My Dog Moon

My dog, Moon, is at the end of his life. I know this. I’ve known it for a while. But knowing it doesn’t make it easier, just more obvious. Like a storm on the horizon, it’s coming for us. He’s asleep on the couch now, and even though he seems out of it, I catch his eyes following me around the room. We have an awareness of each other. For eleven years he’s been my life partner. We put 130,000 miles on my car together. He sleeps with me and eats with me and wades into the lake with me. Of course, I knew this day was coming. I’ve known it since the first day he was my dog. And here we are. At that moment.

Billie Best writes about her dog Moon.

I’ve done this before, witnessed the decline, made the decision, called the vet, held my love in my arms, and cried. My first dog was a charming pug named Sam. He lived to be 16, but his personality began to disappear a few years before he died. First, he lost his sight, then his hearing, then his awareness. We buried him on the hill above the pond. 

My second dog was a bullmastiff named Henry, and I made a very big mistake when his time was near. It was ten months after my husband and my mother died, and Henry was my comfort animal, my grief therapy, and the family member that gave me continuity to my past. When his hips failed, I could not accept another death in my life. Under bad advice from our vet, I put him through a battery of tests and x-rays in his last 48 hours, tormenting him with being crated at the clinic and the pain of having his bones forced into position for the x-rays. This is a mistake that haunts me to this day. I wasn’t thinking about him and his chances for recovery from disintegrating hips. I was thinking only about myself and my loss. He had no chance of recovery. When a 150-pound dog can’t walk to pee or stand to eat, it’s all over. We put him down in my livingroom and buried him under the apple tree.

Six months after Henry died, I got Moon, an elegant Weimaraner puppy, and he has been my constant companion ever since. We both have separation anxiety, so I can count the times we’ve been apart more than a few days. He is my lovelight and my lightness-of-being, my deep connection with the life force and Nature all around me. For eleven years we’ve shared a home and many adventures in the mountains, at the beach and on the farm, exploring, hiking and hunting. In that time, he has become a marker for my identity as a widow, my recovery from extreme depression, and my journey to become whole again. The day he came home with me, I destroyed my stash of fentanyl patches and made a promise to live as long as he did.

Now I have a very good life, a homeplace that fills me, and a dear man who loves me and Moon. We three have become a little family in the past eight months. It’s been a joyful time for us. Moon is living his best life here in the forest on the hill. But he has a terminal combination of lifelong afflictions and geriatric conditions that conspire to take his breath away. I’ve been up all night with him. So, I’m pretty raw right now, thinking these things through. I see that my challenge is to not make the same mistake with Moon that I made with Henry, not to wait so long that death is a panic-stricken choice to avoid more pain. I’d like Moon’s death to be a moment of grace, a peaceful sleep, a serene transition, just as I’d like my own death to be. But choosing grace over panic is not so simple. I need the strength to face that moment without fear. Maybe we all do. 

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18 thoughts on “My Dog Moon

  1. This too has broken me and my heart.. over and over again. With each new puppy in my life comes that foreshadowing of the loss of part of me. It is hard to be brave when life takes your closest companion . I wish strength and comfort and peace for both you and Moon. 💔

  2. Hi Billie, Reading about Moon made me sad. I met him when he came into your life. What a path he has shared with you! I’m glad you have found a partner and a place. Sending love.

    1. So cool to hear from you, Kathy. I remember the NESAWG board retreat at my house when I first got Moon. Such a cool flashback to the farm. Thanks for reaching out and sending the love. Right back at you.

  3. Our animals are our family. How well I know the heartache of having to let my dog go. The trip to the vet, holding my dog in my arms and feeling her last heartbeat. Tears flowing. I’m sorry that Moon is reaching this point, but also very thankful that you had Moon in your life. It’s the price we pay, but it hurts. Thank you for sharing your grief. Much love.

  4. So sorry to hear this, Billie. I think so many of us rely on our animals for so much emotional support, and Moon was there for you in a period of loss and turmoil, as you so elegantly recount in your memoir. May his going be gentle, and the love he has given you live on!

    My dog Loki is 12 years old this year, and that shift into elderhood is happening. I am thinking about getting a puppy, to help me through the grief of losing Loki, who is still spry enough to play and teach the young’un all his good & bad tricks.

    Sending love–

    1. Thank you, Jennifer, for reaching out and helping me connect all my parts into one whole. I’m sending wellness wishes to Loki and imagining a cosmic puppy for you.

  5. I have felt a kinship since the first time I read that you also had a dog named “Moon”. My Moon was the love of my life, although there have been other dogs I’ve shared my life with before and since. Moon was the one. He was born, with 9 littermates, in my dining room. My first litter of Afghan Hounds. From the moment I decided he was staying with me while the others went to new homes and families I worried about the fact that I would have to lose him someday . When he was 10, and I was increasingly distressed that he wouldn’t be with me forever, I was encouraged to speak to an animal communicator. I don’t believe in animal communicators, so it seemed useless. But she didn’t communicate with him, she simply said to me: “Let him show you something about himself that you haven’t seen before”. Unimaginable. I knew every inch. But in concentration I felt that I was trying to see through a watery, rainbow colored mist, and realized that THAT was what I was supposed to see. Maybe what some would call an aura? She then said: “Let him tell you something.” and I heard, not audibly, but definitely heard: “Don’t worry, I won’t leave you, I’ve been here before and I’ll be back”. Sadly, I have come to believe, not in this lifetime.

  6. Dear Billie,
    Hanne, Jazmine and I are sending you big love and stand with you in grief.
    Please give beautiful Moon a loving, long hug and many kisses from us. He made paw prints on our hearts. What a handsome and sweet fellow.
    Bon voyage Moon. You remain in spirit.
    Give yourself a big hug and kisses from us as well. Weren’t we lucky to have been part of each other’s journeys.
    xoxo
    ❤️Rikke

  7. Oh Billie,
    I know so well what you’re going through. Probably every dog lover does. As much as its sad, it also amazing to have had such an indelible relationship with another soul. Its deep and beautiful for both of you.
    XOXO

  8. Tears. I have been at this same place many times and it never gets easier. I am so very sorry.

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