11/27/17, Hard Sad Day

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a warm, cozy, festive Thanksgiving with family and friends, or did something that made the holiday satisfying for you.

Woven in with the joy of family, we had a desperately hard very sad day, and event in our family. The little dog, a Chihuahua, that was the beloved companion of one of my daughters got cancer two years ago, and was cured after an intensive year long course of chemotherapy. She had a year of bouncy good health after that, and in September of this year, was diagnosed with cancer again, this time even more severely, and chemo was started again. This time, she got much sicker, and the chemo took an enormous toll, and after two months she was desperately sick, getting worse, lost a shocking amount of weight (and only started at 4 lbs.), and for the last two weeks could no longer eat. She was wasting away, and her vets advised my daughter that there was no hope of curing or saving her, and the most compassionate thing was to put her to sleep, particularly since she would no longer eat, and her organs were shutting down. It’s a decision we’ve never had to make in the family. We’ve been blessed and all our dogs have died of old age, peacefully, in their sleep. This time, with a dog who should have lived several years longer, and was so much loved by my daughter and all of us, a painful decision had to be made, to spare the dog further suffering.

My children love their dogs passionately, and I am always impressed by what loving, responsible, attentive dog owners they are. Their father loved dogs, as I do, and he insisted when they were very young that they learn to be responsible and care for their dogs. When they were growing up, each child had a dog, and he had two, and eventually I had one—-which meant that at one time, we had eleven dogs. But he taught them well, they are fantastic dog owners to this day, and we’re all dog lovers. My daughter was extraordinary with her sick dog, and took incredible care of her, came home from work several times a day when the dog was sick, sought all the medical help she could get, and was constantly attentive during the first year of chemo, and again in recent months. But sometimes it’s a fight you just can’t win.

I was in Paris when the vets gave my daughter the hardest advice of all, and I flew to New York to be with her. The decision was entirely hers, and such a hard decision. I couldn’t imagine facing that decision, and my heart ached for my daughter. I dropped everything, and ran to be with her. But there was no reprieve for the little dog, the situation was only going to get worse, and very quickly. And in the end, she chose the hardest decision for her, and the most compassionate one for the dog. Another one of my daughters went with her, as I did, and it was a heart wrenching experience, one of the saddest experiences I’ve had, and even harder for my daughter who loved her dog so much. Deciding to put her to sleep was further demonstration of my daughter’s willingness to sacrifice herself for the best solution for the dog. We all loved her dog, and the whole family was sad for both of them, and calling in on the morning we took her to the vet. The three of us (two of my daughters and I) stood and cried rivers, before, during and after the procedure. And for any of you who’ve been through it, you know how hard it is. It was one of the saddest days I’ve ever been through.

If I had one wish in this lifetime, it would be that my children never be sad or have to suffer, and to see my daughter’s suffering and her courage at such a hard time, and the sacrifice she made for the dog’s benefit, just ripped my heart out, and filled me with admiration for her.

Thinking about it afterwards, and sharing it with you, makes me realize too why people relate to my books. Because no matter who you are, or what you have, no matter how successful you are, or what car you drive, or what your job is, or even if you’re famous, in the end, we all care about the same things: our children and the things that affect them, the loss of someone we love, even if it’s a dog, the loss of a job we need, or the end of a relationship, a divorce, or a death, or putting a dog to sleep. In the end, we all care about and cry over the same things. There is no way to prevent these things from happening to us and those we love.

For many of us, our pets have a very special place in our hearts. We love them and cherish them, and they are such loving companions, and even if they live out their normal life span, it is much too short for those of us who love them. In Paris, there are two policemen who assist me at the airport, which in today’s risky times is a comfort. When I left Paris to be with my daughter, they commented on my leaving earlier than planned on short notice. I got the first flight out after she called me, and hadn’t planned to leave yet. I explained where I was going and why, and the biggest and burliest of the policemen, a big powerful man, began to cry as soon as I told him. He had recently had to put his own dog to sleep, and the other one had tears in his eyes when he said he had recently had to do the same with his cat, and said he cried over it for weeks. Big, strong men cry as much as women and children, when we lose our pets. It is a heartbreak like no other, and always comes too soon, like the death of any person we love.

I will long remember this experience and how sad it was. Yet there was a peace and a calm to it, and it was delicately handled by the vet, which was better than if we had had to face the same decision in the middle of the night in a crisis. As painful as it was for us to make the decision and be part of it, it was better than it might have been if the little dog had gotten even sicker. My daughter wanted to avoid that, and I think she was right. But what a terrible decision for her. I respect her enormously for how selflessly she handled it, concerned only with the best she could do for her dog in terrible circumstances.

