The dog who loved me

Posted By: John Moore · 6/3/2014 10:01:00 AM

I'm sorry I didn't tell you he was sick. Sorrier still that we couldn't talk about it this morning. I managed to hold things together all through my mother's illness and death but couldn't bring myself to talk about losing Zack the dog. It's not a more important bond that you have with your animal, but it’s a different one and so many people have contacted me to say that losing their dog or cat was an experience that left them completely gutted. 

I didn't say anything about Zack being ill because I knew how much people loved him and it just seemed like too easy a way to ruin a person's day. And while Zack was my temporary dog, I didn't want people who met him to be preoccupied by the fact that he was up against an always terminal cancer. 

Last summer a friend who had just put his dog to sleep looked at me and said "He was THE ONE". David had owned dogs all his life but this was the one unforgettable pooch. I've only ever owned one dog but I worry that Zack might have been my ONE. He was full of character, relentlessly cute and amazing company. I didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting when it came to meeting people because they were always more interested in Zack. 

I write more about the last 31 weeks of our life together in today's National Post which also features a graphic by Chloe Cushman that breaks my heart. 

We opted for chemotherapy to keep him around just a little longer. I don't have any regrets. Putting him to sleep on Saturday was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Your chest seizes up with an intense fear that you're doing the wrong thing when your little dog wags his tale and scarfs down treats from the vet who is about to end his life. But I learned so much from reading pet owners’ reflections on Andrew Sullivan's blog when he had to say goodbye to a beloved Beagle last summer. An overwhelming majority regretted waiting too long to end their pet's suffering. I realized if we kept Zack any longer it would only be out of our fear of being without him. 

Kipling wrote that every man who gives his heart to a dog is only going to have it cut in two. But Christie Blatchford wrote to me on Sunday "It's always worth it though, isn't it?-- to love I mean. With people of course but dogs too". 

It is and it was. And it will be again. 

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  1. Janet Scrafield posted on 06/03/2014 12:10 PM
    We've made the difficult decision, thinking 'it is time', gone to the vet, and our dog suddenly is perky, so we turned around, went home, thinking we were too soon, but returned 48 hours later, cuz it really had been the right time, all along.... It is gut-wretching...the tail wagging, but most vets won't tell you it's time...they let you make that decision...but most vets will tell you afterwards that people wait too long...that's what we do...
    ....they are never with us long enough, but Christie Blatchford said it SO well..."it's always worth it".
  2. Jules posted on 06/03/2014 12:17 PM
    John, I only caught a bit of you this morning as I was running late, but when I heard you signing off, I immediately knew. I am just 3 weeks today having my beloved Jack Russell Terrier "Boomer" pass away peacefully, at home and in my arms. I knew this day would come right from the start of having him, but I wouldn't have traded the last !6 years this wonderful friend brought me for anything. He will be in my heart forever as your best friend Zack will be in yours. I will tell Boomer to welcome Zack with open paws as he lines up to get fitted for his wings. My thoughts are with you.

  3. Eric posted on 06/03/2014 12:22 PM
    My condolences, John. What a tough and heartbreaking decision (I've been there). Very sad to hear about Zack. Your National Post article was very well written, and a lovely tribute.
  4. Birgit posted on 06/03/2014 12:22 PM
    So sorry for your loss. The loss of a pet is akin to the loss of a child. They give you. Unconditional love and are totally dependant on you. Cherish the memories.
  5. Zoe posted on 06/03/2014 12:29 PM
    Loss of pet is crushing. Hard to talk about. But, as you know, it is a different grief from the loss of a loved one. Not knowing you, my guess is Zack had a wonderful "dog's life" with you. You were both fortunate to have found each other.
  6. Rob posted on 06/03/2014 01:24 PM
    Hi John - very sorry to hear about your bud. Been there. A colleague sent me the following at that time. Try not to well up when you read it.

     Rainbow Bridge 

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. 

    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. 
    There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. 
    There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. 

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. 
    The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. 

    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. 

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. 

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together.... 

    Author unknown...
    1. Diane posted on 06/05/2014 07:17 AM
      @Rob Thank you so much for this. Our dog passed away 5 years ago and it's like it was yesterday I feel much better knowing about The Rainbow Bridge
  7. Cherie posted on 06/03/2014 01:50 PM
    John, I'm so sorry to hear about
    Zack. You've had a very difficult year
    Please know you are in my heart
    Cherish your memories
    Thankyou for always being there,
    each & every morning
  8. Tom posted on 06/03/2014 02:03 PM

    I heard you on the radio this morning and then saw the article in the National Post.

