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A Life with Dogs

I have lived with a Shetland Sheepdog, or Sheltie, since I was 14. That's a long time... They have brought me constant love, joy, and affection, mixed in with exasperation and ultimately heartache. The one problem with dogs is their inherently short lifespans.

This week, after a very short course of Lymphoma, I made the difficult decision to let Molly go. She was diagnosed only 3 weeks ago and rapidly declined. Molly was 13 and had been very healthy up until about 2-3 weeks prior to her diagnosis. I made the decision to not pursue treatment as chemo would only add months to her life, and I did not feel it was in her best interest.

Of course, making the decision and carrying it out are two completely different things. I made her last day as joyful as possible, taking her for a walk with her sister, Callie, giving her plenty of hugs and kisses, telling her what a wonderful friend she had been. I would have loved to give her all her favorite foods--apples, bananas, peanut butter, etc. But the Lymphoma was based in her GI tract, making digestion impossible. She lacked any appetite and couldn't keep anything down.

At the end, I held her in my arms while she faded away from me. I promised her I would take care of her sister and tell all future Shelties about her. She died in my arms, surrounded by love and kind words. We should all be so lucky.

I have sobbed for days and finally feel like I may have a handle on my grief, except for the tears running down my face as I write this. The price you pay for loving a dog is knowing they won't live forever. It has always amazed me that mean people seem to but not sweet little dogs.

I have tried to comfort myself by thinking about this as the circle of life. If I had not lost O'Malley, who was my true heart dog, years ago, there would never have been a Molly in my life. Same is true of whomever comes next. This is of little comfort right now but hopefully will be in the days to come.


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