The Dog Is Dead And That’s OK

The Dog is Dead“How is Sophie?” a neighbor asked the other day, inquiring about our endearing Yellow Lab.  Sophie, with her lively personality and satanic eyes (she had Horner’s syndrome) was an important member of our family for a long time.  As a new puppy, Sophie was my daughter Melissa’s “show and tell” in kindergarten; she passed at 15 1/2 the summer after Melissa’s freshman year in college.  We loved her.  We lost her.  And now life is pretty awesome.

“Dead, “ I replied, with a slight smile.  I had to pretend to be a little broken up.

I was about to answer “Sophie who?” but 1. not everyone gets my sense of  humor (as evidenced by the hundreds of nasty Huffington Post comments I have received on previous posts); 2. Sophie has been dead less than a year (may she rest in peace – and not let her eternal soul seek revenge on me for this post); and 3. the neighbors all really liked Sophie (except for the neighbor who left her garage doors open the day before garbage pick up).

By almost all accounts, Sophie was a great dog.  Sweet as could be, wonderful with kids, a great hiker, she could even roll over and play dead when you pretended to shoot her.  She was the ultimate cool dog, and had the bandana to prove it.  We had years and years of Sophie fun, then years of years of Sophie just sort of laying around in the kitchen hoping we didn’t trip over her.

But now that she’s gone, it’s really OK.  Actually, it’s more than just OK.  Like Tony the Tiger says……it’s GGGRRREEAAT!  There- I said it.   Do I appear heartless?   I feel a little heartless as I write this, but I am trumped by my honest emotions.  Can’t I have loved and lost and now be happy and honest about the freedom that comes from not owning a pet?

Are there others of you out there that loved your dog but are just a little bit happy that the dog is finally dead?

Last week, the New York Times reported that a group of experts from the American Heart Association concluded that, at least for stockbrokers (Really….Stockbrokers?) owning a dog was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease (and with science like this, who needs to make stuff up?).

They site two reasons for the health benefits, the first of which I totally get:  Walking the dog is good for the heart.  I did not personally reap those aerobic benefits with Sophie on a daily basis because mostly I just let her out in the backyard where we had an electric (oops, I mean invisible) fence.

But my husband and I belly-laughed when we read the second reason.  The report concluded that most dog owners “form such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate.”

Owning a dog associated with LESS stress?  Really?  Maybe they are living in some alternative universe than I.  In my universe, the stress level caused by the dog (at least for the responsible adult members of the household) was pretty darn high–high enough to counteract any de-stressing affects of doggy bonding, belly rubbing and love.

There are certainly pros and cons of pet ownership, and the cons of Sophie were as many as the pros.

Sophie was constantly ravenous.  She had to be guarded at all times.  She would grab a lollipop right out a child’s hand, eat an entire birthday cake off a counter, an entire turkey on Thanksgiving.   Carrots, broccoli ends, plastic bags, aluminum foil, socks- it was truly amazing what that dog consumed, and even more amazing when it came out the other end whole.

Our adorable, tail-wagging friend shed profusely- all four seasons- clumps and clumps of yellow fur.  We were constantly de-furring.  I am now able to wear black (though clearly not in mourning) and so I am skinnier and thus happier.  My couch, the rugs, the kitchen floor are no longer covered with yellow hair (ok, only a little, but it’s mine- I hear it’s hormonal).

Our smiley, happy doggy scratched and soiled our floors, and generally made our house a mess.  After Sophie died, we rolled out the Oriental rug (which Sophie started to use as her pee pad on rainy days) and we called in the dustless floor sander.  Do I miss “Doody Duty” in the backyard?   Do I miss the yellow spots on the lawn?  Do I miss the doggie smells- from ear infections, smelly mouth, wet dog, rolling around in other smelly stuff?  Do I miss screaming “DROP IT!” in horror so Sophie would leave the dead birds she brought home outside?    No, no, no, and maybe just a little- so gross, but so endearing.

