Memories_of_Marmalade



Greetings all,

I just came across this post shown below on the Reddit Pet Grief thread. It really, really moved me.

It's about a dog's end of life. I lost my cat, but there is a lot of poignancy and eloquence in this post that applies to any pet parent who sees that their beloved's life is coming to an end.

Please take a moment to read it. You will be glad that you did.

Kind regards,
James



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My dog is dying.

She's 14 and a half years old. I'm 33... and a half, I guess. She's been here my entire adult life. One of the few constants through all these years. The longest I've been away from her was when I moved out of state for the better part of a year. I remember telling her I was leaving, and her being confused. I remember coming home in failure, single, jobless, back at my parents house where I left her, sitting on the floor and crying with all my stuff in boxes emptied out in my old room... and my dog being there, tail wagging, sniffing around and welcoming me home. No judgment, just love.

She's been dying for a while, now. I feel guilty about it. It's not time, yet, though. I know it isn't. She's still happy, still healthy enough, still finds joy in life. But we're getting close. We both know it. There are things she doesn't do anymore that she used to love to do. That's the guilt.

I want to make everyone magically understand this next part before I say it, so that you don't think I'm the world's biggest ass... but I also don't want you to have to understand it. So I'll just say it.

This isn't the dog I fell in love with anymore.

That's what dying means. Everything changes. Burns out. The heart is an organ of fire, and one day it goes out. My dog burned bright like a bonfire for most of her life. She filled the rooms she entered with an irrepressible light. As she got older, that bonfire burned lower, and we made adjustments. Tore her ACL 5 years ago - just a campfire, now. Still burning, though. Had a bout of vestibular disease a couple years ago - now we're crouched around the fire, guarding it against the wind. She takes several pills every day to help her out, like any elderly person would or should. We try to exercise her and keep her active to ward off atrophy, keep up circulation, hold back the pain. Arthritis. Hip dysplasia. No cancer. Lucky.

It's just embers, now, her fire. Glowing embers that give off such warmth when you get close, but gone is the roar of the fire, gone are the days of flame, gone is the light from the room. She used to climb up onto the couch to rest while we were at work - not anymore. She sleeps on the floor now. Her toys collect dust in the box, in the corner of the room. They had been sewn back up so many times, none of them still have a squeaker left inside. We haven't played with them in a long time.

She used to bark like a loon when we'd go for a car ride. She'd launch herself in and start yelling for me to get in. She'd bark at other dogs if we saw them on the trip, demanding that they look at her and acknowledge her presence, and then bark more fiercely to demand that they look away from her glory. She used to bark like she thought the car ran on barks - like it was fuelled by the raw power of her voice alone. And who's to say it wasn't. We don't go for rides so much anymore. Sometimes. It's tough getting in. We don't bark much anymore. And we just lay down in the backseat now, so we can't really look out of the window anymore either. It's ruff.

This is what it is. Dying. The light starts to fade, and bit by bit, the quirks and unique mannerisms are lost to the dark. She doesn't wait at the top of the stairs anymore for her night-time treat in case someone comes home late. She doesn't sleep in the hallway to guard all the rooms at once anymore. She doesn't fire off a series of trumpeting warning barks when going outside to get busy, like a herald announcing royalty exiting the castle, anymore.

She isn't Nessa anymore. Not really. Nessa was fierce. She was beautiful. She was so smart, and so funny, and so loyal. These days we're left with just a shadow of that. The embers. Dim light in the dark. Warmth... but only if you get real close.

They spark, sometimes, though. Enough to remind us both of what once was.

A little dog on our street got loose the other night during our walk. Ran up to us barking like a maniac. Ran literal circles around us as we stood still, watching her. Didn't bark back. Just watched. As the little dog's owner tried to chase her down, we watched, together, the two of us, and my girl looked up at me. As if to say, "... a few years ago..." and I would just nod, as if to say, "Yeah, darling. I know. I know, baby." But we didn't. We didn't have to speak. It was just a look shared between two old friends. She knew, and I knew. She was something else. Graceful. Strong. Proud. Queen.

