Life leaves those
you love at
its own pace, in
its own way:

the brief violence
of injury, the
cataclysmic failure
of brain or heart.

Both to be preferred,
you think now, to

the implacable tick
of illness, rogue cells
propagating, occupying
a vanishing vitality.

After a time, you wish
to find him dead,
gone in his sleep

before he becomes
too much
not himself.

You come to envy
the brief violence,
the cataclysmic failure,

anything but the
attenuating sickness,
the inexorable insult
to his faultless form,

which compels your
ragged attention — the
hollowing flanks,  the
uncertain gait —

the ruthless implications
of the failing body you
admired so

in the fullness of
its grace, its beauty.
How warm and welcome
his weight in your lap,

your grateful hand
plying his soft fur;
the resonant rumble.

You would take his
place now to spare him
the difficult disappearing

but also to end this
bleak, brutal witnessing,
the perpetual calculus

of what goodness
remains and what
is fled,

your bleary eyes
and straining
to perceive the

moment of mercy,
for him;
for you.


A year since I made the decision to euthanize my beautiful boy Spot; somehow, I did not anticipate I would still miss him so much.  This repeat post goes out to everyone who is now making — or who has made, or will make — the difficult decision to end a beloved animal’s life.  And to all the animals no longer present, who in the years of their health and vitality gave us so much love, comfort and delight. 




  1. I have never read such beautiful words about our dear precious furry loved ones. About their decline. About the choices we have to make as we share our lives together. About their loss. About the grief. About the incredible love. As I read your words, and as I write this, there are tears in my eyes. I know, that like you, I am the richer for having had the privilege of sharing my life and my love, and they with me, with my furry family over the decades. I can, as now, be brought to tears as I remember. Thank you for sharing this with us all. So very special.


    1. You’re welcome. Thanks so much for the empathy, sympathy and appreciation of your response. The love we feel for our animals, and which they seem to feel for us, is less complicated — somehow, more pure — than that we share with most humans. That makes it exceptional, which translates into loss that feels equally exceptional.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very evocative, Cate. Tears and a full chest as I recall the many times I’ve taken this journey. Painful loss every time


    1. It sure is, Steph. It’s a consolation to know so many kindred spirits can empathize with this most difficult aspect of loving our animals. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You, again, capture the emotions experienced with the loss of a beloved and valued family member perfectly. I mourn the loss of my ever so loved “kids”, far more than I mourn the loss of humans. Perhaps it’s the nature of unconditional love, never withheld, any time of any day.

    I’ve always been an enormous admirer of your wordsmith skills. You have only improved with the frequent passing of life’s seasons.

    Thank You for continuing to share.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome, and I thank you so much for the compliments. As one ages, one’s brain seemingly becomes less pliant and capable than it was. (I’m hoping for compensating factors — more heart? more wisdom? — but they may or may not be present. :)) So it’s an encouragement to hear your response. Also, I am like you in feeling more keenly the loss of animal loves; this does not get easier as the years pass, though I do seem to get better at grieving humans.


  4. I had tears in my eyes reading this, Cate. We’ve been there too many times. Every pet (and animal, for that matter) has his/her own personality. Most pets weave their way into our souls, and reside there forever. RIP, Star, Nikki, Jessie, Leah, and Tucker. -Russ


    1. Thanks, Russ, for this. They do, indeed, “weave their way into our souls, and reside there forever.” It helps to know other humans are kindred spirits in this difficult experience.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been there many times. 5 years now and I still miss him so much. Beautiful


    1. Thank you. It helps me to remember others share in this painful experience, and in the long missing afterward. I hope it helps you, too.


  6. What moving poetry, Cate. I’ve been there, and still miss them . . .


    1. Thanks, Leah. I know you know. I have not become a better letter-goer with age — at least not when it comes to animals!

      Liked by 1 person

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