On Saturday 9/6/14, I lost my best friend of 15 years, a beautiful black labrador named Kody. I stalked these forums as I progressed through my grieving process, and I am thankful to everyone who is willing to open their hearts and share stories of their pets and the lives that were shared.

As a token of trying to give back, perhaps others can learn and/or take peace in the eulogy that I wrote this morning for my friend. Up until this point, I have really not been able to put any coherent thoughts into words, but I felt it important to journal and write about my amazing friend, and to attempt to immortalize the time that we shared together and the love that we had for one another. I've had 8 different dogs in my life, but this one was special... I haven't mourned the loss of anything more than I have the companionship of this amazing creature.

Thanks again.



You were a licker. Your tongue was lightning fast. Any attempt to kiss you resulted in a probing wet tongue entering your mouth. Your energy was endless, and your ability to read any signs of movement from me was uncanny. If I moved an inch in preparation for going on a trip or just going to the bathroom, you would jump up, with that intent look on your face that says "where are we going... let's hit it!" You were smart, and intense. You would look into my eyes with such confidence and attention, not wanting to miss any element of our interaction. You learned to read me well, and we developed a language of our own to aid with our understanding of how we lived, loved, and played together. You loved to play ball, and could catch a speeding line drive from yards away. Over and over again you would chase the ball, catch it in some spectacular fashion, and return it to my feet only to take off running again even before I threw it. You loved to climb rocks, and rejoiced in leaping from tall places. Maybe you always wanted to fly? I could never keep you quiet for more than a few seconds - always ready to go, if we were to stop on a hike or a trail run, you had to either find a stick and fully consume it, or you had to whine and cry attempting to burn off energy until you convinced me to start moving again.
You trusted me. And I trusted you. You would let me inspect your mouth, your paws, your belly, or any other part of you without resistance or fear. To quote another poem - "your trust in me made me trustworthy"... and I can't tell you how much this warmed my heart. We both honored this agreement, and even when you would snarl at my newborn daughter, I helped you find your space but never considered that you would ever snap or bite. It just didn't seem to be part of who you were.
You were insistent - and funny. When I would sleep in, and you wanted to play or eat your breakfast, you would come into my room and rest your head on the edge of the bed. At times I would awake - startled to find your nose 2 inches from my face, staring at me. When you knew that I was awake, you would step it up a notch - and start to whine and push your nose under the covers, flipping them off with a toss of your head - attempting to coerce me out of bed. You loved resting your head on my lap. Especially when driving in the truck.
The calm times that we shared during your mid life were some of my fondest. Each evening, after our walk, we would sit together on the steps - in Colorado, California, and Montana - you next to me, leaning in, feeling the warmth and weight of your furry body against mine. We would just sit. Me with my arm around you, my fingers gently rubbing your chest. We would sit and stare at the twilight scene. Be it the sun setting behind the rocks, or the light fading over the ocean, or just a dirt alley that led up to the mountains in Montana. I would talk to you in these times together, tell you how much I love you and how much you meant to me. I'd kiss you on the ear, and you would always return the gesture with a wet lick on my cheek. It was in these times that I really felt like we knew each other, and we were cherishing, honoring, and appreciating our time together.
I traveled a lot, and I know this made you sad. I could see it. In hindsight, I feel bad about this. You probably know now that anytime that I did travel, you were on my mind, and I wished that you were there. This is especially true as you got older, and less able to be active. Even now, I see a trail, a stream, or a clear mountain lake, and I wish you were there - to jump in - to help remind me of how amazing life is and how many beautiful things are right there in front of us.
The intensity of your eye contact never changed - even when you spent most of your time sleeping. Your eyes became the way that we communicated when your ears began to fail and your vision to degrade. You would tell me what you needed - let me know when you were sad. You would watch me as I walked across the room - and stare at me with a fondness that told me how much you loved me. You would pause at stairways, and remind me that you could not get up them without my help. I know it troubled you to have me lift you up completely at times, but you did so with trust and love - knowing that we were here for each other and that we both understood.
Your tail didn't wag much in those last years, and maybe this was just because you were tired - but your occasional bursts of puppy energy told me that life was still fun for you, and that your sedentary days were still sprinkled with moments of joy. Each night, my ritual became to check in with you.. to talk with you. To kiss your head, and smell your fur. I would tell you every night that I love you. I would thank you for your love and for your dedication. Sometimes you would lick my hand, but other times you would just look at me with those eyes, and reflect back to me all of the things I had said to you, and offer me a "good night - see you tomorrow"...
