She lost her best friend. It happened yesterday.
He was a good boy. Fourteen years old. He was always beside her. When she ate supper. When she watched television. When she used the restroom. He even slept on the floor near her bed.
He was a Labrador, and then some. The biggest in his litter of 12. His shoulders were wide, his neck was a column of muscle.
He wasn’t a playful dog, but he was happy. He was gentle. He liked children, chewing, lying in the sun, he loved tomatoes. He enjoyed walks, but only short ones. He seemed to go crazy over “Downton Abbey.”
He could eat more than any dog she’d ever seen. He was a garbage disposal with a tail.
When she worked nights in a commercial kitchen, he waited for her to get home. She’d arrive after work, he would be seated at the front door, squealing.
She would bring him things from work. The spoils of her occupation. Fish guts, lamb fat, chicken gristle, and sacred ground beef.
And he loved her for it.
But she owed it to him—and then some. He’d seen her through hard times. He knew her emotions like a roadmap. He knew when she was sad, happy, or angry, before anyone else did.
When her father died, he crawled on a sofa and placed his hundred-pound body in her lap. It almost crushed her.
“I love you,” is what he was actually saying. Which is the only thing dogs know how to say—except: “Feed me right now or I’ll poop in the kitchen.”
He was with her when she lost her job. He was with her when she moved houses. He was with her when she passed a class, certifying her as a teacher. He was with her when her mother was ill.
Yesterday, she took him to the vet. She sat beside him for a few minutes before the doc came. His eyes were glassy, his back legs didn’t work. He was in pain.
Decisions were made. They hooked an IV to his leg. The fluid went into his veins. He fell asleep in her arms. His mouth slung open. His eyes became empty.
She didn’t cry. Not at first. It wasn’t until she was on her way home that it hit her. At a stoplight, she found herself in a sort of daze when she noticed black hair on the seat. Dog hair.
She had to pull over just to keep from wrecking the car.
Sometimes, I wonder if mankind is cursed. Because living hurts. Life itself hurts. Because nothing lasts. Good things die too soon. Bad things last too long.
And just when you think things can’t get worse, the television proves you wrong.
Another day, another shooting. One group of people screams at a another. It’s hard to tell the difference between nice folks and the other kind anymore. It’s difficult to know what to believe.
Some believe the world is turning into fertilizer, and they have every right to believe that. For all I know they might be right—I’m not smart enough to tell them they’re wrong. Others believe differently.
I believe differently. I won’t believe our world is hopeless. I can’t.
Not as long as dandelions still cover highway ditches, and the clovers still pepper Tennessee mountainsides. Not as long as whippoorwills still flutter in treetops and make sounds I enjoy.
Not as long as the sun still comes up, and the moon still glows. Not as long as babies keep growing, and mothers keep loving.
These things, I believe, are proof of something. You might even call them miracles. I don’t know where they come from, but they come from somewhere. Everything comes from somewhere.
Maybe they come from above the clouds. Maybe from the other side of here. Maybe from a place of cherubs, rivers, and perfect prairies. Wherever this place is, it’s the same place dogs come from. And I know it’s where they return.
Steve Winfield(lifer) - August 8, 2022 6:46 am
Sux so bad when you have to let go.
Nobody but you will ever understand.
Jack was my best friend. Gone for 5 years now.
I can’t look at a photo without getting teary eyed.
I loved that boy so very much.
20 yrs is such a short life.
I want to hug him one more time.
Just one more time.
Teresa Harrison - August 8, 2022 8:56 am
Another perfect one. Thank you.
email@example.com - August 8, 2022 9:28 am
I have a 6 yr old Schnauzer who just turned blind and she is also faithful, listening for my footsteps and knowing my routine and waiting for her handouts, including lettuce at 3:30 p.m. (She can tell time, as to when I should be feeding her and when she should get lettuce.) She sleeps with me and sits outside the door when I close it, to take a shower. She is my good and faithful companion. I know where she comes from and where she will return, just as I will do, when I am called Home to Heaven. She is my blessing and so are you, Sean!
