On Moses

This piece will appear in my new book of Essays And Still They Sing coming soon from Beaufort Books.

There comes a moment in grief when you begin to feel that you are being judged for it. People tell you that life goes on; that you need to stop looking back. I know that, because although I would never say it to anyone, I have often felt impatient with people who get into their problems and lie down in them. I  have wanted to tell someone to get over it. In my own life, after various hard blows, including some difficult losses, I have managed to accept, to pick up the pieces of my life, and to move on. But it’s closing in on two years later, and I still have not gotten over Moses. 

Life has a way of teaching us our faults.

His full name was Moses, Prince of Egypt. My husband and I argued about the name all the way to Iowa when we went to pick him up for the first time. I was insistent. It had to be Moses. It wasn’t a particularly religious choice. I had just watched too many reruns of The Ten Commandments, and wanted to be able to shake my head sadly at a naughty puppy and say “Oh, Moses, Moses, Moses.”

The name suited him. Despite having been bitten by one as a child, I had wanted a German Shepherd my whole life. I had even made a German Shepherd a character in my novels. Readers who met Moses always assumed that my character Elisabeth’s big dog, Rocco, was based on him. But Rocco was really an expression of longing. He came first. Then came Moses. Sometimes I have the sense that I willed him into being.

And he did, after all, lead us out of the wilderness. Our beloved Golden Retriever had died after a futile battle with lymphoma. Our other dog, Pete, was grieving, and our house felt empty, so we decided to sign up for the twelve to eighteen month waiting list for the perfect German Shepherd. Within twenty minutes we heard back: there had been a cancellation. Did we want a puppy on Saturday?  I had the sense that it was meant to be: unplanned, the result of a series of unforeseeable events. And isn’t that what Fate is? The inevitable coming together of paths that seemed intended to diverge? Does it always have to be a human story?

From the beginning, I knew he would break my heart. I loved him too much. I can’t even explain exactly why. All I know is that there was a kind of destiny, an inevitability about him that I always felt. We belonged to each other. He was my soulmate. How to convey how much I loved him? How much I love him still? I know most people won’t think it normal. I can’t help that. It just was. It just is.

When he was only a few months old I sat in our living room, holding him on my lap, hugging him and whispering endearments. He was already too big to really fit, but I had my arms around him like a baby. My husband walked into the room and said casually: “You love that dog too much. You know he’s going to break your heart some day.” To the surprise of us both, I burst into wild sobs.

I was afraid of him at first. I’d never had a German Shepherd before, and I didn’t have confidence in how to handle him.  By the time he came along I’d trained four dogs, and felt that I knew what I was doing. But when he chewed a shoe and I slapped the floor with it, scolding to show my displeasure, he avoided that spot in the kitchen for three days. That’s when I realized how delicate his sensibilities were. If I hurt his feelings, I could lose him forever.

But the moment that really frightened me was when, at 9 weeks, I tried to pull him off the bed he had no permission to be on. He growled and snarled at me, and I was struck with fear that I had a dragon in the house I could not control. I called my dog trainer that day, and begged her to let us start early. He earned his first obedience title at six months, and his second not long afterward. It required retrieval and he did not really take to retrieving, but he obliged me because that was what he did. 

This is not to say that he was a tamed creature, tied to my will. Quite the contrary. Moses did things because he knew he should, and when I asked him to do something that was wrong for both of us, he would flat out refuse. One night, in the dead of a Wisconsin winter, I had an emergency call about my elderly mother. It was well below zero, and I had to meet the ambulance at the hospital. Moses knew I was upset, and he saw his job as being with me no matter what. But of course, he couldn’t sit outside in the car for hours in sub-zero temperatures. He followed me out to the car, refusing to let me leave without him, and trying to climb onto my lap. My husband gently put his hand on Moses’s collar to pull him away, and Moses turned and very meaningfully put his teeth on my husband’s arm. He did not bite; he nevertheless expressed his feelings very clearly. Moses knew his duty, and he was not easily dissuaded from it. I had to drive away from him, knowing we both felt betrayed by the separation.

