My dog, Junebug, passed away at the end of May. She was roughly 14.5 years old. It was a terrible, terrible day. I think that day has only been exceeded in awfulness by the days after my father suddenly died in 2006.
Junebug was, in her youth, a faithful running and adventure companion. And in her old age, she was my company wherever I worked, slept, ate, or hung out. She wasn’t big on cuddling, but she always wanted to be nearby. You long-time blog readers know her presence here was omnipresent, too.
I miss her. I miss her so badly that, when no one is looking, I curl up with her ashes on the floor in my office where she used to lay. She was such an adventurous dog that I need to spread those ashes. She deserves to blow on the wind somewhere. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet.
I decided to euthanize Junebug after she suddenly lost the ability to use one of her back legs and was having a terrible time getting up, sitting down, basically doing anything. It came on suddenly. I hadn’t made the choice to end another creature’s life before, so I asked as many people as I could for advice in the five days mashed between when her leg stopped working and when her life ended. I thought I needed others to tell me it was the right thing to do, how it would go, if Junebug would feel her death.
Turns out, I couldn’t remember a single piece of advice anyone gave me when it came down to it. Mostly I just freaked out. I was obsessed with Junebug not knowing I was euthanizing her. Somehow my mind had decided that this would be the ultimate betrayal, her knowing what I was doing. It seems to be human nature to doubt the intelligence of the animal kingdom, and animals will probably forever surprise us with their deep understanding of the world. In the end, I’m confident that she knew what was happening. There’s no mistaking a moment as serious as this. I only hope she agreed that day should have been her last.
Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so fixated on her not knowing what was going on. I wish I would have been more focused on being as present for her as I could, in transmitting my gratefulness for the milliontrillionfuckingbillion ways she enhanced my life. I’m a way better person because of her.
Then again, how can moments like this ever go right?
After she was gone, I cried for days. Then I started writing, as a way of getting my memories of Junebug out of my brain and into the permanent ether where they are less likely to be accidentally forgotten. The result was this essay which was published in the September/October 2013 issue of Marathon & Beyond.
Thank you, Junebug.