It feels like not all that long ago I had four dogs.  Now to most, four dogs would seems like at least a couple dogs too many but for me at the time, it was the ideal number.  First there was Jelly – alpha, bossy, troublemaking Jelly – who used to run the corridors of the Stargate production offices back in the day and once ate actor Michael Shanks’ tuna fish sandwich when he left it unattended in her presence.  Then came Maximus – heavyset, laid-back, affable Max – who we got as a companion for Jelly.  You’d be hard pressed to find a more big-hearted dog, as great with cats as he was with kids.  After him, came Bubba – jumpy, anxiety-ridden Bubba – who we originally got as a present for my ex’s brother but I ended up keeping (and getting her brother a toaster oven instead).  And then came Lulu – headstrong, relentless, clever Lulu – who rounded out the pack and, as the only frenchie among the pugs, demonstrated superior intellect in her ability to access hitherto inaccessible hiding spots for treats.

I remember lying in bed one night, with the four of them nestled in their preferred spots – Jelly on the pillow by my head, Maximus at my feet, Bubba near my legs, and Lulu close to my side – and thinking “Someday, I’m going to think back to this moment and remember how perfect it was.”  And I was right.  I do.  Often.

February 11, 2017: My Dogs Are Getting Old :(

Jelly, the love of my life, passed away two years ago at 16 years (and four months).  My longest relationship!

February 11, 2017: My Dogs Are Getting Old :(

Maximus passed years earlier at the far-too young age of 12.

Jelly and Max used to be oldsters while I’d refer to Bubba and Lulu as the youngsters but, all too suddenly, those roles have been reversed.  

February 11, 2017: My Dogs Are Getting Old :(

Lulu, who used to play for hours on end, has trouble walking now as the spinal surgery she underwent late last year has proven unsuccessful in stemming the advance of the neurological issues that are robbing her of her mobility.  It’s sad to watch her, clearly frustrated, as she struggles to walk a single block.

February 11, 2017: My Dogs Are Getting Old :(

And Bubba, once seemingly indestructible and impervious to the onslaught of time, appears to have aged dramatically over the course of a single year.  He spends most of his days napping and has recently developed a hacking “old man’s” cough that precipitated the recent veterinary visit, concerns, and need for an ultrasound.

February 11, 2017: My Dogs Are Getting Old :(

Suji, the latest addition to the family, is spry and spirited, surprisingly youthful at a relatively young 11.  She has her own mobility issues, the result of hip dysplasia, but has shown some impressive improvement over the few months she’s been with us, going from dragging her back legs around to walking with the help of a rear support sling to managing one, occasionally two whole blocks unassisted.

The hardest thing about getting a dog isn’t the housebreaking or the training; not the feeding or the walking or the daily care.

The hardest part about getting a dog is having to say goodbye.

Today’s entry is dedicated to long-time blog reader Narelle from Aus.  In remembrance of Ralph and Jack.

30 thoughts on “February 11, 2017: My dogs are getting old :(

  1. I’ve been volunteering at a stable where I grew up for 9 years and we’ve had so many horses come and go. I remember all of them by name. Growing up there I’ve experienced the good, the bad and unfortunately a lot of the ugly. Now I don’t get attached to most of the animals as much as I used to. But I’m pretty sure that it’s a lot different when you finally own one yourself, which i still look forwards to quite a lot. Some of these horses have left greater marks on my heart and soul, than most people I’ve been around on a daily basis. Some of my greatest teachers were among them and some of them are luckily still around. I find it hard to describe the impact they’ve had on my life and the value they gave it. Realizing that I would always outlive my 4-legged friends has helped me, though. The last part really is the hardest, but I wouldn’t miss having them around for the world.
    I wish you all the best Joe and Akemi. Lots of love.

  2. Narelle, I am truly heartbroken for your loss of Ralph and Jack.

    Joe, your post was so exquisitely touching… still tearing up here.
    If it’s any consolation, I believe those who choose to share our lives with pets, are brave, caring and loving good folks. We know inevitably an ending will come and yet, the joy we have with our beloved pets makes it bearable, sometimes only just. Thank God for memories.

    All here know how you are feeling and surely stand with you, offering hugs and love.

    Peace to you, Akemi and Narelle.

  3. We lost our Buddy last year. He was still energetic at 14 years old, but within weeks a sudden health issue took him. And you’re right; saying goodbye was so hard we still can’t bring ourselves to consider another four legged friend, but that’ll change eventually.