I felt so much pride having this magnificent animal walk beside me. Moses loved going to the Fourth of July parade. The parade begins every year with a long line of historic fire engines, followed by the latest and most innovative, as the proud company of volunteer firefighters marches along. Moses would sing with the fire engines, a long, lovely howl that made people turn and smile. He would sit upright and bark at the three gun signal that began the parade, and he would duly accept the admiration of anyone who stopped to see him. When the parade was over, we would walk with the crowds down the street toward the park, and people would reach out their hands to touch him as he walked by, like Aslan in the resurrection.

There was a fierceness about Moses that is not in my other dogs. It lay beneath the surface, but it was right here for anyone to see. People respected Moses. As he deserved.

While we were remodeling our house, a five man insulation team arrived one morning without notice. My husband and I were at work, and only the carpenter, who adored Moses, was there. The insulators opened the door and walked in. According to the carpenter, who laughed while telling the story, Moses chased all five of them “screaming like girls” into the powder room, where they all crowded in, slamming the door behind them. 

They called their manager while Moses waited outside the door.

Moses had a passion for butter. When he was young, he would steal whole sticks of it from the plate on a high shelf next to the stove. After we broke that habit, he sang for his butter, his paws dancing as he looked from the butter dish to my face and back, carefully explaining what he wanted. 

More than anything else, Moses loved the lake. He was the first of our dogs brought up to swim, and he took to it immediately. But it wasn’t swimming that was his passion; it was splashing. His jumps to catch the water we splashed at him were stupendous. He leapt out of the water like a mythical beast, and his yearning to splash was relentless. If I were lazy and lounging on the dock, he would swim around the edge to me and paddle his paws to splash me, hoping to start a game. If I ignored him, he would urge me with increasingly louder moans of protest and pleading, splashing harder. He was impossible to resist.

There’s a Christina Perry song from a silly vampire movie that I used to sing to Moses. I remember the last time we were at the lake, a few months before he died. The music came on, and I whispered it to him, holding him in my arms, tears rolling down my face. 

I’ve loved you for a thousand years.

I’ll love you for a thousand more.

I see now that I knew at some level it would be the last time we splashed together. Somehow, some part of me knew he was dying.

He had been in pain from an injured back, and it was slowing him down. I took him for exams. I asked every medical professional we saw—and there were a few—to reassure me that he would be all right. He’s not going to die, is he? He’ll be okay, won’t he? They all, with varying degrees of patience and curiosity assured me. Why would I even think that?  He was only 7 years old. His back hurt. That was all. 

But they were wrong. Somehow, in the deep connection Moses and I had with one another, I sensed that something, but it was nothing that showed up on any tests. It was just arthritis pain from a back injury, nothing more, I was told. Of course he didn’t feel well if his back hurt. We did acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy. I took him for swimming therapy. He had varying levels of pain meds. 

But he didn’t look right. His eyes were glassy. His fur seemed without luster. And all the while, the tumor was growing unseen, waiting to break his heart, and mine.

What hurts me most is that I wasn’t there. We had slipped away for three precious days to spend Christmas with our new baby granddaughter. While we were away, Moses had an upset tummy, but, like so many German Shepherds, he often did. We used to joke about such a big scary dog having “princess tummy”. We also live in the woods, and the dogs tend to eat things that require periodic doses of antibiotics. 

He was sad when we left. He knew what suitcases meant. But we were unconcerned because he would be in his own home with his brothers and someone who cared for him. Over the course of our trip I spoke with the dog sitter multiple times. She was kind and reassuring. He wasn’t sick, but he was moping. He wasn’t eating, but he was drinking a lot of water. I was more worried about reassuring her than I was about Moses. We’d dealt with these tummy troubles before. I called the vet and arranged to pick up some antibiotics on the way home from the airport. We didn’t know he would already be there, cooling on a metal table. 

Our dog sitter, never imagining we would go to the vet first, waited at our house, dreading our return. She didn’t want to tell us on the phone. 

The one obligation of a soulmate is to be present when you die. But I wasn’t there. Instead, while we were in the air, Moses lay down next to our dog sitter, put his paw on her arm, looked into her eyes, and let out a long sigh. Then he died.

I know it sounds overly-dramatic, but I will never forgive myself. People have tried to tell me that he knew he shouldn’t die in front of me. I don’t buy it. He felt abandoned. He didn’t know where I was. I let him down. I, who sang love songs to him, who loved and trusted him, for whom he would have laid down his life, wasn’t there when he needed me most, and he died not knowing whether I would ever come back.

