Posted in A Day In the Life

We Put Our Dog Down Today

Jeter 2008 – 2020

We put our dog Jeter down today.  A cancer had snuck into his life and Dean and I vowed that we wouldn’t let him suffer.  So, we kept track of meds, missed meals, and limps that developed, reaching a point where we knew it was time.  I hate that point.  Like everyone who loves their dog, I wanted ours to live forever.

A compassionate young vet who does nothing but at-home euthanasia, came to our house. As a result, we got to hold Jeter and stroke him while he fell asleep.  She administered the first of two shots, and in a few minutes he had fallen into a twilight kind of sleep. As we talked to him, he wagged his tail, still able to hear our voices. Then came the second dose, the one that would mark the end. My husband continued telling him how much we loved him and what a good boy he was. At the very end, when I could feel the life force leaving him, I thanked him for being our dog. And then Jeter sighed. . . a long deep sigh with a bass tone sound to it, like the one he’d make at night when he was letting go of the day and surrendering to sleep. Except this time, he wasn’t surrendering to sleep, he was letting go of life.

I watched Dean and the vet put him on a stretcher and carry him to the van that she’d parked in the driveway. We had a couple more minutes with him. The body that wasn’t him anymore lay tucked in by blankets on the stretcher and I reached out and petted his head one last time before turning away and walking back inside.

Now the house is too damn quiet and it feels like a betrayal to vacuum up the dog hair on the carpet and the floors. I think I’ll wait a few days.  An absence fills the space where our dog once lived and we miss him beyond what either of us ever thought missing could be.

Dean and I have cried and wailed.  Wept and hung on to each other tight.  We’ve gone through the pictures on our phones and talked about him, remembered days on the trail or at a lake. Each photograph reminds me of what good attitude, joy, playfulness, and loyalty looks like. 

The bottom line is that our dog, the world’s best dog, loved us unconditionally, without judgement There’s not a dog lover out there who hasn’t entertained the idea for just a moment that in the overall scheme of things, dogs know more about how to be good people than we do.

My heart is broken, but time and the sweetness of memories will mend it. I will always carry Jeter in the perfect little place into which he burrowed when we met. You’re still with me, buddy. And the goofy yellow lab that Dean and I adopted so many years ago turned out to be such a smart choice, one of the best that we ever made. Rest in peace dear Jeter, most faithful of companions, most loyal of friends.  You will forever be in our hearts.


Novelist, essayist, blogger, wife, dog-mommy, dancer, dreamer, grateful.

39 thoughts on “We Put Our Dog Down Today

  1. I am so sorry for your deep loss Stephanie, I am editing our podcast conversation right now and was enjoying hearing Jeter’s light claw sounds on the floor toward the end of our interview when we kept saying walk in the woods, walk in the urban streets, walk in the park. You were I am sure the best dog mommy EVER. Verla

  2. I am so very, very sorry. There is nothing more terrible than the drive home from the vet’s after that. I am so glad you could be with him at home. Jeter was a bright light in your lives and a very good dog. He’s running free. My deepest condolences.

  3. I had to blink back my tears so I could finish reading. I’m always amazed how stories of grief take me back to that deep pool of loss inside me. I don’t mind visiting that soft place. It is so full of love. My deepest condolences to all.

    1. Grief is a transformative force. I’m in a thicket of pain right now, but brushing up against those soft places that know love so deeply. Thank you for your sweetness and thoughtfulness.

  4. Crying….I had to do the same thing not quite a year ago, home euthanasia, with my beloved first cat Sam. I never wanted cats. I was allergic and liked my furniture intact. But I am an animal lover, over most people, and when he made his way into my back yard in 2007 I was a goner. After just a few days of his company I remember thinking to myself “Oh OK now I get it”. It was brutally hard knowing that I had arranged his death. But he had been sick and there was no way I would allow him to suffer for my benefit. It was peaceful. The vet actually knew Sam from working at my vet clinic before she started the job at “Heaven at Home”. Because of Sam I have fostered many cats for our local rescue group. I now have three cats and my beloved pet rabbit Bailey. I will never forget Sam. He was my first and such a unique guy.

    Comfort to you in your memories, love and hugs.

    1. I had a cat named Sam when I was a little girl. Thank you for sharing your story about him. Our fur babies just burrow into our hearts. Reading your thoughtful post, I am already thinking that somewhere up the road, we’ll adopt another dog. Jeter was adopted. I’ve always had animals in my life. Without them something feels like its missing. Big hugs and thank you for the comforting vision.

  5. One of the hardest days in our lives is when we have to let our good boys and girls go. It always hurts, but it will get easier in time. ❤️

  6. Stephanie, I went to scroll Facebook tonight as I always do and your post was the first one I saw. I started weeping uncontrollably for your loss which brings me back to all the losses I’ve suffered each time my beloved fur babies passed. Your Jeter was a beauty! All labs are loving, loyal and devoted to their family. I am so deeply sorry Stephanie and Dean, for the loss of your beautiful boy. May he run and play freely over the rainbow 🌈 bridge with all my beloved fur babies. Sending you love, hugs and prayers of comfort. ❤️🙏🏻🤗
    Donna Caruso

    1. Dearest Donna, I know you love your Lab baby. As you say, we suffer when each one passes. This morning as I write this, I have sweet memories of our boy and I’m also ragged around the edges — par for the course, right? Sending you love and appreciation. I’m missing Jeter so deeply in my heart.

  7. So sorry for your loss, but thank you to you and Dean for sending him off with as much love as he brought into your lives. May we all pass on knowing how loved we are.

  8. What a Beautiful boy he was, and certainly a worthwhile life for all he brought to the world. How lucky you were to have him. How great to be there when he’s gone. Miss him. Love him. RIPJeter.

  9. You made me cry! As I lost Tobi last October. That morning his back legs couldn’t support him suddenly. He was 16-1/2 years old. That day, October 17th, we went to the veterinarian and she did exactly what yours did. I have a nice picture of Tobi on a shelf in my bedroom. And when I dust my furniture, I look at him and say Hello! Take care dear Stephanie. Hugs and kisses to you.

  10. So sorry, Stephanie. I know how terribly hard that process is and how it feels so much like a betrayal of the love a dog gives to us.

  11. I’m sorry for your loss, Stephanie. Letting go is so hard, even when it’s the best thing. Had a very similar experience with our 16yo mini-dachshunds at the end of last year, and we still spontaneously burst into tears missing their sweet, sweet little souls. Sounds like you guys gave Jeter the best possible life and he left this place surrounded by all the love and comfort he knew while he was here with you. In time, I hope you find peace and comfort in your memories! Take good care! ❤️

    1. Thank you for your kind and empathic words, Krissy. I appreciate you taking the time to share. I am so grateful that Jeter was a part of my life; that he brought me so much joy; and that he demonstrated for me every single day what unconditional love looks like.

  12. I am so sorry you have last your dear friend, Stephanie. Your love came through so clearly in this post. You will remember all the beautiful things about him, especially his devotion to you.

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