Losing Lexie

Sweet Lexie exploring at the base of a waterfall in North Carolina. What really made the camping trip memorable were the ticks.

After a long, tear-filled week, this afternoon I said a final goodbye to my almost-15-year-old dog Lexie.

Writing this elegy is easy and heartbreaking. Lexie lifted me on days I could not move; she loved me fiercely, and taught me how to properly cuddle. Telling our lovestory is like spinning a campfire tale. Her spirit leads me, like fireflies blinking into the night.

If Lex was anything, she was nearly human. As evidenced by her dew claws, the pup practically had two thumbs, and got into all sorts of trouble because of it. Right away, it was clear she was a master at stealing food. It was stealth skill I learned of in her first week with me after she ate an entire container of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I found her afterward, licking the Tupperware lid. Amazingly, she didn’t leave a crumb behind.

Lex could unscrew the lids of jars of candy or peanuts. She made an art of emptying the garbage can. She also knew how to magically remove full loaves of bread from the top of the stove. I often joked that she knew how to operate the step-stool, and honestly believe it’s a serious possibility.

Colorful journey

Lex was so loved that she even was dognapped once. I retrieved her a week later, and rarely let her out of my sight after that.

She loved being at home so much that she ran away just one time. I had woken up early, and somehow the wind had blown open our front door in the middle of the night. Lex simply walked out of the house. It was trash day, and Matt hopped on a bicycle at  6 a.m. to scour the streets. He found her about three blocks to the east casually sniffing a bush.

Lexie, showing her gray.

Lexie, showing her gray.

More than anything, Lex loved negotiating space on the couch with Matt. They always ended up in some contorted pile of pillows and fur, both of them snoring away.

Lex deeply loved her little brother, Charlie. She enthusiastically welcomed him into our family, and showed him the ropes to Big Dog World.

She didn’t like playing dress up, although when she was younger she did allow me to suit up her paws in doggie muttluks for our winter walks. Lex never quite forgave me for that.

Lex took part in a colorful journey, and was quite possibly more traveled than some people I know. Over the years, she accompanied me on numerous camping trips, morel mushroom hunting and a two-month odyssey driving from Detroit to Miami and back again. She demanded the front passenger seat when it was just us girls driving. Her eyes remained alert as we passed farms and skyscrapers. She didn’t want to miss a thing.

Saying goodbye

If anything, Lexie was a fighter. She came close to death last year, and unbelieveably fought her way through kidney failure. But she was no match for dementia and old age. She no longer knew who I was, and frequently got lost in the house. Her hind legs betrayed her, refusing to hold her weight. She frequently fell off her favorite chair, and recently got stuck behind our couch.

More than that, our vet  told us that Lex lived in constant anxiety, and that medication was not an option. We had simply come to the end of the road. It was time to say goodbye.

I learned early in my newspapering career, that not everyone equally values the death of a loved dog.

Once I was written up by an editor after I expressed despair upon learning the death of my dog, Barkley. I didn’t think my tears were out of line, but a coworker was upset and complained because she thought I had lost a child.

In many ways I had.

In many ways I have, in losing Lexie.

As a 43-year-old, never-been-married spinster, I know Lexie was a close proxy. The reality is that I may never have children, and she, indeed, was my baby.

Sleep well, darling. Mama loves you.

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41 thoughts on “Losing Lexie

  1. Drove by your house today and just knew….we are so blessed to be loved by dogs. They are our unconditional lovers who fart, bark and puke on the rug and quite frankly, we can’t get enough. Hugs to you and Matt.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear this, but I know you know you did the right thing for Lex. As I said before, I can relate.. I’ve had to let 2 of my babies go in the last 2 years and I chose not to have “human” children, so, like you – the dogs ARE my babies and are the only thing I know that is close enough to be my child. I would die for my dogs.. and no I’m not some crazy dog mom like those crazy cat ladies, but I will tell you this.. my dogs mean the world to me. I know Lex meant the world to you and I’m crying as I’m writing this thinking of what you’re going through today. I hope you are able to look at photos and smile.. even the same day I could look at photos and through tears, I could smile and say I was glad to have loved and lost, rather to have not loved at all. It’s so true. You’re both in my thoughts and prayers today in hopes that your heart can be full of love for what you had with your beautiful Lex. No regrets.. just love! Hugs..

