The Postscript: A final farewell to our dog, Milo

Published 6:16 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Postscript: A final farewell to our dog, Milo

by Carrie Classon


Last week, after my dog Milo’s pain got worse and the pain meds didn’t seem to be having any effect, I knew what I had to do.

Milo was a big dog and he hadn’t moved from the doorway to the kitchen in more than 24 hours. I couldn’t move him without causing a lot of pain, so I called a “mobile vet.” An hour and a half later, she arrived.

By that time, Milo was softly crying pretty much nonstop. My sister-in-law and Milo’s buddy, Joe, and I took turns petting him and telling him what a good dog he was. The vet was a no-nonsense, big-hearted woman with tattoos around her arms and heavy boots on her feet. She stepped over Milo, still positioned in the door jam, said soft words to him, and prepared a sedative.

Finally, as the sedative took effect, Milo’s pain stopped and, as he fell asleep, I said goodbye. The formal dying part hadn’t come yet, but I looked into his eyes as they lost focus and I said goodbye to my buddy of nine years.

I said goodbye to the friend I had adopted when I was recently divorced and living alone in a farmhouse on six acres. There were strange noises at night and it got lonely but Milo was there, barking at anything he heard (usually deer and possums) sticking close to me and letting me know I was no longer alone.

Later, I moved with him to attend school and we lived in a one-room converted garage as I became a late-in-life grad student. Milo was always at the door after class, waiting for me.

Then I met my husband, Peter. Peter was no fool and knew the way to my heart was through Milo. Peter showed up with homemade dehydrated sweet potato chips and I dubbed him “Mr. Sweet Potato.” Milo was good with words—and loved sweet potato. He knew Peter as “Mr. Sweet Potato” for the rest of his life.

Peter’s heart had been broken by so many dogs, he had decided he was all through with them. Then I moved into his life and Milo with me—the dog of the woman he fell in love with, late in life. Peter told me he was not going to get attached, but Milo wormed his way into Peter’s heart, against Peter’s wishes.

Because that’s what dogs do.

After Milo was gone, we wrapped his body up and drove him to the nearest crematorium, more than an hour away. It was not at all what I was expecting. The crematorium itself was in an old barn in the country with a big chimney rising from the back. There was a little pet cemetery out back decorated with pet toys. The proprietress was over seventy with long white hair, bright blue eyes, and an Irish flag imprinted on one front tooth. She gave me a margarita lollypop, a copy of the “Rainbow Bridge” poem (which will make you cry no matter how determined you are not to), and a hug. I left Milo’s body on a makeshift altar with flowers on it.

“Goodbye, buddy.”

And even though I imagine everyone reading this has been through what I am going through, it doesn’t get any easier, does it?

These animals mark the important moments in our lives. They live their accelerated lives out before us and bear witness to our own aging. They bring us gifts we never dreamed of, delivering more joy and sorrow than would ever seem possible.

Because that’s what dogs do.

Till next time,