Thursday, March 31, 2022

I'm Finally Ready to Write This: Goodbye Sweet Heidi.

Disclaimer: Don't blame me if you choose to read this without Kleenex and get snot on your shirt.

She truly touched so many people as a therapy dog with hospice for two years

In late November I challenged myself to journaling every day for 100 days. I did pretty well, only missing a few days here or there. I wrote an entry on Day 39 (12/23/2022): "These are some things that kept me up in the night: Are the pets inside and safe? What does my day look like tomorrow?" Sometimes after worrying about things at night, I would get up and journal in the morning about what kept me up. It seems so much clearer and non threatening in the light of day. But, really, we never know what is coming. Because the next day Heidi died.

Charlie Brown was a top favorite!

Hardly a day has gone by since Christmas Eve that I haven't thought about writing the story of that day. But I just couldn't. Some of you have asked me more about Heidi, so thank you. I realized that part of her story is not just all of the wonderful days we had with her (9 years!) but how she left us. If you've read this blog over the years, you knew Heidi too. I think I'm ready.

Ironically, I love Christmas Eve for all of the anticipation, build up and magic that encompasses that day. This year, I slept like crap the night before and asked Ken if he would walk Heidi for me (he did weekends, I did week days). I never do that and I regret so much that I missed her final walk. Truth is, she seemed fine that morning. She hung out in the kitchen while I cooked two huge lasagnas for that night. As I took a short rest in the living room to catch my breath, I heard a crash. Ken yelled to me that Heidi had fallen over and my heart sank because I knew. You know how you just know? I did.

Forever loved her stuffed animals that she carried around

She was conscious, but did not want to get up. I had no clue what to do with a 70 pound dog who would not get up. My heart raced, tears clouded my eyes. I felt like I wanted to throw up. I called a few emergency vets and told them what happened. The gravity of their voices and hesitancy to give me any reassurance just confirmed what I knew.

Finally, we found a emergency vet who would see her immediately. The kids, thankfully home for the holidays, helped me and Ken push her onto a sheet. The four of us carried her to the car. I had this out of body experience for a second - watching her family carrying her sick body, a joint and loving effort. I knew I would never forget that image of all of us together, hearts hurting, lifting her body into my Ford Edge, for her last ride.

At the ER we quickly learned Heidi's stomach had filled with fluid - blood. She had not been sick, had not seemed sluggish, but likely her body was riddled with cancer we did not know about. A surgery that would likely hurt her more seemed unnecessarily cruel at this point. I've always felt that pet owners need to know when to let go and to not hold on selfishly because they don't want say goodbye. We knew our answer.

We were taken to a "comfort room" (I didn't find much comfort there) and they brought Heidi in and she laid on a blanket. She was comfortable, yet sleepy, as she'd been given some pain medicine. They left us to have some final moments with her to say goodbye. For Christ sake, I'll never be ready. Then the vet came in and explained what would happen next. They put medicine to relax her into her catheter and once that was in they let us know they would be administering the medicine that would stop her heart (and break mine). They started to give that to her. We all were in the midst of having our final goodbyes, laying over her body and whispering parting words, when the catheter failed.

Such a lady - crossing her legs

So, yes, to add horror to this whole thing, as she was half way gone things halted. And, we waited while they desperately tried to find another vein. I practically had a panic attack watching them poke and prod by sweet girl in her final moments. Finally, they figured it out and she was gone.

If you have lost a pet or love a pet or both then you know the pain.

This was taken just a few days before she died when we did pet therapy 

Grief for me looks like many different things. There is the obvious crying, drinking of wine, laying on the couch and crying more. Then there is the inability to look at any pictures of her, the regret over not having saved the last huge bunch of hair from her brush (then getting on hands and knees and trying to scrape it out of the carpet), the unexpected tears when I saw her dog poop in the yard (poop doesn't usually make me cry unless it's during a race and I'm about to shit my pants).  And, a thousand other things.

It's been over three months now. Just this week I put her picture on my desk. Maybe soon I can wear the PJ pants Ken gave me for Christmas with her picture all over them. And, I can finally write this post.

I've got a beautiful paw print and a gorgeous wood box with her ashes. I keep it close by.

And, the cat. Well, Krosby was/is sad. We got Krosby as a kitten and I truly think he looked at Heidi as his mama. He slept cuddled up to her belly. He roughhoused with her. He adored her. Sometimes he sits on the couch looking out the window where she was when she fell over and I swear he is looking for her. Or, maybe that's a story I just make up. I don't know. But I do know he misses her. We all do.

I don't love spring time (in Colorado it's super temperamental, muddy and windy), but I do love that it symbolizes new beginnings and growth. It's when the baby animals are born! When the crocuses poke up their heads from the frozen soil. When the birds start chirping with the sunrise.

And fittingly enough, it's when I will get my new puppy. I wasn't looking for a puppy. I wanted a 1-2 year old female Golden Retriever rescue. They are hard to come by, but I was prepared to wait. The day I put in my application last week I got a call. There was a litter of English Cream Golden puppies. Did I want one? Oh, hell. 

Which one is ours??

We will meet her April 9 at noon. She will come home April 16. Say what you want, but this feels serendipitous. Maybe a little nudge from Heidi. A new start.




