Discover why senior dogs rule: Fall in love with Doc!
Sept. 24 Join Animal Lovers of All Ages Globally for 'Remember Me Thursday'

What was so special about this dog? One year later

I've been thinking a lot about my dog Cleo. It's been a year now since she passed away. With each day, the grief I have experienced has eased, my emotions less volatile.

I miss her like crazy, that hasn't changed a bit, but I can appreciate more fully that her time had arrived. Having in-home euthanasia performed last year was the right thing to do for her. Even if we weren't ready for her passing, I truly believe she was.

It was like she was waiting on she knew how big her presence was in our life, how significant a part she played in our family. She knew the size of the hole that would be left behind.

My husband and I have had dozens of conversations revisiting various milestones and significant changes in her quality of life in that final year. Each time, one of us recalls a vivid moment that spoke volumes about her declining health. We both saw how the sparkle in her eyes, and the thump of her tail were fading under ever-present exhaustion and stress. 

Now that she has been physically absent from our home for a year, what honestly was so special about this one dog? 

image from


Having twelve months to think about Cleo, I uncovered a few surprises about myself and realized a couple of universal truths about all dogs.

A loved dog always in your heart

I haven't missed a day where at some moment, my dog came to mind. I might be cleaning and remembering how much of her hair and fluff covered every piece of furniture, surface and clothing. Stocking the pantry, I think of Cleo when I see a can of her favorite sardines, or a container of chicken stock. Today I realize that loving a dog and keeping her close to my heart, doesn't have to make you sad.

My own Dog Star

Like the popular constellation, I want to believe she is out there guiding my course. Her personality was big enough and her reach wide. Cleo had a presence that you could feel from across the street, or through a computer screen. Everyone needs a North Star!

Leap of Faith

I wrote about this before here and in a post for the Grey Muzzle Organization, but adopting my dog was a leap of faith. We jumped into dog adoption for the first time, and it required me to accept that I needed to earn Cleo's respect even if it took months and months.

No Fear

The moment I opened myself to her individuality, and stopped trying to fit her into a pre-existing mold of what I expected a dog, or my life with a dog, to be like - our relationship took off! When I stopped being afraid of failing, Cleo responded in kind.

Wow! Adopting a Dog is Incredible!

I still can't believe that more people don't adopt a dog, especially an older dog. Having nine years with this dog was an amazing, life changing experience!  

"Only 30% of pets in US homes come from rescue facilities," says Mike Arms, President, Helen Woodward Animal Center. And, according to the 2015-2016 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, there are 77.8 million dogs in US households.

We didn't adopt a puppy, we chose a big adult dog. At first, I fretted over all the ways the adoption process could fail, through her fault or mine.  I thought of all the negatives that might come true by adopting a dog. Man, focusing on the negative was a waste of time and energy!

All Dogs Give Fearlessly, Influence Positively

I learned from my dog that not only did she have a special talent for making me feel like the luckiest girl in the world, but that this specialness is shared by all dogs. All dogs offer us humans their fellowship. Previously, I had only known a child's bond with a dog. Now, all these years later, an adopted dog showed me this fellowship to be a universal truth about all dogs. 

Looking back I see how special my Cleo was, and is, but now I can also see what incredible companions adopted dogs are, and senior dogs too. It is our folly not to seek them out. I plan to rectify that soon.


Subscribe to the blog here and never miss a post!