Our fabulously friendly friend was enormously expensive.  Thousands and thousands of dollars worth of expensive-ear infections, regular check ups, and one big one (there is always a big one, isn’t there?): Lyme Disease.   When your sick pet has spent four overnights at the vet and no one has told you exactly what the cost is going to be  (but you know for sure that it has eaten up most of your vacation fund)  if that isn’t stress, I don’t know what is.

People always ask us if we have another dog in our future.  I think not, but to be honest, sometimes my heart softens when I see a cute little doggie cuddling up on the couch with its owner.  What do you think?  Maybe a cute little pug?   I hear that smaller dogs don’t live as long.






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The Dog Is Dead And That’s OK was last modified: by

Ronna Benjamin

Ronna Benjamin

After 28 years of practicing real estate law, Ronna Benjamin realized how much she loved writing and how much she hated lawyering. She jumped into the world of writing at Better After 50 and never looked back! She is loving her “second act” as Partner and Managing Editor at Better After 50. Ronna writes humorously about the things BA50s are concerned about – personal experiences with adult children, the quirks of aging parents and in-laws, and her own emotional and physical health issues (i.e., insomnia, anxiety, and bulging waist lines). A native Bostonian who loves to spend time with her husband and three adult children, Ronna also enjoys sailing, cooking, running, and biking–and she tolerates skiing so she is not left home during family vacations. Check out her new book “We Are Better After 50 Because…” co-written by Ronna and her BA50 Partner Felice Shapiro, a perfect gift for the birthday girl in her 50’s! 

  33 comments for “The Dog Is Dead And That’s OK

  1. May 14, 2013 at 8:45 am

    I thought that was great! You speak the truth. We’ve talked about getting another dog after ours dies but then we’d have to go through all that #$*^ again. We love her but my God, it is a huge responsibility!

  2. May 14, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I think a lot of people will be relieved to read this. We had to put down our first bichon frise at 10 years old but by then he had bladder stones, peed all over our carpet and snapped at people, including little kids. It was kind of sad but he was miserable and so were we. We didn’t get another dog for about 3 years.

    My second bichon was also about 10 and had diabetes when he died . He was the sweetest dog you’ll ever meet but was getting sicker and more high maintenance. He ended up getting killed by a car which was shocking and sad but may have saved him and us months of pain,messes and misery. I have fond memories of him – not miserable ones. We’re getting a new puppy in 2 weeks!

    • Ronna Benjamin
      May 14, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Oh Boy…you are a brave one!!! Good luck with the puppy!

  3. May 14, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I’m still laughing – read this to my husband and he is laughing as well. We always look back at relationships with rose-colored glasses . . .including relationships with our animals. I had a 22 year-old cat who I’d gotten at the SPCA, had made four moves with us, and was mean as sin. We thought she’d never die. Then my husband accidentally ran over her in the driveway just as my son and I were finishing a video on how her determination had made her invincible. I still miss her, but have not replaced her . . . 🙂

    • Ronna Benjamin
      May 14, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      OMG! What a story! I am waiting to read a blog about that one, Donna! Do you have one? We can put it up this week!

      • May 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm

        Ronna – I know I’ve mentioned it in several blogs but not sure if I have one blog about it. However, I can work something up and send it to you this week if you’re really interested!

  4. Marlene Clayton
    May 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Miss Sophie terribly but you have an honest interpretation of death. Hope I get the same respect, she was good but now I don’t have anyone to tell me what to do not so bad!

  5. Karla Jeffries
    May 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Oh my. I had to let my sweet GSD Marley go on Friday. I’ve been sulking ever since. Do understand, this is a dog that has had severe IBD for 3 years, pooped endlessly on our carpet and was on enough meds monthly whose cost could have certainly put a good dent in my kids college education. Well a dear friend of mine forwarded a link to your blog – and i will say, this is one of the first things that has totally made me smile. My life will certainly be different now…. probably in more good ways than bad. Thanks for bringing a little lightheartedness to my week!

