2/11/2013 - 11/29/2019Titus, you were the perfect dog for me. Your came to me when you needed a new home and I needed a companion. Your personality changed to match me after you arrived. You were my guard, my friend, my companion, my goofball. You loved the car and the back seat was YOURS! I miss you terribly. I miss using you as a pillow to watch TV. I miss you on your dog bed in my office. I miss you leaning on me for attention and side rubs. I miss your sad eyes that had such love in them. I miss your "comma" dance and wiggle.

You brought me such joy when I came home -- it's so empty now. I know you are running, ready to play with your head low and your bottom wiggling in the air, wagging your nub of a tail. Yours was a life that was cut way too short. Keep playing in heaven until I hold you again. You will never be forgotten.
Wendi ShortWaterloo, IllinoisDecember 1, 2019
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They say that we rescue our pets. And while that is true, sometimes they rescue us as well. You found Titus in a situation that was not healthy for him, and you did rescue him. But I believe the same could be said for Titus. He came to you and filled a void in your life. He provided you the unconditional love we all seek. He was your buddy, your guardian and your travel companion. He brought a smile to your face, made your day brighter and gave meaning and purpose to your life. He was taken from you too soon. He will be deeply missed, but never forgotten.Rob Haug - December 10, 2019
I’m so sorry for your loss. On the 5 year anniversary of Maxwell’s passing, ironically I was asked by a friend of mine in NYC to write an article about my loss in an attempt to help others dealing with what I went through....thought maybe this might help.

Maxwell —A dog’s Love

Anyone who has opened their heart to a beloved dog will eventually face their death. It is a hard, inevitable reality. And when that day comes, it is a wall we hit with a force so strong, it could measure on the rector scale.

The stronger the bond, the harder the grief. Grieving over a dog is tremendously complicated, for it is a process in which this ultimate bond—the sanctity of unconditional love between human and dog has come to an end, or at least, physically so. It is unbearable, wearisome, and harrowing. Yet it’s also a natural and beautiful state of mind, for through grieving, we are bearing, enduring, and surrendering to the loss of what is essential and pure: Love. A love worth grieving over, for to avoid the grief, we would have avoided the bond shared.

Society already tends to be uncomfortable with the concept of death. And so at times, we even feel guilt in the process of grieving over our dog. We might feel that this sensation is unwelcome. That we need to “get over it” expeditiously, move on, straighten up, and be ecstatic with life again. As if this natural feeling will burden others. This feeling is exacerbated by comments like “it’s just a dog” or “just get another one”. Giving feelings it’s unacceptable, and we are spineless and weak for we feel so much pain. Perhaps we feel shame, for the display of this pain exhibits our dependency on our furry counterparts. As we struggle through the acceptance of the loss of what was, we feel like what is—the world that surrounds us anid still remains, does not acquiesce nor validate this ambient sorrow.

For us dog parents, caretaking is a daily ritual. Not only is it a daily ritual, it is a part of who we are. The dog is not just a dog. He is part of our identity, and proudly so. He is a symbol of what we are, and who we aspire to become. Years together, as the dog strangely acquires our idiosyncrasies, we do the same. Living together, the dog becomes more you, and you become more dog. We learn to see things through the eyes of the dog, smell the world like them, and experience joy and sadness purely, just like a dog. He becomes our limb, and we, their tail. Thus, this great loss shatters our world, and rightfully so.

Take my dog Maxwell. I found him on the side of the highway, abandoned. His belly distended....full of worms....hairless from flea dermatitis....eating bugs as if they were treats. When I approached him, my fear he would run into traffic consuming every thought. However, he trotted up to me with his big Alf smile as if he knew, “Mommy is here!” Little did I realize our journey had begun. He was 5 1/2 weeks, which meant bottle feedings every 2 hours....24/7....for 3 1/2 weeks. Day and night I prepared bottles....gave him baths and skin treatments to stimulate hair growth....dewormed him slowly over and over until finally all were gone. It was a long, healing process for the pup I had planned to find a home for. He planned otherwise, and after giving him away twice at a horse show and having him navigate his way back to me....he adopted me and all was as it was meant to be.

He was loved by everyone who met him. Even those that professed to hate dogs. He was a bad ass.... a lovey, snuggly chick dog inside....and a man’s best friend outside. The perfect companion. We lived together in peace for 9 years, and eventually, the time came I had refused to think about. And when that time came, for quite a while, I stopped breathing—because he stopped breathing.

We are a creature of habit. Maxwell loved routine as with all dogs. He was taken out for a stroll to check his messages on trees....and his favorite grass spots....numerous times a day. Since we did this daily for 9 years. That means our ritual was repeated 3275 times. He didn’t like eating alone. Therefore, I would sit in the kitchen and eat my dinner with him. We enjoyed our dinners in the kitchen—together. Sitting on the floor so we could sit —together. This occurred 3275 times as well. Then there was treat time. Many times a day. He would sit and look at me with amazing brown eyes. We played—snuggled—and danced around without a care in the world. His tail thumping on the floor as he waited for the next activity. And how comforting that sound. There’s nothing like the happy sound of a wagging tail hitting the floor. To me, their enthusiasm about everything; from treat time, ball toss time, walk time, and snuggle time– their zeal is their earnest display of gratitude. Gratitude....a disposition that we humans, lack, or forget to display. So to us, our dog is a piece of sanity in this crazy world. Every day, they graciously remind us of what matters, and what is truly beautiful.

If we spend an average of 12 years with a dog. That’s 17,520 outings together alone—Of course, it hurts. The things we saw with them in these outings: The butterflies they chased. The expressions on their face. The battle with the pizza crust on the street. The times they belly flopped into the water when it wasn’t bath day. The skateboarder they freaked on, and those volcanic lava mountains you attempted to pick up after they stole whatever you had urged them not to eat. You watched him sniffspect at least a million butts in his lifetime.