Ann Thompson - August 8, 2022 9:30 am
I believe too. Hope. Flowers. Dogs. And right now, SWEET corn, just picked while the water is boiling.
Jocelyn - August 8, 2022 9:52 am
Yep Dogs are the best and ask for so little from us humans. Just feed and pet them and give them love and it comes back to you in volumes. I believe goodness is still out there. Just watch nature.
mikec4193 - August 8, 2022 10:20 am
Animals can touch your soul….I have many cats over the years…but only one touched my soul…Sophie was that animal…she has been gone since Oct 31, 2016….miss her every day…
Te - August 8, 2022 10:21 am
I want to go wherever dogs go. Cause that’s got to be a good place, and I have lots of friends there who will lick and slobber and bark and be so glad to see me again with no criticism or judgment. I know that pain. So do you.
Mary Spechko - August 8, 2022 10:33 am
We can learn so much from our doggies! Unconditional love for starters. Love this piece Sean!
Debbie g - August 8, 2022 10:43 am
I believe God put dogs here on this earth
As one of our teachers on what is love
Love to all in memory of gurgle
Jean Sherrill - August 8, 2022 10:52 am
Crying because a fur baby had to be put down. I always cry…and having pets you will one day have to make that terrible decision. I try not to think about it…but it’s always there.
janet - August 8, 2022 10:56 am
Your words say what the rest of us think. Thank you.
Ann Davis - August 8, 2022 1:55 pm
Exactly – that’s why I love his words of wisdom.
Nedetria Talbot - August 8, 2022 11:20 am
I believe Heaven is real. I believe it is where I will spend eternity. I cannot imagine Heaven without dogs.
Your writing makes me laugh and come to tears, only the best of writers do that.
Marianne Bryan - August 8, 2022 11:26 am
All good things come from God.. “ every good and perfect gift”. And yes, because of the first disobedience, our world bears a curse… but God, our Father continues to bless us with His grace and mercy with opportunities to share life with Him.🙏🏻♥️
Debbie - August 8, 2022 12:04 pm
So incredibly hard to let them go. I cried for days and grieved for months.
Amy Clement - August 8, 2022 12:04 pm
I needed this. The dating world is brutal-got called a $&!# liberal and another man wanted me to drive to a remote place to meet him…I deleted the apps and decided to just live my best life. I believe every day is absolutely miraculous.
Paul McCutchen - August 8, 2022 12:05 pm
Most of my pets died of old age but two I had to have put to sleep. Those two were the hardest to lose. They are all tough to lose but holding those two in my lap and they look up at me like they were saying “thank you for my time”. My eyes needed some extra tears this morning.
sjhl7 - August 8, 2022 12:20 pm
A beautiful tribute … Thank you, Sean!
Dawn - August 8, 2022 12:39 pm
I don’t have a dog. I have 2 cats. Don’t judge. I’m a good person. Reading this makes me think I need a dog.
Trent - August 8, 2022 12:53 pm
Tim Smith - August 8, 2022 12:53 pm
I don’t believe the world is turning into fertilizer, in part, because I read your column every day.
Shana Proctor - August 8, 2022 12:54 pm
We had to say goodbye to our beloved Great Dane Charlotte on April 18th of this year. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done–much more difficult than I imagined. I miss her everyday.
Matthew H Iskra - August 8, 2022 10:20 pm
Rare to see a big dog live that young. It’s a tribute to the love and care you gave her. My sister rescues English Mastiffs, another big breed of dog, after 18 years. Maggie is still missed.
Pat Deas - August 8, 2022 12:58 pm
Goodbye Gurgle, that’s pretty old for a Lab…Dogs are saviors to us humans in so many ways. You can never replace one animal with another but when you have all that love to share don’t waste it! Happy puppy hunting!
Bridget Schnepel - August 8, 2022 1:00 pm
I know the pain of losing a pet. Feeling the lose of their presence, their forever devotion.
When I feel the world is not what I remember I still do remember that there is a God in Heaven. He is still in control. He is with me, protecting me from evil. His word is true. He has written down what happens to this world, nothing is a surprise for Him. There are no coincidences. I just need to trust and know that what happens happens for a reason.
