An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

In loving memory

I’m not even sure what metaphor or simile to use for what my eyes and face look like right now, maybe a blowfish? What do those look like? Aren’t they swollen? (furiously performs google image search) Maybe that but without the spikes. Is that not the right scientific term, spikes? Quills? Are they quills? See how I’m trying to distract myself? How about one more question mark? Where’s Waldo? Who is John Galt? Where in the world is Matt Lauer?

Saturday evening I met up with my mother, stepfather, and my sister’s whole family for dinner, and there I learned that their beloved dog Bo (they spell it Beau but from the first time I met him he was always a Bo to me, Bo Duke if I’d had my say) had taken very ill within the last 24 hours. He’d been puking nonstop and had ceased to eat anything, and my brother-in-law knew something was horribly wrong when he pulled a piece of turkey bacon out of the crisper and Bo didn’t try to tackle him to the ground.

That has always been the emergency warning light for both of my dogs. Chuck and Coco can tell if I’m thinking of the word bacon, so if they refuse a bite of that then shit just got real.

They rushed him to the vet and after a series of blood tests discovered that he had diabetes. And things were so advanced that he was very close to death. He’d have to stay overnight and they’d see what they could do, but they couldn’t make any promises. My family is always up for joking around, and we had a few laughs that night at dinner but it was all punctuated by one of the kids or my sister choking back a sob.

They would be headed back to the vet the following day to check up on him, and I offered to meet them there with my camera to take portraits just in case. They nodded at this suggestion through tears, and my sister texted on Sunday morning and asked that I meet at her house at around 11AM. When I showed up and walked onto her porch she opened the door and greeted me with a face that needed no explanation, no words. The face of someone who fell in love with a dog, despite the barking, the incessant ROOOING!, the stealing of food from the pantry. Despite the snoring, the paw scratching your leg because he’d very much like a bite of your sandwich. Despite coming home and discovering the trash had been raided yet again. Love of a giant white belly flopping over on the floor, a furry invitation for a rub, a hug, a touch of recognition. Love for the constant shadow at her feet.

Bo had made it through the night but he wasn’t in any better condition. He would most certainly go blind. The vet thought they could make him comfortable for another few days, but his condition was so bad that he most likely wouldn’t live that long. So my sister did the impossible and made the decision to show him mercy. They took him home from the vet so that we could all come to say our goodbyes, and then they’d take him back in a few hours to have him put to rest.

I walked back to my car to grab my camera bag and somehow found my way through eyes full of tears. Uncontrollable and fast. They came so freely that I had soaked my shirt within a few steps. I’ve written many posts about Bo over the years, and he and Chuck have always had a very special relationship. Cousins, brothers, kin. Always playing, tussling, running circles in the yard. You might remember this story in particular:

“Afterward we sat them both down and talked to them about their bodies”

When I walked in the house there was reverent silence except for the faint crying of my sister’s kids. Bo was lying comfortably in his bed up against the wall, eyes closed. As I approached he lifted his head, titled it to the right as if trying to put a name to my face, and then he pulled himself up. I fell to my knees and that sick dog walked over to me and nestled his head into my lap. He remembered the sleepovers, the treats I sneaked to him under the table, the play dates with Chuck. I buried my face into the space between those ears as long as the wings of a plane. We said goodbye to each other.

I did not grow up with any pets, and I told my sister’s kids how brave they were being in the face of something their parents and I never had to go through. When it was time for Bo to leave, my brother-in-law scooped him up into his arms and all of us felt our hearts beat furiously against the wall of our chests, unable to breathe or deal with the concept of the next hour, the next minute, the next second. It was the last moment we’d spend with that dog.

Later that day my mother texted me:

I have never seen Steve so emotional. He held Beau as they gave him the drugs. Steve was racked with sobs as he related the tender way Beau looked at him as if to say “thank you” and then nestled into the crook of Steve’s arm and gently left this world. We were all touched by him.

My family drove Beau out to my mother’s cabin in Duchesne and buried him underneath the window of her bedroom there, a place he frequently loved to visit and explore, a place where he could ROO! to his heart’s content and chase wildlife without constraint.

Last night I told my mother that I had been working on something to give to my sister’s family, the only thing that I have to offer them during this time of overwhelming sorrow: the library of photos I’ve taken over the years. She responded:

They are heart broken today. No Beau at the door when they came home. No snoring last night. Joshua said he imagined Beau walked to school with him. My heart is so full I can hardly keep from crying.

