The end of the circle

This morning, I made the most difficult call of my life. I made an appointment to have Yuki — my Yuki — put to sleep.

The coolest dog I ever knew.

The coolest dog I ever knew.

As many of you know, she’s been having some difficulties — running into walls, panting nonstop and circling, circling, circling — and as it turned out, it was from a tumor or some other form of swelling on her left forebrain. Yesterday, we took her to the neurology department at UF, and, short of putting her through radiation therapy (which would have cleared out our savings and given us no guarantee that it would help or make her less miserable), we had just one option: Put her on a steroid to see if it reduced the swelling. We knew it would be borrowed time, even if it worked, but if we could make her comfortable for a few days, we felt like we owed it to her.

After coming out of the light sedation they gave her yesterday in order to do the x-rays and ultrasounds on the rest of her body, she was worse than ever. Jared and I spent the whole night holding her and trying to keep her from running (well, trotting) straight into walls and corners. She didn’t know us and didn’t seem to be aware of where she was. The decision was obvious to us — get her in to the vet as early as possible in the morning and put her out of her misery.

Still, it was the hardest decision either of us has ever made. The entire ride to the vet, I held her in the back of the car, and tried to memorize every bit of her. I love the way the white spot on her chest wasn’t symmetrical, and the way her black fur was actually kind of brown. Three paws had bits of white on the toes, while one was all black. And her tail had a slight upward curl that made her look so happy.

Cute as a puppy. Nothing changed.

Cute as a puppy. Nothing changed.

It was hard to walk in, harder to listen as the vet explained how the process went, and almost impossible to hold her and try to calm her as the medicine took effect and she slowly sank to the ground. By the time she took her last breath, her coat was wet with our tears — the vet’s included.

That’s part of what makes this so damn hard. I know, everyone thinks their dog is special (and of course, they are). But man, Yuki was something. She touched the lives of so very many people, and I can’t imagine how many tears have been shed today. Without any training, she was a wonderful companion when I took her to my grandmother’s nursing home and visited with the Alzheimer’s patients. She was calm and gentle and let them pet her at their own pace. But, she was also a fantastic running buddy, and immensely entertaining at the dog park and at home.

Are you going to throw the stick? How about now? Now?

Are you going to throw the stick? How about now? Now?

Above all, god, was she ever a good girl. All she wanted was to please us, and she brought us such joy, such happiness. She loved wearing bandanas — I think she liked the extra attention people paid, and she would just prance around like a show pony (although maybe this took it a little too far).

Our family portrait, shortly before Rudi came along in 2007.

Our family portrait, shortly before Rudi came along in 2007. Photo: David Bowie Photography

As a puppy, she was absolutely fearless. She would run full speed and jump off of docks or dunes or anything. It was both terrifying and exhilarating. She played so hard, as puppies are wont to do. Shortly after we got her, we took her to a friend’s get-together where she played for hours with people and pets. I had to carry her tired little body to the car and put her on my lap, and she was so worn out that she peed in her sleep. All over me.

Her first birthday party was attended by tons of people — it didn’t take her long to worm her way into anyone’s heart. We held it at the dog park so the dogs could play and the people could eat. She might not have appreciated effort that went into making the homemade dog treats, but she ate them with gusto, just the same.

All dressed up for her first birthday party.

All dressed up for her first birthday party.

And she loved the water. When we took her to Canada, to my parents’ old cabin, we were wondering how to get her down to the lake — the house was on the lake, but there was basically a small cliff leading down to it. Within moments of arriving, Yuki found some way to climb down and was happily splashing in the water. Fortunately, she found a way up again, too.

For seven years, almost to the date, she’s been by my side. She was in our wedding, she attended my graduation (which consisted of me, my family and friends sitting outside at The Swamp after my last final), she moved from apartment to condo to our house with a yard.

I couldn't have found a cuter flower dog.

We couldn't have found a cuter flower dog. Photo: Aaron Lockwood Photography

I had planned on another seven years of her chasing tennis balls and sticks and squirrels, barking at the UPS guy, and licking our faces endlessly (particularly when sweaty). She should have had another chance to climb in the chair with my dad and clean out his ears, and there were supposed to be more trips to the dog park. I wanted more walks and treats and time to cuddle. And even though I held her as the last bit of breath escaped from her mouth, I just can’t believe she’ll never be here again.

