Good Night, Maude. You Will Always Be My Main Girl.

I had to put my dog Maude to sleep this morning. She had advanced kidney failure, and she deteriorated suddenly and severely. The downturn started Sunday, when she stopped eating and drinking, and four days later, she was gone.

David-Maude-lying-down

My time with Maude was devastatingly short. She was put down four months, to the day, after I brought her home from the rescue. But it was such an immensely rewarding, love-filled, jubilant time.

We were still getting to know each other, in many ways, although we had a strong bond from the get-go. I was still experimenting with different kind of treats, and engaging her in different kinds of play. But the love was there. She was the first thing I thought of when I woke up, and the reason I started sleeping on my couch one or two nights every week (it’s lower than my bed, so it was easier to pet and connect with her).

Maude wasn’t the most expressive with her affection. She wasn’t a licker, and her standard greeting, when I walked in the door, was to look up from her bed, wag her tail, and go back to her nap. I never doubted for a second that she loved me, though. She liked to nudge my hand, then smile when I started petting her, and loved lying on my chest as I lied on the couch.

maude-couch-selfie-tongue

Her love for me become more evident when other people were around. The more people present, the more she stuck to me. I only had two houseguests during our time together, my sister and niece, and sometimes during that weekend Maude wouldn’t even take treats from my niece – only from her daddy.

underbite-maude

While her decline was rapid, I’ve known something was up for a while. During the past three weeks, she’s vomited about six times, once every 3-4 days. She’d sleep for hours, and then abruptly wake up and start heaving until her last meal came up. Afterwards, she’d return to normal – she’d respond to treats, get excited for a walk, and eat later in the day. Because of this, I didn’t think too much of it – I thought maybe she had a bug where you feel better once you vomit, or maybe she ate something off the sidewalk that I didn’t notice.

She spent Friday night at the kennel while I was in San Diego for a race, and when I picked her up on Saturday, she was tired, moving slower. I thought it was because she ran around with other dogs all day.

She barely ate anything Sunday morning, and by Sunday night she was refusing everything, including her favorite treats. On Monday morning, she only ate a few pieces of chicken jerky and had a sad, defeated look in her eyes that I’ve never seen before. She was incredibly weak and unsteady on her feet. She could barely make it down the hall in my building, and stumbled stepping off a curb.

maude-looking-couch

I called the vet, who was able to see her that hour. I had to lift her into the back seat – she couldn’t climb into the car. The news at the vet wasn’t good. She’s lost a quarter of her weight since we were there in March – 60 pounds down to 45. I knew she had lost weight, but didn’t think it was that much. I thought her body was responding to the increase in exercise I was giving her, compared to life at the rescue.

The vet was blunt: “She’s very sick. This really doesn’t look good. It’s like she’s aged 10 years since I saw her in March. It looks like she’s given up.” He did an x-ray on the spot, which came up normal – meaning no large tumors or signs of cancer. He took blood and urine, and sent it to a lab for testing.

I called for the test results on Tuesday, and her kidney numbers were sky high. The vet had warned me the day before that she may only have a few weeks, but with the lab results in his hand, that went down to a few days. Maude, meanwhile, was getting worse – she still wasn’t eating, was vomiting up the water she drank within a few minutes, and could barely walk. I had to start carrying her down the block to the closest patch of grass, and would carry her back home after she relieved herself.

maude-car-selfie

I had been planning a road trip for me and Maude. We were supposed to leave next week. We were going to Michigan, where Maude was going to meet over a dozen members of the family, and friends, too. She was going to run around in my parents’ big yard. My father was going to spoil her silly. Now I’m going to make the trip alone. It will be great to see everyone, but it’s awful thinking about how many loved ones never got to meet my sweet girl. It will be hard to shake the thoughts of what the trip could have been.

The outpouring of love and support from my family and friends has been overwhelming. I shared the lab report with three experts in my life (one vet-in-training and two physicians – turns out dog kidneys function just like human kidneys), and all gave medical insight. So many people, including many who have put pets down, cried along with me. My friend Jen took a sick day to be with me and Maude during Maude’s final breaths.