This is for Steve, September, Mariah, Meredith, Britton, Joshua and Noah. You gave Beau the best home he could have ever hoped for. You and he are all in my heart.

Music is “To Build a Home” by The Cinematic Orchestra

  • zchamu

    My 11 year old Beagle -named Beagle – has cancer. We will lose him soon. It’s the hardest decision to have to make: when do I kill my dog? – but also the kindest. I love your Bo posts. He was a perfect beagle. Love to his family.

  • Jessica

    I had to make the same decision for my dog this Saturday. It sucks. Struggling with the loss, and explaining to the children why she isn’t coming back this time. You took such lovely photos of Bo/eau. Great tribute. But the Dukes of Hazard theme song may be more uplifting…

  • I’m so sorry for the loss of your family member. Beau sounded like a beautiful soul. I’m a therapist, and the only time I have ever cried in a session is when a woman described the pain she felt right after the death of her dog. The impact our pets have on our lives is special and profound.

  • BeckyCochrane

    I’m so very sorry. Rest easy, sweet Beau.

  • AnotherHeather

    I’m in tears and inarticulate. Went through this with my “old” dog and had an emergency the other night with my 8-year-old “young” dog. He’s ok, but I am still raw at the surface and overly vigilant and so sorry to say a true farewell to Bo/Beau. My boy’s so sensitive that he came up to me and put his head in my lap as I was reading this (wonderful, evocative) piece, just because he can sense that I’m unhappy at Beau/Bo’s passing, with no other clue than that I’m sending out some kind of signal to him that only he can sense. My old guy had one bad day, too, and said goodbye with his head in my lap on the floor of the vet’s and I’ll always remember it and always be grateful that he was able to calmly, peacefully slip away in my embrace. My best wishes to you and to your family, Beau/Bo’s wonderful family.

  • Amy Williams

    I am so sorry for you and your family’s loss.

  • Mia Stachura

    It was all I could do to not start bawling while reading this. My mom made the tough decision to put down two of our dogs this year, and I miss them both terribly whenever I go home to visit. It’s hard to realize how much animals can impact you until it’s time for them to go. Rest in peace, Bo/Beau.

  • Deb

    Beautifully done, my friend

  • Eileen McKay

    A beautiful gift Heather. I had to put my beloved beagle down in April. I was just thinking (again) earlier today how much I miss him. You can never have too many pictures. There are moments I wish had captured that I can only hope now not to forget. I am crying for your family’s loss and for my own.

  • i just… can’t. look to the right of me, and there’s my beagle, findley on the floor, nestled at my feet.

  • Clara

    I made the mistake of reading this at work and had to stop because I kept tearing up!

  • Heartbreaking and the kindest thing we can do for our best friend when the time comes. They love us too much to let go easily and helping them cross over when our hearts are breaking honors their love for us in the deepest possible way.
    Beau Hogan Rest In Peace.

  • LisaAR

    You do a beautiful job of encapsulating such a gut-wrenching experience and giving tribute to a beautiful member of your extended family. So sorry for your loss.

  • Mary Elkin

    Beau-tiful tribute. The music is perfect. I looked down and my shirt was wet too.

  • kirsten zielinski

    here are 2 poems that i think fit this family and their dog.

    So this is where we part, My Friend,
    and you’ll run on, around the
    gone from sight, but not from mind,
    new pleasures there you’ll
    surely find.

    I will go on, I’ll find the strength,
    life measures quality, not its
    One long embrace before you leave,
    share one last look, before I

    There are others, that much is true,
    but they be they, and they aren’t
    And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought,
    will remember well all
    you’ve taught.

    Your place I’ll hold, you will be missed,
    the fur I stroked, the nose I
    And as you journey to your final rest,
    take with you this…I
    loved you best.

    Copyright © Jim Willis 2002, all rights reserved

    The Last Battle
    If it should be that I grow frail and weak
    And pain should keep me
    from my sleep,
    Then will you do what must be done,
    For this — the last
    battle — can’t be won.
    You will be sad I understand,
    But don’t let grief
    then stay your hand,
    For on this day, more than the rest,
    Your love and
    friendship must stand the test.
    We have had so many happy years,
    wouldn’t want me to suffer so.
    When the time comes, please, let me
    Take me to where my needs they’ll tend,
    Only, stay with me until the
    And hold me firm and speak to me
    Until my eyes no longer see.
    know in time you will agree
    It is a kindness you do to me.
    Although my
    tail its last has waved,
    From pain and suffering I have been saved.
    grieve that it must be you
    Who has to decide this thing to do;
    We’ve been
    so close — we two — these years,
    Don’t let your heart hold any

    Author Unknown

  • ItsDicey

    Beautiful, loving tribute. I’m just a puddle of mush right now. My heart goes out to you all.

