Excuse Me, but there's a Tear in my Beer

Actually, I do believe I've spoiled my beer with salt. Bartender, may I have another? On second thought, make it something stronger & keep them coming. I'd very much like to drown my sorrows today. Apologies for being a downer (so unjinlike!) but I've a tragic tale to tell...

I am utterly & completely devastated so I've decided to get toasted. Will someone please make sure I get home okay?

It was the winter of 2005. I was stuck in a terrible marriage with no fast end in sight. I was not the brassy jin you know today. I was quiet, lonely & thanks to the wasband, very secluded. I had lost my wonderful Black Tri Australian Shepherd 'Bella' 2 months prior at the young age of 5 to a seemingly heart related birth defect. I couldn't stand the quiet any longer.

Enter the eccentric Golden Retriever breeder that fell jinto my lap. I was never one for touting breeders as my philosophy was always to shun the profit of animal sales. They aren't pets to me, they are companions. Ahhh... but this gent was different & jinto my life he brought a gorgeous red/golden on the night before Xmas Eve. 

She wasn't even 2 months old- far too young to be away from her mother so I knew she needed extra special care. I raised her on a holistic vegetarian diet much like my own, with mass quantities of research into all the additional things she needed to grow into a strong healthy pup, of course. I named her Brioche after the traditional French eggy breakfast bread because her fur was the sheen of a fresh baked fluted boule.

I swore I would do everything right this time round so she'd live a long & happy life. In fact, no spaying for her as I thought one day I might have adequate living space for a batch of mini Brioche's... *sigh*

She grew to be strong, healthy & very very very happy. She got me through the rest of the marriage & I made sure I retained custody of her in the divorce. She was kind, gentle & utterly selfless. She was my familiar. Anyone who met her was absolutely stunned by her intelligence & love. She radiated love.

...and now she's gone. Didn't even make it to her 4th birthday. I had to make the decision to put her to sleep this past Saturday eve. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in this lifetime. 

She had started limping about 2.5 months ago & I assumed she took a tumble down the stairs when I wasn't home. I don't even care to speak of the incompetent vet who originally misdiagnosed her. *sigh*

It got worse & last Tuesday I tried a different vet. He seemed hopeful that it was operable & we brought her in on Wednesday for the surgery. The results came in on Friday morning. A very rare form of terminal, untreatable, blood bourne cancer found mostly in goldens (hereditary). He suspected she only had a few days to live. Evidently they were amazed she had lasted this long without it filling her body. They didn't come out right & say it... but it was inferred that how I raised her had something to do with how amazing she still looked. She didn't look sick at all... except for the massive rear leg.

She went peacefully in my arms & she looked so damn beautiful, so unbelievably perfect. Yet now I've a terrible void in my heart and a normally stoic jin, under any & all trying circumstances, can't seem to stop the tears from filling all of your beers.


  1. God. let me buy you a drink! You need one!

    And may I suggest a moment of silence for the departed Brioche?

  2. It is always the hardest when they are taken from us so soon.

  3. So sorry to hear about your loss... to some of us partially-socialized recluses, the animals in our lives mean as much as most people. The suddenness is painful too. I don't believe that one can truly mentally prepare for the loss of a loved one, but I believe we can feel that it helped in retrospect.

    Again, my condolences.

  4. What is that? A stuffed dog? Or a dog having sexual intercourse, with what appears to be a wooden dog's head? (Re "Everyone has to go sometime...")

    Is there a Christ/dog in this chapel? Does a dog preach, howl, bay and bark at a congregation of dogs (mostly mutts) kneeling in the pews? Do dogs bring a natural solemnity to such occasions, respecting the departed doggie soul of the current center of attention? Empathizing with its doggie strife? Recalling old buried pork and steak bones, tree trunks and pants legs it may have once peed on? Bitch scents and a thousand anuses? Lawns to dump a load on? All the good old things a normal dog used to do?

    Ah, how pure the love of a dog can be. Without any of the disappointments human beings can bring, betrayals, failures, brute exercises of the ego and competitive will. Dogs lead uncomplicated, simple lives. Even when they die they die with an unforced dignity most of us can't know. For sometimes they merely simply slip into their departure, ride the pain, and leave without regret, hope, or fear. Though death's grip can sometimes appear in the eyes.

    In some ways, Brioche may be better off than the rest of us. For we can anticipate our deaths, see around it, imagine its horrors and the deep dark night ahead in a way no animal can.

    If there is an acre or two in Heaven for dogs I hope Brioche is there. Who knows? In the end he may be better off up there than many of us here.

