My dog died today.

“Wait, I’m actually not fine,” I told the cashier.

She looked puzzled because we had already been through the smalltalk niceties, and there’s not much I disdain more than smalltalk. She had already rung up my frozen Pad Thai, and the card machine was beeping obnoxiously trying to tell me that the transaction was complete. But in that moment, I wanted nothing more than to let overflow the emotions that were ripping up my heart.

“My dog died today,” I blurted out and immediately began to cry.

Without hesitation, the girl walked from behind the counter and gave me the most sincerest of stranger hugs I’ve ever received.

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“I’m bringing him to you,” Dad told me last night. “You need to say goodbye.”

Baylie had collapsed, stopped eating, and was barely conscious when Dad contacted me. After 2 months of being denied the chance to see my dog, a miracle happened. Dad, my patron saint, had been my spokesperson for weeks, patiently petitioning that I get to see my Baylie. Punishing me from seeing my dog because I am gay was one of the cruelest things ever done to me. Whether the circumstance was outright demand on my dad’s part or a momentary lapse of bitterness on my mother’s, I had no idea. All I knew was that I was finally getting to see my dog— and I was both elated and heartsick that it had reached this point.

It was nearly 10pm when Dad got to town last night. My heart raced as I walked toward the car to see Baylie. I scooped him out of the car and into my arms. He was limp, and his head flopped onto my chest. He didn’t even have the strength to move or look at me. His furry feet stuck up in the air like a stranded bug. We always called his fuzzy feet his “house shoes.” I felt the bones of his spine poking through his thick hair, so I cradled him softly in his blanket. I was so excited to see him. I wanted to show him everything. We walked down by the river so I could show him my new home. When I tried to stand him up on the ground, his legs buckled and he slumped head first into the grass. I felt nauseous seeing him that way, but I brushed it off fearing that I’d become too hysterical if I dwelled on it. “Oh you don’t feel like walking around do you buddy?” I said, knowing full well that the young, spry Baylie despised being held. He would kick and fuss like a jackrabbit to be out of the cuddling clutches of even me. So that night, when he rested what bodyweight he had left onto my chest, I knew. He was dying right in front of me. He was telling me, “I’m tired. I’m so, so tired. I can’t fight anymore.”

But I wasn’t ready to let go. I wanted to bury my head in his fur and sob and apologize and be angry at all that had happened. I wanted to say Don’t leave me— not now. Don’t do this. But I didn’t. I didn’t want Baylie to see my cry.

We walked inside, and we sat together on the floor. “I’ve heard you haven’t been hungry,” I said, in denial again that refusal-to-eat was a telling sign. “Let’s get some cheese— you’re favorite!” I held a small block of cheese in front of his nose. He nibbled a bit, then his head fell limp to the side. “You’re probably just thirsty,” I say and let him take a few sips from his water bowl. A few minutes pass, and I try to memorize his sweet face, the texture of his fur, and the last echoes personality in his tired, foggy eyes.

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“He seems to have perked up since he’s been around you,” Dad said. Though it might have been just consolation, it put a little brightness into my aching chest nonetheless.

And then the moment I dreaded. “We need to head back to Alabama sweetheart,” Dad said. “Tell him goodbye.”

No, no, no.

I placed Baylie back into the carseat and adjusted his weak and contorted neck into a comfortable spot. I put my hand his chest to feel his struggling heartbeat one more time.

“Well dear,” Dad said. . .

No, no, no. Baylie doesn’t know yet. Baylie doesn’t know what he means to me. Sure, I’m not the first one who has lost a pet, but this time it’s different, I tell myself. Baylie didn’t know that before him, I’d had another puppy for 9 months, but because of Mom’s anxiety and the excessive dog hair, they took him away. Baylie didn’t know that I clutched tight to him everyday hoping this one could stay. Baylie didn’t know that he was my solace on scary days. Baylie didn’t know that he had made my dreams of being an National Agility Competitor come true. Baylie didn’t know that I loved hanging out with him more than humans when I was an adolescent. He didn’t know that my worrisome, troublesome heart had dreaded this day of goodbye since the day we picked him from a litter of two. Baylie didn’t know.

So I just held his frail and fading face in my hands and said nothing. I shut the car door, and my dad drove away. That was that. The invisible tie that held me & my little buddy together all these years was slowly becoming untethered, and I felt like I might fall apart.

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My dog died today. He died quietly this morning in Alabama on the way to the vet. I wonder what he was thinking as he slipped away. I don’t think dogs sense the emotions we project onto them— those of our own regret, guilt, and pain. Those human responses are too simple for a dog’s depth of feeling.

Part of me thinks Baylie held on until he got to see me. Part of me hopes that he felt my love as I held his gray, worn face even though I couldn’t speak. I think he did. Because that’s what dogs do; they make us feel completely loved & totally understood.