Diving in head first -- that's my girl.

Diving in head first -- that's my girl.

To Yuki: The dog who taught me so much, brought smiles to so many faces, and asked for so little in return. You’ll be missed more than you can possibly imagine. Your circling has stopped, but my broken heart is just getting started.

If any of you have a favorite story about Yuki, or any dog for that matter, I’d sure love to hear it about now.

  1. Miguelina’s avatar

    I’m so sorry, Kristen. This was beautifully written, and it made me feel like I knew Yuki.

    Reply

  2. Debra Oberlin’s avatar

    Yuki was a beautiful dog, and I know you and Jared loved her probably as much as she loved you guys. It is never easy to make that decision, but in the end she isn’t suffering and is not afraid any longer. I’m trying to pull myself together after reading this incredible tribute, but wanted to thank you for sharing all those fantastic memories with us. You and Jared are a special people! With Love, Debra

    Reply

  3. Alison C’s avatar

    I am so sorry!

    I can hardly type through my tears.

    Reply

  4. Heather’s avatar

    Oh, Kristen. I’m sitting here sobbing right now. I’m so sorry, especially because she was only 7. My two are 11 and 12 now and I know this day is not too far away for us. Thank you for this beautiful tribute to remind me to give my old girls a little extra love while they’re still here.

    Reply

  5. cat’s avatar

    So sad, but so beautiful. I’m sorry for this day and just glad she’s out of pain. You gave her a wonderful life. Sending lost of love to help you get through this goodbye.

    Reply

  6. Emily’s avatar

    Don’t know you, don’t know Yuki, but I’m crying. I cannot imagine how sad this must be for you right now…we put my childhood dog down when she was 14, and that was hard enough. The thought of having to put a young, supposedly healthy pup to sleep is so sad, even if it was the kindest thing for her. I’m going to kiss my Lola extra tonight.

    Reply

  7. Kim Pace’s avatar

    I was so lucky that you and Jared allowed us to get to know Yuki. Spending the night with your doggies and cat was the best fun. Yuki was so smart, so obedient, so snuggly, so loving.

    My heart is aching. I know your pain and loss must be indescribable. Please know that we have you in our hearts and wish you peace.

    With love – Kim, Kelsey and Doran

    Reply

  8. jami’s avatar

    Oh Kristen, I’m so sorry. Yuki was an amazing part of the family that will never be forgotten. She brought so much joy to all those around her. Her loving and happy spirit was felt by all those around her. We are so thankful for the memories we have of her. She was ALWAYS happy and ALWAYS ready to jump in the pool:) What an athletic girl she was!!!!!! She sure was able to teach those around her a few things or two. We enjoyed our walks and trips to the park with her . . . Apollo and Madison will surely miss her!!! She always tried being a lap dog:) What a snuggler she was:) Then she would just gaze at you with those cute eyes and full lips (you know what I mean, what a cute mouth and set of lips she had:). She did wear those bandannas well

    Reply

  9. jami’s avatar

    well; i wasn’t done, but accidentally hit the submit comment . . . anyways, she has been a special part of every get together that we have had and will for sure be missed from here on out . . . I truly believe she is in good hands and chasing all the squirrels she can!!!! Boy, those squirrels better watch out cuz she is one fast pup!!!! Yuki, we love you and miss you!!!!! Hugs and kisses from the Guenthers!!!!

    Reply

  10. Dad’s avatar

    Yuki will always have a place in our hearts and on our walls (wedding pictures). She has always been a very special part of our family. I will remember sharing, our bed, couch and my ears with her. We have been through this before and you will get through it again. Thank you, Jared, for being Kristen’s husband. Jami is right, there is a Rainbow Bridge and Yuki will be waiting for you guys, chasing her tail. Love, Dad

    Reply

    1. kgseymour’s avatar

      I can’t believe I forgot to mention the tail chasing! That was always the funniest thing to watch, and she was doing it just last week. That little girl knew how to get attention, that’s for sure.