I knew Maude was older when I adopted her. Her exact age was unknown, but it was clear she was in the second half of her life. And while it’s easy to think I got robbed, only having her in my life for such a short time, I’d prefer to think that I was incredibly lucky to have met and cared for such a sweet, gentle soul at all.

maude-tongue-licking

Maude’s complete history isn’t known. I couldn’t count the times I looked into those brown eyes and wondered about the things they’ve seen, or the stories that could tell. I do know she spent years in the rescue system. It’s quite possible I gave her the only home she ever had, and more likely that I gave her the only good home. And what a privilege it’s been, giving this gorgeous lady a wonderful, loving, safe place to live out her final days. My sister’s boyfriend put it much more elegantly:

I hope you will take comfort knowing that you did something for Maude that no person had ever done. You committed to her. You gave her unconditional love and care and stability of “place.” These are the greatest gifts she could have ever received. Gifts she had never fully enjoyed.

This is the final picture of Maude and me, taken last night.

Maude-final-pic-with-David

And her final picture, from this morning, 122 days after she walked into my home, becoming my daughter, the companion at my side, and the reason my life became immeasurably and infinitely richer and fuller.

Maude-final-picture

Good night, Maude. You will always be my main girl.

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31 Responses to Good Night, Maude. You Will Always Be My Main Girl.

  1. Sarah Van Houten says:

    Love you Maude – xoxo Sarah

  2. Patty says:

    I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to write this post. Your love for Maude (and her for you) is evident in how well you took care of each other. One of the hardest things to do is to put a pet’s needs above your own when it comes to end of life decisions. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s heartbreaking to lose a loyal member of the family. ❤ ❤ ❤

  3. Bonnie says:

    David, I’m going miss Maude.
    Maude, thank you for coming into our lives.

  4. Jennifer says:

    So very sad. You were an amazing gift to her in her last months. She was a very lucky girl. Hugs to you. Xx

  5. Charlotte Cavaluzzi says:

    Oh David……I am so very sorry about Maude. Whenever I would see a post from you I would always look for a comment and picture of her. The love between the two of you was so heartwarming! She was such a beautiful furbaby, and you both were blessed to have found each other. Thank you for giving her a loving home, even though it was for such a short time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. RIP Dear Maude ❤️

  6. Jessica says:

    Oh David — I am SO sad at your loss! You know that I have been through this more than once with my Airedales and it never gets easier. Pets give us unconditional love and get into our hearts so easily. I hope your time in Michigan with your family will ease some of the pain. Stop by if you are in AA.

  7. Karen Geninatti says:

    I am so sorry David. You have my sympathy, friendship, and love.

  8. Amy G says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss of Maude. But I can only think that she loved her final months with you. She was happy and loved. You did a good thing. All my sympathies.

  9. Beth says:

    Sorry for your loss.

  10. Dot2Trot says:

    I’m happy that you and Maude found each other. Your time together, while way too short, was filled with love.

  11. The hardest thing we ever do, and the most loving, is knowing when to let them go. Your sister’s boyfriend said it best… I would only add that for all the days of Maude’s life, the last 122 were the best. To a dog, there is no yesterday, no tomorrow. There is only ‘now’ – Maude’s ‘now’ was the best.

  12. chrisincal says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. I’m a regular reader and no sh*t, I got a rescue dog at the same time you got Maude. Finn is my first dog in about 25 years so it’s a big adjustment, but reading your blog daily helped me both feel more connected to your experience but also not feel like such an outlier, as a single man taking on a dog. It IS a beautiful thing you did for Maude, and again I’m so sorry for your loss.

  13. Dana says:

    I am so very sorry to hear about your loss David. I’m glad that you and Maude found each other and I know your time together was filled with fun and love. Sending you many hugs.

