Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Long And Winding Road

Almost 8 years ago I drove 5 ½ hours to pick up 15 pounds of 
fluffy love that would become one of the most beloved members of our extended family.

Our Newfie Maddie, from the very beginning, was a different sort of dog.
If she had had opposable thumbs and the ability to speak,
we would have thought her just a very hairy human.
We spent one day teaching her to "potty outside"...and never an indoor accident...
she just "got it".

She's a sensitive soul who understands us humans better than we understand ourselves.
She has been my very best friend for every day
since the first.

In the early days she ran hard and played hard.
Daily walks and time spent at the dog park were her favorites.
She went everywhere with us...our constant companion.

Now, as you've read in past posts, our friend is very arthritic and unable to 
participate in play or long walks.

A daily regimen of anti-inflammatories, supplements and pain medication 
helps to keep her mobile.
We limit her walks to short ones.
Now, stuffed squeaky toys give her the joy that was once reserved for romps in the yard.

She happily anticipates her daily ride on the gator
as she accompanies me to afternoon chores,
but climbing in and out of the gator is difficult.
Her "will" is the strongest part of her being.

Maddie and I have traveled a long and winding road together
and I fear that I see the end of our "together" journey in the not-too-distant future.
Yesterday was a really bad day for her... walking is becoming a difficult chore.
It saddens me to watch my friend's body age and decline so rapidly, 
while her spirit remains so young.

My friend has stood by my side and loved me unconditionally for all of her life.
She has given me a gift far greater than any I have ever given her.
In the end, I know that the last loving act I will show her will be to not allow her to suffer...
to be there with her and help her to that place beyond suffering.
It's the hardest decision we must make for our animal friends.

I have been asked the question "how do you know when it's the right time?"
I always reply..."They let you know."
When all of the joy has left a dog's life...and believe me, dogs are filled with joy!
When that joy is gone and living is harder than leaving...
they have a way of letting you know.

Until that day comes, though, I will try to give back as much of the love
as Maddie has given to me these years.


  1. Such a beautiful dog. That last photo is gorgeous. I also love to see the photos of Maddie riding on the gator with you.
    It seems so unfair that large dogs have a shorter lifespan. I hope you will not need to make that difficult decision for a long time yet.

    Kathy from Tasmania

  2. Beautiful post . . . tearfully said. The word COMPANION holds the truth.

  3. It's such a heart breaking decision to have to make but in the end it is the last loving decision we make for our pets. Heart breaking.... hugs to Maddie and to you as well. xox

  4. I feel your pain, Bev, and have been there many times myself. Those of us who share our lives with animals know that the joy of the time spent with them far outweighs the pain of having to let them go. A big hug to you and Maddie.

  5. It's such a tragedy that the big dogs don't live as long. :(
    It's so very true about when it's "time". You wake up one morning and just know. The dog makes it clear.
    I hope you have many more special mornings before Maddie decides that 'today is the day'.

  6. As Kris from The Dancing Donkey said to me, " The only thing wrong with a good dog is that they don't live long enough". And isn't it just like a good dog to make the decision for you so it will be just a little bit easier?
    Looking forward to more of Maddie until it's time.

  7. We love all our animals, but sometimes one is special. There is a tighter, closer relationship. We are lucky when we find them, and it sounds like you and Maddie were both very lucky. Here's hoping she'll be there with you for a long time yet.

    Switching to a more practical question...Would it be possible to make a wooden ramp to hang on the side of the gator that might make it easier for her to get in? I mean if you know people who can build pizza ovens surely there is a creative carpenter in the bunch...

    Take care,


  8. this just breaks my heart. teddy is 8 years old too and slowing down. i can hardly think about it. maddie is just gorgeous and so soulful!

  9. Oh Bev, it's so sad to hear this. :-( Everybody that reads here knows just how much your animals mean to you. Maddie has had a wonderful life with you and as difficult as the decision will be, I know you are making it out of love for her.

  10. Oh, you have me in tears this morning. She's such a beautiful friend. I do hope the two of you get to spend a little longer enjoying each other's company; although, I know it will never be long enough.

  11. Its the only part of being a responsible pet owner that I hate, saying the final good bye.You both will know when its time. I hold you both in my prayers... I had to do this twice in less than a year. I vowed never to get another dog my heart hurt so much. Too much. But then, my neighbor came over. She said, this place is too quiet, get another dog! It took me just over a month to find her....Miss Addie Mae. My heart be still. Even though there is sadness....there is joy. Prayers my fellow dog lover.

  12. Oh why can't they live as long as we do and never leave until we do? She is beautiful and has so much kindness in her eyes. xo

  13. I feel your pain. I had to let my Bernese Mountain dog go almost 2 years ago and it is still painful. They become so much more than just a pet. Love and strength to you.

  14. Gayle from OklahomaNovember 14, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    We had our collie Mike for almost 14 years and when the time came our vet came to the house. We knew it was time when he could no longer get up and seemed so confused. Having him at home was so much better than having to load him up to go to the vet's. He was one of 3 collies in town and our vet loved him as much as we did. So sorry you are going through this! When I realized it was time I spent as much time outside with him as possible. Maddie's had a good life you enjoy the days you have with her.

