Jun 12 2006

Mankind’s Best Friends

Published by at 1:00 pm under All General Discussions

** Bumping This To The Top Today **

Living in a family which is 2 to 1 ladies to gents, I cannot refer to the wonderous relationship between dogs and humans as ‘Man’s Best Friend’. Especially today, since the Strata family lost one of its dearest members – our 13 year old Cocker Spaniel. He was the classic buff-colored variety, and one amazing animal.

What is harder about this loss than any other dog or animal I have had is the impact I see in the rest of the family. With 13 years under his collar, he has been around a majority of the lifetimes of all four of our kids. 62% of my oldest daughter’s time on this earth was with our beloved friend. From early Elementary school to her Junior year in college he was there. The second oldest grew up with the dog as his more than anyone elses. His companion for 81% if his life, from his toddler days. And the twins know nothing of life without their permanent playmate.

It has been rough watching the old man get old all of a sudden. I have had many dogs (and if you include my immediate family we would seem to be obsessed with the animals). But I have only seen one other remain a puppy for over decade in heart and deed (and that was my brother’s dog who departed a few years back). I think the kids kept him young. But it was not until just last year that age finally started to take its toll. Thankfully it was late and swift in coming.

The good news is his ailment was not a painful one. We kept hoping it was a virus or something reversible. After watching the old man struggle last night for a couple of hours to breath past obviously blocked passageways from ever expanding glands, my son and I drove our friend to the emergency vet last night. A strange and sad bonding experience to say the least.

It was hard to cuddle the old man up in his bed (he had been losing weight and therefore muscle at a regular rate for weeks) and let LJStrata give her last goodbyes, as we walked out of the house knowing he would probably not return with us. The drive was long and neither of us could talk much. Thank goodness the tissue box was in the car.

My fears were confirmed when I was told by the vet he was in distress breathing wise. The ladies at the emergency vet were professional and caring towards their late night visitors: two men unable to hold their emotions in check. There was no hope in recovery or even sustaining him until Monday when we were going to be getting blood tests back on the diagnosis. So it was time to say good-bye to a friend who was always there.

He was always glad to see us when we came home, running around the couch in a mad circular dash. He loved to play hide and sneak with the twins who would try to sneak up on him has he lay in his bed (more like thrown some days). My favorite images are of him running up our wooden playground and racing down the yellow-humped slide in line with the kids doing the same thing. He was a wild animal at play time. He had his quirks too. We swore he was part termite because he ate wood bark from the fireplace logs. And he nearly died once, wolfing down an entire stick of butter from the table when we were setting the table.

He was a gift to our family, and hopefully we returned that gift to him. If there is a doggy heaven, they must be in awe because of all the humans down here today mourning his passing. I know he was loved because there are no dry eyes here today. Goodbye my friend, and thanks for taking such good care of the family for me.

20 responses so far

20 Responses to “Mankind’s Best Friends”

  1. ordi says:


    I am sorry to hear of your loss. Please express my condolences to your entire family. Here is a poem I hope will help ease your sorrow.

    Rainbow Bridge Poem

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

    Author unknown…

  2. flicka47 says:

    I lost my 17 yr-old cocker this past Apr.,and a friend sent me this poem.

    “We hold you close within our hearts,
    and there you will remain.
    To walk with us outside our lives,
    until we meet again.”

    I am sorry for your loss.
    It is very hard to lose an friend that has become such an integral part of your life,family,and heart,even knowing that you were going to out live them by years.
    Some day in the future the memories will all be good.


  3. CJ says:

    So sorry for your lose AJ. When you have little ones, it’s so hard for them to understand death and the reasons things or people die. When my children’s first pet died, we had him a wake. Yes with scripture, song and then burial. Soon after, my father and grandmother passed away. This helped prepare them for losing someone you loved, and gave them a slight understanding of death.

    Prayers to you and your family

  4. kittymyers says:

    A couple of years ago we had to put one of our 4 German Shepherd dogs to sleep. She was 10 and full of cancer. All of us bawled like babies, including the vet.

    A couple of weeks ago, we had to put our 19-y-o cat to sleep. She never thought she was anything other than a kitten, yet she was nothing more than a skeleton with no kidneys at the end. We’re still grieving.

