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I'm a children's author. Animals are a constant source of writing material for me. They are also my heart!

My Heart Hurts - Kelly Is Gone

>> Monday, June 1, 2009

Frankly, I thought I was ready. I thought I'd be prepared for the day Kelly died. I was wrong...totally and completely. Nothing could have made me ready for the day my scrappy boy stopped bouncing forever.

I woke up on Sunday morning at 7:00. Kelly was thrashing about on top of my legs. It didn't take long before I realized he was having a seizure. I'm not sure how, but somehow, Kelly ended up on the floor with me beside him.

He was breathing heavily, but not uncomfortably or out of control. "I can do this," I told my husband. "If this is all it is and Kelly is going to die, then I can let him die here."

I began to pet Kelly. I put my face tear-stained face beside his and kissed the top of his scruffy little head. "I'm here Kelly," I said. I knew Kelly couldn't hear me because he was totally deaf, but I needed to say the words. I needed to comfort myself as much as him.

My husband stayed with me and my lifelong friend, Joani came over. We all kept vigil by Kelly's side. At one point I stood up to get dressed. The minute I moved, Kelly tried to stand. He couldn't. His back legs were no longer working but he didn't want me out of his sight.

"Just pet him like I do, " I told my husband. At that moment, I was in control. I wanted to get back beside Kelly as quickly as I could. Chuck kneaded Kelly's shoulder while I threw on my clothes.

That was when Kelly began to throw up bile. I propped him up against me so that he wouldn't choke. And I cried. Kelly got worse and worse.

At 10:00 A. M. it was clear Kelly was suffering. I had made a promise to myself and to Kelly that I would be brave enough to let him go. I loved him that much.

Joani called the emergency vet's office and made sure I could stay with Kelly while he was euthanized. Then I swaddled my boy in a blanket and we left.

When we got to the vet's office, they took Kelly long enough to put a catheter in his leg. I suppose that's so there are not mistakes once the drug begins to be administered. The vet tech carried Kelly back to me. I held him in my arms and pressed his little body next to mine.

Chuck, Kelly, and I were on a couch. Joani was on a chair just across from us. She had a clear view of Kelly's face. "I think he's asleep," she said.

Kelly was indeed asleep. The comfort of being with me had calmed him again. "When the vet comes in," I told Joan, "Tell her to do what she needs to do and not say a word. I don't want Kelly upset again."

The vet came in. Joan gave her my instructions. Even though I was sobbing, I felt joy. Kelly died peacefully and calmly. I kissed his still warm head one more time. So did Joani. His death was as beautiful as his life. I am writing through my tears, but writing is therapeutic to me.

Kelly is gone. My heart hurts but Kelly's legacy will live on through all the other animals I love.

Just so I don't end on such a sad note, I want you to read an email I got from another dear friend today. The memory she shared made me laugh because it was so Kelly.

This is from Cheryl:

Hi Jan,
I was so very sorry to hear about Kelly. Hope you got the voice mail I left yesterday--I know Joan says you don't always get your messages. He was a great dog--your little bouncing Kelly. I will smile every time I think of him and the time we got kicked out of the vet's office! Take care and call me if there is anything I can do.

Love you--Cheryl

Yes, Kelly got us banned from my old vet's office one day. He just wouldn't quit bouncing or barking. That was my Kelly.

Annabelle is fine. Maddie is still looking for Kelly. I know we'll all be better soon. Kelly's memories will live on in our hearts and minds. Thank you for letting me share.

*picture taken Christmas of 2004


Sandy June 1, 2009 at 9:27 PM  

Such a nice picture of you with your Kelly. I'm sorry he's not there with you now; but know he's in your heart.........where he always will be.


Sandy June 1, 2009 at 9:28 PM  

Just got to thinking, maybe he's keeping Mommie company now.


Miss Janet June 1, 2009 at 9:38 PM  

Awww... Jan. I had to take our 8 yr. old Boxer dog to get put to sleep. It's a sad day.

Pictures help. Do you have a picture of him printed up?


Unknown June 1, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

I am sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks. My heart goes out to you. I know the anguish of watching a family member die - and as a fellow animal lover, can honestly say my animals sre as much a part of my family as my children. And I know this doesn't help the pain now, but in the days to come, I hope you can find peace in knowing he had a wonderful life thank to you.