Looking back on that last year, I almost did the best I could. I didn’t miss his cues. The mistake I made was believing everyone—good people who didn’t know him as I did— who told me he was okay. I should have trusted my own heart. He was telling me, and I didn’t take his word for it.

Grief is one thing that never dies. I will be haunted by his loss forever. My only hope is that those insipid rainbow bridge poems are true, and that someday he will run to me, and I will be able to kneel down, gather him into my arms, and whisper my love into those big fierce ears.

Oh, Moses. 

Oh, Moses, Moses, Moses. 

58 thoughts on “On Moses

  1. I’m a seventy-six year old man…crying like a baby. I have loved this animal from a distance through your writing and this account of your time with him just did me in. I’m glad I read it… but in some very strange manner my heart is also broken.


    • This is beautiful but so poignant. If you have ever truly loved a dog you have experienced this pain when they go as they always will. But you have to believe you will see them again. I have to believe it. Otherwise the pain is too severe.


  2. So beautiful. I’m a cat person (I love dogs too, but my lifestyle has led to cats). I’ve had 9 so far – including my current 4. It’s gut wrenching to lose them. Many people simply don’t understand. I remember balling in the vet’s office telling her that animals have value and we should respect them as we prepared to put beautiful Charlie to sleep. Of course she agreed. Charlie and I had a journey together. He had a digestive disorder and required daily meds and near the end he I would feed him by syringe for periods when he was feeling low but what we didn’t know was a cancer was growing. It happened slow and then fast. I made an appointment and I just knew he wouldn’t be coming home after the vet visit. My father was dying at the same time. I’ll be judged but I’m not sure which was worse. There is nothing sadder than bringing home an empty cat carrier.


  3. As an adult, I’ve never had a dog. I grew up with cats, dogs, birds and hamsters but my asthma was always a problem. Now my two youngest daughters have dogs and 1 cat. My daughter, Kim, rescued an English Bulldog from a terrible puppy mill where she had litter after litter. For a bulldog, that means C-sections each time. After multiple surgeries, Kim fostered Cleo and then said she knew Cleo was the companion for her. This dog is the sweetest dog. She knows that she is in a loving, forever home. There are more surgeries in her future because of her frequent bladder infections. But she loves people, other dogs and kids. She looks more like a seal when she gets up from her bed and her legs are asleep. She is, simply, irresistibly loving. I know I would never be brave enough to suffer the pain of loss that you are feeling. But you also know the all-encompassing love of your dogs. Thank you for this email.


  4. Oh my heart, what a beautiful tribute to your loving Moses. I too was unable to be with my beloved JR terrier, Bunny, when he died, and cannot forgive myself. Thank you for this.


  5. Janet, there are tears on my screen as I type this. All of your essays are beautiful, but this one about Moses is the most heartbreaking and beautiful piece I have ever read. Nothing I can say will ease your pain, but this loving tribute to your soulmate touches me so deeply and reflects the incredible relationship between the two of you. I hope that, indeed, you and Moses will be reunited someday.


  6. As one who loves their pets as family, this is a beautiful tribute to Moses, but also to your connection to him. While they all imprint on your heart and soul, some are just more than others. No explaining it for me. They just do. Give yourself permission to accept that you were getting the best life and care possible for him, and that he was not alone. He had a trusted caregiver and his siblings with him. You had no way of predicting that those three days would be his last. He loved you with all of his being, and knew you loved him. I lost a beloved cat when I was not there 36 years ago, and I still regret not being with him. But I know that he knew he was loved.


  7. Just beautiful. Sobbing as I read it this morning with my Charlie, who is almost 12, snoozing away on my lap.
    We move on when we move on… no sooner. Hugs to you, Charlie, Auggie, and Eli.


  8. I now begin my day with a headache from crying. I currently have a dog soulmate who will soon turn 8. The years spent with dogs pass far too quickly. Grief has no time limit, wouldn’t it be odd if it did?


  9. Epiphany. I understand the pain of your loss. It’s rooted in a sense of betrayal of trust.

    Dogs have been a part of my life since infancy, but the bond I had with my last one, who I literally rescued from certain death when she developed kennel cough and pneumonia at a local shelter, was different.

    My first adulthood dog (post law school & 1st house) was a magnificent Rhodesian Ridgeback, sired by the number 1 RR in the country. We later acquired a female from the same breeder, who had a different mother, to keep him company.

