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I Said Goodbye to My Good Boy

May 7, 2014

As I write this post, my dog Chloe is snoozing under my desk while she waits for her walk, and my orange kitty Slugger is purring in my lap. This is my pack now.

On Thursday, April 24, I said Goodbye  to my good boy, Rincon.

Almost 12 years old, Rincon was the Labrador/Golden Retriever love of my life. Three weeks earlier he had been diagnosed with a fast-growing cancer. It really rocked me.

For years, losing Rincon had been one of my worst fears. I was afraid I would be flattened by grief, as had happened several times in the past when I had suffered big losses.

I did not want that to happen this time. In fact, I wanted to be able to look back on this period surrounding the loss of Rincon as a positive time rather than a tragedy.

So I created a plan for my own resilience.

I named it Planned Resilience, and it worked incredibly well. I will give more details about it in upcoming blogs on self care. Among other things, it included reaching out to people, having a lovely farewell party for Rincon, and lining up the resources both Rincon and I would need when the time came for him to leave his doggie form.

It turned out to be a beautiful passing. Animal intuitive Nikki Cuthberston came in the afternoon of April 24th to facilitate a conversation for Rincon, Chloe, Slugger and me that was amazing in readying us and giving me peace.

Later in the evening Rincon gave me clear signals that it was his time to go. So Nikki came back and guided us all through the transition while a wonderful mobile vet who makes house calls gave Rincon the shots to release him. And I sang Rincon “his” song, the one I made up about him years ago:

I love my dog, I love my dog, I truly doooo,
The doggie that I love so much – that dog is you!
You’re my bestest boy,
You love your rope toy,
And I love youuuuu!

I can honestly say that it was a beautiful experience, one of those things that line up spiritually in a perfect way.

As for me these days, I am “doing well”. For the first week I felt very sensitive, dazed and tired – and like I was made out of tissue paper. And I kept wanting to hug Rincon. My self-care included Pilates, hot soup, phone calls with friends, and lots of napping with Chloe & Slugger. I am pulling them closer.

Now, on day 12, I am feeling stronger. But with it, “reality” is settling in and I find myself missing Rincon even more. Everything reminds me of him. I’m sure those of you who have lost a furry family member (or any kind of major relationship) know what this is like.

Chloe & Rincon, Where's dinner2I keep expecting Rincon to walk through the kitchen door with Chloe and look up at me with those big, beautiful, soulful eyes that say, “Where’s dinner?” Or to nudge my elbow when I’ve been at the computer too long to say, “Where’s dinner?” Or to track me down in the bathroom to say, “No, seriously, where’s dinner?

So I am continuing to do my best to take good care of myself.

Contact with my friends is more important than ever. I greatly appreciate those who have visited, phoned, emailed or written comments on my Facebook posts. Your caring presence has buoyed me. Please keep staying in touch; a loss gets lonelier after the passing as people fade away.

The bottom line: I am deeply grateful for the blessing and privilege of having 11 years with Rincon (I got him when he was one), who was a healer in his own right. As a friend once put it, “Rincon is the Bodhisattva of dogs.”

If I can be for myself even a small part of what Rincon was for me,
I’ll do all right.

For now, the collar on Rincon’s bed is a symbol to me not of what I have lost, but of my readiness to move forward and open myself to the love and goodness in Life that I used to get from Rincon.



  1. Patty

    I kept the collar of a foster I had who naturally died in the middle of the night just before she was to go to her new forever home. People ask why I kept the collar — she wasn’t my dog — but it was her collar way before I got her (she was a senior) and she needed to be remembered…and I needed to remember her because she was special in her own way even though I didn’t know her for long. Collars can be very special.

    • Martia Nelson

      Patty, that is so touching. It was a beautiful way of honoring that dog and her precious life. And it shows your spirit of caring and recognizing with the heart what matters. Thank you so much for sharing this story!

  2. Cindy Judkins

    I was very moved by your loss and was compelled to write this poem to send to you. I hope you know that they are never far from us…even though they have changed form. I can only say that my heart shares your sadness and that your pain is a testament to your ability to love as deeply as I’m sure you loved your Good Boy. Take care and blessings. This truly reminds me that we are all connected and what hurts you, hurts me too.!

    Our Hearts Have Touched

    I don’t know why I am so touched by other people’s grief
    Maybe the shared experience can offer some relief
    A beloved pet passes on to a better place
    And somehow I am left with a huge empty space

    You story tugs at my heart like my loss was yesterday
    Nothing changes that, no matter what I do or say
    You share your story of loss, of letting your loved one go
    And my heart aches for you, for surely I DO KNOW

    If I help you to go,
    How will I know?
    Will I read ‘the sign’ right?
    Is what I’ll be wondering when I’m alone in the night

    No matter what the circumstance
    The pain is real, it’s a delicate dance
    Am I acting too quickly, am I waiting too long
    My sweet beloved friend; I don’t want to get this wrong

    Why can’t I be gifted with God’s loving grace?
    As you and HE decide when you will leave this place
    I will hold you in my arms as we say our last goodbye
    Your soul touches mine as I watch life leave your eyes

    So when you share your story, your loss is mine; I know it all too well
    As a tear rolls down my cheek and my heart aches and swells
    Just know that you are not alone with this pain in your heart
    As you bid final farewell to your loved one as they now depart

    ©Cindy Judkins

  3. Martia Nelson

    Cindy, Wow, thank you so much for reaching out with your beautiful comment and poem. I am deeply touched. You are a master with words. Your poem is so personal and universal. You have captured with great heart the process of navigating the time when we know we have to release our beloved furry family member. I know a lot of people will relate to the words you have written.



  1. Loss and Resilience | Martia Nelson - […] my May 7, 2014 blog, I Said Goodbye to My Good Boy, I shared a very personal story, one you…

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