I have a new dog that I rescued after my husband died. Actually, she rescued me from a lonely, empty house. She has brought happiness and laughter. Proof that God provides what we need.
Paul Cashdollar - August 8, 2022 1:00 pm
Having just lost my best friend of more than fourteen years this column brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Sean for writing so many things that touch our hearts. I believe there will be dogs in heaven, I even wrote a song about it one time. Thanks again, Sean, and may God bless.
Karen - August 8, 2022 1:01 pm
This is a beautiful tribute. Thank you. Letting a beloved pet go is so hard. You are proof that there is more food in the world than not.
Julie - August 8, 2022 1:11 pm
Man. I appreciate your talent Sean. Thank you for this. I lost my Dad July 27th. This beautiful story helps me grieve and hope. Thank you.
Mari Bonomi - August 8, 2022 1:16 pm
You might like Curtis Salgado’s song, “I Want My Dog to Live Longer.” It’s on YouTube.
bubbastubbs - August 8, 2022 1:23 pm
We had to have Otis, our almost 13-year old chocolate lab, put down in mid-December last year. It was truly as though we lost one of our own family. As a fella that had seen so much tragedy and suffering during a 35-year law enforcement career, I cried like a baby when my old friend passed away. So many fond memories and great times with Otis and our family, especially our grand kids! I’m looking forward to being reunited with him some day, “over the rainbow bridge”, for all dogs DO go to heaven!
David Britnell - August 8, 2022 1:26 pm
AL - August 8, 2022 1:30 pm
Continue to share the good news. Even the news that is tinged with sadness and loss ’cause that news is filled with memories that remind us of the good news we have received. Turn off the TV. Get out in the community to volunteer. You will be Blessed beyond all measure. The needs are great and volunteers, regular volunteers, are few. I serve at a special needs ministry and have done so for years. The joy and happiness I receive each week I couldn’t find any where else. There is good news. Share it Sean. Tell the stories that confirm it.
LaLani - August 8, 2022 5:48 pm
As the mother of a 38 year old with special needs, may I please thank you for serving them in Jesus’ name through ministry. Your giving of yourself is very much appreciated.
ELIZABETH WENNER - August 8, 2022 1:30 pm
This truly touched my heart. After my last Labrador died, I decided not to get another dog because the pain of loss was just too much. So two years went by, and I was sent a photo of a little pup who was a rescue. She was adorable, being fostered, and needed a home. So my husband and I adopted her, and that was the most fulfilling thing for us in a long time because she filled a void in our lives. I don’t think I was ever meant to be without a dog, even though the heartache of their death brings me to my knees. I don’t think of that too much, but your post reminded me of how much dogs, cats, and my horses mean to me. I will focus on how grateful I am to have them in my life. Thank you.
Huey Ford, DVM - August 8, 2022 1:36 pm
Sean, I’m a retired veterinarian, and this was the most accurate story to fill in what I felt so many times when I had to slip a needle into a pet’s vein to say a final goodby. Many times they were a long-term client (the pet, not the person) of mine, so I had a personal history with that animal. Oftentimes the pets’ owner (if YOU can really own a pet), would stay with the pet until the end. But, sometimes they would drop the pet off with us and choose to not be present when the euthanasia was completed. I always had a staff member hold the pet to comfort it in those final moments of this world to let it know that they were loved and that they weren’t going to hurt any more. I’m tearing up as I write this because it is painful to me to see the last conscious look in the pet’s eyes as they look for that person whom they had loved for all those years. I’m having a hard time putting this into words because I’m not a writer like you, I’m a pet vet. I became one because I’ve loved animals all my life and my ideals were to save or fix all sick, or hurt, animals in the world. It was a hard lesson for me to learn, that that was not possible. But I spent my career, 43 years, trying to do that.
vckuhman - August 8, 2022 1:38 pm
We had a lab…his name was Dave. He died of cancer a few years ago…we had to have him put to sleep because he was in so much pain. He was my husband’s dog, and my husband was Dave’s “person”. He was there when Dave passed and it was the first time I ever saw my husband cry, really cry. It felt like we had lost a child and in a way I guess we did. I have to believe as you believe..as long as the sun rises and sets and the beauty that surrounds us every day is still there…there has to be hope. Thanks for the post and the reminder!