  4. It’s so hard to watch our furry kids get old. Big HUGS to you and Akemi. Two of our fur babies lived to 19; hard to believe we had them as long as we’ve had our human baby, LOL

  5. Beautiful blog entry tonight Joe.

    I remember when you got Lulu. She had those humongous satellite-dish-ears that she eventually grew into. Sort of.

    Thinking of Narelle from Aus and the deep sadness I know she and family are going through.

  6. Sometimes I look at non-pet folks and feel sorry they haven’t the capacity to love and feel the love of pets. Then I lose one, and I still feel sorry for them. Nothing is so hard as losing anything you love… human or animal… except not having had them at all. In the midst of flooding tears, I accept the hurt as payment due for the love.
    Love and hugs to all who have lost pets and those facing losses. It never gets easier. I am so sorry for your losses, Narelle.

  7. Saying goodbye is the absolute worst. We said goodbye to our Molly in September last year and we still feel her loss and her abscence from our lives profoundly. She came to us as a rescue from Quebec at 11 months and every day with her was a precious gift. She changed our lives for the better, knew everybody in the neighbourhood and was just a joy, a diva who ran our house the way she wanted it to be. I learned more about Cushing’s than I ever would have wanted to know and by the end she had more specialist seeing after her health than my husband and myself put together. It was worth it to have the time with her we did. Joe, I understand exactly what you mean. Sending you and Akemi lots of warm heartfelt thoughts. Each day is a treasure. All one can do is recognize it as such and hold on to those moments in time that make you smile the most.

  8. Many of us can really relate with you. I’ve had the privilege of having several dogs (shepherds and schnauzers) and also horses. They were such a joy in my life and, as you said, the hardest part was always saying good bye. This past November my heart was totally crushed with the loss of my lovely mare who I had raised from a young foal. She had a chronic joint injury that was manageable until last summer when she re-injured it to the point of no return (horses cannot survive on 3 legs). She was still relatively young (15 yrs) and my very good friend. I had had a bad accident on a new horse at the beginning of the summer and my girl really helped get me through the hard times. Now, the first time in 30 years, I’m horseless (the new horse was sold to a fabulous home with a wonderful lady). Luckily I still have my 2 dogs who are always ready for a good pet and cuddle. It is wonderful to provide a good life (and ending) to these special creatures, but yes, it is very hard to say goodbye. Wishing happy thoughts for your special seniors who are lucky to have you and Akemi.

  9. You nailed it. My daughter’s dog Sadie just turned 13 and is slowing considerably. So much joy they bring to us, but they take a huge chunk of us when they go. 🙁

  10. I share the feeling. We’ve mostly had cats but Tiie, our Ocicat, was helped over the bridge only a month ago at the age of 19. His breed is only supposed to live to be about 8. My Goku (a black Bombay with a kink in his tail) was 15 when I had to let him go due to a tumour. Maddie was a Ragdoll and lived to be 15.

    Yeah, it’s hard but you just console yourself with the knowledge that you gave them the best life possible. That you’re good pet-parents. And they they won’t want you to be alone, that they want you to share that big heart with another fur-baby while that pack on the other side of the Bridge looks over at you will love and adoration still.

  11. Sad Joe, and nostalgic, too. I really hope Bubba and Lulu will still be with you for a good length of time!

  12. I can totally relatie this but in another way.. as hard as it sounds but you should be happy to *lose* them because of old age and the struggles that come with it. I lost 3 cats in a 4 year period. Tigré died 6 months before Winny. Two brothers I got from friends. We lived in a relatively calm neighberhood and both were ran over by cars. Four months ago I lost Xena a 4 year old shelter cat I got after Winny died (I bought Kitty when Tigré died). Not because of a car because after Tigrė and Winny died I did not let my new cats outside anymore. Too much danger (not Everyone loves cats). She suddenly started throwing up and during the night, she was in my bedroom, she started throwing up every 2 hours. I had to go to work but during my lunchbreak, I was worried sick, I drove home. I called her and she did not respond, than suddenly she appeared, she could hardly walk on her back leggs. Panicking and upset, I drove back to work, called the vet and I had to bring her in. After some exams she had a Hugo tumor on one of her kidneys and the other kidney was almost non existing. The vet reasoned with me and said she is so so very sick, it became worse in 4 hours can you imagine in a few days… so I had to allow the vet to put her to sleep… even though I got a new shelter cat, will miss them all forever… time spent with a pet is never wasted!!