Dying.

I brush her fur and feed her by hand. I have a harness to help her move around when we walk. I carry her occasionally. She's fading. It picks up speed, toward the end. We're not ready, yet. Not there yet. I won't let myself be selfish. Won't prolong. I'm watching. Both of us, she and I, aren't ready. But we will be soon. It'll happen here, in our home. My baby. She's the reason I became a vet tech. She's the reason I became anything at all.

It's like a wave building. With every little quirk lost, every thing she used to do but doesn't or can't anymore, every moment where I expect her to act a certain way, but she doesn't anymore because she's too old, the wave builds. I am standing on the shore of grief, waiting for it to crash down. Won't be long now. Dying is the wave. Death is when it breaks.

I feel like I cry a lot these days. But man... we had some good times, she and I. What we're feeling now doesn't hold a candle to the years of unbridled joy and hilarity and adventures and love and love and love.

I just wish you could have met her, you guys. Before the embers. Back when the fire burned bright, and high. She has been the best part of my life since I met her. I know you all would have loved her.

She lit up the room.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Petloss/comments/cbrg8b/my_dog_is_dying/

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Olgita256
Wow... I’m speechless. My ❤️
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pannklaus
Excellent and very moving description of what the end of life is like for a pet with a chronic disease who  declines over a period of time and is in the dying process.
Patsy
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MichelleKinkaid
Very sad ... heartbreaking ... and wish I hadn't read it. I didn't think any less of my Rocky later in life than I did at any other time. He was my love cat all the time. Maybe I'm not getting the complete intended message? We are all dying piece by piece every day ... losing pieces of our former selves. Very depressing to view life from that viewpoint. Again, maybe I'm missing something ... sorry.
Michelle Kinkaid
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Memories_of_Marmalade


"Very sad ... heartbreaking ... and wish I hadn't read it. I didn't think any less of my Rocky later in life than I did at any other time. He was my love cat all the time. Maybe I'm not getting the complete intended message? We are all dying piece by piece every day ... losing pieces of our former selves. Very depressing to view life from that viewpoint. Again, maybe I'm missing something ... sorry."

I'm so, so sorry Michelle,

It was written (as far as I know), from the perspective that dying is a process, and it is important for each of us who are experiencing witnessing that to recognize that process. And that learning to "let go" is an important part of that process. And that for those of us who feel we needed / need to put our beloved's "to sleep", in order to end their deterioration, it was/is a decision that needed to be made. That we couldn't/shouldn't allow them to become even more of a shadow of their former, vibrant selves. But I can certainly see how that post could be read as depressing too. I totally apologize for the way it made you feel sweetie. That was not my intention.

I didn't see my Marmalade either as less than he was, in the end. But I was definitely concerned about his on-going deterioration. 

James
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MichelleKinkaid
Thanks James for helping me to understand perhaps another consideration of that writing. I have a difficult time with letting go of anyone that I love and I loved my Rocky so very much. It is depressing to focus on how a living creature is declining and becoming a shadow of the former self ... I know that is a reality for all of us but a very depressing and, for me, an unhealthy way to think. Perhaps that causes me to have increased difficulty when the end comes ... I'm just not sure. With Rocky ... One minute he seemed fine and when i came home from work he was in complete distress ... there wasn't any time for me to prepare all those thoughts ... it was awful. Having difficulty ... heart is broken ... my spirit is broken ... I just want him back. Within a couple hours of coming home and finding him is distress he was gone ... it was like a nightmare. I am devastated and angry with myself that I wasn't here when he needed me most. It just tears me apart inside. It was just me and him left here and now it's so empty.