Ann Davis - August 8, 2022 1:53 pm
This is so beautiful – made me cry, made me sad but made me happy too – it brought back the pain of losing my last dog – unconditional love – just the best, the sweetest kind of love- but it’s so encouraging to know you think just like I do – our world seems to be lost – but I still have hope. Thank you for confirming that.
Steve McCaleb - August 8, 2022 2:08 pm
I’m not sure I have words for what I’m trying to say…but here goes my feeble attempt. Any human who finds other humans to treat them as loyally, as unselfishly, and as lovingly as their dogs do are blessed beyond words. With work, daily grind, relatives, friends and human responsibilities your dog is a relatively small part of your life. But you are 100% of theirs. Please treat them accordingly. I really can’t imagine heaven without dogs
Pat - August 8, 2022 2:53 pm
All angels must teturn to heaven at some point
God will enjoy their company until we can be United again!
They ate still watching over us
Peggy M. Windham - August 8, 2022 3:40 pm
I know her pain all too well! I just had to put my Gabbie to sleep! I loved her so much and it still hurts every day!🐾🙏💜
hitchcockgretchengmailcom - August 8, 2022 3:45 pm
I heard the most beautiful comments from a Methodist minister and son at at his Mother’s Memorial service. “Grief is love unfinished, for when we love the temporal take part in the eternal. And one of my beloved temporal objects for his Eternal love is gone. Do not mourn as one without hope but as one who is blessed and you will be comforted. For love must not be left unfinished but returned to the eternal one who is love.” Alex McGinnis
Our prayers go with those who mourn.
Pat, Eastern NC - August 8, 2022 4:09 pm
Gurgle is in the sunshine over the rainbow bridge. Sending love.
LIN ARNOLD - August 8, 2022 4:37 pm
My husband & I have rescued Siberian Huskies for more than 30 years now. They are such awesome, loving, happy dogs! We have 2 currently, that we got when each of them was 11 months. The old lady is 15 and the old guy is 13 …. which is ANCIENT for this breed. 10 is about average. They’re still doing good though, but their ages are definitely showing. I truly don’t know what I’ll do when they’re gone. I just can’t think about it. We are both retired now and the expense of having pets is getting to be a problem in this wretched economy. So, there won’t be any more to replace my sweet ol’ lady and my big ol’ Dufus dog. I just have to enjoy the time we have left and pray that we have them around for as long as possible.
Chris Spencer - August 8, 2022 4:48 pm
Come September 1st it will be two years ago that I held my bestest old buddy and biggest old baby Ben as the vet inserted that same IV line into his leg. I had had him for 12 1/2 years, the first dog I had ever owned in my then 66 years. I held him as he crossed over and I know I will see him again one day in Heaven.
But even after 2 years I stlll miss him deeply. And always will.
I love and miss you Ben.
Peggy - August 8, 2022 5:21 pm
I love dogs and this made me cry as it should. Thank you for your writing, your unique and wonderful dailies. Thank you from a born and raised 67 year old north Florida girl. You touch my heart, doggie stories always touch my heart. The song “Old Shep” – well – I can’t listen to it without becoming a blubbering mess. Thanks and bless your heart sweet Sean.
LaLani - August 8, 2022 5:56 pm
I’m pretty sure that if you look up the word “loyal” in the dictionary, there would be a picture of a dog. Truly gifts from God.
Suellen - August 8, 2022 6:10 pm
We lost our just turned 10 year old dachshund in May. I feel almost guilty that we are already looking through the dachshund rescue sites. I want to go to his grave and tell him it’s not that we didn’t love you. It’s because we loved you so much.
Bridget Schnepel - August 8, 2022 8:07 pm
We lost our 18 year old dachs last September. After becoming a widow in January, I rescued a sweet chi in April. I feel once you know the companionship of a dog it is too hard not to give another dog a chance to know it too. It is good for both to share the love and devotion. I believe we will be with all of our pets in Heaven. God wants us to be happy and nothing would make me more happy than to share eternity with all my furry loves.