  15. Oh, my heart goes out to you and Maddie. I will be thinking of you both.

  16. Sweet soul and sweet story. (ALL your stories have so much warmth...)

    For my dog, whenever I couldn't use the ramp, I used a "step": a piece of solid styrofoam, c. 40 by 30 cm wide and c.20 cm high. Weighs nothing and is easily stowed; one could even velcro it to a gator. FWIW.

    Best wishes to you and Maddie!

  17. Oops, sorry, 16x12 inches and 8 in. high, approximately, or whatever else would be helpful to Maddie.

  18. Thanks all...your warmth and kindness overwhelms me. We are taking it one day at a time with Maddie.
    Yesterday was the worst day may be a little better.

  19. Oh Bev as you know I have been in the same place. My heart breaks for you. Maddie has such personality and love. Every picture you have posted shows it. As you said you know when it is time. What a winding road we live on with our friends at our side.
    Every word so describes her so well to us that I think we all feel she is part of our hearts as well.
    Hugs to you Bev. These days are so difficult I hope a hug helps in a small way.
    Thinking of you and your family...J.

  20. "when living is harder than leaving"....a perfect comment.thank you

  21. Bev- you brought my tears this morning. We just made the call yesterday to take Ruby to cross the Rainbow Bridge this Friday afternoon. She can't jump up on our bed and often falls as she tries to get on the couch. She gets on my lap every morning now, because my recliner footrest will pick her up. Then she sleeps for more than an hour and often puts her head under my chin to look up at my eyes. She knows it's time, too. We will be crying for a long long time. My love to you, Jack, Maddie and the rest of your family. Sharon

  22. What a wonderful beautiful dog she is. I agree with you, they do tell you when it's time.
    Yes, it will be a sad day but what a wonderful life she has had with you. : )
    I still miss my yellow lab Sammy and she died quite a few years ago now, but oh those happy memories.

  23. Aw, sweet Maddie. Big hugs to such a gentle giant and precious soul. My dear bfff passed away last year after 18 years together and the huge hole in my heart is still raw. Even though she was dealing with many health issues near the end, she did not let me know when it was "her time". She was a trooper until her last moment. We can only hope we meet them again on the other side, for eternity. xox

  24. It is sad when they get so old and they are in pain. Have had to put 2 of our wonderful loyal friends to rest thru the years and now this one is also getting up there. We lift him on and off the bed so he can continue to sleep with us. They fill our lives with such happiness. God knew what he was doing when he made our animal friends.

  25. My boss had a newfie and she was always here at the office. Her name was Maggie and we loved her so. She was a gentle giant as they say. She had arthritis as well. We sure do miss her. xoxo

  26. There are no words, just tears..I do know how you feel and what you are going thru..I went thru it with Sammie..When it's all said and done , I wouldn't trade a minute of their love for anything...She knows she's loved..So,so sad ...Big hugs..

  27. My heart hurts for you and everyone that miss Maddie's beautiful love.

  28. I am sorry to hear this . They do mean the world to us as members of our families ! I will pray for you both it is a difficult decision but one that is done out of love and dignity !

  29. Yes, that is exactly how you know...they always let us know. :)
    God bless your beautiful Maddie girl and blessings to you for loving her so much!

  30. Letting them go is the hardest part of being a responsible owner and friend. They are so incredible. They touch our lives in only ways that they can and become a part of our heart that we can't imagine living without. Maddie has a wonderful home with you and she will let you know when she needs you to make that call for her. I believe that's one of the ways we can give back the loyalty they give to us. Stay strong and enjoy her as long as you have her! <3

  31. Having two dogs myself one of them being a newfie your story brings to home how short the time we have with our fur kids, I can't imagine what it will be like when that time comes for our two.....sending hugs to you and your family.

  32. Oh, I'm sorry! Such a beautiful dog and sounds like she's one in a million. We went through this with our beloved golden two years ago at Thanksgiving. We decided when he couldn't get up, it would be time. The blessing was that he was his old self that morning and energetically made the rounds at the farm for morning chores with my husband. He had not done that for months. Then he came in, took a nap, and didn't get up. It was peaceful. I will be praying that it will be that way for your sweet Maddie too.

  33. I just read this post this morning. She will indeed let you know, they always do. It is so very hard to lose our fur family members. My heart goes out to you during this difficult time.

  34. FYI - after a long discussion with our groomer, who believes that Ruby still has time left because she is generally happy, able to get where she wants to go, and not in pain, we cancelled the appt. We just won't ask Ruby to do more than she can, like try more than once to get up on bed/couch, etc.

  35. I just love that dog of yours. 8 years seems so young but maybe that's the way with Newfies? Something about your big dog just tugs at my heart....I think I'm reminded of my dad's big ole black dog from years ago. Enjoy every day and keep giving those hugs and loving words. Would you get another of this breed? So sweet.

  36. It's a heartbreaking decision isn't it - bittersweet. But you are right - they tell us. We had to have our Kitty Boy put down yesterday unexpectedly and our 13 year old Lab mix, Lucy, is getting to where your Maddie girl is. I dread the day. Hugs to you.

  37. So sorry to hear this, Maddie is such a sweetheart. She has always just seemed to love the background of your pictures, just a constant. The best of friends. You have all been so lucky to have her and she is blessed to have found such a loving family. I know the decision will be a tough one but you will choose what's best for her.


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