      Reply

    2. Amanda S.’s avatar

      Kris- you know I am not the boo-hoo type…but literately my shirt sleeves are soaked! Yuki was the coolest and sweetest dog ever :) I remember taking her for a walk when you guys lived in the condo and pickin’ the hitch hikers off her coat (I think she enjoyed it). And loved when you brought her into the studio and watching her and Jack play like puppies..crap..tears again. I AM SO SORRY!!!! She will always be in my thoughts:)

      Reply

    3. Kristin’s avatar

      Dear Kristen,

      I too am letting the tears flow. We never know how quickly life can change sometimes. It is so hard to let go of our loyal companions that have been through so much with us!

      Yuki will forever be the love of Blue’s life (much to her dismay). I’ll personally remember how she always came up to me and looked deeply into my eyes with such love each and every time I saw her. It’s like she was saying, “Yeah, I’m a person..you know it. You love me.” And, I did.

      Reply

    4. Debbie’s avatar

      Oh Kristen, I am so sorry to hear about your Yuki passing away so young. I loved hearing your Yuki stories and seeing Yuki photos. I know that Jared, you and Rudi are all going to be missing her. Words can not express how my heart hurts for you. Remember during these first few days to take care of yourself, reflect, rest and I promise that time will help…it will take time…but with everyones prayers and love I hope it helps ease your pain. If there is anything I can do….I am a phone call away. I can walk with you…cook for you…I am wrapping you up in a tight hug – and know that you are in my thoughts.

      Reply

    5. Lisa’s avatar

      What a lovely tribute to Yuki! She is going to be a part of our hearts for all time, and we will be remembering cute, smart, funny and mischievous things she did every day. I am so sad for you, Jared and Rudi, and for myself and your mom and dad becuse she was such an important part of our lives too. Imagine…me, finally a dog person! Okay, well a Yuki and Rudi person, but without Yuki to train me right I might not have gotten to be a Rudi person. So the hardest decisions of our lives are usually made for the welfare of those we love. Yuki would have cocked her head, looked at you with those beautiful intelligent eyes, and let you know she trusted you to do what was right and best for her.

      I’m adding my tears to the waterfall, and I’m hoping that while she’s chasing the squirrels Jess is around having some good fun with her again…

      Reply

    6. Teri Schrock’s avatar

      Oh Kristen…
      I am sharing in yours and Jared’s pain! Your article on Yuki is beautiful! You know how I feel about our 4 legged family members. They are some of the best! It is hard to type because of the tears…
      Please know I will be praying for you guys as you go through this hard time. It will take time. I wish I was with you now so I could give you a big hug. When I had to put Rufus down it was one of the hardest things in my life. I still think about it. I know I will see him again! Rufus and Yuki are probably hanging out together!
      Yuki had such a wonderful life with Jared and you as her Mom and Dad.
      love, Teri

      Reply

    7. TheRachel’s avatar

      Thanks for sharing – I know this is a very difficult time for you. Even though I’m just another blog reader, I’ve gone through the process of losing a beloved dog, and I’m sorry to hear about your loss. A beautiful tribute here to your special Yuki. I was crying along with you by the end. Take care.

      Reply

    8. Erin @ Fierce Beagle’s avatar

      We just lost our family dog a couple of weeks ago. It’s so, so hard. He was 14—an old man by doggie standards—but that didn’t make it easier. It’s an incredible privilege to be there witnessing their whole little, but significant, lives.

      My dog that my husband and I adopted three years ago, Cody, is a 75 pound, long-legged kindergartner. He’s sweet, he’s possessive of “his stuff,” but he’s learning how to share. When we brought our son home from the hospital, Cody was so wary of him that he wouldn’t come into the same room as him for two days. He’d come out from our bedroom, put his paws up on the back of the couch and stare, and as soon as the baby would move, he’d run out of the room again. Now, 18 months later, they’re best pals. Cody even howls and cries when the baby cries (there’s video evidence on my blog).

      I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye to Yuki. I’m certain she knew she was loved.

      Reply

    9. Deana’s avatar

      Kristen, your tribute to Yuki was absolutely beautiful. I sobbed as I read it because I know you loved your baby as much as I loved mine. Saying goodbye is the hardest, most loving thing…I glad you memorized everything about her (I did that, too, and completely LOST IT when I read that!), because you won’t ever forget that. You have been heavy in my heart since I got your text. I have been wanting to call you, but I can’t keep it together when I think about you and Yuki and I know you don’t need to be “consoled” by a blubbering, bawling friend right now. Sending love and hugs your way. Ohh…and just when I was able to get it together, I read your comment, Earl. The floodgates opened again.