  1. I have loved watching Heidi over the years, and those of us who have loved and lost a pet (a best friend) join you in this sorrow. It’s unbearable. And then we go on. We adopt another friend and we talk about the one we lost. I’m so sorry Heidi is gone, that beautiful girl. And I can’t wait to see your new baby. Good luck with the puppy stuff! 😳❤️

  2. I’m so incredibly sorry for the loss of Heidi. I followed your blog years ago when you had just gotten her. I had to put my dog of 13 years down on Monday. Very similar to Heidi - he collapsed from throwing up a week prior. We were told there was a large mass on his spleen and fluid (likely blood) in his abdomen. Based on his age and likelihood of cancer, he was not a surgical candidate. I took him home and saw him slowly decline. Making the decision was the hardest decision of my life. The tears, the hurt, the memories, the “what ifs” - they haven’t stopped. Grieving a loss of any kind is freaking hard. I heard a great quote from Brene Brown today…. “We live in a culture where people need us to move through our grief for the sake of their own comfort and grief does not have a timeline. It takes as long as it takes.”

    Excited for you guys to open your heart and your home to a new puppy!

  3. Thank you for sharing your grief and soon to come joy with us. Spring is definitely a time for coming out of the dark. Hugs!

  4. So so sorry for your heartbreaking loss of your goodest girl Heidi. When I got to the part about Krosby mourning, I said aloud (through tears), "He needs a puppy, stat." Sending hugs.

  5. May 15th will be 10 years since I lost the dog-love of my life at 8 years old to hemangiosarcoma (I’m assuming that’s also what Heidi had from your description). Iris was a 25-pound dog with a 1000-pound personality, and while the loss has gotten easier to accept over the years (and my current dogs have helped), I still mourn the time we missed out on together. I’m so sorry for the loss of Heidi, and I hope the new puppy will bring you all joy and comfort (and that you’ll share lots of puppy pics).

  6. Sobbing here as have been following you and Heidi from the start. Our pets have a way of breaking your heart. My beautiful golden boy has just been diagnosed with cancer so we are broken and taking each day as it comes. So glad you are ready for a puppy xx

  7. I am so very sorry. Ive been reading your blog a long time (the pelvic stress fracture days! I had one at the time, too). I remember when you got Heidi! She was so very well loved my you, and by so many others. She did so much good as a Therapy dog. I lost my Jake to lymphoma 3 years ago - also pretty suddenly - and it still hurts. I hope a puppy helps fill the void for you and Krosby. Never the same, but it is hard to resist a puppy.

  8. She was one of my best friends. I miss her!

  9. Thanks for your post. Losing a pet that loves you unconditionally is so hard. We lost our 80 lb (12 1/2 yrs old) Goldendoodle in November and it was tough. We have a new puppy now and adore her but we still think of our Remy, daily and miss her.

  10. I am so so sorry for your loss. Many thanks for sharing this, despite how hard it must have been. We lost our part Golden last week in eerily similar circumstances, down to the difficulty of finding a vet that would see him. Reading your (and Kim's) story has reduced some of my guilt at somehow not stopping this from happening. Much love to you and your family and looking forward to sharing your joy at a new addition.

  11. Sharing in your sadness and in your hope for the joy your pup will bring you.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss and share your grief. I lost my Nya cat last March to heart failure (at only 7 yrs old) and it was the hardest decision to send her over the rainbow. But, as you said, I was holding onto her for selfish reasons and knew it was time to let go. Yes, I do believe your cat is grieving also. My Niko cat grieved for Nya terribly. I wasn't quite ready for a new kitten, but once I got one Niko started showing signs of life again. Three months is not long enough to grieve, it takes time and can't be rushed. I look forward to hearing from you again and seeing your new bundle of joy!

  13. I'm writing through teary eyes and my heart feels for you. Having pets in your life is one of the greatest joys but when they die the sadness is so all encompassing. We lost our 14 year old dog last year and i can still remember all the details of the day like it was yesterday. I loved reading all about Heidi in your blog posts. I'm looking forward to hearing all about your adventures with your new pup.

  14. Heidi was a special girl. I have followed your blog and now Instagram for a long time and when you got Heidi (and then Krosby) it was as if all was right with the world. I loved seeing their pictures and the little videos of them playing or sleeping together. I have my own 3 fur kids but Heidi and Krosby are like an extended part of my family because you shared/share them with us. Thank you for that. I know Heidi will live on in many people's memories, she will in mine.

  15. I had a kleenex handy and needed it. I loved seeing pictures of Heidi and Krosby. We all know when we get a pet, that one day we're almost certainly going to have to do that final favour for our loved friend. It reminds me of having to say goodbye to the various cats I've had over the years. I miss them all. Hugs to you.

  16. I am so sorry about Heidi. My last pup, Cleo, had a very similar story. Was fine all day and at night we found her moaning in her crate. Took her to ER vet and her belly was full of blood. How could it be? She was just begging for Cheerios that morning? I guess this is the best way for our pups to go. Quick and no suffering. We're the ones who suffer. Dogs give us so much more than we give them, don't they? I didn't think any dog would take her place. Cocoa didn't take her place, she made her own place and took up space in my heart. Here we go again, am I right? Sending you hugs and love and paws. <3

  17. The same thing happened to a dog of ours. We sign up for loving them knowing our hearts will break. Glad you are getting a puppy. English creams are sweet.

  18. Didn't have a kleenex, got snot all over my shirt. RIP Heidi.

  19. Yep shoulda gotten a kleenex. I know all those feelings too well. You gave her a wonderful life. And now that wonderful life will be starting with the new puppy.