  • So sorry 🙁 Sad stuff. It’s never easy to lose a pet like that — I remember every moment of having our shepherd put to sleep when I was in grade five.

    Sending love!

  • Stephanie Flores

    I know I can’t watch the video yet… We just had to put our beloved 12.5 yo yorkie to rest a week ago…hardest decision to make but we knew she was too sick (pancreatitis)… RIP Bo/Beau…

  • Misty

    Having had to put my dog Geri to rest after 17.5 years . This touched my heart .
    You the tears still fall as We miss her deeply .
    We give our hearts to these noisy, messy , happy fun loving selfish creatures. They are family more than a pet but true family members.

  • katrynka

    Such a sad but beautiful post. As others have said, it is good to be surrounded by people who understand what it is to love an animal. I was literally sobbing out loud after reading this, watching the video and reading the comments. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  • Mel Rattanapote

    Heather, that was beautiful. I am thinking of your family. I almost cried. *hugs to all*

  • Kristen

    We had a similar loss of our beagle last year but his cause was a tumor in his throat. Because we had a long planned vacation coming up on Monday, we did not get to say good-bye. My husband had to make the decision on his own and stayed with him til the end and cried the whole way home having to pull over several times. My thoughts and prayers are with your family.

  • Jennifer Wagner

    We tragically and suddenly lost our lab about two months ago. A dog that was truly my best friend. When he died all I could think was “how am I going to live without him?” He was hilarious, a person hidden in a dogs body, he carried our pain, our sorrows, and he was the ultimate protector of my and my kids. A part of me died with him. He had drowned and I watched my sister in laws give him CPR. And when we couldn’t bring him back I just held him like I did so many times. (He was the best snuggler, and was always a willing pillow). That was the worst day of my life, and the worst thing that has ever happened to me. A completely feel the pain of your family and my thoughts are with you. We are so blessed to have these furry babies in our lives, and sometimes its hard to realize how much they are a part of us. A coworker that last her dog (hit by a car) the same time we lost ours sent me this poem and I saved it and wanted to share…

    Until We Meet in Heaven

    All good things
    Must come to an end,
    And today I said goodbye
    To my very best friend.

    The house will seem so still,
    Now that he’s gone.
    There’ll be no one to wake me up
    To go outside at dawn.

    His bowls will sit there empty,
    But I’ll leave them in their place.
    No more will water drip down
    From his thirsty, furry face.

    There’ll be no one to bark
    When the paper boy comes by.
    It’s going to be one of those moments
    When I’m sure I’ll want to cry.

    But I know the day will come,
    When my tears will finally fade,
    And I’ll focus on the good times,
    and all the fetch we played.

    So until the day that we
    Can be together once again,
    I’ll keep your memory alive
    ‘Til we meet in Heaven, my friend.

  • Jennifer Wagner

    Complete. Mess. When we unexpectedly lost our dog I had to hold it together for our kids, but it sent my husband into a deep, deep depression. Burying the ashes of our furry baby gave him some closure and he is getting better.

  • BeckyCochrane

    A month–your grief must be so raw. I’m sorry for your loss, Valarie.

  • Emilie

    This exact same thing happened to my lovely dog in March. He wasn’t acting right (also refusing bacon – must be a universal dog “I don’t feel well” sign) and within two weeks we found out he had lymphoma. For what it’s worth, you aren’t alone!

  • I’m crying at my desk and even though I never met Bo in person, as the guardian of 3 dogs, I feel your loss so deeply. Hugs to your family and I know everyone that reads this post will hug their own pets a little tighter tonight. Thanks for the post Heather…I’ll have to watch the rest of the video later…it’s just too hard right now.

  • SLK

    I didn’t know K9 diabetes presented itself so quickly and without warning. Wondering if Beau / Bo had been going to the vet regularly….. RIP Beau. Death is hardest for the living.

  • Rachel

    That made me cry. I know one of the hardest parts of losing a pet is how EMPTY the house feels when they’re not there. After our cat died, I kept thinking I saw her little face around a corner or heard her meowing, and then I’d realize all over again that she wasn’t there. Honestly, I think one of the best things to do is get another pet. Soon. I know they’re hurting and it might feel disrespectful to Beau, but that emptiness in your house just doesn’t go away until you get another animal to fill it up.