    One day after a walk he looked up at me, almost apologetically and I knew. He had developed mast cell tumors that had become systemic. I never wanted to go through that again, so the next two dogs were rescues who came into my life in a serendipitous manner.

    The bond I had with the last one was special because she literally saw me as her guardian angel. She got me through Trump’s presidency, but then like our champion RR, developed mast cell tumors. Unfortunately, her downward slide occurred during COVID and I wasn’t about to drop her off at the vet without me by her side, so the vet walked me through her passing over the phone.

    The thing is, before the light left her eyes she nudged me, looking for reassurance, but I was totally helpless. There simply comes a time when we can’t change the outcome and it’s absolutely heartbreaking.

    I haven’t reached the point where I’m ready to open my heart again, but your dogs give me hope. 💜

    Iris of Twitter


  10. I can barely type with tears flowing down my cheeks. I could feel your heartbreak in your written words. To love a dog like that is an amazing gift, but also comes with the knowledge that he will leave you at some point. Thank you for sharing your story. Also, you are not alone with that deep, deep feeling of grief.


  11. And weep I did. What a lovely eulogy of Moses’ life. They all break our hearts eventually don’t they? And you are so right, YOU as I just knew that time was coming. Our Bostons never did die at home. We had a wonderful doctor at Thiensville-Mequon Animal Hospital that would have us come in on a Sunday so we could grieve openly when he or she finally passed. I could never let them go, they are with me in my office and when I pass they will go along with me. This touched me deeply.


  12. This is just so beautiful. What a tribute of love and understanding for a four-legged family member. While reading this I cried and still am as I too have felt this way about an animal. He was such a lovely soul and your memories of him will always be with you until you meet again.


  13. Oh man, your writing just rips my heart right out of my chest. I completely understand the heartbreak that you are left with. It was nice to hear more about Moses and what a special dog he was. I made the decision to leave Twitter and the only account I miss is yours. You, Charlie and the dogs. I can get my news etc. elsewhere but I can’t replace the joy I got from you all , your surroundings and the dogs. Nice to hear from you and Happy New Year!


  14. Now that I have stopped weeping, I must respond, as I’m sure many will. There will be no judgment from animal lovers as we all know the grief and the guilt. My greatest sadness for you is that he died so young. You are correct that you will never completely get over not being there. You are wrong, I think, that Moses felt abandoned. I think he simply could not wait. And I think it possible he wanted to spare you the agony of the leave-taking. He would be immensely saddened to know how much guilt you have taken on. I hope you can come to see that; it doesn’t take away the loss — it has been more than 20 years for me and I miss Onyx every day, as I have missed Czar Czak for eight years; I still grieve their loss; knowing it is the price we pay for their love — but it lessens the pain of the guilt-ridden grief. I was with them both. Onyx would not look at me. It was the only time in her life she seemed to want me away from her. My only answer is that she wanted to spare me the agony of the moment. Dogs live in the moment and they let go easily when the time comes but they also know the grief their loss will leave with us. (Onyx was my soulmate; Czak was a close second despite being a livestock guardian. I loved all of my dogs but some are indeed especially special and it is hardest to lose them. “I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance,” as Garth Brooks put it. ) I remember Moses’ photo on the mantel when Charlie was on MSNBC zoom. He was magnificent! Your description of him reminds me of Czar Czak. I hope shared grief makes it a bit easier to bear. Suzanne Core Colorado


  15. It’s 7:30 A.M. PST and as I try to compose myself and this e mail I will try and put down my thoughts. I have wanted to write to you for a long time. We lost our Zeus on March 29,2022. I miss him everyday. He came into our lives as a 7 month old who had been with 4 families and returned to the breeder 3 times. My business partner called me one evening and said “hey do you want a German Shepherd pup?” We said sure. First thing Zeus did was run around the back yard, look at the pool, jump in and realize he couldn’t swim (he never learned to swim) and we had to go in after him. I am always amazed when I watch your videos at how well Auggie and Eli swim. Zeus was a bully to our older yellow lab. Within 24 hours of having this dog I knew we were in over our head and I immediately got a dog trainer. Zeus wouldn’t even get into a car. He was so traumatized with fears of being abandoned. We took beginning obedience 3 or 4 times and finally passed. Intermediate only twice and he passed. He loved scent training and could always find his target Over time his fear and insecurities began to diminish. He loved going places and loved people especially kids. He was my protecter. Five years ago my daughter, grandson and I decided to live together. Zeus was so happy we were all together again. He had a backyard. He could bark and chase squirrels. He could be a dog. I feel good about the life he had with us.
    P.S. I have read all your books and love them.