  3. This is so similar to how I felt when my old girl died age 16. It is the right decision to take, when they are failing physically and mentally and so anxious and confused. But so hard to do. It is real grief, look after yourself.

    • Thank you, for your words, for your kindness. This has been such an intense experience. But I wouldn’t trade a moment. I’m so grateful I was able to be there until the final moment, holding her. It was her time. My best to you…

      • Yes. My dog Rosie died in my arms too. I’d never experienced that before and I was worried I’d mess it up by being distressed. But I managed and was so glad I’d done it. A peaceful falling asleep in the arms of the person you love best – would that we could all have that. The best and last thing you can do for your dog.

  4. We are very sorry for the loss in your family, Our pain is the same. Prayers to you and your family during this very painful time. Sending lots of love your way. Amy

  5. So sorry for your loss. As you spend time remembering her, remember to allow yourself to grieve – however you do that best – also allow yourself to laugh as you remember fun and funny times, feel the warmth of her love, and feel the caring of those who know you and feel your pain. Also know that you will find Lexie’s spirit smiling at you in the most unexpected times and places.

  6. Let me start by saying that I am sorry for your loss and that Lexie was very beautiful. It is extremely difficult to loss a dog that we, pet parents, consider part of our family, and it is understandable that others who do not have pets can’t understand how we feel when we lose our furry companion, but I also think that your co-worker should have been more compassionate and understanding about your grief. I don’t have children either, and my Alex, almost 11 years old in May, is my companion, daughter, teacher, and so much more, and I look at things this way: if a person cannot be compassionate when he/she sees another person cry, whatever the reason may be, then perhaps there is something wrong with that person because he/she cannot empathize nor sympathize with the pain of another person. Speaks poorly of him/her. Grieve your Lexie. I am grieving “my” Dozer. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have lost her, but what I do is think about the good times I had with him. Wishing you the best:)

  7. So sorry for your grief and pain. It doesn’t matter what others think, we understand how special these guys are to us and understand that they will always remain in our hearts. I still cry over Zac having lost him six months ago at only 8 years of age. Time together isn’t the issue, soul connection is.
    It sounds like Lexie was a very special pal. Full of character and love and it is beautiful that you have such beautiful memories.
    We are thinking of you and whilst Lexie is now at peace and no longer anxious, we understand that for you the pain has not yet dulled.
    Take care.

  8. I know how hard it is to say good bye. I understand your pain and your grief. Thanks for sharing this post with me, I know how it hurts to write about and I hope it will help you just a little bit to know that we are feeling with you and that we are here for you.

  9. So sorry for your loss. There is nothing quite like the pain of saying goodbye to the pet who has been such a big part of your life for so long. Whee would like to share with you, a favourite quote of ours which whee use during times of loss:

    “If tears could build a staircase, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.”

    Time will not heal the loss but it will make it easier to bear and soon you will be able to look back with happiness at all the joy and wonderful things Lexie brought to your life without crying.

    Whee are with you if you ever need to talk.

    ~ Amy
    Nibbles, Nutty, Buddy & Basil

  10. I’m sorry Jillian. Your grief is a testament to an unmeasured love given. It’s also evidence of what a good life she had with you and Matt. Grief for a human friend or family member is easily understood. Grief for our four-legged family is proof of how much more love we can give.

  11. This was a beautiful tribute for your sweet girl, I am so very sorry for your loss. You have so many beautiful memories of her, thank you for sharing them, and for sharing a part of her with us, she will be missed but never forgotten.
    Sending big hugs

  12. Pingback: A normal cat? Delightful. | Our Furever Family

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