Saying Goodbye


Truffle on Her Final Afternoon

Truffle’s Final Afternoon

This morning I said goodbye to a loyal companion. My dog Truffle was only 13-1/2 years old, and because she was small I hoped to have her for 20 years or so. Fate doesn’t always fulfill our hopes, however.

I wrote here early in 2014 that Truffle had been diagnosed with Doggy Alzheimer’s Disease. I dealt with this challenge using a combination of medication, observation (some techniques worked better than others!), and patience.

Despite her dementia—and despite her eventual total blindness—Truffle had a lot of fun over the past year and a half. Together we walked, cuddled, shared meals, and entertained guests.

The fun had just about come to an end, however. Truffle’s unhappy moments each day increased, and her happy ones dwindled. In the past few weeks her nighttime fear and aggression worsened. And she started having trouble sleeping. She panted and paced on the bed, not certain where she was or what was going on.

Believing that her life was no longer a good one, I made an appointment to take her to the vet today. The prospect was daunting, particularly since I had never had to go through this process alone before. I reminded myself that my mother had managed alone several times with previous pets—in large part to spare the rest of us the pain of having to witness the death of an important family member. I tried to view her courage as a challenge.

I was with Truffle when she died. It wasn’t easy. The blindness and the dementia made her nervous although the vet, his dear assistant Robin, and I did our best to reassure her. It’s a good thing my current nutritional cleanse requires me to drink a gallon of water a day. My tear ducts need replenishing.

My friend Michael Collins accompanied me to my biweekly television appearance on Wednesday; he is a chef and made a dish on the air with me. Michael and his partner Tony recently had to say goodbye to their dog Spotty (a friend of Truffle).

I told Michael that Truffle’s time was coming, and he observed wisely that taking care of our elderly pets—and then saying goodbye to them—is the price we pay for the short but full lifetime of love they share with us. Truffle certainly fulfilled her part of that bargain. I tried to repay her with comfort and love as she left me.

We enjoyed a last outing together yesterday afternoon at the Dam, where Truffle spent many glorious summer afternoons sitting and swimming with my late mother.

With My Mother in Happier Days

With My Mother in Happier Days

Truffle no longer swam, but she waded into the water yesterday afternoon and lifted her nose to smell the grass and feel the breeze. For a minute or two, her blindness and dementia didn’t matter. She found herself in a familiar environment, in what my neighbor Ruth calls a person’s (or a dog’s) “happy place.”

The Dam is my happy place as well. I did swim, and the experience was refreshing. Gliding through the water, I saw birds swoop down to take a drink. Wading to shore, I noted that the tadpoles were getting bigger. And so I was reminded that life goes on.

I have taken final swims at the Dam with beloved dogs in the past, and with luck I will swim there again someday with another dog. Yesterday the experience helped both Truffle and me reconnect with nature and with each other.

I think it helped me get through today’s ordeal, to say goodbye to my old friend as gracefully and generously as I could. Predictably, Truffle was as sweet in dying as she was in living.

Truffle with heartweb

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32 comments on “Saying Goodbye

  1. Wendy says:

    Truffle had a great life with you- it is so hard to say good bye to our 4 legged family members- Chris and I send our condolances

    • LaTinque says:

      Thank you, Wendy! I’m sure she’s dreaming of being on the porch on Wyoming Avenue with my mother right now.

  2. Laurie says:

    So sorry Tinky!

  3. honestday says:

    Truffle will always be with us in spirit, as Lucca’s “litter mate” and first friend, and as the one who endured puppy Marco and taught him some manners. Indeed the sadness of losing a dog increase, it seems, as we ourselves get older, but take heart: Lucca is about to be overjoyed at seeing his dear friend!
    We all send our love to you both

  4. Cindy says:

    This was a truly touching post. I followed you more closely on your caregiving journey with your mom. I remember sweet Truffle as well and am a fellow dog lover!!! I know she will be deeply missed, but wish you peace and comfort in knowing what joy you have each given each other.

  5. Pam Matthews says:

    So sorry to hear of your loss. I know you’ll miss her terribly, but it sounds like you both had a wonderful last day together.

  6. LaTinque says:

    Thank you all! I appreciate the support and comfort.

  7. Stone, Sara says:

    Tinky – I’m so sorry. I know what a huge void you have in your life right now. You paid a wonderful tribute to her in the lovely message you wrote today, and she was as lucky to have you as you were to have her.
    Much love,
    Sara

  8. Zagari (placid1069comcast.net) says:

    Oh Tinky……I am so sorry to hear about Truffles!  Our pets are our family just like our human relatives.  It is so hard to say goodbye to them. You gave Truffles a happy home…..full of unconditional love and lots of doggy adventures.  But you also knew when her time had come and you did not let her suffer…..that is real love.  Truffles will always be a part of you and when you do get another dog, she will be looking down with happiness that another of her kind is able to enjoy your adventures and love.   Love, Ann

  9. Jack says:

    So sorry yo read this, even though you’d alerted us. She sure was a great old girl. Love, Jack

  10. Thank you for sharing your moving story, so sorry for your loss.

  11. Suzy Groden says:

    Dear Tinky, Con and i know, from our own experiences of this very difficult passage in life, how wrenching it is to lose a pet, especially one who has been so deeply connected to everything in your life, for so long. You gave her a most wonderful life, and she reciprocated, and you know that everyone who knows you and cares about you is sending you our warmest, most loving thoughts. Here’s to Truffle and to you (and to Jan, too, who is probably giving her a lovely cuddle right at this moment)!! Suzy Groden

  12. Tinky says:

    Thank you all so very much! Nothing makes this good, but hearing from others certainly helps.

  13. so sorry to read about your beloved dog….a profoundly sad experience to be sure. hoping you find comfort in knowing she is not suffering anymore.

  14. Linda Petersen says:

    Dear Tinky~~~So sorry for your loss. I believe there is a heaven & I believe our precious pets will be there to welcome us & to be healthy, young & playful once again!
    I will be thinking of you~~~Hugs.

  15. Annie says:

    Tinky, I’m so sorry for your loss. I think the love you have for each other hangs in the air and you will never be without it.

  16. Grad says:

    Oh Tinky. How timely this post is for me. If you only knew. I have postponed the inevitable with my 16 year old lab for two months. I’ve spent tonight crying and giving him double of dodges of pain killers. I am listening to him moaning and knowing I must do this tomorrow. I am praying he can sleep tonight, if even in a drugged state. I’m of being a coward, I think. Best love to you. Truffles and your Mom are laughing about old times…we don’t know half of it.

  17. Jo-Ann says:

    Tinky, you write so touchingly yet again about such a sensitive and complicated subject, expressing so well what anyone who ever lost a beloved dog feels. You gave Truffles such a lovely life and a gentle end. There is no more that a person can do for a four-legged family member.

  18. Doris says:

    Oh, Tinky, my heart goes out to you. So sorry for your loss. I know you have lots and lots of wonderful memories with Truffle. Keep on keepin’ on! Doris

  19. Marie Fuller says:

    You don’t know me, Tinky, but I have followed your email posts thanks to Shirley Rouleau, my co-worker at Pioneer Nutritional Formulas. I am sorry for your loss and know exactly how you feel. I lost my last cat last August and for the first time in my life I am living in a house without a cat. He was 18 and the one before him, my favorite tiger, was 21. That’s a good long life for cats, but I know the pain you are feeling. All those beautiful memories and pictures of Truffle and your mother will bring you peace.

    • LaTinque says:

      Thanks so much, Marie; how sweet of you to comment. I hope you get another cat (if you want one!)….

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