On Writing of our Dead Dogs




Here is a small addendum to add to the essay about all the dogs we’ve loved before…and to add to the list of the fallen is my Chloe. She was so full of energy, so full of boundless energy, and I knew as I lay with her on the rug and they were getting ready to simply give her the sedative to put her down that she would have none of it. Rage, rage against the dying of the light came to my mind, but in her case, simply Rave! Rave! against the dying of the light. She wanted to lift her head to the last minute, and if I could bottle up that energy and spread it out in the universe, I would…
She was a classic Setter, inquisitive, clownish, loving, sweet, funny, gentle and ready for anything at a moment’s notice. She ran full speed ahead to every adventure in her life, and we loved her and she loved us and as Josey Wales would say, “I got no complaints.”


At some point, if you live long enough, you go through the painful ritual of putting a dog down more than once. So it goes that this depressing task has fallen to me more than one time in my life. And inevitably, I knew the day would come when my beautiful little Irish Setter, Emma, would leave this Earth. 

Still, it’s a depressing and sad thing. So instead of writing about the pain of loss and separation, I would instead choose to remember what a joy my Emma was, and how much satisfaction she brought to bear in my life.

I got her at a time of more unbearable sorrow, after losing at an early age the dog of my heart, Hannah. I chose to take on a rescue dog, and when Emma came into our home, she was skinny and skittish, afraid of men and too cautious of everything. She was scared of thunder, and had lived outdoors for the first three years.

Soon, when she discovered the joys of couches and pillows, of treats and car rides, of naps and petting and hugs and indoor living, she blossomed before our eyes. She loved to run and she loved our regular trips to the dog park. To watch that beautiful streak of red as she took off through a field was a joy to behold.

Setters tend to be clowns, and she would enjoy the ritual of being gently scolded and reprimanded for getting into mischief. Once, I found her sitting on a bag of apples she had absconded with from the grocery bag. She loved to know that all reprimands ended with her being loved and petted.

She also took to mothering our younger setter, Chloe. Not knowing how she would take to another puppy, I told her to “groom the baby.” She thought it over and set to licking and grooming Chloe every day of her life. This was a ritual, and extended to the little malti-poo, Abby, and even our family cat.

Emma was a treasure and a delight and a joy to behold. She was a beautiful soul, inside and out. She will be missed as we talk about the Rainbow Bridge where our dogs await us in heaven. But Emma will be inspecting and grooming and mothering and clowning about as we seek our reunion with her. She was a special soul, my Emma. Of course we will seek to grasp for the heavens, as we know our dogs have paved the way.

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