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This past Wednesday, Dec. 5th, I lost my 12 and 1/2 year old male Westie. I have to begin somewhere; promise I will be brief. Boomer came to my wife and I in the Spring of 2004. My wife found out about his situation at work. This was a dog whose owner had passed away and no one in the family wanted him. Sad to say the least. BUT before all of this happened, some time back I had to have my female westie, Laci, put down. An experience I know alot of people go through, but it was my first and I swore after that it would be my last. When I saw Boomer's picture, my heart went out and the rest is history as we brought him into our lives. I knew in the back of my mind, I would regret the day that would eventually come. Not quite 2 years ago, he began to show signs of pulmonary fibrosis, a disease common to this breed and as many well know has no cure. On Tuesday night, Boomer had an onset of labored breathing, but often he would bounce back. He refused to eat that night, but still was moving around, so I made the determination that if in the morning he was not better, I would be faced with a trip to the Vet, all the while thinking about what might be a grim outcome. Briefly stopping at that point, when I go back to the female westie that I had to have put down with acute kidney failure, I allowed them to keep her for a couple of days on "hydra therapy". When I visited her, I realized that this was not helping, but actually in my opinion was a vain and cruel thing to keep her alive and in such a foreign place. Again, I go back to getting another dog, If (and I did) this every happened, I would try to let the dog be put down at home, or if something happened to them in the meantime, they would die in a familiar place. Bottom line, and sorry for writing so much, I feel like I made the wrong decision. I should never had assumed that Boomer was going to get better that night and done something then. Honestly, part of me realized this, but part of me said no, "he will be better", not wanting to face this situation again. I feel like out of selfishness for myself and not stepping up and facing reality sooner, I would have in somewhy, somehow been there for him. Don't know if this makes sense to anyone reading, but right now, I feel like one of the lowest forms of life. Maybe my overall personality of avoiding what I perceive as terrible situations in this life has come around to deal me a terrible blow that I will never every make ammends for.

I welcome anyone's comments; good or bad about what has happened.



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Oh Mark, my heart goes out to you and your wife in the loss of your Boomer. How could you have known he would die when he did, as you say, often he would bounce back. I had a cat, King George, lived to be 19, and the last couple of months he got cancer in his head, starting above his eye, traveling through his sinuses and into the roof of his mouth. He suffered so much, but at first they misdiagnosed him as an abcess and treated him with antibiotics and had me express the gangrenous ooze that came out of his tear ducts. It was horrible. The pain that cat went through must have been 1,000 times worse than any head cold we've ever experienced! I spent his last month doing what they said, all the while, prolonging his angony and suffering. When at last a different vet told me he had cancer and showed me, I had him put to sleep while in my arms. If you don't think I don't feel like the lowest heel for putting him through that last month! I never even got an apology from the previous vet, nope, just a whopping bill. I will never go back there and will warn anyone I know of what they did! It's been 6 1/2 years now and I still feel regret. But the reality is, we do the best we can with the knowledge we have and we rely on vets to inform us and there's just so much inbetween that we have no way of knowing. You loved your Boomer, just as I loved my faithful King George (he was my greeter and had so much personality!). We have some painful memories, but we also have many more warm memories and that is the gift we gave to each other, the sharing of life between human and pet.

So many tell me they will not get another pet after theirs dies because they cannot bear to go through this again. But I choose to love, to share my heart, and will probably never be without a pet. I have two cats and a dog right now...my dog is my best friend and companion, they are special like nothing else, and this one is unique with his special personality and warm heart. I will never have another Arlie (my current dog) and I know that. No one will ever take his place, but I cannot imagine not having a dog by my side to share in life with. We all must choose for ourselves what is best and how to handle our loss.

The way I look at it, Boomer was so fortunate to end up in your home where you cared about him. In spite of mourning Laci, you opened up your heart and gave of yourself once again, and thank God that you did! What would Boomer's life of been like had you not chose to take him in! You gave him yourself, and I'm sure he'll always be grateful...until the day you meet again.

Here is a link to the Rainbow Bridge, I hope it brings you some comfort:


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Mark, my dear, I am so very sorry for your loss of your beloved Boomer. Obviously you loved him dearly, and I can only imagine the pain you're experiencing now.

I am a bit confused by what you've written, and I'd like to ask for clarification. Did Boomer die at the vet's, without your being there? I'm just not clear on exactly what happened ~ maybe you could clarify?

