This dog.

goodbyes | Clean.

Sometimes when it's quiet here it's because we're out living life to its fullest and I can't make time to write.

Other times it's because it's hard to find the words for the thoughts that are filling my head. And sometimes the words I do find are less about inspiration and more about grief. And those are even harder to share.

2014 has been heavy with goodbyes. There were the lambs we lost last winter, the llama, two cats, a guinea pig, a goat, and a goat kid.

So many tears. So many goodbyes. More than my tender heart can bear. Many more than I've had the courage to share here.

And as it all unfolded I have watched this dog of my heart growing older.

Jasper. My forever dog.

Photo on 4-13-14 at 2.53 PM #2

Sixteen years ago when I wandered into the dog pound with an hour to lose before an appointment I wasn't looking for a puppy.

I'm not sure what brought me there, unless it was the soul of the sweetest dog I've ever know calling me to him so we could spend a lifetime together. His lifetime.

Sixteen years ago, at twenty-five, I wasn't wondering what our life would look as we grew up and grew older together. I didn't wonder at how this guy would fit seamlessly into my world as my family grew to include two kids and countless other animals.

Nor was I thinking of the heart-full of worry you tend to pick up along with a heart-full of love.

All I knew that day was puppy love.

And when I brought him home from the shelter, curled in my lap in the front seat of the car, the last thing on my mind was that someday we would have to say goodbye.

But every loved one comes with a first hello and a final goodbye, I suppose.

But that's best not to think about most days.


Jasper. My shadow. My biggest fan. My first baby.

This dog has shown me unconditional love, endless patience, and a boundless adoration that it's hard to feel worthy of.

He has been by my side – literally and figuratively since I brought him home.

And as I look into his ancient eyes today I ponder how our children spend a small fraction of their lives in our home, but our pets give us their everything.

Their babyhood, their adolescence, and their old age.

Their birth and their death. We are their center for all of their days.


And today we're nearing the end of those days.

Jasper and I are standing on the cusp of goodbye. 

Well, I stand anyway. He's laying down. It's all he can muster.

During the past few months his aging has accelerated, and in the past few days he's nearing the end so fast it's hard to catch my breath.

We're doing our best to make him comfortable and show him more love than he'll know what to do with until he takes his leave.

But, oh my this is hard. My heart is in my throat.

Because in the end more loving means more pain. And yet it's beyond worth that exchange.

This is what it means to give your heart away. I think it's the point of being alive.

But it's damn painful.


And so here we stand. Near the end of our path together.

Sixteen years of love culminating with my heart breaking in my chest? That's about right.

And as I type this he lifts his head just a bit, watching me from his pillow in the corner.

He knows.

Oh, Jasper. I love you, buddy. And I will miss you so. More than any animal I've ever known.


Yes, it's time for him to go alone on his next journey. I think he's ready.

Me? Not so much.


Safe travels old man. It's time to romp and run once more.


Edited to add: Jasper died peacefully on Halloween eve. I was home alone with him and as he crossed over to the endless fields of dog heaven. Thank you for all of your kind comments. Love and light.

19 thoughts on “This dog.

  1. val says:

    Oh what a heartbreak! Pass on a big cuddle to Jasper if you will.
    I know this might not be what you expect, but reading your words brought me back to a book I’ve loved so much, ‘The art of racing in the rain’,and more particularly to the last pages of the book. If you haven’t read it, the hero/narrator is a dog named Enzo, and he gives his whole life to his master, a lifetime of love and devotion. The description of Enzo’s last days, and the image of him running once more in the fields, broke my heart like your post. Yet it is all worth it, the pain. And in the story, after all the pain of old age and separation, there is a twist. Enzo comes back, somehow…
    Wishing you a lot of courage Rachel.

  2. Michelle says:

    I just lost my baby cat, Figgy, who was only four, to cancer. It was sad to say goodbye, but I know he is not in pain. I love him so much, and always will, but he deserves to be pain free. I am so glad you had Jasper and that you loved him, and that he lived a nice, long, life.

  3. amy delaterre says:

    This brought me to tears, Rachel. You are so eloquent, and it is such a hard thing… and so beautiful, the connections we have with our animals. I’ve never cried so long and so much or felt such profound grief as when my first baby, Luna, my beautiful dog, neared the end of her life and passed on. I’m so sorry to hear that your first baby is getting ready to transition to what is next. Blessings on his journey, and love and sympathy to you and your family as you say goodbye.

  4. Jane says:

    Oh, how sad. Beautifully written. We have had our first family dog for only about 8 weeks but already I can’t imagine life without her. Your doggy is lucky to have had you.

  5. Richard says:

    So sorry to hear of Jasper’s failing health. It is always hard to loose a pet especially one that you have had for so long. He was so lucky that you had the time to go by the shelter that day.

  6. Danielle Drown says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. My heart is breaking with yours! Loosing a fur baby is so so hard. Sending you hugs and prayers during this rough time, for you, your family and jasper.

  7. Krissy says:

    This brought tears and remembrance of my own goodbyes with our four legged loved ones. It is always so tough!!!! My thoughts are with you all–may you draw strength in all the memories and love you share with Jasper.

  8. mandy says:

    This is so beautiful and I literally feel your pain through your words, and the internet. Many tears shed for you. Shared pain I suppose. Animals are some of God’s greatest gifts of love (in my opinion). So hard to say goodbye. It’s like saying goodbye to so many more things than an animal…but the animal has become so many more things…many thoughts/prayers for healing sent your way. Peace. Rest sweetly Jasper.

  9. Audrey says:

    My thoughts are with you as you say this important goodbye. We lost my 15 year old lab last summer just after our second child was born. So much of this beautiful post captures my heart from that time. She was around for things I hadn’t imagined being an 18 year old college student when I found her. He will always be your shadow and your biggest fan 💛

  10. Bronwyn says:

    So sorry,Rachel. Sending you a warm hug even though you don’t know me. There are some pets that are just pets and there are some that are family members. I’m sorry you lost him.
    You are right about animals giving us there all. I recently heard a radio interview with Isabel Allende. Speaking about our relationships with the animals in our lives she said that her dogs were so important to her because there relationship was no agenda, no judgement, only affection. Yes. I think she got that exactly right. My thoughts are with you.

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