To Carni

As a veterinarian, Lisa Campbell has comforted hundreds of dog owners over the last 13 years as they make the painful decision to put their pet to sleep.  But who comforts the vet when it is time to say goodbye to her own dog?

Sitting alone at a table in a little restaurant near her home recently, Campbell writes a love letter to Carni, letting her dog know just how much the last 17 years have meant to her.

People stared at her because she was crying, but she didn’t care. The veterinarian had to comfort herself.

“One of the saddest things people say to me is `at the end of the day it’s just a dog.’ In the heartbreaking days and nights before I put my beloved Carni girl to sleep, I thought a lot about what `just a dog’ meant to me.”

This is what she wrote.

“To my sweet Carni: Because you are `just a dog’ you never learned to hold a grudge. You never complained when I hauled you back and forth between California, Oregon, Washington, Oregon and California again. You were happy as long as you were with me and we played Frisbee at all the rest stops.

“Because you are `just a dog’ you never learned anger. You just curled up next to me when we had to sleep in the car because we were `between homes.’ It was cold and snowy those few nights, but you kept me warm in the back of that Isuzu Trooper.

“Because you are `just a dog’ you only knew how to live in the
moment. You swam with abandon in every lake, river, ocean and stream from here to Washington. And even made me go in after you with my clothes on, to the delight of everyone watching on the shore.

“Because you are `just a dog’ you loved me every single second of every single hour of every single day of your almost 17 years. You taught me that we only need three things in life – food, shelter and love.

And that is what I gave you, and you gave me your heart. You gave me joy, you gave me love. And because you are my oldest friend, I am giving you peace.

“Because you are a light that has guided me through almost half my life I won’t watch you just `exist.’ You have put me first for 17 years and now because you are `just a dog’ and my best friend, I am putting you first.

“Your quality of life is more important than the heartache I will forever feel when you are gone. You are more important than the piece of me that will forever be missing when I can’t see your sweet face or watch your tail wag at the sight of me.

“Because, at the end of MY day – just a dog named Carni was all I ever needed. I love you, Carni girl.”


The veterinarian finishes her love letter, wipes away the tears, and heads off to work at the Camarillo Animal Shelter before ending her day at the Valley Veterinary Clinic Charitable Non Profit, a low cost spay neuter facility in Simi Valley.

Campbell already knows what her day will be like. They are all becoming the same. More people dropping off their pets because they can’t – or don’t want to – keep them anymore.

“It’s worse now than any time in the last 13 years I’ve been a veterinarian,” she says. “These are pets, not strays. They’ve lived in comfy homes, and now they are being dropped off with strangers.

“When I hear people say ‘It’s just a dog’ I want to tell them they’ve come to the wrong person. It’s not just a dog.”

— Steve from Porter Ranch, CA