  5. My deepest sympathy to you, Jin.


  6. @Quinty

    The site on which the photo is hosted [link] says:

    "In 1994 sculptor and illustrator Stephen Huneck suffered a fall and debilitating disease that left him in a coma and near death. He survived and with his recovery came the vision to build a dog chapel, his largest and most personal work of art. The white-steepled New England-style chapel is festooned with dog sculptures, hand-carved dog pews and the interior is lit through dog-themed stain glass windows. Visitors are encouraged to leave written notes and pictures to their dogs on the Wall of Remembrance, although there is not much room left today. Adjoining the chapel is Stephen Huneck's art gallery.

    Your dog is welcome in the gallery and, of course, in the dog chapel but she will likely be eyeing the series of trails that are cut though meadows up the side of Dog Mountain. These lead to inspiring views down the surrounding valley. Also on the 400-acre property are ponds that are perfect for a doggie swim and an agility course for your dog to try.

    The dog chapel's sign reads: "Welcome All Creeds All Breeds No Dogmas Allowed."

  7. So sorry to hear about Brioche's passing, Ma'am. People's "familiars" are always there for them, this is what makes them what they are---and there can be times when they are all we have. I am sure most patrons here can relate and are grieving with you. May you find comfort in the memories you have of those years you spent together.

  8. Thank you all so very much. When I posted this here jinstead of at my own blogs, I guess I was hoping for more profound words, wisdom that might comfort me more than the average condolences convey (mind you, I thoroughly realize the average condolences are truly heartfelt & jinuine & I appreciate then tremendously- it simply gets to be trying having customer after customer walk in & say they're sorry I lost my dog). You are a very unique bunch of jindividuals & your words greatly lessened my pain. I can only hope to return the favour one day.

    Thank you kindly sir, the drink tasted even better knowing it came with a moment of silence.
    Re your second comment- it's that pure unconditional dog love that gets under my skin & jinto my heart of stone... I don't believe humans are capable of it. If we were it'd likely be a better world we live in.

    Awww... that looks like a wonderful place! I've never heard of it before. One day I do believe I'd like to visit.

    You managed to put into words a phrase I shall use in future "to some of us partially-socialized recluses, the animals in our lives mean as much as most people". Thank you.

    (((((hugs back)))))

    I know she's still here. I can smell her... another spirit wandering my halls... and I suppose she'll be back one day, in another form, but it'll be a long while before I can accept her in another form as this one was quite nearly perfect.

  9. I care very much about jin's loss, especially at such an intense time in her life...and the special meaning Brioche had for her. I haven't know what to say beyond that. Our lives are so different now than in the evenings when there might be nothing in the cabin but a human and a dog. That kind of communication created a deep intimacy, of which perhaps humans no longer are capable. Dogs still are available for it though...and perhaps to lighten the grief I might be allowed to remind us~~~

    "Dogs and man have always had a close relationship. They have helped us with numerous tasks, and we in turn have provided them with shelter, food and love. But there is a host of time-honored traditions involving the dog and we humans. Probably the most famous of stories are the ones about dogs that have pined to death after their owners have died. Even some of these stories are recorded and considered to be true.

    "Dogs lovers abound, and most of us consider meeting a dog a lucky event. This is especially true according to tradition if the dog is black and white spotted, such as a Dalmatian. In the sporting community, a greyhound sporting a white spot on its forehead is thought to guarantee one's good fortune. In other circles however, there are those who become very nervous if followed be an unknown dog, especially a black one. In fact, in Scotland and Lancashire this is considered to be an omen of death. Interestingly though, in West Country lore being followed by a black dog is considered to be lucky.

    "A dog's behavior is traditionally said to reveal a lot of things. For example, if a dog scratches himself, but seems sleepy, then a change in the weather will occur. If a dog eats grass or rolls in the dust, then rain may be expected. And according to US folklore, if a dog falls asleep with its paws drawn up and its tail pointing straight out, then death will appear in the direction that the tail was pointing.

    "There are lots of superstitions regarding dogs and death and the afterlife. Since dogs are widely known to have psychic susceptibilities, many of their owners will tell stories about haunted places that their dogs have been near. Some stories tell about how the dog will refuse to walk into the haunted place, and even have their hackles raised at some apparent apparition which is invisible to the human eye. And the black dog is very much feared in some cultures as the harbinger of death and disaster. It is even claimed that the devil will sometimes take the form of a dog while traveling along on his diabolical activities."


  10. Thanks much Jazzy.
    *Jinune smile*