I’ll see you soon, my sweet friend. There won’t be another like you.

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9 thoughts on “My dog died today.

  1. Meredith, I’m so sorry you lost him. Sometimes nothing aches more than a heart losing a pet. Prayers for you!

  2. Meredith. I’m sorry things were as they were. But Baylie will be there for you always. I know how you feel believe me. I loved him and he loved his Mamaw. I visited the same day as you. Said my goodbyes. I think he knew I was there. He died in moms arms. She had watched him breathe all day the day befor. Me too. I can’t image that happening to me. He rested by Asa many times. Now he has his buddy back.

  3. Ok. Most of this blog was bull shit.
    But I’m going to point out the most important bull shit.
    When you moved out in January you promptly got another dog. Three times I asked you to come to the house to let the dogs out to pee. You rolled your eyes and heaved a sigh and I said never mind. But the third time you actually lied and said you would and once we left, you took your key to Mamaw and pawned the job off on her. Yea. You loved him so much you couldn’t come over to let him pee. And then in typical fashion you tell your readers that you were denied seeing him by your cruel mom because you’re gay. What a crock.
    I want you and all your readers to know that you are an excellent writer. Beautiful writer. But you are queen of embellishing stories to your benefit. You have always done that. Your readers don’t know a fraction of what I know. You’re a follower and I don’t even know you anymore because every single aspect of your being has done a 180° since you met Allison. Everything. You turned in to her like you’ve done everyone you ever became friends with.
    You need to correct this story. Quit playing the freaking victim!!!!!! You were not a frightened little child clinging to your dog.
    Stop. Just stop. You’re a liar. A follower at best.
    And to top it off you couldn’t drive and meet your dad?? He had to drive to Chattanooga?? You could’ve met him anywhere in Gadsden. But know. You couldn’t make the drive to see him when he finally won. Just like you couldn’t drive across town to let him pee.
    Really he was my dog. I always took care of him. I gave him every bath, every brushing, every nail clipping, because I would do the hard stuff and love him too.
    But throw me under the bus. I did the hard stuff with the dogs, my dogs, and the hard stuff with my kids. Daddy coddled so you love him. And when I say coddled it’s exactly what he does even now. He HATES your lifestyle. But he coddles.
    Stop. Just stop using every opportunity to trash me, campaign for homosexuality (which btw you said you’d never do). Shut up and go be gay. You don’t have to try to convince the world. You know it’s wrong fundamentally or you wouldn’t.
    But this blog is a crock full.

    1. Cathy, I’m ashamed of you. I am ashamed that ANY mother would talk to her child the way you have. This is vitriolic and nauseating. You ought to be ashamed of yourself–and grateful that others don’t judge you the way you judge your own child. Grateful Jesus doesn’t judge you the way you judge others. Grateful your daughter is a loving, giving minister of grace in a world of hate and judgment. Grateful that others who read your posts know and understand that you are hurting inside like the rest of us–that you are carrying burdens like the rest of us. You ought to be ashamed of your words, and you ought to ask your child to forgive you while you can. Accept her love, give her your love, and bask in the love of a God who doesn’t see any of us as better or worse than another.

    2. Even if everything you say is true, ma’am, you’re her mom. Jesus, if my mom treated me like this after I rolled my eyes, or embellished a story, or was a bit selfish, or just because I was gay, well, I guess I wouldn’t have had that great of a relationship with her either. And I would’ve needed to find that unconditional love elsewhere. After reading this hate-filled message, it solidifies what I suspected to be true. What a fine, Christian example this is. Have a nice day.

    3. If you find this blog to be a crock, why not stop following it? Grief is a process, whether it’s over a pet or the daughter you hoped that your child would become.

  4. It’s always interesting to me that people automatically give a gay person a victim card.
    I’m not judging. There was nothing to judge. It just is what it is. It’s how I feel. I’m not handing down a sentence on her eternity.
    I know more about this than you know.
    And I hand it to her. She’s a gifted writer which will always impact people in a way that I cannot. But it’s ok. Meredith knows.
    There are always going to be people out there who call me a bad mom when I comment. I can handle that. You have no idea the depth of this situation. You just read her beautiful posts and there you are, giving her the victim card to use to single herself out to try to be accepted. Makes no sense.

    1. With all due respect, you are the one who keeps bringing up her being gay as the issue. To me, it feels like you’re “playing the victim” in all of this. A mother/daughter relationship can be complicated and crazy. But, as for me, no matter what decisions I made or paths I went down, I never once thought my mom did not love me for who I was. Consider myself lucky, I guess. And for the record, I know Meredith personally, and she’s a great girl. You’re really missing out.

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