      Reply

    10. Angella’s avatar

      I’m so sorry that you had to say goodbye to your sweet dog! What a great story to read, though. She sounds like she was the perfect dog for you.

      xoxo

      Reply

    11. Susan’s avatar

      What a great tribute you wrote to your Yuki! She gave you unconditional love and she knew you both would always be there for her. To meet her needs. the needs of a pet is to rely on their owner to know when it is time to help them be out of pain. It is us that want to keep them around longer. As I write this I am looking down at our 13 yo lab-the love of our family. She has cancer and was given 3 months to live back in December. She continues to eat, she is at my side constantly- she is on a number of medications to keep her comfortable. At some point our family will have to make that decision. But we feel she will let us know.
      Until then we enjoy every minute with her. You had a gift in Yuki and you gave her your love and care and unselfish moments. You have wonderful memories that will live on forever! Yuki is in doggie heaven jumping in the pools, playing with other dogs and loving her owners forever! thanks for sharing your story with us. Susan

      Reply

    12. Megan’s avatar

      I’m so sorry to hear about your loss Kristen. I know Yuki brought so much joy to your life! Losing that is difficult, but you will always carry a bit of that special bond in your heart. That’s a forever thing… no matter how many good dogs come later, Yuki will always have a special place in your heart.

      When my special boy had to leave it was the most difficult day of my life! Someone gave me The Rainbow Bridge, and it helped me get past the difficult days. (http://forums.petlovers.com/vb/showthread.php?t=14247)

      Take care :)

      Reply

    13. Dusti’s avatar

      I’m so sorry for your loss. I know completely how you feel. I to have a similar story about my beloved Leo, a golden retreiver mix. Back in August of 2004 my husband worked at a cabinet shop. The owners son had a puppy he was trying to find a home for, he said no one wanted the pup cause they said he seemed to lazy. He was an adorable, fuzzy little cutie. We took him home. A few days later we witnessed him having a seizure, he was only about 8 weeks old. The guy who gave him to us now told us he had a table fall on his head, and it has killed his other sibling. We took Leo to a specialist for an mri. They said he would have to take meds the rest of his life for seizures from head trauma, and they found he already had early stages of kidney failure, all by the time he was 3 months old. They told us Leo probably wouldn’t live to be a year old. We loved Leo like a son, and treated him like a king. Leo turned out to be a very smart little guy that loved us like you could never imagine. He was someone I could never replace. He was beyond being a dog. He was the coolest living being I had ever known my whole life. He was fat, but never grew into a normal dog. He was always very differant. Last year in July, we noticed some blood on his pillow. I was freaking out trying to find what it was from. I thought maybe he had a seizure and bit his lip in his sleep? Two days later he had a horrible nose bleed, and we rushed him to the vet. They kept him over night, and released him the next day. They couldn’t tell us why, but they said they were waitning for results from bloodwork. Later that night Leo began breathing very fast, and looked so sad. I knew something was way wrong, so we rushed him to the vet again. Before our hour long drive was over Leo had passed in the back of the car. My King Leo was gone! Along with him part of my spirit and heart. I will forever miss him. I am still not sure how I am going to live the rest of my life without ever seeeing him again? Two weeks later the vet finally found time to call with his results, and told me Leo had Cooms disease, a form of Lupus. Something they never found from bloodwork on previous visits. She said his lungs most likely filled with blood. Leo was dealt a bad hand in life from the time he was born he had many medical conditions. I know he had the best life he could of with us. I would of loved him and took care of him till the day I died. I know exactly the loss you feel. You are not alone. Here is a pic and video of my sweet Little Leo AKA Sheepy.

      http://image18.webshots.com/19/1/91/7/2006191070036747282hCBGow_ph.jpg

      Reply

    14. Dog Walker Buffalo Grove’s avatar

      What a fresh new perspective. Im such a big dog fan and also a first time visitor to your site. Thanks for all the wonderful content.

      Reply

Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>