A friend has sent me a photo of a little orange stray that is outside her house ... she has had it fixed but cannot keep her inside as she already has 3 cats (that were strays) and a dog. I have, for whatever reason, always had a male orange tabby cat (Thomas, Puffy, Indy and Rocky) ... I don't know that it was planned that way ... I think it just happened. Don't know how I would feel with a female cat. I'm afraid that I am not ready ... and not capable to give my heart to another when I so miss and mourn my Rocky. What's I wrong with me when in my head I know that there are so many that need loving homes but I am stuck in a place where I can't do anything? I don't want to be disloyal and take my heart away from my love cat, Rocky ... my heart was his. How can you love another when your heart already belongs to someone. I'm so sad!

I hope you're having a better day than me.
Thanks so much for trying to help.
xoxo
Michelle Kinkaid
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Memories_of_Marmalade


Dear Michelle,

I am sorry that you had to experience those sudden circumstances and had no time to analyze nor prepare. 

I can totally relate when it comes to adopting another cat, as we have discussed. That little kitten down the street who is staying next to an empty house (the owner lives in the mountains) cried last night when I went to feed it. I felt so bad for it. I am trying to reunite it with the family it had been sleeping on the porch of further down the street. Who has agreed to make it an indoor only cat and adopt it. I am so saddened thinking about how this little baby is all alone in the World, knowing how cats seem to love, adore and cherish human's that they bond with. It really does seem like they need us as much as we need them.

Thank you for your kind words. I have been having a very tough time. During the day and night. Was 8 weeks yesterday that Marmalade departed. I am still so completely devastated. Like you I just want to see him again. He was my light and my love. 

I hope we all can get through this. Others appear to have done so who have posted here. We've got to hold on to hope that we will.

XOXO,
James
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Jenniferhiggs1221
Very sad to read..emotional from start to finish..i do get what she is saying about the dying process..i never thought any less of my Reeses either but also what caused our life together to come to an end wasnt a process of him getting older even though the last year or so i could definatly tell he had slowed down alot from when he was younger and wasnt playful and getting around as fast as he used to..and that was always in my mind when i would see that..the reality he wouldnt be around forever..
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Josephine
Memories_of_Marmalade wrote:



Greetings all,

I just came across this post shown below on the Reddit Pet Grief thread. It really, really moved me.

It's about a dog's end of life. I lost my cat, but there is a lot of poignancy and eloquence in this post that applies to any pet parent who sees that their beloved's life is coming to an end.

Please take a moment to read it. You will be glad that you did.

Kind regards,
James



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


My dog is dying.

She's 14 and a half years old. I'm 33... and a half, I guess. She's been here my entire adult life. One of the few constants through all these years. The longest I've been away from her was when I moved out of state for the better part of a year. I remember telling her I was leaving, and her being confused. I remember coming home in failure, single, jobless, back at my parents house where I left her, sitting on the floor and crying with all my stuff in boxes emptied out in my old room... and my dog being there, tail wagging, sniffing around and welcoming me home. No judgment, just love.

She's been dying for a while, now. I feel guilty about it. It's not time, yet, though. I know it isn't. She's still happy, still healthy enough, still finds joy in life. But we're getting close. We both know it. There are things she doesn't do anymore that she used to love to do. That's the guilt.

I want to make everyone magically understand this next part before I say it, so that you don't think I'm the world's biggest ass... but I also don't want you to have to understand it. So I'll just say it.

This isn't the dog I fell in love with anymore.

That's what dying means. Everything changes. Burns out. The heart is an organ of fire, and one day it goes out. My dog burned bright like a bonfire for most of her life. She filled the rooms she entered with an irrepressible light. As she got older, that bonfire burned lower, and we made adjustments. Tore her ACL 5 years ago - just a campfire, now. Still burning, though. Had a bout of vestibular disease a couple years ago - now we're crouched around the fire, guarding it against the wind. She takes several pills every day to help her out, like any elderly person would or should. We try to exercise her and keep her active to ward off atrophy, keep up circulation, hold back the pain. Arthritis. Hip dysplasia. No cancer. Lucky.