As for the guilt you're feeling now, all I can tell you is that, among the hundreds of animal lovers I've encountered in all my years of grief counseling, guilt is the most commonly experienced reaction. I think it's safe to say that it is universal. I hope you will take some time to read through some of the many messages you'll find posted here in our Loss of a Pet forum, because you'll soon discover that you're not alone in that feeling. I happen to think that it stems from having to make the euthanasia decision, which for many of us is tantamount to playing God. It is making a conscious decision to take the life of a family member, and it is an awesome, heavy responsibility. How could we not feel guilty in the face of such an enormous decision? (I would be seriously concerned about the person who did NOT feel guilty under such circumstances.)

One of our other members posted recently in another forum the creative approach she used to confront and examine more objectively the guilt she felt in the aftermath of her brother's tragic accidental death. You may find it helpful too: http://hovforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?/topic/7583-my-brother/#entry63736

Sad to say, the only way out of this grief you're feeling is to go straight through it: to embrace it fully in all the ways it will affect you ~ physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and every other way you can think of. Take your time. There is no time-frame for grief. It takes as long as it takes, and that is different for everyone. Learn what you can about what is normal in grief, especially when it comes to pet loss. (See, for example, Pet Loss Articles.) Find a way to express whatever you may be feeling (by talking to someone you trust who is an animal lover and will understand and listen without judging you; by journaling or by engaging in a hobby you enjoy). Take care of yourself by eating nutritious meals and drinking enough water, even if you're not hungry or thirsty. Get sufficient rest, even if you cannot sleep. Include some exercise in your day, even if it's just taking a walk around the block. Consider finding an in-person pet loss support group in your community. And know that we are here for you, as we've all been right where you are now. You have our deepest sympathy and we are here to support you in any way we can.

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First thanks for the response, and as I am obviously new to this, KayC for her kind words. Sorry for the incoherent writing, but even going to and being at work is difficult. Boomer passed away at home. When I checked on him in the early morning hours Wednesday, he was laying next to his bed, deceased. Hence the grief for not being there during his final moments on this Earth. I appreciate your words, wisdom and kindness as I do KayC's.

Not to steer away from the above words, but I MUST SHARE THIS with you, KayC and anyone else who is or has read my post. Earlier today, for some strange reason, I made the choice to leave work and get my hair cut. Was going to do this as I usually do over the weekend. But something told me to go today and better yet to drive approximately 10 miles to a place I sometimes go to if I was coming from closer to where I live. Anyway, I signed in and was told that it was going to be at least a 35 minute wait. Hearing that I almost left to go elsewhere, but something told me to stay and wait. When I finally did get in and seated, there were 3 young ladies (I quess average age to be around 20-21) cutting hair. One of the girls stopped what she was doing and said to the others " I have been seeing/hearing things in my room lately. Now normally, I would haved thought that the topic of conversation of young girls on a Friday afternoon room would not have started off like that, but hear me out. She said last night I was laying there and guess what I thought I saw, "A dog laying at the foot of my bed and he was snoring!" Finally, when I did sit up I saw that it apparently must had been a shadow from a hallway light, but it looked like a dog laying there. I can't tell you, but the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I knew in that moment it was Boomer's way of telling me he was alright. I swear that this is exactly what happened. It is an unbelievable miracle, and I thank the Lord for that, as well as those that have responded to me. Thanks so much.

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That is a wonderful story, Mark, and I'm so pleased to learn that it brought you comfort. Truly, I do agree that this was a message from Boomer, and good for you for paying attention to it!

Since your fur baby died at home, I hope you will consider that Boomer was exactly where he was supposed to be when he passed over: at home with his family, right next to his own bed.

You see, we are the ones who suffer when our animals die, Mark. Animals face death so much more peacefully than we humans do, because they simply have no fear of it and just go with the flow of it ~ they accept it and take it in stride as just another aspect of the natural cycle of life. We humans are the ones who act as if the end of earthly life is somehow untimely, unjust and unfair ~ when in truth we're all going to die at some point. If only we could live as our animal companions do: savoring every moment, staying in the present, letting go of the past and never worrying about the future. They are precious spirits who come into our lives to teach us some very valuable lessons, if only we are willing to pay attention. We have so much to learn from them ~ if we're willing to let them in.