The last days were tough. You fell a lot. You took a tumble off the steps and cut your nose. I saw the sadness in your eyes. It hurt my heart. I did my best to anticipate your needs, and to care for your ailments. I would listen for the sounds of struggle when you would slide off your bed onto the hardwood floor and be unable to get back up again. I would sometimes find you shaking a bit because you were cold and I would lift you back onto your bed, and put a blanket on you to help keep you warm. Our days became less involved. You would sleep most of the time. Since I work out of the house, I had the chance to check in on you throughout the day, but you were not able to be at my feet since my office was downstairs. I became used to seeing you, in the same spot, always checking to see the reassuring rise and fall of your breathing, and occasionally, the raise of your head if you could hear the door open or if you could feel the vibrations of my walking on the floor. Again, we would lock eyes - checking in with each other, and in a subtle way, conveying our love to one another.
When you decided it was time to go, there was nothing that I could do. It hurt me to see you unable to stand on your own.. unable to keep your bearings. Your only comfort was lying down. You had no interest in eating or drinking, even if water was administered to you by syringe into the side of your mouth. I could sense that you had given up. I know how much you love to bask in the sunshine, so I pulled your bed onto the deck so that you could be warmed by the morning sun. When it got to be too hot, I pulled you back inside. The grass was so green, and you love to have your nose in the cool grass, so I scooped you up - all 80 lbs of you - and carried you outside. This was the last time that you departed our home. I sat with you - alone in my lap... with your head resting against my chest. I felt you breathing, and I could feel your heartbeat. I stroked your head - I smelled your fur - which always smelled so wonderful when warmed by the sun. I let my tears fall on your head as I tried to describe to you how much you mean to me and how thankful I was that you had been a part of my life. I squeezed you - fearful of the thought of letting you go. My 4 year old daughter came over and joined me in this embrace - likely conflicted about the desire to console her grief stricken dad or to say her goodbyes to a dog that had been with her since her birth. After our alone time together, I moved you over to the shade to sit with our whole family in the grass under a tall tree. We all laid with you on the grass. I made sure that you were warm by keeping you covered with a blanket. My daughter collected feathers, pine cones, and leaves, and made a memorial collection on your back.
Our last hour was spent alone with me lying next to you - my head touching yours, and my hand caressing your soft ears. I explained to you what was happening, and told you that you didn't need to be scared. That soon you would be running and playing and free of the burdens of old age and a fragile body. I heard the vet drive in the driveway, and I got up awkwardly, reluctantly, and went inside to get my wife. We gathered outside around your peaceful sleeping self, and the vet began to administer the drugs that would take away your pain. I placed your head on my lap, and stroked your ears. Tears fell from both our eyes, struggling to understand the morality and wisdom of what we were endeavoring into... knowing what the outcome would be was scary for me... and it was difficult for me to reconcile that I had spent my whole life with this dog protecting him from harm and keeping him safe, yet here I was assisting with the administration of a process that would end his life. We watched you relax, and I watched your breathing slow. I could see the familiar pulsing of your heart through your frail and aging skin, and as I watched it pulse for the last time, I quietly whispered in your ear - run buddy - go run... you're free.

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Dear Rich, my fellow labrador lover,
I'm so sorry for the great loss you are experiencing over Kody.  I can feel your pain in your words and I relate so deeply right now.  Please be kind to yourself and grieve. 

I, too, lost a very special labrador just 3 short weeks ago (today) and the words you write describe my pain, grief, relationship with Memphis, my love for him and everything in between.  The eulogy you wrote touched my heart and said everything I could not put into words on my own.  Kody truly sounds like an amazing black lab and (trust me) he knows what an awesome job you did for him as his dad all these years.  He's looking down on you today wanting you to remember all those good, beautiful times and not be sorrowful.  (Labs hate it when we are sad.)  He wants you to love fully and hold his family members close right now because he cannot.  He wants you to keep his memory alive everyday and know that he did his best job when he was here.  I know this because, I know labs.  They eat, breathe, run, fetch, and play for love.  All they show and all they love.  You describe it in the most beautiful words I have ever read when you describe Mr. Kody's eyes and the way he looked at you. 

