Blog

Thank You, Junebug

On September 7, 2013, in Family, Lifestyle, by Meghan
15

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.

Caption

Junebug’s riding posture in my Toyota 4Runner, always and forever eager for adventure. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Caption

She was my running partner from Day 1. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Caption

Junebug fetched anything you’d throw, balls, rocks, sticks, pieces of paper. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Caption

She was obsessed with water in ways most dogs would avoid, swimming underwater, chasing a sprinkler’s spray. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

Caption

One thing Junebug didn’t like was lightning and thunder. Bathtubs brought solace during storms. Big Bend National Park, Texas.

caption

Winter running. Gardiner, Montana.

Caption

Summer running. Gardiner, Montana.

Caption

Watching for squirrels. Teton Mountains above Driggs, Idaho.

caption

Bagging peaks. Teton Mountains above Driggs, Idaho.

caption

This was probably her running hey day. Teton Mountains above Driggs, Idaho.

Caption

Backcountry adventuring with Matt Vukin. Outside of West Yellowstone, Montana.

Caption

Hot-day lounging. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.

Caption

Starting to run less, nap more. Midpines, California.

Caption

Junebug became my walking companion in her old age. Big Sur coastline, California.

Caption

Black and white on red. Death Valley National Park, California.

Probably her version of heaven. Midpines, California.

Probably her version of heaven. Midpines, California.

Caption

A slow hike. Above June Lake, California.

Caption

An expert in front-porch sitting those last years. Midpines, California.

Caption

Watching Bryon Powell on his long run. West of Yosemite National Park, California.

Caption

Soaking up love. San Juan Mountains, Colorado.

Caption

Nevada is for elderly dogs. Somewhere off I-80 in Nevada.

Caption

Old dogs do run sometimes, still. Southeast of Price, Utah.

Caption

Junebug had a couple mouth surgeries for benign tumors. One surgery removed the side of her lower jaw and this caused her tongue to constantly fall from her mouth like this. Park City, Utah.

Caption

The look of pure devotion. Park City, Utah.

Caption

A master relaxer in her old age. Park City, Utah.

Caption

At the park on May 28, 2013, Junebug’s last day. Park City, Utah.

Caption

Thank you, Junebug. I will love you forever. Great Basin National Park, Nevada.

Tagged with:
 

15 Responses to “Thank You, Junebug”

  1. jenn says:

    A beautiful tribute to a great dog. I lost my old girl a couple of years back, and every time I try to really write about her, I start sobbing until I can no longer see or breathe through my running eyes and nose :). Your tribute did the same thing! I never did spread her ashes – she is in a little alcove in my hallway with her collar, a letter, and some photos, so I can give her a pat from time to time. Best wishes.

  2. olga says:

    I remember some of those photos from years before. You guys had a lot of love – and a lot of great times together. She was a lucky dog to pick you up at that shelter.

  3. Sara says:

    A beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry for your loss, Meghan. I hope you find comfort in the wonderful memories you have of Junebug. Her life was absolute doggie perfection, and you gave her that with your special bond and amazing lifestyle. Your writing captures your time together so well.

  4. Meghan says:

    Thanks, ladies, for your kind thoughts. Almost everyone experiences the loss of a dog at some point in their life. But dogs are family and it’s never, ever easy. Thanks again.

  5. jeff says:

    I’m really glad you put these memories and thoughts to paper [so to speak]. This was a beautiful tribute to a wonderful dog. You have all of our best wishes as you work through the grief and remember the joy.

  6. Pam says:

    Aw, Meghan, you made me cry. Beautiful. It’s so hard to miss a friend.

  7. Helen says:

    Thank you for sharing all the photos and the memories. I couldn’t help but tear up at the end of the essay too! Sad to say goodbye, but it is also the story of a happy, completely fulfilled life for Junebug.

  8. Wen says:

    This captures well why I wish everybody could have at least one great dog in their life. They’re unbelievable friends and really just wonderful creatures. I lost our lab Malle almost two years ago. She was my climbing, skiing and running partner for a dozen years. This morning on my trail run I paused at the rocky knoll where we scattered her ashes. After two winters you can still see little traces of her. Always makes me happy and sad at the same time. God, I miss her.

  9. Kate says:

    What a sweet tribute to your special friend. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  10. Laura says:

    A beautiful tribute to Junebug. Your words have moved me to tears, it sounds like she was an amazing friend. Thank you for sharing her story.

  11. I so feel for you. We had to put our girl down in Nov, hardest thing I ever had to do. It’s been 4 months…and I still hurt inside.

    With love: http://briansrunningadventures.blogspot.com/2013/11/hanna-doggie.html

    Brian

  12. Christine Harrison says:

    Beautiful dog and story. I also lost my 14 1/2 year old chocolate lab KT 2 weeks ago..As you wrote, she was with me everywhere the last couple of years and she also lost her hind legs at the end. As you know, its the last gift you can give them, saving their dignity and showing them true love. You will often second guess the final decision but know you did the right thing for your baby. Celebrate her life and memory always.

  13. Amanda says:

    Thank you for this. We had to put our Becky down just yesterday – she was 14+ years old and just wore out. It was horrible and still is horrible, but it was the right thing to do. We are so sad and I can’t stop crying. But I loved reading about Junebug and seeing the pictures of her as she lived through her years – just like our photos of Becky. Thank you and thanks to Junebug.

  14. Nat says:

    Thank YOU, Meghan! Such a beautiful tribute.

  15. mrs spumoni says:

    We honor your fine canine companion constantly in Yellowstone dispatch – the ‘June Break’ lives!

    Love you, Meghan, and what a darling she was. Sorry for your loss.

Leave a Reply