  13. Joe, Akemi, and Narelle so sorry for your loss. It is soooo hard. God bless you all, hugs.

  14. Well said. {{{Hugs}}} to Narelle. I hope she schedules an island hopping vacation after this. She made those boys so happy. That’s really all we can hope for. Be the best fur parents we can and Narelle, Akemi and You have done that. Good luck at the Vet specialist!

  15. It’s horribly hard to say goodbye! I had to say goodbye to my best friend of 16 years several months ago. We grew up together and she got me through a lot of rough times.

  16. I wish our furry babies lived as long as we do Joe and Akemi xxx I know what you’re going through. It’s heartbreaking to see them age xxx

  17. It is so hard to accept when your furry (or feathered) companion/s is becoming old or incapacitated through illness. Over the years they quietly and innocently become part of your life, your daily routine. They depend on you and you, them. To watch their daily struggles is so difficult.

    But just remember that look of pure love/happiness they give you when you fuss them or the little wag of their tail when you chat to them – to know, they know you’d move heaven and earth for them if you could. It’s always a two way thing. That’s why its so devastating when one is gone.

    Narelle, I am so sorry for your loss. I wish I could say those magic words that will ease your pain.

  18. Hugs to everyone here. I am sorry for all your losses. We lost our two old cats in 2004, and then, three months later, one of the two new ones that we adopted died of Feline Infectious Peritonitis. We have two now that are both 12 years old. The worse part of having pets the same age is that they die too close together. Even still, life is intolerable without fur babies of any kind. I wouldn’t miss a minute of their rascally behavior for anything. More {{{hugs}}} all around.

  19. My deepest condolences to Narelle. Our animal companions (I never like the word “pets”) are like family, and in fact in some ways I think the loss of them hits harder in some ways than our human relatives. I think it’s their utter dependence on us as caregivers that gives us a greater sense of responsibility.

    I’m sad to hear, Joe, that the pups seem to be slowing down more. In my experience in dealing with the aged, human or animal, the best way is to take things one day at a time. The end may come tomorrow or years from now, so you make the best of the day and love the moment. Your home is a place filled with love, and I’m confident that your dogs feel that very much.

    I wish I could be there to give you guys a big hug, but for now please give Bubba, Lulu and Suji a nice ear scratch for me, and Akemi a big hug.

  20. When Maximus passed my heart sank so low,
    it nearly reached the negative zero gage on the thermometer.
    An indescribable, seemingly unshakable, chill ran through my veins
    and that certain feeling of wanting to scream at the heavens
    about how unfair it all is
    began to fill every crevice of my being.
    A few months later, I suffered the loss
    of a truly most beloved fur baby companion,
    who fell asleep and died in my arms,
    -and my heart … simply shattered into a thousand pieces.

    Later, when Jelly passed….. I thought it would never heal.

    Jelly, like Suji -to Akemi and Scrappy – to me,
    was a case of love at first sight.
    I had instantly become (albeit quietly),
    most seriously attached!
    I did not comment on the loss.
    How could I have possibly conveyed via words
    something which goes well beyond emotion and thought.
    Even now, after a significant amount of time has passed,
    allowing distance,
    as I forge ahead on lifes path
    gaining new experiences, relationships,
    I find it difficult to describe.

    I knew then, at the very moment of direct impact,
    I needed to do something to honor Max & Jelly.
    To thank them for the joy they brought to my life
    and to thank You, Joe and Akemi,
    for the love and care you showed them
    to enable them to continue bringing joy to each our lives.

    As I explained to Joe recently in an email,
    that I am having to deal with
    numerous emotional, physical & monetary difficulties at the moment,
    the launch of the Maximus & Jelly fund
    (along with the other tribute gifts)
    will have to keep till late spring to be launched.
    Albeit -I know it will prove joyous and beneficial for many
    whenever we do finally get started.

    When I was 16,
    still but a wide eyed, innocent, giggling, happy, idealist,
    I experienced my first profound event of loss.
    It nearly destroyed me.
    As a coping mechanism,
    I eventually held fast to the belief,
    the most courageous thing any human being
    could ever do
    is allow themselves to love another living being
    so deeply they become woven into the very fabric
    of ones heart & soul,
    knowing full well that
    if that beloved, is taken from this life before we are,
    it will create an irreparable hole inside us.