Rae June 1, 2009 at 10:53 PM  

I posted a comment to you regarding this post but somehow it got added to your post from an earlier date.
Please forgive my stupidity.
I am so sorry for your loss.

T June 2, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

Oh Jan,
I am so very sorry. I am sitting here with tear filled eyes while reading this. Your photo of Kelly and you is a beautiful photo.

I know how difficult it is and what you are feeling right now. It is never easy, and no matter how many times we tell ourselves we are prepared for this day, we just are not. The love we have for these beautiful souls is so great, there is no preparing.

Hugs for you and your family.

With the days to come, I hope you will be smiling more at the wonderful memories you and Kelly shared together.

BeadedTail June 2, 2009 at 7:17 PM  

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I know how hard it is but the pain will never erase the good memories. My thoughts are with you.

LeftyLadi June 3, 2009 at 12:45 PM  

Jan - How nice of you to stop by my blog! I am extending my heartfelt condolences at the loss of your dear Kelly. You described so perfectly the sad and horrified emotions we feel when one of our pet friends pass away. They are such an integral part of our lives we can't imagine life without them, but when that day arrives, it is absolutely heart-wrenching.

I bet Kelly will be the subject of a new children's book. I would like to read it!

Take care and my thoughts are so with you, Jan!

raindropecho June 3, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

Sorry to hear about your loss! One of our dogs is getting up there and I don't know how I'd react when he goes. All dogs go to heaven, I'm sure of it :) Feel better

sheree boyd June 3, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

I'm so sorry for your loss. Animals are great companions in this life...i have a rescue greyhound that is always at my side. I blog about her alot needless to say. :) And draw her too!

My dad is a veterinarian so i grew up with a bunch of animals that people would drop off at his clinic and never pick up. They were always the best gifts and treasures in my life.

Jan Mader June 3, 2009 at 10:54 PM  

I just have to take a minute to say thank you to all of you who have already left comments. I knew there was a good reason for me to blog about my's because of people like you...people who truly understand the relationship that a person and an animal can have.

You love your animals as much as I love mine. You understand. I'll blog about something more cheerful next week, but for now, just hearing from you helps. Thanks so much, Jan

Vicki June 4, 2009 at 3:33 PM  

Jan, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving the nice note. I'm glad I stopped by and read your post about Kelly. I am so sorry for your loss.
I had to euthanize my sweet Sandy boy last year and it was the hardest thing I've ever done. He had been sick for so long and I asked my vet how I would know when to let him go. He said that I would know. He said that when he doesn't feel like greeting you and his tail doesn't wag when he sees you, you'll know it's time. I dreaded that day but when it came, I knew I couldn't let him suffer one more day. The rest was much as you described. I still miss him but I will never regret my choice.

Here's a sweet poem that comforted me years ago when I lost one of my pets and it has helped me and others since:

T June 4, 2009 at 6:23 PM  

Hi Jan,
I just wanted to stop by and let you know I was thinking about you. Please take your time. There is no hurry to come back and write something cheerful if you are not ready.

I know writing for you is therapeutic, but only write if you are ready. We will all be here when you are.

I know we are different, but I had many people telling me to get back to posting on my blog after losing Jake, unfortunately, I withdraw when I have a loss, something I struggle with on a daily basis, which makes it difficult to blog. I'm still struggling and working on that. So, all I am saying is come back when YOU are ready, for you. You are who counts.

Many hugs.

Unknown June 5, 2009 at 9:39 PM  

Hi Jan,
You don't know me, but I just read your post and wanted to reach out and let you know how very sorry I am for your loss. When I lost my Rottie last year I was amazed at all the heart-felt condolences I received from complete strangers. I hope I can provide the same to you during this very difficult time. Hang in there.

~ Dee

mary martha June 6, 2009 at 12:14 PM  

I am so sorry for your loss, I saw you had visited my blog and when I checked yours today I saw your post about Kelly. My heart goes out to you. May the memories of the life and love you shared bring you comfort during your time of grieving. Peace be with you.

troutbirder June 7, 2009 at 9:12 PM  

I now have my fourth dog and its never get easy to say goodbye. Mine were mighty hunters and I still regal all my friends with stories of their greatest feats. Those memories warm me now and I think back with a smile. You will too.

