and for over a week afterwards none of the dogs we knew from our daily walks in our Forest would approach me. I know that my grief was achingly present, a huge hole all around me, but these are dogs that I've known for years, dogs that Bill-the-Dog romped with when he was alive, dogs that ran to me every time we met for ear and butt skritches and licks and happy words. For over a week they hid their eyes from me, turned away.

Bill-the-Dog was 15 1/2, my constant companion for 15 of those years. He'd been on the slow downhill roller coaster for over a year, crashing and rebounding. Crashing again, Rebounding again. We knew that each rebound was a little less than the rebound before.

He let us know when it was time, after the next to last episode of partial rear end paralysis, so painful that time. We made the arrangements with his vet, and he crashed again, another painful episode. We maxed his dose of pain pills and knew we'd done the right thing.

Of course, he rebounded once again. He took his Deddy to the lake that evening, 6 blocks downhill and 6 blocks back up in a cold rainstorm. He hadn't been able to climb that hill for months, but returned soaking wet and energized, hungry for noodles and meat and catching ball. His human friends came over that night to celebrate his life and say goodbye, and he was utterly present for each and every one of them.

We took him to the Forest the morning of his last day. It was his walk, whatever he wanted to do. He'd been able to walk there for 20 minutes or so in the last month before he'd tire and need help getting back to the car. That morning we walked for almost two hours.

Something we didn't expect happened when we got to the deepest part of the Forest. Bill-the-Dog started up a path he'd not been able to negotiate for a good number of months. We figured that we'd just help him as much as we could, but maybe 20 yards up the path he stopped and turned, looking out into the Forest. I swear that I watched 10 years drop off of him as he looked out through the trees, that his whole demeanor changed. He raised his head and sniffed as he'd done when Coyote moved into the Forest and needed watching, cocked his head back and forth as if he was listening to something even though he could no longer hear. I looked and listened too, but there was nothing there. Then he turned and cantered back down the path and up another, as fast as he could go. He didn't look as us when he passed by. We followed him, watched him as he spashed through a long belly deep puddle, watched him drink and pee, and sniff and run and pee again, tripod pee, not the old-dog squat. He was his young self again.

I believe that his Spirit Pack came to welcome him, all of his friends that had left before him, and that we were given the gift of seeing him as he would be after he'd left his old worn out body, after he had no more pain - running and leaping in utter joy with his Pack.

When the time came his spirit leapt out of his body. Good Dog, Bill-the-Dog. Run now.

Late last week his living dog friends began to approach me again. I am so grateful for their presence.

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Beautiful, just beautiful that you were so present as to witness this.......I am sorry for your loss of Bill the dog. May he visit you often.
"People disappoint, dogs never do" - spiritdog

"You MUST be your pets ADVOCATE, if it doesn't feel right walk away." - spiritdog
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What wonderful last moments to remember with your sweet friend. That's probably just a sample of the life he's living now and he wanted to show you how it was going to be. I was able to take my Chester man to the mountains for our annual trip on Thanksgiving and due to treatment for 3 days at the vet he was able to enjoy his last trip. His kidneys were failing and he had quit eating, but after his treatment he was almost his old self and enjoyed Thanksgiving turkey. Sadly that was short lived and I had to put him to sleep Dec. 3. Hardest thing I've ever done.
I hope Bill-the-dog and my Chester man are chasing squirrels.
Chester's mom (Joan)
joan bartlett
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Thank you both, spiritdog and joan.

spiritdog, Bill-the-Dog has joined me twice since he left this world, joyous dog energy whirling around me for a moment or two as I entered the Forest.

joan, it makes me happy to know that your Chesterman rebounded for you, showing you how his new life would be even as he prepared to leave you.

This has been a teary week for me, sad tears and joyful tears at the same time. How very odd. So different than when our Goldie Greyhound left us so suddenly many years ago. She was too young and her death totally unexpected. It took years to find peace. I think that with our old dogs, we walk them all the way to the end, acommodating their new frailties month by month, and then day by day. I think back and wonder, "when did he stop sleeping on the couch?", "when was the last time I stepped over him as he reclined on his favorite place in the stairwell?, "when was the last time he was able to jump up on the bed to cuddle with us?". I don't remember. What I do remember is how his world got smaller day to day towards the end. He became too wobbly to ride in the back of the car alone, so our hours long daily walk in the Forest became limited to the days when my husband and I go together with him, my husband driving, me holding Bill-the-Dog in the wayback of the car. How he tired so quickly and the walks in the Forest became shorter and shorter each time. How he couldn't get upstairs anymore, and the bed we made in the living room so one of us could be with him all night long. How he couldn't negotiate the back stairs to the yard, and how we needed to block the stairs off so he wouldn't fall. The doggie kitty-box my husband made on the back deck so he could go out the dog door to pee in the night without help. How I'd wake in the night from the living room bed when I heard him trying to get up, and how in the last few nights I'd have to rise every couple of hours to help him get up, and to open the back door so he could go out to relieve himself.

I am not ashamed to speak of this, what we did toward the end to make him comfortable, to allow him the dignity of moving through the world on his own as long as he could. I believe that we did what we needed to do for him as long as he needed us to do it.  It was what he deserved, for everything he'd done for us during his life.

We miss him terribly. We're so relieved that he is free again. How very odd, this grief.

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