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A Long Doggie Tale

Mr. Dog from younger days.

Mr. Dog from younger days.

We saved Mr. Dog’s life by adopting him when we did. Two days after bringing him home,he had a gran mal epileptic seizure. We had just moved into our Santa Rosa home a week prior and I still had unpacking to do. Mr. Dog started acting oddly, blindly staggering into boxes, walking in circles, finally falling down into a full fledged gran mal. Fortunately for him, I knew what I was looking at. If the seizure had happened when he was incarcerated in the pound, they never would have put him up for adoption.

Our vet prescribed phenobarbital and eventually we had his seizures under control. Then he started getting hot spots and losing hair! Serendipitously, one of the patients at the clinic I worked for, breeds Tibetan Terriers. She said that TTs are notoriously allergic to wheat and suggested a lamb and rice dog food for him. The office manager fed her prize Yorkies a raw diet, but I felt that was going a bit too far. I didn’t want to be one of those crazy ladies who made special food for their dog!

When we moved to Yucatan, I became one of those crazy ladies who make dog food. I’ve gotten really good at it. I now have a system which I’ll share with you if you’re interested. But not right now.

I wrote about Mr. Dog’s aging, we thought that he was going blind and deaf. Turns out, he was just ignoring us. I’m being flip, due to Alzheimer’s disease, he simply wasn’t processing what he saw. As his dementia grew, he withdrew more and more into his own world. Finding everything disorienting, Mr. Dog started seeking corners to wedge his head into. He would stand staring into walls — watch

ing home movies in his head for hours. He began to circle endlessly; exhibiting pre-seizure activity without the seizures. He forgot how to go through doors. We’d find him in a puddle of urine staring at the door. When he was outside, a cat could walk right past him and he wouldn’t give chase. Our laughing dog stopped laughing.

We talked to the vet, we did research on aging pets. We resolved that Mr. Dog would live with us as long as possible. We couldn’t leave him alone or he would get into trouble. Even if we thought we had all the cords taped up out of reach, he would manage to bring lamps, tables and other heavy objects crashing down. He even managed to push over a sheet of plywood in the bodega by trying to get behind it. He mostly slept, only waking up for meals. This past week, he had gotten to the point that we had to coax him to eat. He would circle around a couple of times before settling down to eat. Sunday, he got so bad that we had to monitor him or he would push the food off his plate. He no longer could eat out of a dog bowl, the sides defeated him. Not only would he push his food off his plate, he would stand in it.

Monday night, Husband found him crying in the laundry room, twisted into weird shape. He couldn’t get up by himself and was frightened. His back legs started failing him. He no longer smiled, played, nor enjoyed life. He was either asleep, confused or frightened. We made the hard decision to call the vet.

I kissed him on his head and Pepper, aka Mr. Dog, went to sleep. I am crying as I write this, I feel such a sense of loss. We lived together 13 years. I don’t know what the first 3 years of his life was like, but I do know the last 13 were wonderful.

Mr. Dog-spotted tongue

About Theresa Diaz Gray

Born in New York City, I grew up in California, and have lived in 3 countries and 6 states. I'm a first generation Cuban-American who lives in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. I'm committed to living an abundant and creative life and helping others do so too through DIY!


  1. Hammockman and La Dulce,

    Thank you so much. It’s been a little more than a month and we’re no longer expecting him to greet us at the door, so I guess we’re adjusting.

    We’ve decided to change the Christmas day open house to a Solstice celebration instead. That would be Saturday, December 21st. I’m glad you mentioned it,I’ve been telling everyone as I see them, but I still figure one or two will show up on Christmas. It seemed like a good time to make some changes. I’m hoping more people will be able to attend.


  2. Christmas Day at your house just won’t be the same without Pepper as I imagine are none of yours now. You have my and La Dulce’s deepest sympathy and sense of loss.

  3. Barb,
    Husband and I both thank you!


  4. Oh, Theresa! I’m so sorry to hear this. Big hugs for you and Husband.

  5. Nancy,
    He was the best dog I ever had. Thank you.

    La Cubanófila,
    Writing the eulogy helped me process my feelings. Thank you for your kind words.


  6. I have not read anything so loving and moving in a long time. Thank you, Theresa, for writing about your precious companion of all these years. Love is so powerful.