I’m sure many of you have been down this road. It is a sad, extremely painful decision. My daughter was with her through it all, and her sister and I were with her.

To those of you who’ve been through it, I salute you for your courage, and am so sorry for the pets you lost. And our beloved pets’ lives are always too short. It was a terrible, incredibly hard sad day. And in the midst of fashions shows, or tales of what I do, social comments, or holiday good wishes, there is real life, which touches us all, and bonds us to each other, and takes precedence over everything else. This was a hard, hard slice of real life…..and I will always remember the sweet little face and sweet little dog who gave us so much joy for twelve years. I hope she is in a happy peaceful place now, she was so greatly loved in her lifetime.

with all my love, Danielle

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5 Comments so far
  1. Julie Gettys November 27, 2017 11:42 am

    Thank you for all the joy you have brought me through your books. You’re the only author I have read that has yet to disappoint me. I look forward to every free moment I have to get back to your wonderful stories. Keep ’em coming. And thank you for sharing that great imagination of yours. Julie

  2. Alexandra November 27, 2017 12:48 pm

    I am so sorry for the lost of your daughter’s dog. I have had many dogs in my life and the last one I had as a teen was a small black hairy thing that I called Zorro. He was 3 years old and someone poisoned him (never found out who did it). I was so attached to him. He was always with me, eat with me and even sleep with me. I have no money for a vet (my family was big and we were very poor) and in the middle of the afternoon, he just started throwing up. Then suddenly his mouth started to foam and he acted as he was blind. It lasted till 2 a.m. that way. I screamed and cried and prayed. I promised to God that I would never do anything wrong, that I will dedicate my life to him 100% if he just takes the pain away from my dog. Not that he save him, just to take his pain away. Hours passed and he kept suffering. The inability to do anything to stop the pain and the realization that my dog was dying and I couldn’t even afford to get him help was very traumatizing. I’ve never felt so poor in my whole life. Not when there was no Christmas presents and no when there was no food or no new clothes for school. Never felt poor until that day. My dog died in a lot of pain and I did swear then, that I would never own a dog again. Now many years later, my kids have one. My mother gave it to them. I like him. But I can’t love him. I am so scared to love him and lose him I just plain don’t want to get close to him. That’s how much hurt I still am. Just writing this I couldn’t stop crying. My Zorro I will never forget you.

  3. Caroline E.W. November 28, 2017 8:34 pm

    Danielle,

    I am sorry to hear about the loss of your family’s little dog. May God comfort all of you now and during the holidays. I am so glad your daughter could take off of work to care your pet. She will always be glad she did that.
    Animals lovers grieve when their family goes across the rainbow bridge. They are with St. Francis now.
    Sadly, I have lost many family pets. My earliest memories are with our cats.
    We are here to make our animals happy. It is so good to know that people are so kindhearted. I have volunteered at our local Animal Protective League. It is hard to see so many pets waiting for their forever home. I hope some people can help some animal in their area near their house or in the community.
    For those who would like to read the poem:
    https://www.rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm

    God Bless and Merry Christmas to you and your family.
    I have nine children myself and I know it is very busy. Pray for my family and my writing for my classes.

    Caroline

  4. Deede November 30, 2017 11:49 am

    The human experience indeed binds us in all sorts of ways…Perhaps the saddest is having to make the decision to end a much beloved pet’s life…That is tears and pain and hurt…I send your daughter my sympathy and my understanding of just how difficult this was for her…and for you as well…There is no easy way around this…When the critical time comes, you have to give him the dignity that he so richly deserves…I am so very sorry for both of you…Deede

  5. Marilyn December 3, 2017 9:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story of your family’s grief with us. I pray you all get stronger because it is all so new and raw right now. It will get better all in time and with God’s loving grace. I lost my fur baby during Hurricane Irma we live in FL and it was devastating and the saddest day of my family’s life. He was 16 and lived a very good long life but during his last years he lost his ability to hear to walk some days and slowly his sight. We know he lasted as long as he did because of the love we game him but he gave us so much more his unconditional love was priceless. He had a stroke and died within 2 hours during the hurricane in my arms. Gain comfort in the understanding that you did everything you could for him and that it was his time. Try not to think of his final days or hours instead seek comfort and peace by remembering all the good times u all had with him. They are both our angels and will always be in our hearts. Honor his life and memory by doing something special in his honor it will be bring you guys comfort and peace. Stay strong and thank you for all the wonderful stories u tell I love your books and love how u can just take me away and into another world. Happy holidays to you and your family I will keep you all in my prayers. Take care.