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Remembering Tirowa
Don’t we always want just one more song?

I spent the last few weeks carrying my German Shepherd up the stairs at night. I couldn’t bear the thought of Tirowa waking in the night alone. He would surely try to climb the stairs to be with his people. He would fall, and be dishonored by his defeat. My once-heroic dog was reduced to a frail body riddled with cancer. However, his downy white coat covered the protruding bones with velvety softness.

On our last full night together, I slept downstairs on the floor with him. His breathing so labored, I worried he might not make it through the night. A part of me wished he would go quietly that night so I would not be faced with the task of driving him to the vet. I had spoken to Dr. Latta the day before. They had special hours set aside for when we humans have to undertake this last step in our furry companions’ lives. I had been patiently waiting for some sort of sign from Tirowa that he no longer wanted to go on. But that sign was not going to come without horrific suffering on his part. Tirowa just wanted to be by my side silently and adoringly. It was now my job to be strong.

I knew that my beast of a boy hated the vet’s office. He would shake and cry in the waiting room, and climb in my lap when Dr. Latta entered the room. He refused her biscuits. But Dr. Latta had taken care of my boy for the last 12 years with kindness that one does not often see. She rushed in after hours to stitch his wounds with just me for an assistant. And now, Tirowa and I would be making the journey to West Chester one last time.

There were two conversations I was trying to avoid almost as much as the evening’s appointment. I would have to call Seth in Cooperstown and tell him. And I would have to tell my girls. I thought about trying to shield them from the pain, take the dog after they went to bed. But I recalled my own childhood emotions when faced with loss. I always felt guilt for not saying goodbye properly. So this I granted them—Kaya to her long-time guardian and Marley to her playmate. They took it harder than I had imagined but Seth was strong for us, trying to gently calm the sadness.

On the drive to Dr. Latta’s, I pulled over in a quiet park. I sat in the back of the jeep with Tirowa, listening to music. I wanted to stay there, in the dark and peace, soaking up the sweet scent of his puppy feet for one more song. Don’t we always want just one more song?

He died in my arms, beautiful and loyal to the absolute end. Fare thee well my doggy….

Julie Gentile lives in Pennsylvania, where she blogs about life with her dog Nesta at Nesta's Lion of Zion. nestaslionofzion.blogspot.com

Photo by Julia Gentile.

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Submitted by Krissy | August 18 2009 |

Oh my goodness! This was a beautiful tribute to your boy! Thanks for my morning cry!

Submitted by Marnie | August 23 2009 |

We do always want one more song. And what a beautiful story. I'm crying as I type this. I have a little whippet mix named Ruby, and I've always thought her fur smelled like perfume. This story moved me so much, especially the part about his puppy paws. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Submitted by Morgana | August 29 2009 |

Thank you for the "puppy feet" remembrance of all of my "spirit dogs" gone home before me. My heart is with you as you remain to grieve your beloved. Play just one more song for Tirowa, yourself, and all of us readers who have been there - and ARE there - with you. Blessings.

Submitted by MJ | October 5 2009 |

I cried when I read your tribute. We lost our Amstaff in June after a nearly 3 year fight against 2 bladder cancer surgeries and finally a mastectomy. Kima wasn't the dog I would have picked for myself, but our daughter couldn't keep her. After nearly 14 years, I couldn't imagine life without her. When my husband or myself fell, Kima would lay alongside us, or across our legs until we were able to get up. I too hoped she would die during the night. At least our daughter and her husband got to see her 3 days before we took her to the vet. She wasn't real social with dogs and human strangers, but she was our baby who thought she was a lap dog. Our vet said I could sit on the floor and hold her. When he checked her, true to her sometimes combative nature, she was still barely alive. Eventually, we all put her in a "casket" and took her home for the last time. Her resting place is beneath a tree in the woods. Two weeks later, my husband was really down because for over 35 years we'd always had a dog. On the internet I found a "9 year old, homely dog" named Cleatus. We drove 2 1/2 hours and brought him home. He's so sweet and much cuter than his picture. For as long as he lives, we will love him, even though his "destructo" habits are annoying. I can't help but believe that he was meant for us to find him only two weeks after he was surrendered.

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