    Here I am now, middle aged,
    and realizing
    my memories’ highway
    has become so worn & weak
    and filled with so many pot holes
    there is simply no way to ever again
    enjoy a Sunday drive
    without experiencing a near equal measure
    of terribly bumpy discomfort.
    Alas, I have become, like so many others,
    seriously damaged goods.
    And yet I continue to allow love in
    And continue to take those long drives.
    And, even more importantly,
    have begun taking others on those bumpy road trips with me.
    Not because I wish pain or harm upon others
    or even because I find it therapeutic.
    But, via allowing others
    to experience the full joy and full pain
    of those memories
    of those I have loved and lost,
    it honors “all” of who they are and lent
    and allows them to more fully live
    in the hearts of others, forever.

    For Narelle,
    (and anyone who has ever experienced such deep love & loss),
    Please know your blog family will be here,
    awaiting you with open arms,
    should you ever feel need to share the beautiful,
    joyous memories of your beloveds
    as well as the deepest pains of your loss.

  21. I’m sorry I missed the Q&A deadline for Jodelle. My brain is being pulled in many directions these days, and last week I was buried in paperwork. 😛

    Joe, I was there a few years ago – all my cats were old and having health issues. One by one I lost them, and it was very painful to let go. But I have dealt with this my entire life, having pets (mostly cats, and two dogs) since I was born. I estimate (quickly) that I have had over 30 cats in my life (I include 2 of my grandmother’s, and 2 of my sister’s, since I often took care of them). My first cat was Pretty Boy, a traditional Siamese. Next came Clarence, named after my dad, a ‘pig cat’ (and part Turkish Van) that came from the pig farmer next door. Then came Prissy, MY cat, a dainty calico that lived to see me go from grade school through high school, and into marriage – 21 years in all. I loved her to bits.

    Along the way there was Buster and Baby, Mad Max (who could say his name!) and Roadie. Ugly, Peaches, Thomas O’Malley, Miss Muffet, Jack, Molly, Lorre (she looked like Peter Lorre), Pumpkin, Bigeara (he had big ears), Fantom, Catherine, Mikey, Cinder, Sugar, Tootsie, Booger, and Greystoke.

    After I married, we were ‘adopted’ by Shoobie, a lovely black cat that walked into our apartment and stole our hearts. Since then we’ve loved and lost Marbles, Creamsicle, China, Cowcat, and Big Girl. And there were ferals, too, all gone with just one remaining now – Staches.

    Now we share our hearts with BOO! and King Julien and Bucky Barnes…all relatively young boys. But they, too, will grow old and leave us with holes in our hearts. But eventually we will fill those holes with new furbabies…cats (and maybe even a dog) who need homes and security and love. It’s a neverending cycle for me, one in which the pain of loss is soon replaced with comfort as we bring another kitty into our home. And knowing that there will always be more to love and to save helps to keep me from pining away for the one, when I could be helping the many. And I have certainly helped, and loved, the many.


  22. “The hardest part about getting a dog is having to say goodbye.”

    Truer words, Joe… You made us love them, too. Love Bubba, Lulu, and Suji lavishly, while today is still called today. My heart goes out to you and Akemi. Praying for favorable news at the vet’s.

    Relle, I sent you a message on Twitter. Was a mess when I saw the news. Jack and Ralph were/are the Odd Couple, each had his different ways, but despite everything, are inseparable. Your stories and pictures made us love them, too. (Esp. Jack’s Kelpie wits outsmarting Ralph over a bone.) Am devastated, and they are not even my dogs. Bright joys, and long memories for mumma and dada, boyz. Wait for them at the bridge.

    Big Hugs, Relle

  23. I’m sad to hear Lulu’s surgery didn’t help her mobility, Lulu is such a fierce gal, please give her a hug from me.

  24. sniff sniff, you makin me cry with your horrible truth. I admire you for all those fur babies you have rescued. Hugs to your little old pals. I miss mine too.

  25. I want to thank @chev for letting me know about Ralph and Jack for Narelle and @Drea for letting me know about Bubba.

    You know my life is always crazy but a few things made it extra crazy like my brother-in-law getting diagnosed with glioblastoma, fighting the state of Texas on two issues for Patrick, and then a brighter note, my best friend (and Patrick’s godmother) and her husband came down from New York to visit. They were originally coming Thursday morning, but the blizzard was approaching so they flew in on the 8th instead. Of course I thought I had a whole extra day to get things cleaned up a bit more, but it was what it was. We had a blast. I tried very hard not to cry when I dropped her off at the airport on Sunday afternoon. I didn’t want to get in a car wreck on the way home.

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