  14. Oh David, I am so sorry for your loss. I have always adopted older dogs and everyone asks me why, to which I say, our time may be short but they will know love and I will as well. I also say, the dogs that need you find their way to you and those are the dogs that you usually need as well. And she found a good one in you.
    Maude will be missed by all of us.

  15. Val Scott says:

    Please know that I’m deeply sorry you had to say goodbye to your dear girl.

  16. Tania says:

    My heart goes out to you tonight David. Maudes time with you was tragically cut short. I believe 100% that what your sisters boyfriend had to say is spot on and exactly what I wanted to express to you as well. Be well. I do hope to hear your upcoming trip will still be filled with love and laughter.

  17. Erin says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Maude. Your sister’s boyfriend is absolutely right, and I so hope this doesn’t deter you from doggie or senior doggie love in the future ❤

  18. David, I am sorry for your loss of your beloved Maude. The two of you made each others life brighter and I am sad she was with you for such a short time. Yet I cannot help but be joyful that YOU gave her the love and family she always wanted and that her last days were filled with happiness. ❤

  19. Liz says:

    The only flaw dogs have is that their lives are too short. You gave Maude the best 4 months of her life. And she did not die alone in the rescue shelter, instead she was enveloped in your love. This book really helped me when my last dog died: “Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die” by Jon Katz. Perhaps it will give you some comfort. Please accept my deepest sympathies

  20. Kristin says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. I know you had her a short time, but she was imprinted on your heart from the moment you met. It’s not the amount of time you had her, but the amount of love you gave her.

  21. Katharine says:

    Maude was very lucky to have lived the last part of her life in a caring and safe home with a daddy that loved her. Losing a furry baby is never easy. I applaud you for adopting an older lady and loving her unconditionally.

  22. John Fread says:

    David – there are no words to express my sympathies and yes I will also add “celebrations” I’ve been there just a year ago and I know how much the heart hurts afterward. It’s for that I send my sympathy but also to celebrate what you did for Maude. She crossed the rainbow bridge knowing she was loved and for any living thing that is the most priceless gift ever. So look up in the sky tonight and know that there is a star twinkling shiny new and bright. We can all see it and think of her.
    Sending you big big hugs
    John

  23. Deb says:

    I’m so sorry David! Her time with you was good though and you gave her the home she needed for all those years previous. Taking in an older dog, you never know how long they will be around. You did a good thing.

  24. Serena Brittingham says:

    David…so so sorry to learn about Maude’s passing. I have read your blog for a while now as, I too, have been on a weight-loss journey. Your words are always so inspiring to me. But more inspirational was your love for Maude and her love for you. It was a match made in heaven. You both felt happiness when you were with each other. And that is special. God bless you and God bless Maude. Much love.

  25. Deb Sheers says:

    David, I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet girl Maude. She was beautiful inside and out, and you will see her again at the Rainbow Bridge. You gave her the best life, just when she needed you most. God bless you. Love and hugs,

    Deb Sheers
    (Cleveland, Ohio)

  26. G.M. Grena says:

    That’s a real heart-wrencher, David! So sorry to hear about your loss. Just want to join everyone else letting you know we care about you very much!

  27. Trixie says:

    I have an ache in my chest and tears in my eyes reading this. You have so beautifully captured your time with Maude. Be as good to yourself over these next weeks and months as you have been to Maude over these last four months. As you work through your grief give yourself that love, those treats and the exercise – in her honour and honoring yourself.

  28. Love, Jimmie says:

    I’m so sorry. Her most immediate memories were of a good life, and I think you can rest peacefully in that. Oh, your poor heart.

  29. TC says:

    Dear David, I am so sorry for your loss, it’s such a hard thing when our 4 legged family needs goes on. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  30. Rochelle McCall says:

    David,

    I am so deeply sorry for your loss. Are you thinking about getting another rescue animal? Dogs bring such unconditional love to our lives. You are in my thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

    Love,

    Rochelle

    ________________________________

  31. David says:

    THANK YOU, everyone, for all the comments, love, and support. I’ve always known I have awesome friends and readers – you never let me down!

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