    We just went through the exact same thing with our Portuguese Water Dog. We called him the stuffed animal that eats. He was the easiest going dog ever and loved everyone. He was 9 1/2 when we had to let him go two weeks ago. He was only 5 weeks into his chemo treatment, but that last weekend he faded really badly and we could not bear to let him suffer anymore. It is one of the hardest decisions to make in life, and there were alot of tears, but we felt better that we were able to stop his pain. I wish he would have lasted longer, but loved ever second we had with him.

    My condolences to you. Try to remember all the good things.

  9. Linda posted on 06/03/2014 03:09 PM
    Hi John. Like so many others that have written you with their condolences over the loss of your dear pal Zack, I too have had to make that difficult decision and it is always retching. As the wife of a DVM who worked along side him for 30 years I have stood on both sides of the table. I have known the pain of making the choice for my own beloved pets and have tried to comfort clients that are faced with the same choice. I think the thing I would most like to share with you is that you should take some comfort in your very unselfish act of ending Zacks life with kindness and dignity and not prolonging it for your own needs. He came first! It's very tough even for those of us in the field. Would that we could give that same kindness and relief to our human loved ones when their time has come. Take care and be happy that that silly little guy was once a part of your life. You were blessed to have him. All the best. Linda
  10. hmg posted on 06/03/2014 03:10 PM
    Oh, John. We listen to you every morning, and have loved hearing about the escapades of Zack the Dog. Our beautiful boy, Bo, also spent some time with Dr. Fenora, and we finally put him down 2 weeks after losing my Dad to cancer. I smile evry time I look at pictures we took of Bo. Our new adddition, Ringo, is no Bo, and that's a good thing. I promise you that time will heal your broken heart. Michele
  11. grantW_49 posted on 06/03/2014 03:11 PM
    So very sorry to hear of your loss. I have had pets all my life, and their love is unconditional. Thinking of you both.
  12. Oksana posted on 06/03/2014 03:48 PM
    Hi John. Tears are pouring down my face as I comment. For someone who has lost furry friends, I know only too well the heart wrenching, guts ripping and emotionally gutting experience that this can be. A piece of you dies every time but then you find yourself loving again knowing the inevitable price you will have to pay... A price you are willing to pay for the proverbial "unconditional love" you get in return. I cherish every moment with my new furry friends. Friends that try EVER SO hard to be "THE ONE"...

    I feel your loss but I'm sure you will have a new friend soon to predict the outcome of Hockey Games with his yellow ball and share other air time with you on the Morning Show... I look forward to tuning in, as always......
  13. Carol posted on 06/03/2014 04:35 PM
    You haven't mentioned Zack for a while, and I worried that something was wrong. I'm so sorry that I turned out to be right. It is so hard to lose a dog. There is no baggage with a dog as there is with all humans that you love. Dogs live in the now and take you with them. I have loved and lost many dogs and each of them is still with me. So will it be with Zack. Yes, 6 years is too soon, but so is 16.
    Know that there are many of us who are crying with you, for Zack and for all our dogs who wait for us at the Rainbow Bridge.
  14. Art posted on 06/03/2014 04:53 PM
    Zack is a beauty John. Had doggies all my life. sad but i'm sure you have wonderful memories. Zack still lives inside you, always will
  15. Barbara Green posted on 06/03/2014 04:55 PM
    I am a daily listener and over the years I have come to feel as if I know you very well. When Zack came along you seemed more normal and less of an academic. Anyone who can make room for a dog in their home and their heart has got to be a fine person in my estimation.
    When you signed off this morning with those cryptic words I thought your father was ill. I went straight to your blog but it had not been posted. It was only later this afternoon that I tried again and read the dreadful news.
    The sadness is very real at present. Time will ease the pain. Although it has been two years since my rescue dog, Colby, had to be put down....I still go to the door to let him out or think I hear him walking around upstairs. Dogs feed your soul and give unconditional love.
    Take time to grieve, wait awhile and the consider sharing your life with another shaggy friend.