“God spelled backwards is Dog.”
cordellg52 - August 8, 2022 8:10 pm
This beautifully captures the joyful essence of our lives with our dogs and especially as their lives come to an end. My dear Jack Russell Lily is at that stage with her hind legs failing to support her 15 pounds as the end is near as we celebrate her 18th birthday on August 10th. Thank you Sean for this timely heartfelt piece which brings me peace.
Vince - August 8, 2022 8:16 pm
Along with beer, dogs are proof that God loves us.
MAM - August 8, 2022 8:20 pm
When he had our (so far) last dog put down, I didn’t stay with her, and I still regret it. I kissed her before the vet took her, but I simply couldn’t stay. I bawled all the way home. Thank goodness my husband was driving. Tears in my eyes right now and this happened more than 1 1/2 years ago.Thank you, Sean, for everything you write every day!
Linda Moon - August 8, 2022 9:36 pm
I was with a good Labrador last night and some good people, too. One of those people was raised in a “litter” of 12. Last night my people talked a lot about pain and sorrows that we’ve all had. Yet, we still Believe and, most of all, Love. My sympathy is for Gurgles’s best friend. And I believe in you, Sean Dietrich.
My Tata's Cottage - August 8, 2022 10:17 pm
My heart goes out to Gurgles best friend. Hard losses, every time. But I believe God has a plan for everything and I won’t be taken in my the noise of this world that the new media sucker punches so many people with. I trust Jesus will come out of that sky one day when we are not expecting it. I believe we will see all those precious friends and we will all live peacefully in God’s world.
MermaidGrammy - August 8, 2022 10:20 pm
They come from God. Just like you, me, the people we know and don’t know. The people we love and those we don’t particularly care for.
Patricia Gibson - August 9, 2022 12:58 am
So very very hard to lose your best friend 😢
Melissa Norman - August 9, 2022 1:22 am
So sad and so sweet at the same time….exactly how it makes me feel when I think about the dogs I have loved in my life. Thank you for honoring all dogs who have loved us and have a special place in our hearts. I am certain God loves dogs, too!!!
Tommy - August 9, 2022 2:54 am
If people loved you unconditionally like a dog . . .we lost my son’s 9-10 year old Lab a few months ago; never knew whether she got into poison or what. Then he found an AKC registered pup. My goodness what that pestilence has cost us! When i approach she rolls over for her rub then after a minute or so she starts rolling, licking, kicking. Totally ruined. She soon be old enough to start cycling, and her second one we’ll be looking for a husband. Anybody knows a high quality candidate. . . .
Slimpicker - August 9, 2022 2:54 am
Reminds me of a great song by Ronnie Buss, “My Old Dog”.
Carol Ham - August 9, 2022 3:34 am
Love you, Sean! Great story! I have a 2 year old yellow lab, Sallie. Before her we had Lucy- I still miss Lu, but believe with all my heart that she sent me Sallie. Thank you again!❤️❤️
Kathy Coxwell - August 9, 2022 6:24 pm
Sheri K - August 9, 2022 9:32 pm
Huey Ford, DVM – you have a beautiful heart! Thank you for all your years of loving service to the pets of your area. They were blessed by your care. ☺💖
Lisa Miller - August 13, 2022 2:59 am
I read this on Aug. 8, while I was continuing to do everything to keep my precious 15 year old Murphy happy and enjoying life – pain pills, mobility food, laser treatments, CBD for arthritis. Like Gurgle, he was my heart. He followed me all over the house. He waited for me by the door. He sat by me as I ate lunch, hoping I’d share my apple with him. I did. He showed me his love with all his being. But like Gurgle, his eyes had become glassy and his back legs didn’t work anymore. He was losing his spirit. I prayed for signs to know when it was time, then I read “Goodbyes”. Two days later, on the 10th, the fight just left him. He let me know it was time. When I took him to my vet, his voice broke as he told me what a good dog Murphy was and how much they all loved him. Then he prayed over him and promised that we’d see him again. It’s true that dogs are not our whole lives, but they sure do make our lives whole.
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - August 17, 2022 10:26 pm