I’m 38 years old, and have had dogs all my life. I’m currently on my fourth, a wonderful 1 year old Shetland Sheepdog named Fletcher. He’s the first dog I’ve had as an adult alone, and I love him with all my heart…he’s one of my best friends.

Prior to Fletch, I had 3 Keeshonds over the course of my life. The first one was sick, and passed away at 3 years old, when I was 10. I was heartbroken; I don’t think until that point in my life I’d ever dealt with death directly.

My next one was Vader, and I had this dog for 13 years, all through junior high, high school and college. He had a good life, was a wonderful friend, but developed kidney problems in his 13th year, requiring us to put him to sleep. The problem was, he had no idea he was sick, and looked in perfect health when we took him to the Vet. I was so troubled, that I refused to go in the room with him…I couldn’t bear to have that memory in my head, and my family agreed. We said goodbye to him in the waiting room of the vet’s office, and the vet took him away.

My next Keeshond was Woody. He was a great dog, friendly, funny…but completely neurotic. He was afraid to be outside, afraid of other dogs, afraid of the dark…you name it, he was afraid of it. But he was my companion thru-out my adult life to date, and he was a great friend. He developed severe arthritis in the end, couldn’t walk, and was in severe pain all the time. Like you, I wished that he would pass on in his sleep and save us all the trouble of making that decision. But he hung in there, and ultimately, he had to be put to sleep as well. My mother never forgave herself for not being in the room when Vader was put to sleep, and insisted on being with Woody when the moment came. My poor father had to take one for the team and go in with her. I, again the coward, could not bring myself to go in, and again sat this one out. I was crushed, but felt relief in knowing that being there with him actually comforted my mother.

I listened to your radio podcast from November 5th in my car today, where you told your story of the moment you put Sprite to sleep, how you held his head, and apologized and thanked him at the same time, and I had to pull over and take a moment to compose myself. Hearing you describe those moments that I could not bear to face struck me hard. I heard your voice cracking over the radio, and while I was an emotional wreck at that moment, hearing you helped me remember that I’m clearly not alone, and that so many people have a truly hard time dealing with this situation. I got home, picked up my little guy, and hugged him for a good long while.

Now that I live alone with my wife, and we have our own dog, I fear the day, hopefully far off, where Fletch will be gone, and it bothers me. I know now that without my parents to fall back on, it will someday be my responsibility to be with him, and hold his paw during his final moments. You refer to it as anticipatory grief…I guess I have it. Fletch, right now, brings my wife and I so much joy, it hurts to know he won’t be here all that long. But those thoughts will never stop me from having dogs in my life. I walk him a mile at least every day, we take him to the dog park every weekend, we kick the soccer ball around the back yard every afternoon, and whenever we can, we let him play with his best friend, my parent’s new Keeshond puppy Chester. We will always have dogs…they are great friends. I appreciate you taking the time from your show to deal with these issues, and how you take the time to listen to your audience and read their postings on the air. Thank you for all your work in making people aware of shelters, and encouraging people to adopt all these loving dogs and cats you talk about every day on your show.


Chuck from NY

fletcher and checker