  16. Sandra posted on 06/03/2014 05:00 PM
    Having lost three dogs you realize they are all the "ones" in there own way. I loved them all equally looking back, even though I thought I could never love another like the one before. I now have a 2 year old Skye Terrier whom I adore. I hope you get another dog one day, I loved hearing you talk about Zack it warmed my heart; the human-animal bond is unique as never a word is spoken by them but you know exactly what they need and how much you mean to them. You were both lucky to have had one another in your life.
    Thinking of you.
    Sandra McBride
  17. B Silver posted on 06/03/2014 06:07 PM
    When my first dog died I was given the poem 'The Rainbow Bridge'.
    I still cry whenever I read it. Dog lovers the world over know John's heartache.
    Here is the poem:

    Thanks for your blog.
  18. Carol Kerr posted on 06/03/2014 06:40 PM
    John....My deepest condolences to you! As anyone who has owned a dog knows , it is the worst thing ever to have to do,,,say goodbye to your friend, Zack!I My beautiful collie, Shadow, was 11 and had hip dysplasia and we had to say goodbye at the end of last summer. This was the 2nd time because we also had a collie before that ,Sandy.. who had the same problem..You never want to face it but you can't watch them suffer.
    Keep all your memories of the good times. take care.. listen to you EVERY day!
  19. Nicholas posted on 06/03/2014 07:21 PM
    I'm so sorry John. I wished I could think of something profound to say.
  20. Bernard posted on 06/03/2014 07:23 PM
    I heard you mentioning that Zack wouldn't eat last week and I thought that it was a typical dog being finicky about his food. Sorry to hear about your dog. My family will have to make a decision like this probably very soon, so thanks for sharing this and some links to the blog. The image of the cute dog going to the vet for the last time, wagging its tail and not knowing what's coming is what haunts me. But we all know these moments will come.
    Hope it's not too hard a time for you.
  21. Diane Merckel posted on 06/03/2014 07:31 PM
    I start every day listening to you John and was always so happy when Zack was involved with the program! - and hearing your sign-off this a.m. couldn't imagine what it could be this thing you were unable to talk about? - now I know and am just so, so sad to read the news about Zack. Saying good-bye to 3 of our 4-legged friends over the last many, many years was the toughest thing I've ever, ever gone through - still miss them all tremendously! The memories are so important.
    Thanks for being there each morning - will miss your comments and stories about Zack- but at least he's not suffering anymore.
  22. Gene posted on 06/03/2014 08:05 PM
    John, I am just happy to have "known" Zack - your fond stories made him real for me and when you had him in the studio, it almost seemed like Zack was sniffing my shoes, too, as I was driving to work. That is how I will remember your pet friend. Sorry for your loss, John.
  23. Kristy posted on 06/03/2014 08:08 PM
    Hi John, it is such a difficult decision. Growing up, my parents always had 2 dogs at once. When I was hired at my first job, I still lived at home. With my first paycheque, I went straight out I bought a car and my own dog. Both were a surprise to my parents. :) I heard Silverbells on the radio as I drove home with my new dog. I named her Bell. She saw me through my first job, my first car, being let go from my first job, my first house (I got another job), my first child. She didn't make it to see my second child. I was pregnant with my second when I had her put down. I was trying to be brave for her, because she was very sensitive anytime I was upset. After though, I broke down and was so embarrassed. I blamed it on hormones. But, the fact people in the waiting room started crying with me, tells you how much our animals give to us and we hopefully give back. I will never forget her. She was a character - very bad, very smart, very sweet. A few weeks after she passed, I thought I felt her jump on the bed and lay on me feet. That was her favorite spot. I don't know if there is something to that or not. I just know that no other dog will be like my Bell. I'm thinking of you and Zack. I will miss listening to him on the radio.
    1. Ellen posted on 06/04/2014 08:21 AM
      @Kristy I believe it was Bell coming to say...I'm okay, I've come to comfort you
  24. Ralph Muller posted on 06/03/2014 08:19 PM
    John, I'm a longtime listener and fan of your various shows over the years on newstalk 1010. I'm so sorry for your loss. As someone who grew up with dogs my whole life (I'm now slightly north of 50) and had to say goodbye to several, I very much have lived the indescribable hold on your heart that dogs apply. Such a shame he didn't get to live nearly as long a life as small terriers like Zack normally do, but I'm quite certain he could not have had a happier one than the time he had with you. My sincerest condolences.
  25. Pam Stone posted on 06/03/2014 08:57 PM
    Christie did say it perfectly....but sometimes I think..."oh the hurt is so unbearable that at times I wish we hadn't gotten this pet" they come into our lives, love us unconditionally, become the best friends we ever had....the memories....but oh the hurt is still so unbearable... ((((hugs))) John we all hurt with you and for you.
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