My Dog Is Dying (Part I)


The title of this blog says almost everything.

I will add a few things, though. This time is EXCRUCIATING. So much so that I will not be answering phone calls for the foreseeable future. Answering emails will be touch and go… and forgive me if you comment on this series of blogs and I don’t respond. Although writing this provides a temporary pain-killer of a sort (and since I don’t drink alcohol or take drugs, I am grateful for it), responding to people is very hard.

I know the world is awash in horrors at the moment. (When hasn’t it been?) I know agony and death are all around all of us, all the time. War and plague and the climate catastrophe and poverty and children with horrible diseases and lonely, frightened elders ….. I know there is something privileged and maybe even selfish about my agony. I know, but please don’t say cruel things if you’re going to comment, please.

I hope those of you who, like me, have had your life saved by a dog and who understand the contract for heartbreak we enter into when we love a dog, might see some of your own journeys here and might know you’re not alone. I am very grateful you are reading this. I will try to continue these blogs until …. 


There are a thousand essays about the death of dogs. 

None of them are about the death of this dog, my dog. 

His name is Bailey. 

My dog is dying. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

I think I hear what she said, my veterinarian. We know there is a mass on his liver, but we’d planned on dealing with that. Somehow. Something. Surgery maybe. To buy time. He’s thirteen years old. A rescue. So we think thirteen. Now she’s telling me there’s a mass in his lung. She doesn’t say it but I know

My dog is dying

My head sort of understands, in an echoing, long-distance way. . It takes my heart a few minutes more. Oh, a little voice inside, way in the back of my brain says, you will be all right. You will be stoic and brave and a good example to others, because you spend so much time contemplating your own death, and because you know about cycles and tides and circles. But

My dog is dying.

How long? I say, the way one does, the way we all do, every time when we hear those words. With the grip on my throat and the pressure behind my eyes. She shakes her head. Shrugs. Well, months. The first tears then. Tears that slip out easily; I might even say with a certain elegance. I know this will not last. Soon there will be howls and shrieks. She says there’s no good way to tell anyone this news. She’s sorry, as though she’s the one killing him. I know she has had great tragedy in her life. Her dogs have died. She has endured breast cancer. Her sister died not long ago. I touch her arm. No, no, I say. Oh, your job is so hard.

My dog is dying.

Covid protocols mean we stand on the concrete walkway in front of the veterinary hospital. Owners are not allowed in the hospital with their pets. If this had happened in the Before Times we would have been in a small room, pastel colored, with soft music maybe. It would have been private. Not now though. People pass us and go into the nail salon next door. The smell of chocolate wafts from the candy shop. A man with a shaggy dog, all bounce, wagging tail and lolling tongue stands nearby. I see from the look on his face he is embarrassed to witness this moment, which should not be so public. It should not be. I see in his eyes he’s thinking about the day when this lovely vet will be telling him something similar. A few minutes before he and I had been laughing together, me playing with his dog. Now he wants nothing to do with us and moves away.

My dog is dying.

It is urgent to be gone from this place. Take me home, I croak to My Best Beloved. He settles me in the car, Bailey on my lap. He goes to talk to the vet tech who has come outside with one of those little hand-held credit card things so we can pay for the visit. Her dog had a mass on his liver two years ago. There was surgery, which was very hard, but he survived and is all right now, for the moment. But he did not have a mass in his lung. I hold Bailey on my lap as my Best Beloved drives us home. I can’t see the road for tears, for the blankness of all but pain. I bury my face into the soft spot behind Bailey floppy ear. The tears drip into his white fur.

My dog is dying. 

I don’t know what to do. I can’t think properly. How can I be both numb and burning alive from the inside out? I don’t know what else to do, so I don’t let Bailey out of my sight, and I write things down, which is the only way I’ve ever known to live through death. 

My dog is dying.


  1. Violaine on April 18, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Sending you much love and as much peace as possible… if you want to talk, don’t ever hesitate – whether by phone or email. I don’t know, will never know, what it is to lose Bailey but I have lost both Ceylan and Ensor in a little over 6 months and can relate. My heart broke each time and does not need to mend over them. Our pets are more family than we know.

    • Colleen Hymers on April 18, 2022 at 8:59 pm

      My heart is breaking for you. I know there is nothing I can say that will take away the pain you are feeling. But I am here. And I love you so dearly.

    • Mary Vanderhoof on April 19, 2022 at 9:02 pm

      Sending you peace in this difficult time. It won’t stop grief from coming in waves to wash over you, but I believe Bailey will always be with you in the spiritual world. My cats let me know they are still around in subtle ways. I firmly believe we will be together again one day. Peace to your grieving heart. ❤️

  2. Maia Caron on April 18, 2022 at 11:44 am

    Oh dear Lauren. Holding your spirit in light and love right now. Golden light to Bailey and Ron too.

  3. Susan Glickman on April 18, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Deart Lauren, I am so so sorry to hear this dreadful news. I feel that your Bailey and my Toby are kindred spirits – angels whose grace gives us motivation to live. All I can say is that I KNOW you have given him a wonderful life and that is what he deserves; what all dogs deserve. Your love for him will give him strength to go through what is ahead, and you and Ron will be there for each other. Sending love.

