The Death of a Dog

Well, it took more than five weeks before I could write this post. I couldn’t really face putting my feelings into blank and Rexwhite for a long time.

Rex, my dog of 12 years had to be put down on January 9th, 2013. It was a long battle and in the end it was time. I have always said that with animals that are injured or sick, I will continue to fight for them as long as they are willing to fight. They know when to stop and I will respect that. Though I will say that even when you know it is time, it hurts the humans more than the pets I am sure of that. He went peacefully in his sleep while I bawled like a baby all night long.

I rescued Rex from a bad home situation when he was only 6 months old. He had been chained to his doghouse and the disgusting owners moved away and left him there. Nobody knew he was even there until a neighbor walking up the road heard him howling. That nice person rescued the puppy who by then had been there for three days without food or water. She couldn’t keep the dog as she was allergic, but luckily a friend of hers knew me and knew that I was looking for a Golden Retriever.

I got the phone call about the dog and went to “look” at him, knowing full well that I would be bringing him home with me. He was absolutely wild and had severe attachment issues – who wouldn’t after being left chained to a doghouse? On the ride home, I remember having the already 30 pound “puppy” wrestling around and sitting in my lap and thinking what had I gotten myself into.

Hiking with RexRex was more than your typical Golden Retriever. He would make certain that he was underfoot and right next to you, usually with at least one paw touching you to make sure either he knew you were there, or perhaps reminding you that he was there.

When exiting the shower each morning, I would not only have to step over the rim of the bathtub, but over him as well. Not only was he right in front of the shower, but he took up every inch of the bath mat. Thus, my wet feet had to go on the cold wood floors. Most times I didn’t mind, but in the dead of winter, I usually nudged him over so I could have a corner. Or I would at least make him share the little electric heater all the while grumbling to him that he really didn’t need the heater seeing as he had a thick winter coat and I was wet and naked. Most times he just ignored me. Other times he would huff and move over.

Best of all, he was a farm dog and he relished being outdoors with me. He loved being with the chickens, especially when we had baby chicks. He enjoyed playing mother “hen” to them and we would have to watch him otherwise he would lick them until they had weird chick mohawks.

Rex and a baby chick

During lambing season, he was more than once butted by the mama ewes as he got too close to the baby lambs. He was always more than delighted when we would have a rejected lamb as he would “help” us bottle feed and play with the baby.

The horse and Rex didn’t always get along, so they were more content to look at each other from either side of the fence, but the sheep and chickens tolerated his presence. They sort of had to, and I think they got that after a while. I swear I used to hear the sheep sigh when he would come into the barn…

Though perfectly happy to enjoy the company of anyone willing to give him a scratch behind the ears, he was faithfully my dog and best friend. Even writing this five weeks later is making me tear up and realize that I am not quite ready to accept that he is gone. The house seems empty. Walks in the woods seem less jubilant without him forging ahead and then bounding back to make sure I was watching.

Rex in the snow

I am looking into a new puppy, perhaps for this spring or summer as I cannot imagine life without a dog by my side. But for now, I am doing things one day at a time and making sure to live life to its fullest, because of course that is what a dog would do, especially Rex.

Why I decided to post this on Valentine’s Day I’m not sure. Most likely because I needed to express that love never dies, especially for our four-legged friends.

Me and Rex


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6 responses to “The Death of a Dog”

  1. Lindsey Walker says :

    Now that I’m crying…I remember when you got rex! I remember how excited you were to have dog! He loved you so much and vice versa! I wish dogs could live as long as we do…but in the short years they are here…they leave lots of memories! Happy Valentine’s day! I love you!

    • vermontfarmheart says :

      Aw! I love you too! I know, I can’t believe Rex was with me for 12 years, basically half of my lifetime, yet it was so short…he was the best! Like I said, we are thinking of getting another dog, but no dog will every replace him, just a new chapter in life I guess. If only dogs lived longer! Happy Valentine’s Day, miss you!

  2. Judy@grandparentsplus2 says :

    A good farm dog is hard to find, and you were lucky to find Rex. Some years back, I found Ginger who we got at the shelter. Ginger was a Collie, and a sweeter disposition in a dog there never was. I think of her often, share her stories with my grandkids, and it always brings a smile to my face.

  3. jackie says :

    I feel your heart and pain..yes..I know just what it is like to ‘loose’ a beloved animal member of your family. I remember back down the years to my belo ved ‘lassie’ collie which lived to be 17 and one half years and which moved with us from England to New Zealand very many years ago. One day we found a hardness in his stomach so we took him to the vet who discovered an almost football sized solid mass.of undigested food. This was removed but during the operation Robbie had a stroke. He came home and partially recovered spending many days and nights laying with his head in my lap while I sat on the floor gently rubbing his ears which he loved. When he wanted to pee we lifted him outside on the grass and had to support while he took care of his needs.. I remember the day he gazed with his huge brown eyes into mine, pleading with me to release him from his abject helplessness and profound misery..he had been such a happy-go-lucky creature all his life right up until just six weeks prior. I still remember as if it were today..but it is all of forty years ago. And I was such a coward…I stayed home with our young sons while my husband drove Robbie oh so gently on his final journey. I am sure husband must have been balling his eyes out too. When they returned Robbie looked so peaceful , and dare I say it…HAPPY,… the struggle was over. We held a funeral for Robbie and the boys decided where he should rest accompanied by his favourite blanket and our garden of many trees. Oh my beloved Robbie thanks for the memories..

    • vermontfarmheart says :

      Thanks for sharing about your Robbie. I only wish pets lived as long as we did. I couldn’t watch the vet put Rex down either. Honestly, I think if I was in the room it would have made it harder for all of us, especially him. When I was upset he would get upset so it was best that he just slept. Your boys I’m sure felt honored to pick his resting place 🙂

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