Maxwell lay next to me whenever I sat. He followed my every move like a shadow. Every step I took, he followed: backwards, forwards, downwards and upwards. He stood between my legs at the stove or the kitchen sink—when I went for a treat—he had a treat. When I went for a drive—he was there. Dogs are our shadows, our limb. A molecular connection. Our heartbeat.

So when these rituals suddenly stop, when we no longer hear their foot steps or see the mound of fur sprawled on the bed, when we come home, and the dog does not bounce towards you like we returned from World War II, when we go to bed and no longer feel them—our world takes a back flip and we land on our head. And it hurts—with an excruciating pain. There is no helmet to shield us from this concussion.

It’s even harder, for dogs are completely dependent on us. We make all the decisions for them, and many are fulfilling and fun. It’s why we choose to live with dogs. From what food they eat, what bed comforts them, what treats they should receive, how much should they exercise, teaching them manners, socializing, rules of the cohabitation, choosing their friends, to examining their poop. Their dependence fulfills our innate paternal and maternal instincts as mammalian caretakers.

After years shared together, the bond strengthens to a point where you can read each other’s mind. There comes a time when commands, hand signals, or a leash are not even necessary. He just follows. You just give him a dirty look when he lifts his nose to do something he knows not to. He listens. He pays attention. He adores you. He understands your energy, better than any human ever could.

Then comes the hard stuff: medical decisions: surgery or not, to treat a medical condition or not to treat, to anesthetize. And lastly, to euthanize.

Quoted bluntly yet compassionately from a friend whom I respect, the last decision, “Is an absolute mind f***”. Some say you know when the time is right. No. We don’t. It’s an active, deeply cerebral choice.

Although we’ve mastered the art of reading each other’s mind by then, for this one decision, we want to hear a clear voice from the dog. Just one question, and one bark will do. But that doesn’t happen because they trust us, and frankly, they do not assert their position on this very crucial matter. It feels all too easy to second guess our decisions and descend into a pit of guilt, doubt, and uncertainty. No matter how well intentioned, no matter how sound and rational, that final decision never seems comforting. The dog was your oracle, but for this, the answers do not come.

For me, I had nightmares for months. Haunted as to what Maxwell thought—was it the right decision—should I have done something different. My mind was not clear—I ached so badly there were times I wanted to join him. To be happy again.

To exacerbate the agony, I was alone. Alone in my house—my vehicle—my world. My knees buckled beneath me—the air left my lungs—my strength was gone. I struggled daily to figure out a new normal. And to make matters worse—just when I would grab courage and take a step forward—I had an evil to deal with—phone calls from a disturbed pair heckling and laughing about his death—causing additional gut wrenching distain. My mind could not wrap around humans finding enjoyment in my grief....in his death. I stumbled along like a kid trying to stand back up on a trampoline, while everyone else was jumping on it. I was hard on myself....angry....told myself I was weak....that I should be able to get past the grief.

While in vet school....I’ve observed many people delve into this bittersweet passage. And these decisions, whatever it might be, are always acutely intellectual, philosophical, existential, logical, reasonable, wise, and most of all....selfless.

These decisions are powered by our element—the energy of love. The moment we make the decision to let go, something profound happens to us. I am witness to the most graceful side of humanity, and despite my sorrow, my faith in humanity rekindles. We are fragile, vulnerable and gentle.

There are two things I find utterly stunning. A puppy’s innocent eyes, and a mature dog’s wise eyes. The puppy is ready to give to you. The grown dog has already given. He has fulfilled his purpose to teach us the meaning of love. The meaning of trust. The meaning of life.

When a dog departs, they leave a giant space in our hearts. It’s an empty space that does not need to be filled, for although empty, the space is not barren. That sensation of emptiness is an expansion of our hearts. It’s a sense of knowing which can only be gained from loving unconditionally, without judgment and without return. And so, despite the sorrows that may be, I think that we dog parents are a fortunate bunch. Pain would not be, had we not loved and been loved.

You may feel like many do not understand your pain. They do not, and that’s perfectly fine, for only you and your dog fully fathom the bond you shared. As callous as their words may seem at the time, those that care for you, the intention is good, for they simply want to see you smile again– but they don’t know how to get you there. We will never know how, and that’s ok.

And so, as you grieve, give no power to words that seem insensitive, crass, or unkind. No, you do not need to “Get over it”. Don’t bother to bounce back. Don’t tell yourself you are weak or get angry because you can’t mend overnight. There is no agenda nor time limit to your lament. I’ll always have a tear and lump in my stomach when I think about Maxwell, and I don’t mind doing it when I am 96. In fact, I plan on it, because he was awesome and I miss him. For those that took enjoyment in his passing....I pity their hearts.... for they must live in a dark existence.

For me, it is what it is. I embrace and surrender to the transition and pain. Finally, I allowed myself to work through the grief. Told myself it was normal and ok. I reminisce the joys shared, and yield to the tears. He will always walk by me in invisible stride. What he taught....I won’t forget.

Life is impermanent. Therefore, beautiful. But love is eternal. The greatest perception is continual awareness.
Jo Dreiling - December 5, 2019
I am so sorry you lost your buddy.. Titus and you were an awesome fit. Going to miss seeing him when we are over.Carrie Baker - December 3, 2019
Wendi, there is no doubt that Titus knew he was loved by you. You shared so much together! ❤️🐾❤️Sarah Wildt - December 3, 2019
Hugs and prayers for you. Fur babies are extra special.Suzanne Truitt - December 3, 2019

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