  7. Theresa, I am so very sorry to hear about Mr. Dog. You and your husband have my sincere condolences. I am crying too. He sounded like such a cool dog.

  8. (not so Crazy) Rita,
    I have seen three legged dogs enjoy life and ignore their disability. I have seen blind dogs enjoy life and adapt well to their handicaps.Poor Mr. Dog’s mind was gone he was probably the smartest dog I ever had, it was sad to see him defeated by simple activities of daily life.

    I hope that Miss Daisy Dog has many more years to share with you!


  9. Phyllis & Peter,Peter & Shelagh,PaulB,Joanne,Lee, Steve Cotton,

    The outpouring of love and support from all of you has been so uplifting.
    It truly warms my heart to know that I have such caring and empathetic readers. Husband I appreciate you all taking the time to write to us either in comments or in emails.

    Thank you all.


  10. You shared in my joys and travails of Professor Jiggs’s life. And I appreciated your kind thoughts when he finally died. I am now wishing you that same support. Thank you for letting us join in this journey. We are all the better for it. Getting to know Mr. Dog — and you.

  11. That is such a touching tribute. Pepper was a lucky puppy for a very long time. I’m sorry for this loss, and I want to thank you for sharing it!

  12. I am so sorry for your loss. It really hits home for me. Miss Daisy Dog is 17 years old and is mostly blind and deaf. She is still eating and rolls in the grass so I don’t think she is ready yet. Mr. Dog let you know he was ready. It still doesn’t make it easier for you.

  13. You can find comfort in the wonderful life that Pepper had with you. It’s not easy to say good bye though, is it?


  14. I’m so sorry to read of your loss. There really is nothing like helping a beloved pet to pass. You may wish to look at the Andrew Sullivan blog “The Dish”. On that site there has been running for several days a thread titled The Last Thing We Learn From Our Pets. Your story would make a great addition.
    Thanks for sharing your loss. PaulB

  15. So sorry for your loss, he was a very lucky doggie to have been so loved.

  16. Phyllis and Peter

    We were saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Dog. It’s so hard to say good bye to a special companion. Wishing you comfort and peace during this difficult time.
    Phyllis & Peter

  17. jennifer rose,
    Thank you for your kind words.

    LOL I just got a visual of Hobbsie walking up to Pepper and swatting him on the nose. He has a couple of good cat friends,waiting to welcome him. I am sure Hobbsie would be welcome to join the group too. The rest of the cats had just better beware. If they run, he will chase them! He never chased a cat who stood their ground, it was all a game to him.


  18. Ah Theresa,it’s a sad day when the beloved pets have to leave us. From personal experience, I know just how you feel and I wonder if Mr. Dog will meet Hobbsie up in Heaven?

  19. You have my deepest sympathies. You gave Mr. Dog your best, and he gave you his best. May his memory be a blessing.

  20. Melissa,
    Wow, that is quite a compliment to my writing. All of us who have loved pets can relate to Mr. Dog. Norm said it beautifully in his comment on yesterday’s post.

    You are right, we started second guessing ourselves today, but it wasn’t a lightly done decision. We thank Mr. Dog for all the good years we shared too!

  21. The hardest part is knowing when. Mr. Dog thanks you! for all the good years!

  22. Oh Theresa, I feel for you both. Our dogs seve us well throughout their lives and hopefully we do the same for them. Mr Dog was lucky to have found you.

    Your story about the garden made me laugh the other day and today you brought me to tears.

    Thank you for sharing his story with us.

  23. Thank you John and Alan,
    You are so right about Mr. Dog.He has a big spot in my heart. He always lived in the now and I think he is happy again.

  24. Theresa, my condolences to you and Husband. You gave Mr. Dog a wonderful home and life and he rewarded you with unconditional love. What more could we ask from a loyal friend? He’s in a happy and peaceful place now, and will always be in your heart.

  25. Theresa
    Your beautifully written goodbye for Mr. Dog brought tears to my eyes. Your frequent mention of him in your blog always brought a smile and a warm feeling…he’ll be missed.

  26. Pat Q,
    All those harp toting cats better beware, Mr. Dog in back on the job! I love the thought of him being young again, spotted tongue hanging out and laughing at everything. Thank you.


  27. It’s so hard to lose a beloved friend. You made his life special and I’m sure he felt loved. Now he’s crossed the rainbow bridge and young again.

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