Home > Pet Ponderings, Pet Topics > What last joyful thing did you do with your dog before saying goodbye?

What last joyful thing did you do with your dog before saying goodbye?


A while back I saw this email posted on Life With Dogs. It was a request from a woman with a 15-year-old Border Collie.

She wrote

“…we have a 15-year-old Border Collie that is trained in herding but due to health issues hasn’t been able to herd in a very long time. His health is declining quickly and we would love to have him chase a few sheep around for one last time.”

I couldn’t help but be moved by her plea and hoped and prayed that someone would be able to answer her request.

Well, as it turns out, someone did. Thanks to my friend Sue over at Talking Dogs, I was able to see one very happy dog herd sheep for the last time (you can watch the video here).

It brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t help it. What dog owner wouldn’t want the same for their dog? That one last chance to give their dog an opportunity to do what they loved?

It brought back some memories of the things I have done to give my dogs the very same experience of joy. That one last hurrah.

My Sheltie, Alicia, was 15 when we said goodbye, but I remember taking her on short walks all the way up to the very end. She couldn’t go very far, and often I would end up carrying her home, but I just loved seeing her wagging tail when I brought out her leash. It was worth it. On our last day together, I made sure to buy her a cheeseburger because I she loved them so. She ended up getting sick in my brand new car, but I didn’t care. I had given her something she loved. One last time.

When it was time to say goodby to my senior dog, Aspen, I made sure that I left the window down so she could stick her nose out. She loved to sit in the backseat and sniff the air as we drove from place to place. Besides going to the dog park, it was one of her most favorite things to do. I was not going to deny her that joy in those last moments. I still remember looking in my rear view mirror and seeing the tip of her nose poking out the window. I remember smiling through my tears in that moment.

It’s only natural to want the best for our dogs, even as the end nears. We want them to experience some amount of joy in their last moments with us. I suspect it’s as much for us as it is for them.

So what things have you done to give your dogs that one last chance to enjoy what they loved most? What was your dog’s last hurrah moment? I’d love to hear your stories.

  1. November 5, 2012 at 10:23 PM

    Before we took the trip to the vet with our Canyon, who had hip and elbow dysplasia and had spent the prior months on very restricted activity, we went out to the yard and played fetch like crazy! I had given him a double dose of his pain meds about a half hour prior to this as to help him out a little. He was so happy and the joy of watching him “be a dog” was almost unbearable for us. When we were in the room, I gave him a plateful of brownies my daughter made and he scarfed them up with the biggest smile on his face. It sucked because he was only three years old but with four bad limbs there wasn’t much to do except manage his pain. The day he gave me “the look” was one of the saddest in my life. But, he was in so much pain I knew he was asking me to please end his struggles.

    I foster German Shepherds on a regular basis and some are at the end of their days when they arrive so unfortunately, I have had to be in this situation a few times. Each time, I bring them homemade brownies or chocolate chip cookies. I always hold them in my lap and love them up with tons of kisses as they go to sleep. Its never easy, nevertheless, it is what is best for them and the last thing they deserve is endless suffering and they truly deserve to leave for the Rainbow Bridge with their dignity intact. God bless them all.

    • Mel
      November 6, 2012 at 5:55 AM

      How beautiful Shawn. I love that he got to be the dog he was at the very end – playing ball. Of course, the plate full of brownies is just icing on the cake, but I am sure he loved it just as much as playing ball. I am so very sorry that you lost him so young. It sounds like he was very much loved.

      Thank you for fostering and for making each dog’s last moments on this earth beautiful. I have often thought I would like to foster senior dogs, or dogs needing a place to rest their head for a short while. One day. I honor your big heart and kindness. I have a feeling there will be a huge celebration when you meet them all at the Rainbow Bridge.

  2. November 5, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    Oh gee! I’ll get all verklempt, but with Treat, I knew that last weekend that it was very likely the last. She had a spinal tumor and in five short weeks, she became an old dog after being very active all her life. That Saturday, I needed to work on the garden outside, and she wasn’t able to get up and move very fast, so my husband carried a dog bed outside for her and then carried her out so she could enjoy sunning herself out there and just be with us. Her favorite treat was Strawberry Cheesequake Blizzards from Dairy Queen, so we drove out Sunday to get one, and she didn’t have to share any of mine. She had one of her own. She was delighted and that sparkle never left her eyes. But Monday morning, she looked at me and I knew. She was just too tired of fighting it anymore. I put on one of her best fancy collars, because she was always a diva, and we made our last drive to the vet’s office. She was always so proud when people fussed over her and she knew when she looked good.

    • Mel
      November 6, 2012 at 5:50 AM

      So am I Carrie!

      What a beautiful way to spend your time together. I had to laugh at the specific flavor of Blizzard Treat liked. Leave it to a Greyhound to know exactly what she likes! She must have loved being spoiled and revered that way. How beautiful a story. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Keri
    November 5, 2012 at 10:37 PM

    I had won a photo shoot at a raffle…… We returned to one of our favorite haunts….. This was taken on Tue….. My girl Gracie crossed the bridge at 14.5 yr on Fri.
    We also went to the beach that week, visited with friends and family, spent every single
    moment immersed in the moment….. It was a magical week….. One that I will never forget.

