I lost my beloved heartdog Tasha in April. It all happened so extremely quickly for me. Much too quickly. The speed of it all, made it so much more painful and extremely confusing for me. 

Very honestly, part of me expected her to live forever, and be with me until my demise which is likely 20 to 30 more years in the future.

Or at least live for many, many, many, many more years. My mindset or expection for numerous years of how long she would live made my understanding and acceptance of her old age and severe medical age-related medical problems much more challenging for me.

WebMD says, "1 year for Fido equals 7 years for you." This is what I have heard all my life. Dog years. They were supposed to be 7 times what human years are. Right??

Besides Tasha who died at age 11 (from dementia, severe arthritis of the spine, and liver abnormalities), I was also still the "parent" of another black lab named Jessie who was either 14 or 15 years old.  Jessie's mother and I had divorced 8 years earlier on very friendly terms before Tasha died, and I was still very involved in Jessie's life even though Jessie did not live with me anymore.

For the entire time I was Tasha's dad, I always believed Jessie would pass over 1st. She was 4+ years older after all. It did not happen. But I was fixated on this belief on a regular basis as my 2nd wife and I were planning out our future, Tasha's future, where we would live, could Tasha safely travel that far with us by air, etc. 

I was completely unprepared for Tasha dying 1st. Before Jessie. This reality was one of the biggest difficulties I had in grieving and understanding Tasha's death. Biggest difficulties in processing Tasha's death. It made no sense to me as I believed she would outlive Jessie, on a daily basis, for many years. 

Wikipedia has been very helpful to me in understanding the realities during the past 6 months since losing Tasha. And it has helped me accept Tasha's death at age 11 as normal and expected for her breeding.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aging_in_dogs

They reference different data / life expectancies on external sites as references, but basically because Tasha was 1/2 black lab she was expected to live about 10 to 12 years. And she lived 11 years. 

And because she was 1/2 terrier of some type, she was expected to live about 10 years (averaging the different terrier breeds). And again she lived to be 11 years. 

So when she was in pain, and staring me in the face from her very grey face, with eyes very clouded over, and moaning from her back pain, she was a very elderly dog, who had  lived most or all of her life expectancy.  I did NOT know it at the time. I was extremely confused as hell. I was extremely upset and emotional at the moment.  

But I easily understand now, that it was really her time then. At that moment with her moaning, seeking me out, staring into my eyes. She knew much more than me of course. It was of course time to let her go and to help her end these pains and diseases that had snuck up on her and were raging ahead inside her. 

I have focused on and contemplated on the age my dog died at, so much these past 6 months. Struggled to undersand it. How do I accept it. ETC. And everything related to this. 

I wanted to share the above information about different breeds. And the realistic age our beloved dogs may live to. I think most of us love them so deeply we are oblivous to the realities sneaking up on us and our special dogs.

I hope this information is helpful and insightful to some of us.  I truly understand, if your dog is living or lived well past their expectancy, their illnesses and death still are/were extremely painful and difficult to accept. I am really trying to help many of us prepare more realistically, because many of us cannot not. 

Tasha's Dad

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Hello TashasDad

I am so sorry to hear about your loss of Tasha. I don't have much knowledge about dogs, but I have read that the smaller the animal, the shorter the life expectancy, and that goes for all animals, dogs too. We had a house bunny, Timothy, and his expected lifespan is 8 - 10 years, but that is a good age. Hamsters apparently only live 2 years or so.

What I can relate to is your words about expecting Tasha being with you forever. Timothy hadn't reached 4 years when he passed away suddenly. Whenever anyone asked how long rabbits lived for, I would say oh, 10 years or so. And that was it. Never once, in the few years we had him, did I think about his age, that he was ageing, or how long he might be with us. Because he would never not be with us. So when he left us the way he did, quickly, unexpectedly, it was a double knife in my heart.

We all search for clarity and reasoning when we loose someone we love with all our hearts. I am sure your words will help many who are struggling with similar thoughts at the moment.


"The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before. That's the deal"      C.S. Lewis
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Hello Lynda,

I am very sorry on your recent loss of Timothy. In reading some of your posts, I can see he was a big part of your life, and you loved him very much. I can also tell you gave him a wonderful life.

If I get another dog, I plan to remind myself quite regularly of their life expectancy, and that they of course could leave me sooner than that, at any time. I think this and say this, because I don't want to ever be so unprepared again. Being so unprepared for the realities coming made my loss of Tasha so much more difficult for me to accept her being gone. Even as I type this moment here, about 6.5 months after losing her, I still feel some of that shock and disbelief that she is gone and she will not be with me forever as I incorrectly and naively believed she would be the entire time she was with me.

Tashas Dad 

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I think part of this is why it didn't even cross my mind that my huge, strong 5yo boy could be dying of cancer. He was supposed to have a lifespan of 12-15 years (a long time for such a big man), and, if anything, he would end up with osteosarcoma, which is unfortunately common with his breed. I think that, while it was a great comfort that my last dog's life ended of age-related issues when she was 12 or 13, it makes it infinitely worse that his life was cut so short  Just my thoughts. 
Ollie's Grieving Mama
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Ollie's Grieving Mama,

I am deeply sorry for your recent loss of Ollie, who was the absolute light of your life. I read some of your posts here at the forum about Ollie, to understand more about him and his story. You lost him so suddenly, and it was very traumic for you. 

I really do understand your feelings and emotions that you shared in your reply. Ollie was taken from you very prematurely. Most dogs of his breed live 12 to 15 years, he only had 5 of them, and you and he only had this shorten time together. It must feel like his life was stolen from him and from you.

Many years ago, I lost my 1st dog Shadow. I brought her home as a puppy. And before she was 3 years old she died unexpectedly while undergoing emergency surgery to diagnosis and try to cure the cause of sudden severe respitory distress. The surgeon found a large malignant tumor in her lung and could not save her. She was fine in the morning that day but she was at the Rainbows Bridge before sunset.

I grieved hard for a couple of months and rescued a stray dog in badly in need of a home as way of helping myself out of my sadness. Buddy was also a great dog and a wonderful friend. He died prematurely also. He was probably just 5 years old. He suffered from a severe immune system illness. He saw specialists at Tuft University vet school for about 2 years for treatment.

Tasha was the first of my dogs to live to be a senior age dog. I had never experienced this before. I had her for 10 wonderful years. And somehow I absolutely believed she would be with me for many more years. 5 to 10 more maybe? I was much more unprepared for Tasha's passing than I was for either Shadow or Buddy. I would imagine this because she and I were so incredibly close, and I was in denial about her aging and having become a senior dog.

I will be thinking of you and Ollie a lot today, Ollie's Grieving Mama.  I wish none of us here were grieving so deeply. This forum has been a lifeline to me in helping me with my grieving. May we all find more peace as we go forward. 

Tashas Dad

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