who is no longer with us, as well as my brother’s dog who was gone a year in December. Pets are such important members of the family and as a single woman who had a cat as her only constant for almost ten years, I know how your mother must be feeling. My thoughts are with you all.

  18. This brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry hon. I really am. If I could, I’d give a big hug to you and to your mom. It’s such an awesome thing though that you and Chris and your sister and her family are there near her though. xoxo

  19. I put my dog down, came home and cried for two weeks. Waited a month or two and when I couldn’t stand the quiet anymore I adopted another dog. Still, it took a long time to get over the loss of my first dog. A few months later I adopted Kramer and while it took awhile to get used to new habits, we love him just as if he’s been with us his whole life. We’re buds for sure.
    I do not know how people are able to give up pets for adoption! I know sometimes there are legit reason, I just don’t think I could do it. But on the other hand, thank god there are places that take unwanted dogs and find homes for them.
    I’m sorry for your loss!

  20. I’m so sad for you guys. Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows how incredibly hard it is to lose them. You were so brave to be there for his passing and be such a support for your mom. Lots of love to you both.

  21. My heart just breaks reading this. Letting go of a loyal, beloved, faithful pet is one of the biggest heartbreaks in life. They do hang on as long as they can for their humans, we have to be the ones to let them go because they’d never ever voluntarily leave us.

    I hope the emptiness fills up with wonderful memories of what a wonderful life your Mom and family and Oliver gave each other. For now, I’m crying with you all.

  22. I’m so sorry. I’m crying just reading this and thinking of the pets I’ve lost and the pets I will loss in the future… It’s never easy to say goodbye to such loyal and uncondictional friends. Hugs.

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