I sat with the phone in my hand for at least twenty minutes before I got up the courage to call the vet to ask for an appointment to talk about putting our old dog down. Of course, I had agonized my way towards that call for many months. While it was clear the right time was near, it was difficult to determine the moment to take action. The slow decline of an aging dog comes with distinct events (the poop on the floor, the dog’s weak legs splaying so she ends up in the poop on the floor, the waking in the night to go out, the pacing, the stumbling, the quiet look into my eyes before closing hers) but nowhere is there a clear line to be crossed telling me now is time to let go. I feared the vet would suggest diagnostic tests or medication, but as it turned out, she was compassionate and supportive. She said the dog would be spared further suffering by saying good-bye now. And so I did.

a break in the rain—
returning from the vet
with only a collar


6 thoughts on “Cleo

  1. So sorry, Susan. It’s better this way than to see the suffering in your old dog’s eyes. I waited too long on our last pet and that last look on her face was one where she seemed to have wanted me to take care of it all…and I had failed her. It’s hard for me to get past that last look now as I look back at the many years of joy we had together.

  2. Yes, Merrill, I am struggling to revive the memories of Cleo’s better days. The look in her eyes at the end confirmed for me it was time. Thank you for your kind words.

  3. This makes me sooo sad… I remember your “old” dog Pierre??

    Hope that everyone in your house is adjusting well. Maybe there is a new furry friend in your near future!


    • Yes, my mom and I still talk about Pierre! No new pets in the near future. We have to recover a while first, and even then, an onset of amnesia may be necessary. I admit, though, my eyes keep following dogs I see in the neighborhood…

  4. Susan, I sent your touching haiku to a good friend, C. L. Rawlins, a poet and non-fiction writer who lives in Wyoming and has a dog named Ruby who goes white-water rafting with him. He wrote back that he thought it excellent and, in the grand old tradition, sent you a response:

    Only a collar—

    The whole house, empty, the yard.

    Oh, where to hide it?

    • That makes my day, Staci! Thank you. Exchanging poems like this gets to the root of why we write… Please send my thanks to C.L. Rawlins, too.

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