  16. I agree with Jo Ann Singer. Yes your writing just “rips my heart” right out of one’s chest. My husband and I both were brought to tears especially because our boy Dutch, who we had to let go two years ago was so much like your Moses. We always felt so safe with our Dutch. He was always there for us and he would not let anything or anyone do us harm. He lived for butter and being only 250 feet from the river he was the ultimate river dog. He loved the water so much we nick named him Motor Boat. His cancer was causing him so much suffering in October of 2020, his eyes were just pleading for us to release him. I am so grateful to our vet as he makes house calls and we were able to let Dutch go peacefully under his favorite tree in our backyard. His blood sibling is still with us and will be 14 years old. I know what the future will hold and the pain we will live with when his time comes. I always vow this is it. No more dogs. I cannot go through this again after the loss of eight dogs over the years. Yet I know we will.


  17. I understand your pain all too well. They all eventually break our hearts, some more than others. My “Moses,” named Scully, is a 9 year old Old English Sheepdog, who is noticeably slowing down. She and I are bonded by something I don’t have the words to name. And her “sister” Daisy, a Bearded Collie, is 13. I wonder why I continue to put myself through this torture of prospective, and actual, loss. But like you, I can’t imagine a life without dogs.


  18. Thank you for this elegant gift! I needed this today, as I have been missing a “soul mate” pet who passed in July.
    Your words in this essay and others, always fill my soul with joy! Even if the joy is preceded / accompanied by a flood of tears.
    Looking forward to your new book. Much Love!


  19. Moses was a beautiful gift of life, a noble creature, a protector, friend and companion that goes beyond love but was a soul mate and spiritual presence in your life. He would want you to remember him as your boy with a smile on your face and joy in your heart not sadness. Life does have its lessons, loss, grief, which is one we have to work through on our own, in our own way however long. Moses will always live on in your heart and I do believe he will be there, standing nobly, at the “rainbow bridge” waiting for you with joy in his heart and express through his love “I know! I know Mom! It’s okay! Follow me on our eternal journey together! I will always be by your side!”


  20. This is very powerful. It made me cry as I sit here with my two little dogs. I started reading your books several months before Moses died and I could sense your strong bond. Thank you for sharing this.

    Kathy Zungri



  21. Your big sweet boy…….your words made me weep. Not just from the beauty of them, but from the memories they conjured up of my own experiences with fur kid loss.


  22. What a touching story. I have had a similar experience with a cat. Just so hard to know what to do, when; allwe can do is love them and have that love guide us.
    Many thanks for this.


  23. As I read your essay my heart was broken again today as I relived my final moments with my dog, Finnegan. He was 15 1/2 , had Cushing disease and arthritis in his back legs. For the past year he couldn’t get up by himself, he would fall and then look at me, like why is this happening? At the beginning of December on Thursday, he stopped eating and then couldn’t even drink water. I loved him the whole weekend, this dog that never liked being touched , I held and kissed him day and night, said goodbye to him over and over. The vet came early Monday morning and it was quick and painless. But it was too fast, I wanted one more minute with him. I know that I did everything I could for him but I keep asking myself, could there have been more? I will never get over this feeling for him.
    When my mother was in hospice dying, my son and I stayed with her. We wanted to go home and take a shower but were afraid to leave her. The nurse told us that if my mother wanted us to be with her when she died, we would be there, if not, then we wouldn’t. Comfort yourself with the thought that Moses loved you enough that he did not want you there to see the life go out of his eyes.


  24. You just inspired me to write my own personal essay about my dog Thea, which was cathartic. It reminded me of my mother’s long suffering over the loss of her cat at the ripe old age of 24 (my childhood cat that I grew up with). I thought at the time that she was needlessly prolonging her suffering by focusing on how much she missed her. But after losing my Thea over six years ago, I finally get it. Can one ever truly know the pain of another person’s loss, or the depth of their love? I love your honesty, which is brave in this human-centric world we live in. And I love getting a glimpse of the life of Moses and your remarkable bond. What a dog!