    • Mel
      November 6, 2012 at 5:48 AM

      Oh Keri – I am so very sorry. Now, I am now just full out crying.
      What a beautiful video of you and Gracie together. It is so clear how close you two were. I am so very glad you both got to spend time together in a way that was special for you. (I am so glad you won the raffle too!)

      Thank you for sharing your Gracie with us.

      • Keri
        November 6, 2012 at 10:42 PM

        Mel – Thank you so much for sharing this post…. I love knowing that there are others who truly understand that magical connection and bond…… And that if you are very very lucky, are blessed to experience.

        These two quotes say it all for me:
        “The sorrow we feel is only matched by the love we shared.” ~anonymous

        “Don’t cry because it’s over, Smile because it happened.”
        ~Dr. Seuss

        Thanks everyone for sharing

      • Mel
        November 7, 2012 at 6:02 AM

        Absolutely beautiful Keri. Love both those quotes.

  4. November 5, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    I had tears in my eyes by the end of this post — the hardest thing about our furry friends is saying goodbye much sooner than we would care to, but they are tears of joy, too, for all the happiness they share while they are with us. While this was not at the very end, our Samoyed-Husky, Snowy, lived a happy 17+ year life. At the cabin, for her 16th birthday, sure it was her last, we had a party with the neighbor dog, neighbors, our dogs, with cupcakes, beer and dog treats! The next year we had Snowy’s 2nd annual last birthday party. It is a steep path to the lake from the cabin, and as she aged, she rarely made the walk anymore — we would carry her several times a summer down the hill to enjoy a pontoon ride and fishing, which she always loved. But on her 17th birthday, after enjoying treats, she started marching down the hill, slowly winding to minimize the stress on the steep descent — she was determined to go for a swim, perhaps somehow knowing it was one of her last. I had tears in my eyes watching her go. Our other dogs joined her, and they happily waded and paddled around for a bit, and then we carried her back up the hill when she was done. She was such a proud, feisty thing all the way to the end, which came several months later as she lost her mobility with her back legs. ~ Kat

    • Mel
      November 6, 2012 at 5:42 AM

      And now I have tears after reading your story. I love the image of your Snowy slowly but determinedly making her way down the hill to experience the joy of swimming once again. I also loved that you carried her up and down sometimes.So beautiful. What an act of love. Thank you for sharing.
      Now I must go get a kleenex.

  5. November 6, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    The only thing our Alex loved more than talking was walks, and even though his back legs were in bad shape, I still took him for short walks when he was up to it. There was nothing like his bark and tail wagging that he was so happy to go. Didn’t need a big request, just a walk. 🙂

    Love the story about the collie!!

    • Mel
      November 6, 2012 at 5:39 AM

      That is so sweet 24 Paws. I agree. There is nothing like a bark and wagging tail. 🙂

  6. November 6, 2012 at 1:32 AM

    Lovely photo!

  7. November 6, 2012 at 6:01 AM

    Just thinking about what I WASN’T able to do for Jordan, Farouk and Jehan have gotten me weepy so I can’t go there. Rufus got lucky and had a very good last morning. With Georgia, we try to do stuff she likes all the time so we won’t have any regrets if the end comes suddenly.

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:21 AM

      I am so sorry Miss Typist! It’s funny, but I try to do the same for Daisy. I know what a rough life she had when she was younger, so I try to make sure she has the chance to experience everything and gets to do what she loves most so I won’t have any regrets. Georgia is one lucky girl. But I already knew that. 🙂

  8. November 6, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    Oh Mel! This is such a sweet post! When my last Newf Thunder was nearing the end I played hide and seek with him one last time because it was his favorite game. He couldn’t walk anymore but I still hid the ball under towels in front of him. I think he had a blast and it was one of the best days he had in awhile. I also took him to McDonalds because he loved cheeseburgers!

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:16 AM

      Oh Jen! I love that! I used to play hide and seek with my dog Indy. She loved that game so much. It sounds like Thunder had everything he could have wanted at the end – fun, food and family. 🙂

  9. November 6, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    I love this post, and the comments, all the wonderful things everyone did for their dogs to give them special enjoyment one last time. Our dog Shelby was diagnosed with lymphoma at age 6. We chose a course of treatment that was not too difficult for her. It really worked miracles, though only for a short time. She was her old self for about 2 months, and during that time we took her for a hike on our local mountain. She loved hiking. I have a photo of her and my husband at the top of the mountain, that I cherish to this day.

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:19 AM

      Thank you for sharing your story Jan. That would be something I would want to do with all of my dogs. I bet she had a wonderful time. There is just something about giving them what they love most that is so fulfilling. I am so glad you have that photo. Just beautiful.