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Mark, I am so sorry for the loss of your Boomer. I have lost a treasured and cherished dog in the past and I am the mom of one that is a part of me right now. I consider our pets to be family members. As for your not being in the room when Boomer died I often wonder if dogs do not do the same as many humans do. i.e. when one of my close friends died her family and myself had taken "watch" around the clock for the last many days of her life. The night she died her soon to be daughter-in-law was there. Barbara did not know her very well. When the young gal left briefly to use the bathroom, she returned and Barbara had died. I just know that she waited so that no one from the family was there...maybe because it would be hard for them or maybe it was hard for her to leave. I think that happens with dogs also. Why not. They are actually more tuned in than we are. I recently lost my husband and wrestled big time with guilt that I was not a perfect caregiver for the 4 years of his illness. We want those we love to have the best and have what we think they need. As Marty said so well...dogs do not deal with death the way we do. It is part of life and they just cross over when it is time. I believe your Boomer gave you a major message at the barber salon that he is fine and maybe even trying to tell you not to feel guilt. I also believe your Boomer is with you as my Bill and a host of others who have died are with me. It is consoling and as much as we want them back...it is the next best thing to know they are with us. We are here for you. Now you walk through grief. It is what we are all called to do. We will walk with you.

Peace to your heart,


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Thanks for the reply. Your response and MartyT's have opened my eyes to remembering something similiar that I heard or read in the past about animals and death. I don't know if this makes sense right now, but I have always told others around me that we not specifically dog owners, that people could learn alot from a dog about making this old world a better place if in fact they were only half as loving and caring to those around them as these creatures are. And yes, I know that Boomer is waiting for me and that in time all of us will be together once again.


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Right, Mark, AND in the meantime...you will grieve...the symbol for the depth of your love.


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Hi and I am so sorry for the loss that you have gone through.

I have to disagree with you. I believe we have characters that live inside us and one that LOVES to punish us for every mistake and misdeed we have made in this world.

PLEASE DONT listen to this voice! Dont confuse the grief you feel at your beloved four legged being gone, with the guilt, blame or shame that this character is waiting to inflict on you! When you have these thoughts, please call another of your characters to throw the bum toi the curb (as my neice would say).

You saved a life!

You gave that life great love and care!

We had 95,000 animals that went to Maricopa Animal control, half of whom were euthanized. Actually, that was a not the bad thing - what was bad, was that they died with out love!

You DIDNT put that dog in the vet to torchure! You made SURE that nothing else could be done, that it wasnt a phase or stage! I beleive that in the dreams where you played tigether, that dear fourlegged told you it was enough and in spite of the pain to you you let that sould go to the rainbow bridge ahead of you.

That souls life could have been awaeful and lonely!

You made a difference to THAT one! If you never do another thing, to THAT ONE you made a difference and that counts!

{;ease watch this film to see what I mean - it ISNT the 95,000 to focus on.

It is ONE!


CJ Anderson

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Hi Mark,

I'm sorry for your loss of Boomer. But please, don't feel guilty! You loved Boomer with all your heart and I know you would never have done anything deliberate to hurt him. You did the best you could with the information you had at the time and in the moment. You could not have seen the outcome.

One hard thing about grief is that while processing it, we are also triggered and tend to process past grief. In this case, it seems like you are reminded a lot of Laci. From what I can read you are still feeling some guilt about that too.

You mentioned feeling selfish. Personally, I don't see that at all. You thought he would be ok and promised to get him the help he needed first thing in the morning if he was not. Again, you could not have known what was going to happen. The guilt you're feeling makes me believe that you honestly thought he would be ok. Again, you did the best you could with what you had at the time.

I loss my best friend in June, and understand your pain, guilt and struggle. I hope you find healing soon, please don't hesitate to message me if you need to talk.

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Mark, a friend of mine wrote this poem and I thought you might appreciate it. It is a tough poem but I actually like finding things that reflect my feelings. She gave me permission to post it. I think it applies to all losses. I know it applies to my loss of Bill...as I felt his last heart beat beneath my hand...and more. Peace, Mary

"davy dying"

and this is what i hate about life:

loving — two-legged or four-,

and having to let you go.

feeling your heart beat beneath my hand, and having to let it stop.

filling my lungs with june while we walk, and knowing you'll be gone in july.

watching you fading before my eyes,

and failing to bring you back.

living with you for so many years,

and waking up to the day you're gone.

freeing you from fear and suffering,

and condemning myself to pain.

wanting so much for you to stay here,

but having to let you go.

this is what i hate about life.

slf©june 22, 2011

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  • 2 weeks later...


I think it's so neat that you got this message from Boomer! Yes they can be such sweet and thoughtful creatures, and even in death and afterlife it sounds like your Boomer is looking out for you.

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