Tuesday Heartbreak

I want to warn you now, this update will make you tear up. You’ve been warned. It wasn’t my intention when I wrote this poem, it is a celebration of my golden Labrador that we put down February 13, 2007. We had Rocky (Mountains, not our name choice) for 13 years, pretty much half of my life, when we put him down, so he was definitely a member of our family. Recently one of our number had to say goodbye to a feline member of their family, he has the condolences and support of the entire MAL crew. Occasionally non-believers are asked how we deal with grief, when someone does that, show them this poem.

Tuesday Heartbreak

We recently finished remodeling the house,
we’ve fought with old construction
and have been amazed at things past owners had done.
We’ve found bits of broken floor
in places we swore were closed,
and anything exposed to open air
has gathered a fine layer of dust.
Our life has a fine layer of you,
covering everyone and everything
that has ever entered it in the past fifteen years.
We’re finding bits of broken memories
of you in people and places
that were never graced with your presence.
Objects which once had no meaning when you were alive
now bring a smile to my lips and tears to my eyes;
your food dish, sitting in the corner un-used,
your leash left in the closet with no one to lead,
dog hair, under furniture, in dresser drawers and car interiors,
too painful to look at, but too hard to let go.
You went everywhere with me,
friends, acquaintances and strangers
asking me if I had a cat,
as they pulled your hair from my collar, sleeve,
or even my own head.
No one greets me overjoyed when I walk in the door,
no one lays their head in my lap simply because it’s there;
My life seems silent without you,
I can’t hear your snoring in the next room,
can’t hear you running in your sleep,
half barking at some imagined intruder seen only in your minds eye.
The pitter patter of little feet no longer end at my door,
silently demanding entry,
simply because it’s been five minutes since you last saw me.
Patient, kind, and caring,
you were my role model on what a perfect friend should be.
The only dog I ever knew graceful enough
to not only fall going down a flight of stairs,
but up them as well.
The only 14 year old dog I knew
that would run to his food bowl each morning
like a young puppy.
The only dog I knew that liked grapes…
carrots, cheerios, popcorn, peanuts, cheez-it’s,
basically anything that fell to the floor was seen as fair game.
It only took a few months for your health to deteriorate,
for the tumor you fought for so long,
to occupy most of your chest and shoulder,
for the arthritis you lived with
the past couple of years, to make getting up
more painful than you could stand,
and for these two to combine, so that
even standing in the vet’s office
waiting for death to take you,
made your breathing labored and harsh.
We didn’t want to let you go,
our perfect dog.
I have to keep telling myself
it was for the best.
That the cancerous growth
occupying most of your chest
was hurting you more than you were willing to let on,
but it is so hard to accept that you are gone.
I still find myself looking at your favorite spots to lay,
expecting to find you there,
can still hear you snoring behind me
in an empty family room.
Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young”
played as we walked you to the back of the vet’s office,
and my tears came freely for my friend,
because that is how you always seemed;
your tail always wagging,
your eyes were always bright,
until the last few days…
I can find some small amount of comfort
knowing that you were able to let go
in the arms of the one who loved you most,
I only hope I should be so lucky.
Rest in peace Rocky
I’ll see you in my dreams,
let’s go for a run.

Victor Harris © 2/13/2007

We tried living without dogs in the house, but as long as I can remember, if we had the space, we had a dog. We now have two more Labradors, a black lab, and a brown lab, Puck and Vor, respectively, both are rescue dogs. We got Puck a few months after we put down Rocky, he was named after Puck in Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night Dream due to his playful disposition, which he still has despite now being 8 years old. We got Vor in February of last year, he is named for the royal line in Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series, one of my favorite sci-fi series, the Vorkosigan’s family colors are brown and silver, there were already human Miles in our lives, and we like our dogs to have unique names, Vor is now a year and a half. Tell us about your pets, past or present, post pictures if you have them, let’s celebrate the lives of our companions.


Trained in the ways of critical thinking and skepticism at a young age by his mother, Victor then learned the ways of atheism during ten years of catholic schooling. He has been a Dj since 1996. a performance poet since 1999, a cheesecake baker and entrepreneur since 2003, and a race car driver since he figured out which pedal was the accelerator, which pedal was the brake and which pedal was the clutch, there is a rumor that there is a video of him doing these four pursuits at the same time...but it is as of yet unsubstantiated. He is also an avid Formula 1 fan, and would like to add: Go Lewis.

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  1. You're right, I was warned, and I went ahead and read your poem. It was a lovely tribute to what sounded like a great dog. I got a few tears. I recently had to put down one of my kitties. When I got married, my husband and I blended our kitty families. He had a brother and sister, and I had an unrelated boy and girl. I'd had mine since about 1999 when they were kittenish, and his were born in 2004. My girl Nermal got sick very suddenly and had to be put down a few years ago. Then his girl Amalie got sick this last February. She had always been odd. We joked that she hadn't cooked long enough. She never meowed. She chirped. And she snored louder than my husband. She had weird eyes, too. The pupils didn't join at the bottom; they opened back up. But she was super sweet, and she and her brother had that litter-mate bond. When she didn't come home from the vet poor Tails looked for her for days.
    So now we just have the boys, and my Max is getting pretty old. He had a health scare last week, but it was just an upset tummy. I hope he'll be around for several more years. He got a clean bill of health from the vet, so it looks like he will.

  2. Thank you for this, as luck would have it I am facing this decision with the oldest of my 3 cats, Zoe. She is nearly 16 and has cancer. It has been slow growing so, as long as she was able to get around her room and enjoy life and was not in apparent  pain we decide to wait and see, but the time to make that hard choice is coming pretty fast.  We got her when she was 3 months old as a friend for my other cat Thor who was lonely after the move from Guam.  It was love at first sight but 3 years later, we had to put  my beloved Thor down at age 5 due to pancreatitis. 
    Its really hard, I don't want her to suffer but shes a member of the family, sleeps on our bed every night, keeps me company when I'm sick and it's going to be too quiet when she's gone.  I also dread telling my 17yo daughter when the time comes. Zoe has been a part of her life for as long as she can remember, she even named her (after Zoe on Sesame Street).  I will always remember watching my silly acrobat cat walk the 1 inch wide banister on the stairs in our house like it was a balance beam, including  pirouetting at the end and walking the other way!
    Thanks for letting me vent.

  3. Five years later, reading this still brings me to tears. He was truly our 'perfect dog'. We made sure Puck and Vor looked different enough from Rocky so we wouldn't compare them. They are each 'perfect dogs' in thier own ways.

  4. This is beautiful, Victor. We’re bracing to lose a feline member of my family, a crotchety old lady cat named Sheba who came into our life when I was a teenager and who we all adore in spite of her growing senility and crankiness . It doesn’t matter how long you know it’s coming and how much of a good life they’ve had, it’s still a heart-wrenching situation.

    Thanks for writing words that soften that oncoming pain just a little bit.

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