Wedding Planner June 7, 2009 at 9:36 PM  

Our mini schnauzer, Peppi, died about a month before her 9th birthday in 2003 from congestive heart failure, so I can relate to your story about Kelly, which is why it made me cry. My husband, son and I gathered around Peppi while she was dying underneath the dining room table. I thought I was ready for it just like you did because Peppi had been very sick, and I was determined to stop most of the intervention and let nature takes it course as she was clearly miserable. But after she was gone, I cried many, many times and still cry sometimes when I think about her . . . like right now. I'm really sorry for your loss.

Tatersmama June 8, 2009 at 5:52 PM  

Oh honey, I'm so sorry for your loss.
That's all I can say.
I'm too choked up to write anything more, but please know that you're in my thoughts and prayers, As is your sweet, bouncy Kelly.

Eternal Lizdom June 11, 2009 at 11:43 AM  

I am new to your blog and this story has touched me... I lost my Ginger back in Dec 2007, just 6 weeks after my second baby was born. Her stomach flipped. I took her to the ER vet at 4 a.m., hoping it wasn't what I knew it was. And I looked her in the eye and crooned to her when they put the medicine in her leg. I watched the light, the sparkle, go out.

The loss of a beloved pet is a very connecting experience.

Melinda June 11, 2009 at 2:18 PM  

Im glad you were able to write about Kelly. It does help I believe. I could feel what you were going through. I am so sorry.
Yes your Kelly does look my Bob. There is something about the Yorkie personality that just amazes me literally. So precious.
Sometime, if we get REALLY lucky in life, we get to experience the love of a REALLY good dog. Im glad you have been blessed with so much. It is also a blessing we are able to help them when its time and hold them the entire time..

T June 11, 2009 at 4:24 PM  

Hi Jan,
I didn't want to reply on your Zoo thread again, as I thought this may be inappropriate in that post.

Regarding your reply on my blog about bringing Kelly's ashes home. I understand how difficult that is. it is like losing them all over again. O really understand that feeling all too well.

I experience it each and every time, and of course most recently with Jake.

I am glad Kelly is home now, I think sometimes that is the first step of accepting he is at peace now.

I spent the entire day before Jake passed, also grooming him and spending a nice quality day together.

Please know I think of you often and your wonderful little furry family, and precious Kelly.

Alicia @ boylerpf June 14, 2009 at 1:25 PM  

I am sitting here with tears in my eyes reading yours and Kelly's story. My deepest condolences. They worm their way into your heart and make lasting memories forever.

Kerri Murphy June 15, 2009 at 3:29 AM  

I'm so sorry. I know how hard this was. I have had to do it with my babies in the past, too. It is very hard. Like losing a child.

Thanks for your very kind words on my blog.


Tweedles -- that's me June 18, 2009 at 10:54 PM  

My heart is very sad for you.
I just found your site. I think I have traveled for miles, and it was very hard to leave you a comment.
But I wanted to let you know we care- and even though I am just a pug- my heart is sending you some love, and to help you to remember to look in your heart for some memorys. That is where they live

2cats July 16, 2009 at 7:06 PM  

It is a very touching and loving story you shared with us about your bouncing boy. As difficult as that must have been I sincerely thank you.
I have had 3 of my cats die in my arms. But we were at home. It is heartbreaking. It is like a whole that can never be filled.
All I can really say that time eases it some.

Tweedles -- that's me July 18, 2009 at 1:07 AM  

I know your heart is empty.
There is no other way to say it.
Sometimes there are no words to say
except I understand.

TC August 2, 2009 at 9:18 AM  

Once again the fountain started up but it was for Kelly and not for Mugsey for once.

It is like losing a child, they are yours to take care of and train, it's hard, thanks for stopping by my blog.

ocmist August 7, 2009 at 5:25 AM  

I came to your blog to read about Tango, and found this as well. I have walked these miles in your shoes way too many times over the past 50+ years. Each love and loss is so different and so hard to live through... but we do live THROUGH it and come out the other side, sadder but with a bigger heart. That is one of our loved ones main gifts to us... a heart with more memories and love in it than what we had before they stretched it and made it their home. You are a more beautiful person because of the love you shared with your Kelly.

i August 11, 2009 at 11:49 PM  

Hi Jan, so sorry for your loss. My eyes are leaking as I read this. It's funny how they came into our lives as pets but ended up as family. Glad you're finding comfort in the wonderful memories you had with Kelly.