  4. Eli Elbaz on April 18, 2022 at 12:06 pm

    So sorry for you and Ron. I never truly understood the connection we can develop with our pets and was reluctant to agree to bring our spaniel, Suki, into our home. After a little over one year Suki has now become family for me and we pay no less attention to her needs and comfort than we did our infant children. I now understand how heartbreaking and tragic it is when our loved ones get sick and feel discomfort. I know you are deeply spiritual and hope that you can find comfort in the knowledge that Bailey will always be with you in some way.

  5. Janie on April 18, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    Oh, Lauren. I am so very sorry to read this post about Bailey… I know how much he is loved by you and Ron. Please reach out to me if you need anything at all. I am just down the road. You will be in my thoughts as you navigate the days and months ahead.

  6. Nick Hay on April 18, 2022 at 1:54 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about this. It’s so painful to lose a pet. I lost my beloved cat about two years a go and it was excruciating. There is nothing I can say to make it better. The grieving process is very difficult, but essential in my opinion. The sadness will never go away entirely, but it does get better. Just speaking from my own experience. Obviously, you have more life experience than me, but I wanted to share my experience going through the loss of a pet sober.

    • Lynne Griffin on April 18, 2022 at 4:14 pm

      I love you as a writer and your words about Bailey have touched me deeply. I have experienced this kind of loss. Being told there is nothing else we can do. To accept the inevitable. But I still see, in my dreams, Seamus looking at me on that fateful day with a pleading in his eyes and me having to leave him behind forever. He was only seven years old. I have Tomas now and although he can never replace, he has brought me so much joy and wonder. Animals respond to love given and can help heal a broken heart and make it feel whole again. With fondness, Lynne

  7. Connie Burkhart on April 18, 2022 at 5:15 pm


    And now I’m crying at work.

    When I lost my girl Chula a year ago, you posted “It’s agony” on my FB page. It was one of the most comforting messages I received. And we don’t even know each other.

  8. Ashley Kussman on April 18, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    I am in tears for you and Ron. I wish there were words to convey just how sorry I am. It is devastating to be in loss of who has loved you so purely and with whom you both shared your love. I’m sending love you your family. I am so deeply sorry.

  9. Terry O’Shaughnessy on April 18, 2022 at 6:26 pm

    Oh my dears there is nothing to say. Sending a wide swathe of love. Clip some beautiful white curls and put them quickly away, for now. I promise you will be consoled to touch them and hold them to your cheek some day.❤️

    • Liisa on April 18, 2022 at 9:24 pm

      Lauren, I am so very sorry for your heartbreak. Bailey is a lucky boy to have you and your Beloved as parents. What warmth, love and tenderness he must feel in your presence. Sending love through these tough times. 💗

  10. Margot Canning on April 18, 2022 at 10:07 pm

    My heart is broken for you Lauren; who are we if not fussing over and living our lives around our dogs?
    I won’t say he’s going to a better place, because his best place, clearly, was with you. This next phase of your life will be hard, but you’ll treasure every day, you’ll cuddle him more than ever, and when it’s time, Bailey will pass, knowing he was loved beyond measure, had an amazing life, and the very best Parents possible. 💕

    • Mary on April 20, 2022 at 8:29 am

      Dearest Lauren, Ron and Bailey💕🐾
      I remember the day you came to meet Bailey….
      Bailey in his little knit sweater, Lauren with excitement filled eyes in the hopes of an allergen free pup!
      The connection was immediately evident and a home visit turned into a “forever” placement…..Bailey was blessed from that day forward.
      We offer those we hold dear love and comfort through life….how reassuring for him to know he is loved and cherished for always… his journey with you and Ron has been filled with adoration and appreciation!
      I am so very sorry to hear and am grateful to know his passage will be wrapped in the warmth of his families love💕🐾

  11. Judy lapalme on April 18, 2022 at 11:36 pm

    So sad to hear this.
    Sending love and hugs to all of you

  12. Sandra Kasturi on April 19, 2022 at 9:39 am

    All the love in the world, my dear, to all three of you. Dogs are built to love us and to break our hearts. Anything you need, let me know.

  13. Ann Dowsett Johnston on April 19, 2022 at 9:56 am

    Dearest Lauren, of the beautiful voice and the deep wisdom: you are honouring your grief in the best of ways—quiet with Bailey and Ron, and with your writing. You are right about the contract for heartache. I send love, and my heartfelt admiration for your wish to retreat. Ann xx

  14. Michael Rowe on April 19, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    My dear friend, my heart is breaking for you. It’s a pain I know well. However much we love them, that’s how much this part hurts. Please know that I’m here if you need me, and I’m sending love. I’m so, so sorry.

  15. Cliff and Finn on April 20, 2022 at 8:07 am

    I don’t have the words…and am crying tears that I hope, somehow, let you know you are not alone, that Ron is not alone, and that Bailey is certainly not alone.
    Finn and I love you and are here with you, as best we can be. Please feel free to reach out and know that you are being held well and thought of everyday. Love you, Lauren X

  16. LeeAnn on April 23, 2022 at 12:05 pm

    Sending all my love, and hopefully some strength. we cannot alleviate your suffering, or Bailey’s, but hopefully you know you are being thought of with loving kindness.
    Bailey is a GIFT, a wonder, a joy, and that does not change.
    I am so happy he is well loved and cherished, and found his forever home.

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