  25. I’m crying… as you knowI would… I loved a dog this much also… she’s been gone 14 years… think of her often… I have another now and I love her also… not like my first though… I feel guilty about this at times but what can I do… there are different loves I suppose…I love your dogs too.


  26. Oh what an unbelievably tender and loving tribute to your Moses bringing a large knot to my throat. For those of us who have loved a precious dog or cat and experienced their death your words resonate to our core. I recall reading a wonderful quote of Havelock Ellis “All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” While your grief, guilt and heartbreak at not being at Moses’ side at his death is understandable, it seems obvious to me he continues to live so vitally in your memories: joining you at the 4th parade, the humorous instance with the carpenters, his love of butter, splashing in the lake, and I bet countless other reminiscences. Yes, Moses’ death was that unbearable letting go, but your cherished memories allow you to still hold on. Lovely if you think about it. Thank you for this wonderful piece.


  27. This is such a beautiful, intimate essay about your Moses. Thank you for sharing it. I cried because so many parts of it reminded me of my Marley, a white GSD who passed this year…especially the part about breaking my heart. I miss her every day and I will remember and love her forever. 💕💕💕💕


  28. I love your posts and miss them since I left Twitter. What a beautiful eulogy about your beloved Moses. You’re a gifted writer and I felt I knew all your dogs personally. I was fond of all your pups but I knew Moses was special and I can relate to your feelings about a dog being your soulmate. I had one too. My Lucy has been gone 4 years and I have some similar regrets but I take comfort knowing we will meet again. I feel there was a history with her long before this life. Thanks for sharing


  29. glad to be home alone, so i don’t have to try and explain my tears about a dog i never met, but that i knew. thanks to his momma’s love, Moses lives.


    • That essay is absolutely beautiful. I can hardly find the keys to type for the tears streaming down my face. I started following you on Twitter after hearing a story your husband told on an MSNBC show about the dogs and an encounter with an unhappy skunk. You and the dogs and your adventures became a part of my life through a miracle of technology. I remember reading a tweet about the passing of Moses and saying aloud “Oh no, how can that be” followed by many tears. I was new to twitter those years ago and you were one of the first I followed. I wondered at his passing how it is that one can become so attached to a dog that they’ve never met. As I read your essay I realize how much your love of your dogs, especially Moses, draws one in to share that love. He had so many special qualities that were shared thru Twitter and now in this essay. He became a part of the lives of many of your readers. We all felt a sense of loss at Moses’ passing and knew how much more profound that loss was for you. I look forward to the new book of essays and the next book in the North of the Tension Line series. Thank you for sharing this essay on the beloved Moses with those of us who follow you.


  30. Oh, my heart. People sometimes do not understand the deep love we have for our special friends. ❤️

    Sent from the all new AOL app for iOS


  31. I understand. Beautiful tribute from the heart to a beloved friend. Looking forward to your next book I have preordered and also the one you mention here.



  32. Thanks for this. I do share your grief. I lost my kitty Sweetpea last month. She was 16 and had lived a very healthy life up until the last months. She was the sweetest kitty. I have had kitties in my life ever since growing up on the farm which is 70+ years. She was my soulmate. We talked to each other and she always let me know when she entered the room. She had the sweetest “chirps” to let me know that she was there. When we napped, she always had her paws touching me and tucked her sweet head into my hands. I knew she was not feeling good but when we saw the vet there wasn’t anything tangible. She had arthritis in her hips and some cardiac issues but no signs of a tumor. She became short of breath and after two ER visits I knew what I had to do. I thank the docs that cared for her. It’s so hard for us to know what they are telling us, and extremely hard to us to relay the message. They love us and trust us to the end. Moses loved you and knew you were there for him. He had happy memories of a great life. It’s difficult for the survivors, we have wonderful memories. But we will always miss our soulmates. I will miss Sweetpea’s unending purrs. May Moses bless your life every day 🥰


  33. Oh my oh my. I don’t cry easily, but your story and Moses made me cry. Nothing better in the whole world than the love of a dog, and he sounded like a real special one.


  34. Thank you for this beautiful post. I am just stunned. There are so many similarities between your experience and mine when I lost my beloved yellow lab.