Continue to write about your boy, bring to life his memories and cherish them forever.  I want to read them.  Thanks for helping me remember my own strength during this tough time.  I'll be praying for you and Kody and your family tonight and in the coming weeks.  I know my boy, Memphis, was at the Rainbow Bridge to greet Mr. Kody on Saturday upon his grand arrival.  Those two boys are swimming in lakes and chasing ducks right now.  Just think......

All the best and thinking of beautiful, Kody,
(Memphis's Mom)
If love would have been enough to keep you here, you would have lived forever.  (Memphis 2001-2014)
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What a beautiful Eulogy and such a beautiful relationship shared by you and Kody.  One can see the love in the picture you shared...the body language and facial expressions say it all.   I am so sorry for your loss of such a wonderful friend.

I said goodbye to my buddy, Charlie 5 days ago and its been an up and down roller coaster of emotions.  Like you, I have lost other pets but this one has been much more heartbreaking.  He and I were so close.  Such a bond and I enjoyed his company to the fullest.  I'm so fortunate to have had him in my life for so long. 
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Thank you Erin and Charliesmommy. It's comforting to think of Kody being greeted by a friend. What I find most beautiful about special pets is the lessons they silently teach us... and lessons that we don't fully understand until they are gone. For all of us who have had the fortune to be with our pets through old age, death is something we know will come, and we intellectualize about it often. We don't however feel the weight and magnitude of the loss until it actually happens. I know it will take time for me, but I can already feel the warmth of Kody's memories, and an awareness and appreciation of the depth and complexity of our relationship that we created together. A pet's death not only forces us to confront our own mortality, but it also reinforces the cycle of life... that death is a natural part of life... an inescapable destination for all of us. My wife and I both felt comfort from the broad array of birds that gathered around the trees after our dog was gone. It was a reminder that life is always on the move... always active... and always moving towards the inevitable.

As I soul search these last few days, I find most of my thoughts are centered around concern for the welfare of my dog. I never trivialized my role as caregiver, and felt that over the years he and I were able to broker a special understanding of one another. Now that he is gone, I can't seem to shake the self-imposed obligation that I should still be looking after him. Perhaps in some way I am - just not in a way that is perceivable to those of us still here.

Thank you again - and sorry for both of your losses. It's comforting to know that we are all sharing in our individual grief, and united in our healing.
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What an incredible tribute to your wonderful boy Kody. Thank you so much for sharing with us as well as including the precious photo. The love the two of you shared is beautiful and wondrous to behold. I'm so sorry for the loss of your magnificent boy.

I lost my Golden Retriever, Murphy, on June 18 and it still seems like yesterday. What you wrote about Kody encompasses so many of Murphy's qualities and our life together. I share your self-imposed obligation to care for Murphy as I did when he was here. It's difficult to imagine how he can survive without me caring for him and providing his medications, etc. Your description of the Retriever eye contact is unbelievable and heart wrenching. Everything you wrote brings such wonderful, and sad, memories. I miss him so.

I'm sure Kody is playing happily with Murphy, Memphis, Charlie and a host of other beloved furbabies at the Rainbow Bridge until we can all join them again some day for a well deserved and fabulous reunion.

Thank you again for your beautiful story. I'll read it again and again.

Blessings and many happy memories of your beautiful boy,
Murphy's Mom (Kathryn)

"Sometimes there is a dog who is so special, he is able to wrap himself so completely around your heart it is impossible to tell where you begin and he ends."  For My Beloved Murphy, 08/31/2004 - 06/18/2014
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I received the ashes of my friend Kody yesterday. Along the way I saw many signs... a small dog running in traffic - scared... tail between his legs.. I got out to help, and he briefly approached me, but then ran off in a safe direction. I saw a rabbit nibbling grass right near the spot where Kody died in the grass. A huge flock of starlings flew straight at me, and the swooped up just over my house. I pulled into the vets office, and the vet who administered the final shot pulled up next to me.. in the truck that transported Kody's body away.. and he jumped out with his dog and went into work without even noticing that I was there.