You are right, he looked so much like my Happy. And she is one bouncy hyperactive dog too LOL. Reading the part about Kelly in the vet reminded me of Happy too. Once I had to take her out from the waiting room too when she kept barking at all the other big dogs in there LOL.

Anu Lal August 12, 2009 at 2:08 AM  

So sorry to hear that.A loss is always painful.

Joei August 18, 2009 at 1:14 AM  

Hi Jan,
I know how hard to lose someone dear to you,
but always remember that everything happens for a reason, and I'm sure Kelly made his purpose and that is loving and taking care of you just like you do.

always put smile on your face Kelly will be sad if he saw you lonely.

have a nice day.


Susan B August 20, 2009 at 3:09 PM  

Dear Jan,
I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your sweet dog. It is so hard to lose a pet...they are such a part of our lives. They move right into our hearts, and stay there. We had to put one of our kitties to sleep a couple months was a very hard thing to do. God bless.

Herrad August 29, 2009 at 8:03 AM  

Hi Jan,
Came by last night, was curious about your blog, you are a new follower of our dogs Spike and Marleen's blog.
Sorry to read about you losing your darling Kelly.
Reminded me of losing our Daisy in 2006.
Cried too much last night to comment.

It is very difficult, we too coped with Daisy's death by telling each other stories about her derring do.
Have a good weekend.

Nina September 6, 2009 at 7:54 PM  

My husband rescued a white kitten from where he works. Her name is Luna, because she was brought home on a full moon. She taught me to play fetch with hair scrunchies (pony tail tie-ups). She brings it back for more every time I throw it, then dives off the couch and goes into kitty acrobatics...quite a luney little girl. We should be on You Tube!

Maria September 22, 2009 at 11:20 PM  

Hi, Jan, I'm reading this post very late. I'm so sorry that you have suffered this loss. Animals are wonderful company and the relationship we share with them is very special indeed. Almost beyond what anyone could express. And you know, Jan, as a believer I feel God understands this. And you know Jan, I really, truly believe that when our own time comes to enter the spiritual dimension (as opposed to the material one in which we are now!),that those wonderful animals which gave us so much joy will be there to welcome us. There was this stray dog used to sit outside my gate for years here in India and walked with me to the shops every day. The next door neighbours tried to take him in and tame him, he just wouldn't have it, he loved roaming the street too much. We called him Buddy (in Hindi 'buddhi' mean wise one and of course in English, friend). My in laws weren't keen on having a dog in the house. We grew to love him, and he stayed by the gate and ate food from us and the neighbours. Once, a year ago, we noticed his condition was getting weaker and he came inside our house one day and refused to leave. Then one day, maybe last December he disappeared. Must have gone away quietly and died. The little one still miss him and speak of him. I told my six year old son, your Buddy is still sitting by the gate, you just can't see him now! And you know what, I really feel he is!

Bharadwaj November 19, 2009 at 5:47 PM  


I m sorry for the loss of Kelly. Recently, whole of our family also suffered miserably with the loss of our pet "Kittu" a dog who was with us almost for the last 13 years or so. Your narration is wonderful and the decision you have taken is phenomenal. Excellent article with lot of soul. Your kelly must be bouncing in front of God!!! God bless him. May his soul rest in peace.

Bharadwaj November 19, 2009 at 5:49 PM

This is the link for the blogpost on Kittu for your interest.

Coralie Cederna Johnson January 21, 2010 at 8:02 AM  

I don't think we are ever really ready for the passing of a sweet wonderful pet. Each is a precious part of our family and no one can take their place. We lost our lovely beautiful Ginger sheltie in May 2009 and, though she was 12 years old, we didn't expect her to leave us so soon. We miss all the funny little things she used to do and say but realize we were so blessed to have her in our lives! Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous March 3, 2010 at 10:48 AM  


I'm very sorry for your loss of Kelly; I know it's hard. My Maggie (a beautiful Lhasa that was found by a friend who couldn't find her owner and couldn't keep her) died suddenly and unexpectedly at home around 6 a.m. on August 5, 2005. I'll never forget that day...she was gone in less than 15 minutes...not even enough time to try to get her to the emergency vet office in Worthington. Not a day goes by that I don't think about and miss Maggie; I'm sure it's the same for you with Kelly. They are both waiting for us at the Rainbow Bridge...

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