    • Ronna Benjamin
      May 14, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      And thanks so much for writing in and giving me a smile today too! Love your comment.

  6. May 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

    What a great post. I can totally relate. I love my dogs, but clearly remember sitting on the front steps at 5 am with an 8 week old puppy. I had 3 kids under the age of 8 and my husband who had brought home the puppy left to go golfing in Scotland for 10 days. I remember thinking in 10 years I’ll be 50, my daughter will be leaving for college, the cat and dog will be dead and I’ll have a life again…who was I kidding…!

  7. May 14, 2013 at 6:15 pm

    I have to admit, my cats are gone and I’m thrilled! Gotta figure out how to tell the 4 year old granddaughter though!

  8. May 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Smaller dogs live longer.

  9. May 14, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    You are wicked and I do not want you around my dogs, ever!!! It is ok if we hang out, though.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      May 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      You are too funny. I like other people’s dogs. Really, I do. I think. Felice’s dog Jazz and I are best buddies.

  10. Nancy Wilson
    May 15, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    I always tell the following, when someone asks about my now deceased dog, Beauty,who was loved by all. “Have you heard the story about the priest, the minister and the rabbi, talking about the beginning of life? Well, the Priest says: Life begins at conception. The Minister says: No, no. Life begins at birth. The Rabbi says: No, no, no. Life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies.”

    We loved Beauty, and she was pretty low maintenance. But when I realized ‘walking the dog’ was carrying her while I walked, and she showed no appetite, and was over 17, we knew it was time. Gave her bed to the SPCA and haven’t looked back. Was able to travel to my daughter’s college graduation, without having to board the dog. Full on empty nest, and loving it.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      May 15, 2013 at 4:48 pm

      Love the joke- so true…Nancy- do you write? Nice style!

  11. Diana
    May 17, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I do no think not grieving a deceased dog id horrible at all/ We had two dogs,an Australian Shepherd who was useless aroun the house and had weekly seizures that cost us thousands to diagnose and a CHow/Sharpei who barked at her own shadow and was so strong she could hurt you when walking her no matter how much we spent on training, we even sold out house in Saugus to Cesar MIlan and he had a hard time with her. When the Sppherd died ,I did not grieve,Horray I shouted, no more vet bills and no more dog hair on everything we own. After the CHow spooked when my husbnd (71) was walking her she dragged him o the ground where he sustrained a massive Brain injury and almost died. We finally gave her to Cesar so he could find a home for her which he did. I will never own another dog. I hated all the dog hair which clung ot every piece of clothing, all the furniture and all over the floor. It was disgusting. They were cute as puppies and incredibly expensive when hey hit 8 years plus. I am thrilled no more messes, no more paying for boarding when I travel, You have o have a huge yard to raise a large og, you cannot have an OCD about cleanliness own a shedding dog. My houe is now spotlessand the responsibility is gone.

  12. Jo
    May 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Please please do not get another pet! It will only become an enormous strain on you, and you will be spending all your time waiting for it to die so you can get your life back.

  13. Marty DelNevo
    May 19, 2013 at 6:46 am

    I was smiling and nodding while reading. I loved my PWD, Rascal, with all my heart and when he died 2 years ago, I cried and missed his company for weeks. Did I miss the mess? The peeing, pooping, walking outside in all kinds of weather and temperatures? Oh… did I mention I live in northern VT? After having dogs, multiples most of the time, for 35 years, I am dog free and I’m staying that way! My grown sons who live at home ask when I’m getting another dog. I tell them I’ll be happy with ‘grand dogs’. They can get one when they move out of the house. Oh… am I going to feel this happy when they finally move out of the house as well???

  14. May 22, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I love my cat. We all do. But he’s the absolute LAST pet I will ever have — unless the “pet rock” enjoys a comeback.