  • L

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever….

  • Jen

    I sit here tears streaming because my beloved cat of 15 years will be leaving us in a few days. They are the bearer of unconditional love, understanding, companionship & pure joy. The only thing I can give her is an ending to her precious life painlessly. So I give everyone a virtual comforting hug. And Beau sounds like he was one terrific pup.

  • April

    I totally agree, I lost my dog, Squeak (Shih tzu), two days before Christmas a
    few years ago, she was killed by the neighbors dogs, worst night of my life
    finding her in their backyard. I had to pull it together for my kids, it
    was so hard because she was like my baby.

  • I can’t imagine the tears you must have shed putting together this montage. I have been rendered to a sobbing mess here in my office as I remember having to say goodbye to our 16 yr old beagle mutt who looked a lot like Beau. It’s so hard to let go of someone who loves you so purely…

  • Poor Chuck!

  • KristenfromMA

    What a wonderful gift for you to give your family Heather. Really wonderful.

    RIP Beau, and condolences to all who loved you.

  • dewshane

    Well thanks, now I’ve got puffer face and I never even met Beau. That tribute is beautiful and I think anyone who has lost a pet (particularly a dog, sorry cat-people) can understand how awful the pain and sense of loss can be. Which is why I just bawled in sympathy for what you and your sister and her family are going through right now.

    I think this particularly affected me because I just adopted a puppy yesterday and I’m starting the cycle anew. Strange to know what kind of heartbreak I’m getting myself into, again, but they are just so worth it.

  • Stephanie Brower Czosnek

    A dog is never “just a dog.” A dog (and cats!) are lifelong companions. They are family members and they have personalities and traits that are both good and bad. They each are special. I am so sorry for the loss of Beau. My heart aches for your family’s difficult time in dealing with such a loss.

  • Kendi Bliesmer

    Sending healing thoughts to all. We put our beagle, Sadye, to rest on July 7th and strangely went through an almost identical experience. I always loved reading about Beau/Bo because we also had a little “Rooooo-er” in the house. I don’t think your home ever feels the same.

  • Alicia Soret

    holy shit, Heather. What an awesome thing to put together for your family. I’m sitting here crying my eyes out for Beau. So beautiful, music, expressions, everything. How amazing. They will cherish this forever.

  • Kristina

    I cried and cried while I watched this. My heart breaks for your sister and her family, all of you. It’s so hard letting a pet go. I hope you find solace in his peace and in the memories of him.
    RIP sweet Beau.

  • Eric S. Johansson

    I’m really sorry that you and your family had to go through the inevitable loss. It’s hitting me pretty hard because I’m going to the first time in my life in 35 years I’m without a dog. I had to put last one down a year ago during the time when I was most crazy in my divorce. The story hits me doubly hard because it’s about a hound. My 35 dog years were filled with black and tan, blue tick, and plot hounds.

    You and your family will recover from the loss. I hope you leave yourself open to finding another hound and the joyous noise they make unto the world.

  • Megan Phillips

    I’m so sorry for you and your family– what a beautiful tribute, Heather.

  • I’m so very sorry. I’m crying just reading your words so I can’t bring myself to watch the video just now. I know it will be a comfort to your sister and her family, though. Shortly after we had to have our beloved 17 year old cat put to rest, a dear artist friend sent me a beautiful portrait of our sweet Malory which he had painted. It hangs above my computer where I see it all the time.

  • Jennifer Cafferty-Davis

    So, so sorry for your loss. For those of us who consider our pets our children, losses like these are beyond difficult. I can’t watch the video at work because I know I will end up with a puffy face the rest of the day. I will watch it this evening, after work, after the kids are in bed. Rest in peace, Beau. For those who haven’t heard of it, I recommend The Rainbow Bridge poem when you lose a pet.

  • Jen Tullis

    I just cried through that whole video. What a sweet gift!

  • John Walter Flores

    Sad story. Dogs mean a lot in our lives because they are beings just like us. And we communicate with them in all sorts of ways–developing a deep connection. We become family. Sometimes I have been closer to a good dog than the people around me.

  • Linda

    This broke my heart. I am sorry for your guys’ loss. I remember how hard it was when I had to put down my beautiful kitty Olivia. She was the best cat ever and I still remember how awful I felt before and after.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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