  5. crosspatch says:

    I have been meaning to try to say something comforting but I can’t seem to find the right words. A family pet is such a part of family memories that the passing is often the first experiance children have of the passing of something so dearly loved from their life. It is a great opportunity to both memorialize a devoted friend and learn to handle grief. From this they will learn that time eventually does heal the hurt, if never completely, and that it is okay to cry.

    Sorry to hear of your loss, it’s tough losing such a loyal and devoted friend.

  6. syn says:

    He brought many years of joy to a family who will remember him forever.

  7. MerlinOS2 says:

    As you know, that even without somehow trying to put to words my support for you and your family in this trying time.

    Many have been there and many more will follow.

    It is always a stonger reaction when the pet has somehow bonded with our children as you have described.

    I know you and your family will persevere and get beyond this, many have been thru this before.

    The hurt now is real and tactile.

    I have been there myself , as I am sure many have others have been, this is a very open club with low addmission requirements.

    No doubt it hurts, and it is hard to explain to the children, but it gives rise to necessity.

    I wish you well in your adaption to a bad occurrance.

    My prayers and thoughts go out to you and your family.

    Keep well my friend.

  8. OLDPUPPYMAX says:

    I have had dogs my whole life. (In fact, my username is for my 8 yr old cocker, Maxwell. ) They bring more joy than non “dog people” could possibly understand and more pain upon their parting. They are never pets, but rather part of the family.

  9. ivehadit says:

    Grieving with you as we are animal lovers big time in this family. And we have had to do this twice in the last 3 years… They are in our hearts forever.

  10. AJStrata says:

    All of your comments and well wishes have meant more to me than I can describe. Thank you all. It is helps immensely. The first day was tough. We all kept looking for him in his usual spot in front of the fire place or in his kennel. You only understand how interwined these family members are until they are gone. Thank you one and all for your kind words. They demonstrate your quality, which exceeds my own.

  11. juiceman says:

    To have loved and lost is better than to never have loved at all. May you only remember the good times. My Maggie is 14, She has had both acl’s replaced, is arthritic and losing her hearing. Her time will come soon. To you and yours, and all who lose those close to their hearts. My thoughts and prayers.

  12. smh1012 says:

    Aj and Family:

    So sorry for your loss. Pets truly are members of a family and your grief in well understood. May time make this easier for the entire family.

  13. Beto Ochoa says:

    Poem for AJ and Family
    Sincere Condolences
    Beto Ochoa

    The joy explodes from off the couch
    My bitter day assuaged
    Though I am torn with worldly pain
    My puppies heart is gay
    And like the Savior of our souls
    Wicks off the mantel coarse
    My dog loves me as He who came
    With all his heart and force
    But as the passing days wheel on
    And to the earth returned
    The collar and the bowl remain
    And lesson hard is learned
    So we mourn for ourselves alone
    for we are left behind
    Until the ones who left us here
    Return in Glorious kind

  14. AJStrata says:


    That was wonderful – thank you.

  15. BlaBlaBla says:


    I feel for you and your family.

    Give it a few weeks, and go out and find a puppy, there are so many in need of a good home.

  16. HaroldHutchison says:

    Been there three times – albeit with a pair of guinea pigs when I was younger and with a cat owned by the person I currently rent from. you do miss them.

    Terribly sorry at the loss.

  17. agnolobronzino says:

    dear aj dont have the gift of words, like yr earlier contributors. I own a family of 4 siberian huskies, all hopelessly dysfunctional, but little esms[ emotionalsupportmachines] taking care of me. just fyi — its not HEAVEN its REINCARNATION!! and they get to take caer of us on he other side. one day at a time.

  18. Riceball says:

    I am very sorry for your loss. My beloved best friend has also gone to doggie heaven and I miss him dearly. My heart goes out to you and your family.

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  20. reader_iam says:

    Oh, I’m so sorry for your loss. We lost our oldest pug, just shy of 14, on Valentine’s Day, when we had to put him to sleep because he managed to injure himself but couldn’t survive surgery. It was hard generally, but especially tough to tell our kindergartner, who slept with that dog at night, what had happened and what we had to do–and then watch him say good-bye. (It was even harder than when our 21-year-old cat died, but there was warning with that one.) As a parent, I can understand that you are undergoing several griefs–your own, and also those of your children!

    Again, so sorry–I hope your many wonderful memories will provide some comfort.