    I don’t want to get into that now, as I just want to experience your words and your story about Moses. The price for such a love is so great, and you will never be the same (nor should you). Moses was so lucky to have you to love him so. He was meant to be yours. I am so sorry that you feel such guilt about his passing. I would certainly never tell you how you should feel, but I am sure you are grateful that he was not totally alone. He could have left you when you went to the store, an errand, anything. . . . I know you would have given anything to have been with him and he must know that.

    I wonder if you feel him with you and if you feel that he is still around you. Maybe the intense grief keeps the feelings alive that maintains the bond forever. I just don’t know.

    You are a sensitive artist and writer and those gifts helped create such a strong love. Clearly you are continuing to share that love with your other precious boys.

    Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for you beautiful post. Your feelings are your own and your grief is your own. It is now part of you forever, and no one should ever tell you how to feel or to suggest what your personal timetable should be. I am sorry for your loss but I am happy that you were able to experience such a profound love and connection in your life.

    Julianna Moore


  35. So sorry about the loss of your beloved dog. He had a wonderful life with you and was loved. And I understand the guilt of not being there when he died. My mother died slowly of dementia and the night before she died, I silenced my phone at a wedding I was at and when they called me the next morning to say she was passing my phone was silent! But the wedding was important as was seeing your grandchild. I try to not beat myself up about it because it was really not my fault. As it was not yours. But still, it is hard.


  36. I loved your Moses, though my time knowing him was short. You have quoted my favorite quote of all time from a dozen Biblical epics… a sultry Ann Baxter sighing “Moses, Moses, Moses” LOVED it! Take care and I look forward to the new book.


  37. This just broke my heart. I understand loving a dog “too much.” I’ve done it several times in my life. One was a German Shepherd my family had when I was growing up. We only had Grinda for one brief year. Grinda was special from the very start. I even dreamed the night before she was given to my father that we got a new dog. I had no way of knowing this would happen, but we had that connection. That dog could look into our souls. She knew how we felt. She knew what we were thinking. Grinda clearly saw her role as our protector. My baby sister could crawl all over her and plop her thickly-diapered bottom squarely on top of her head and just sit there giggling. Grinda would just lie there and roll her eyes, ever patient. We three girls swam in the cow pond on the farm. (We tried not to think about the squishy stuff in the bottom.) I could swim, so Grinda was fine with me in the pond. My little sister could not swim, but played around the edges in an inner tube. At least, she tried to. Grinda decided it was much too dangerous for her to be in the pond and insisted on pushing her back to shore with her paws. It was funny to the rest of us, but annoying to my sister. I will never forget the grey day my sisters and I got off the school bus, and Mama met us at the door crying. There was no Grinda to greet us. I was 12-years-old, but I knew immediately that Grinda was gone. Not long after that fateful day, my art teacher gave us an assignment: we were to do a carving from a bar of soap. I immediately set to work carving a likeness of Grinda. I put my heart into it. The teacher was so impressed, she carried it around to show the other teachers! It was my monument to a great dog I would never forget.

    I also understand about not being there. We had a mixed-breed rescue dog named Jessie. Jessie was a 35-pound lap dog. She had beautiful, big brown deer eyes with long lashes that looked lovingly into my eyes when I held her. She could not be kept up. We tried everything, but she was a little Houdini, so we finally gave up and just let her go out on her own to do her business. For a long time she stayed away from the road, but eventually she started to roam further. One day, my son and granddaughter were visiting, and I got distracted after letting Jessie go outside. I forgot to call her in. Then a storm came up, a really bad one, and I realized Jessie was out in it. She was terrified of storms. Afterwards, we rode around looking for her, but she was not to be found. I put her picture on social media. My granddaughter made missing dog posters. The next morning, someone knocked on the door. I opened it to find a man standing there holding Jessie’s collar. He told me Jessie had been hit by a car during the storm. I’m sure she was running for home, terrified by the thunder. The man came along and found her on the side of the road, barely alive and suffering. He took her back to his place and put her out of her misery and buried her in his yard. The next day he realized he might could track me down with her rabies tag, and that is how he found me. Like you, I was crushed with the guilt I felt for not noticing sooner that she was gone, for not being there when she was hurt and scared and dying. I went into quite a long depression after that. I still think of her every time I drive through the intersection where she was hit.

    So now I have another dog that I love too much. He is Jack, a Golden Doodle. The special connection is there, and I know that he, too, will break my heart one day because the only trouble with dogs is they don’t live long enough.


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