  15. Leigh Kenyon
    June 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    I am laughing and laughing – the timing of this couldn’t have been more perfect. I was just – and mean five minutes ago just – having a conversation with my partner about The Cat. The Cat is Mona, a three year old tortie we’ve had since she was about three months old. She’s not what we had in mind when we decided a cat was a good idea, but she’s what we’ve ended up with: hyperactive and mean with a jealous streak a mile wide. She pees in the grandbaby’s porta-crib, chases the small dogs around (one now seems to have a dislocated hip), scratches and bites with no warning, intentionally knocks things off of shelves/desks/etc… We don’t want to see any harm befall her (read, we’d hate to take her to the pound knowing she’ll likely end up dead), but we don’t really want to keep her, either. And the dogs … I adore my dogs, but – as so many others have said – they are a lot of work, are very expensive, and the house tends to smell like the SPCA no matter how hard we work to keep it not that way.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      June 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm

      Thanks so much for the comment Leigh– hope you will send it around to any other like minded pet owners! 🙂

  16. Steven
    March 25, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    This article is completely crass and selfish. The person is insulting the memory of her dog and laughing about it. I would guess her parents were glad to be rid of her once she moved out of the house and she’s carrying on the family tradition. Creep!

    • Ronna Benjamin
      March 26, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Ouch! I loved my dog and my mommy still loves me…though to be honest, she was glad when I got a job, got married, moved out of the house and gave her not only grandchildren but a granddog too! Sorry you didn’t like the article.

    • Josh
      October 2, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      Exactly. What a horrible post. I’ve got a dog who is in her last days and I am NOT looking forward to her not being around. I work from home most days and she has always been by my side. (Nearly 14 years now.) She has taken a rough downturn the past week or so and we know it’s almost time to put her down, for lack of a better term.

      Hopefully Ronna doesn’t get another dog so she can avoid the “inconvenience” that comes with taking care of it.

  17. jim
    June 26, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I was looking for articles to help me with the grieving process for my beloved dog Scrappy. She lived for 19 years and honestly toward the end part of me was looking forward to the relief that her passing would grant me and her both. As a single person who endured divorce and poverty and other things that would have broken a person in this world alone, she was the rock that held me in this world and kept me from the selfish decision to just chuck it all and say goodbye. When I hear you speak of the relish you feel at your pet’s demise it sickens me beyond all comprehension. I hope that you are an atheist and are cast into the lake of fire and consumed for I think that would be preferable than to feel the remorse you would feel on judgement day when you realize the limitless unconditional love your pet gave you that you returned with heartless disdain. You are a miserable excuse for a human being that cannot possibly appreciate what a wonderful gift the limitless love that a dog gives us and I regret that your dog’s life was wasted on such and insufferable being as you. Your dog’s limitless and unconditional love deserved better than the callous excuse for a person it served.

    • Ronna Benjamin
      June 27, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      ouch. This was written tongue in cheek. I loved my dog…

  18. Lynne
    June 27, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    I had to come find this article as tomorrow morning I am bringing in my beloved Kiva to be put down. She has been through so much (she went completely blind at 7), survived attacks by dogs, cats, a turkey (couldn’t make that up) and been happy throughout it all. While my heart is breaking, I can already appreciate some of the things you mention above. Thanks for approaching this with humor. I know you’re not a cold hearted witch 😉

  19. December 31, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Great article! I will never get another dog …. never! I am still recovering from the stress over my last one. People go on about the joys of pet ownership but leave out all the other details like thousands of dollars in vet costs that may or may not ahcieve health, the ongoing neurotic behavior of most dogs and of course the mess. I had a Boston Terrier once who caused $18,000 in damage over the course of 3 years. He would turn on me for not getting his way, often drawing blood. He was from a reputable breeder, go figure! After 6 months of professional dog training doing nothing more than draining by bank account and wasting my time, I said enough already.

  20. JT
    April 30, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    What a horrible article. I’m sure you felt Sophie was an inconvenience long before she passed, but you wouldn’t dare admit it here. I bet she sensed it in you, too. You didn’t deserve such a sweet dog.

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