It's just embers, now, her fire. Glowing embers that give off such warmth when you get close, but gone is the roar of the fire, gone are the days of flame, gone is the light from the room. She used to climb up onto the couch to rest while we were at work - not anymore. She sleeps on the floor now. Her toys collect dust in the box, in the corner of the room. They had been sewn back up so many times, none of them still have a squeaker left inside. We haven't played with them in a long time.

She used to bark like a loon when we'd go for a car ride. She'd launch herself in and start yelling for me to get in. She'd bark at other dogs if we saw them on the trip, demanding that they look at her and acknowledge her presence, and then bark more fiercely to demand that they look away from her glory. She used to bark like she thought the car ran on barks - like it was fuelled by the raw power of her voice alone. And who's to say it wasn't. We don't go for rides so much anymore. Sometimes. It's tough getting in. We don't bark much anymore. And we just lay down in the backseat now, so we can't really look out of the window anymore either. It's ruff.

This is what it is. Dying. The light starts to fade, and bit by bit, the quirks and unique mannerisms are lost to the dark. She doesn't wait at the top of the stairs anymore for her night-time treat in case someone comes home late. She doesn't sleep in the hallway to guard all the rooms at once anymore. She doesn't fire off a series of trumpeting warning barks when going outside to get busy, like a herald announcing royalty exiting the castle, anymore.

She isn't Nessa anymore. Not really. Nessa was fierce. She was beautiful. She was so smart, and so funny, and so loyal. These days we're left with just a shadow of that. The embers. Dim light in the dark. Warmth... but only if you get real close.

They spark, sometimes, though. Enough to remind us both of what once was.

A little dog on our street got loose the other night during our walk. Ran up to us barking like a maniac. Ran literal circles around us as we stood still, watching her. Didn't bark back. Just watched. As the little dog's owner tried to chase her down, we watched, together, the two of us, and my girl looked up at me. As if to say, "... a few years ago..." and I would just nod, as if to say, "Yeah, darling. I know. I know, baby." But we didn't. We didn't have to speak. It was just a look shared between two old friends. She knew, and I knew. She was something else. Graceful. Strong. Proud. Queen.

Dying.

I brush her fur and feed her by hand. I have a harness to help her move around when we walk. I carry her occasionally. She's fading. It picks up speed, toward the end. We're not ready, yet. Not there yet. I won't let myself be selfish. Won't prolong. I'm watching. Both of us, she and I, aren't ready. But we will be soon. It'll happen here, in our home. My baby. She's the reason I became a vet tech. She's the reason I became anything at all.

It's like a wave building. With every little quirk lost, every thing she used to do but doesn't or can't anymore, every moment where I expect her to act a certain way, but she doesn't anymore because she's too old, the wave builds. I am standing on the shore of grief, waiting for it to crash down. Won't be long now. Dying is the wave. Death is when it breaks.

I feel like I cry a lot these days. But man... we had some good times, she and I. What we're feeling now doesn't hold a candle to the years of unbridled joy and hilarity and adventures and love and love and love.

I just wish you could have met her, you guys. Before the embers. Back when the fire burned bright, and high. She has been the best part of my life since I met her. I know you all would have loved her.

She lit up the room.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Petloss/comments/cbrg8b/my_dog_is_dying/