The ashes were heavier than I thought they would be. I wonder how they do that? Seems kind of scary to think about burning up, but it's just a standard thing these days - get buried or cremated. No big deal. I took small comfort in knowing that he was sleeping in my room last night... and maybe that's the point of having remains. It establishes a connection - as abstract as that might be - to the physical form of the person or dog or cat that we loved.

The signs I saw yesterday told me that life goes on. Yes - dying is still happening, and will happen for every day forward, but also things are born - things are living, and laughing, and enjoying, and playing. While this only temporarily quelled my sadness, I think it's important for me to remember.

I miss my dog. I love my dog. He is a part of me. He was my routine, and he was my anchor. He was the one thing that no matter what would never ever leave me... but he did. Not because he wanted to but because he had to. I'm still sad, but I'm feeling more joyous and warm thoughts entering... our time was special and filled with so many great memories... and nothing can ever take those away.. they are the true indestructible aspects of our time together that nothing - even my death - can ever change.

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"I miss my dog. I love my dog. He is a part of me. He was my routine, and he was my anchor. He was the one thing that no matter what would never ever leave me... but he did. Not because he wanted to but because he had to. I'm still sad, but I'm feeling more joyous and warm thoughts entering... our time was special and filled with so many great memories... and nothing can ever take those away.. they are the true indestructible aspects of our time together that nothing - even my death - can ever change."

Thank you, Rich, for this insightful post today.  I needed it. 
Your words describe my thoughts and help me rationalize how I'm feeling. 
Knowing that my lab didn't want to leave me, but he had to.....really resonates.  You're so right.  A lab would never leave his loved one unless absolutely necessary. 

Also, you're correct:  I will carry Memphis's memories and legacy with me forever, until my death, and I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that will be thinking about a special dog that passed in 2014 when that time comes. 

Again, thank you. 
Thinking about you and Kody Boy today,
(Memphis's Mom)
If love would have been enough to keep you here, you would have lived forever.  (Memphis 2001-2014)
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I found your writing beautiful, difficult because it hit so close to home, and comforting. I am so truly sorry for your loss as my Max left the day before. I am still struggling so, but I wanted you to know your story touched me.

Try to keep focusing on the wonderful memories. In the first days afterward, all I remembered were Max's eyes as he peacefully passed. It was all I could remember. As the shock wore off, I tried to honor his memory by focusing on the best years. It has helped but I still miss my friend.

I am sure Kody was welcomed by all our babies and they are having more fun right now than we can possibly fathom.

You and yours are in my thoughts and prayers.

Max's Daddy
I am the very proud father of Maximus, a black and white rat terrier. My beautiful boy left this world September 5, 2014.
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I hadn't seen your thread until this morning and I sat and read all of the posts, through blurry, tear filled eyes...I had to re-focus many times.
Your words eloquently express your immense feelings for your beautiful Kody and describe a relationship full of joy and happiness.  Thank you for sharing your personal account of aspects of your life was beautiful to read.
I am glad that Kody is home with his family where he belongs.  Like you, I felt great comfort when my gorgeous beagle, Bella, came home to us.  While she is not here in body, the little cedar box where she now rests gives me a place to still stroke her, kiss her and hug her...a place to direct my "Good morning gorgeous girl" and "Goodnight Princess Pie" and to say "I love you with all of my heart and I will miss you until I am with you again".  I have worn a track in the carpet as I walk by so many times each day.
Our memories are our forever and nothing and no one can take those away.  They are precious and to be cherished forever.
I wish you peace and healing and I thank you for sharing.  It is this sharing of such personal feelings that is helping each of us know that we are not alone and what we are feeling is normal.
(Bella, Charli and Buddy's very lucky mum)

My gorgeous girl, Bella  26/07/2004 - 03/04/2014
"You were once by our side, but you will be forever in our hearts. Until we meet again baby girl."
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