  10. Sam
    November 6, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    We do so much for our pups – even before surgeries we do something special with them. It isn’t just doing one last thing for our dog, it’s building one last happy memory with them.


    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:15 AM

      I love that Sam. I try to do the same.

  11. November 6, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Oh, goodness, what a sad (in a good way) post. All the comments have me tearing up too. We just lost our precious 2 1/2 yr old pup in January to bone cancer. When we found out 15 mo. earlier about the cancer, we were determined to give her an amazing life, even if it was way too short. Her favorite thing was to go to the beach, so we went there almost every day. We went the morning she passed. She couldn’t go very far that day, but we just sat and enjoyed the sun and sand and the water. Miss that girl.

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:14 AM

      Oh Jackie! I am so sorry! Reading how much LIFE you gave her during her life totally made me cry (at work). What a beautiful love you had for her.
      I am so sorry she was gone so soon. What a lucky girl to have the chance to have the very best until the end.

  12. November 6, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    Great post… wasn’t sure I could actually make it all the way through, but I did! One thing I’ll say is I won’t have any regrets at all for the time I’ve spent with Cosmo (and he’s still going strong). I’ve made sure he’s had plenty of chances lately to do the things he loves most, like chasing squirrels in a big open field and go lure coursing.

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:08 AM

      I got teary-eyed reading your response (at work!) Diane. I think Cosmo has had a wonderful and interesting and fun life so far. Given yesterday’s great news, I expect he will continue to have so many fun experiences. He is very much loved, not just by you, but tons o fans and friends. 🙂

  13. November 6, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    This is such a touching post as well as the comments. BJ is my first dog and he’s 12 1/2 and in great shape (says the vet) and i try to do things he loves give him treats he loves. He also gets hugged a lot.

    • Mel
      November 7, 2012 at 6:05 AM

      I love that Lynda. Even though Daisy is only going on 9 years old. I try to do the same for her. I think we love knowing we having given them the love they so deserve. BJ is a very lucky dog. 🙂

  14. November 7, 2012 at 9:40 PM

    Thank you for sharing the video — I saw it via Jodi at Heart Like A Dog. So heartwarming and so sweet. My pup is only three’ish but I am diligent, nonetheless, about creating memories with him as often as possible. Because it is so painfully true that their lives are way, way too short. I was just thinking along these lines earlier this week — I try my absolute hardest to not even touch my cell phone when I’m out with my dog except to check the clock. I just feel that our time together is so special and so limited already given their life expectancy so I want to make every minute count to the extent possible. Thank you again for this post and for the link to the video.

  15. November 8, 2012 at 6:27 PM

    Wonderful you were able to give gifts to Alicia and Aspen before they passed.

    My infamous bike cart came into the house when Shadow was diagnosed with bone cancer in her jaw. We were told she’d only live a few months and I got the cart so she could be with us even as her health failed.

    She remained healthy to the very end and preferred to walk. We, unfortunately, had her put to sleep because the tumor was bleeding so much she was starting to choke on her own blood.

    On one hand, being able to walk her to the vet was a gift because she did something she loved. But it didn’t feel right because she looked so healthy (except for the blood pouring out of her mouth).

    I’m with GLP and you that we need to make every day a gift. Because the end of our time comes too soon. And I don’t know that it’s possible to meet the end with no regrets.

    • Mel
      November 9, 2012 at 5:57 AM

      Thanks Pamela. I never knew the bike cart was there already. I remember you mentioning Shadow’s cancer. I can also understand the pain of having a dog that looks so healthy on the outside, but isn’t on the inside. Indy was healthy and loved walks – even up until the end. Unfortunately, she was up to having a seizure a day and it could leave her out of it for hours. 😦

      I try to do as much as I can so I don’t have regrets, but you’re right, it’s hard to do.

  16. December 21, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story. Your furry friends sound like they were very much loved. We lost our wonderful best friend only days ago. We found out only a week before that he had this fast acting, debilitating disease. We tried treatment, which was unsucessful. So we brought our dear friend home and showered him with love, affection and every meal he had every dreamed about for 2 years. He had a Roast Turkey dinner with the works, homemade spaghetti, homemade pizza and cheeseburgers!
    Everytime I’d sit his dish down, he look at me as if to say, “Is this for me?”. My husband took him on walks when he was feeling up to it, to his favorite places.
    I will always treasure the 5 days we spoiled him rotten, as his disease robbed him of his full life.
    They are amazing companions, friends and family members.

  17. June 6, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    I carried my dog inside rhw house 1 before she died. I laid her on her bed. She threw up blood just a little. Then she tried to get up. She fell back down, then she fell down and took her last breath. I loved her so much. She was my baby. I remember her running the back yard barking at cara that went down thw alley. She loved evwryone. When my husbands cousin would come over, she’d bark because he always gave her a treat. She would eun outside when she saw him coming up the sidewalk. She just was the most tempered well behaved (sometimes) ever. I will miss her always.

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