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Timi
This message is so fitting with many of my pets that came into my life and left far too soon. But, there is one that it doesn't pertain to, Morgan la Fey. She was my alpha Chihuahua in a home with 4 rescue chi's, a rescue boxer and 3 formerly stray cats. She ran a tight ship and really kept her pack in line. She passed away 3 years ago from heart failure (after my boxer, Camelot and oldest chi, King Arthur died of seizures). What makes her death so much harder to accept is she was still herself. At 16, she still had that spark, that desire to tell every dog on the street that she is their alpha too. She still had that fire burning bright as ever and her eyes begged me to help her understand why her body was no longer listening to her, the big, proud alpha. Her heart stopped pumping the fluids and she became a blob but she was still...Morgan. Her hind legs were beginning to give out but that wouldn't stop her from dragging herself to the forbidden cat food on the other side of the house. Her inability to jump off the bed didn't stop her from plopping onto the floor in the middle of the night when she needed a drink or to go to the bathroom, and her illness didn't diminish the Morgan I met 16 years earlier. Recently, her best friend and her constant companion, my 3rd chi, Guen, joined her at Rainbow Bridge, she passed away from Cancer. It came on quick and her fire diminished almost instantly so I had very little time to accept I was going to lose another best friend but still, seeing her pain and seeing the fire dim helped me accept it. But, I can still see Morgan's eyes imploring me to help her get better. Telling me that she had so much more life left so I needed to make her better because her pack (and, the entire neighborhood we walked daily) still needed her.
Timi
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Memories_of_Marmalade


My "Marmalade" still had that fire burning too within his eyes. And he too did not understand what was happening to him.

He was still spry to a point at the end. Could jump up on our couch to greet me every single time I returned to our warehouse. He would purr and purr and sit on my lap. But he had been maimed by a stroke or nerve damage on the operating table during his first surgery (from a wound that never healed in his left ear that he received during a major Alpha-Male Tom-Cat fight with "Marmalade's" long-term nemesis "Blackie", the neighborhood bully cat that had assaulted Marmalade's girlfriend cat named "Star."

Marmalade's left eye was left in a permanent squint (he was like a pirate his last 8 weeks), his left set of whiskers were lifeless and lay almost flat across his face and his balance was severely damaged. I would reach down to pet him and he would fall over. I had to hold his sides gently to try and balance him when he cleaned his face. He fell off the couch arm flat onto his back once and knocked the wind out of himself and wheezed and wheezed trying to catch his breath. He looked up at me with this worrisome look like "Dad? What is happening to me?!"

His head twitched. His inner eyelid on his left eye would drop down if he was petted or brushed gently near it or from sunlight. One of his teeth fell-out when eating, then he growled, grasped & shrieked when he heard me open a can of cat food in the next room or when I approached him with a tiny piece of Turkey meat. He could not longer eat or drink. He was becoming a shadow of his former self. As I have written he was the KING of colony of feral's and strays when I first met him in the high desert country of New Mexico. He was loved by the female cats in the colony as he was always gentle and respectful of them, he was trusted by them with the kittens to escort them to feedings (he was always patient with the babies, even if they were not his own), and the larger males all respected him, even though Marmalade was a little smaller than them, and chronically ill. He was the only one I could formally adopt, as the others were too wild and would have run away. Marmalade and I were on the road for 3 1/2 months, motel hopping all the way back to Los Angeles. He never ran from me once. We had quite the adventures together.

In the end, I think Marmalade would have thought he had a good death. His declining health was ultimately the result of his big Tom-Cat fight defending his girl cat. She had given him a nose kiss once and he was smitten with her ever since. I know he missed his colony back in New Mexico, but he always maintained his own sense of nobility and dignity no matter what. I learned a lot from him about "character." My little Samurai Cat.

James
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littleguy
this poem is just so true and so heartbreaking for those who have an elderly pet as I lost my littleguy so young and so unexpected fine one minute and gone a few hours later but on the other hand his older brother is now about to turn 11 and that's old for a giant breed dog and yes a lot of those words or lines in the poem describe our lives now but I truly look at him as a distinguished old gentleman with things that used to bother him really not mattering anymore but he just still seems happy and content and still loves his late night stroll in the neighborhood and if some ones out they make sure to visit him as they have always known and loved him his entire life just as I have and as long as I still see light in his eyes we will continue on this journey but when the light stops shining we will guide him back to it .and thank you for such an eye opener as I really never looked at it this way until reading the poem. cade and littleguys mom  

littleguys mom
pamela meadows
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