My Sweet Dog Bodie Has Died

My poor boy is gone. This is how it happened.

These people came by the house yesterday evening to inquire if we wanted to have our dead tree removed. I asked them about some trees and branches that were pushing through our fence. They said they could take care of those too.

When the tree guy and I left the backyard, the fence didn’t shut quite properly, but I secured it. They went back there again though to take some measurements and apparently they didn’t secure the fence properly.

After they left, I fed my boys Bodie and Doobie and then as usual let them outside into the fenced-in backyard to do their business. Melinda Google chatted with me to say she was coming home and asked me to put some rolls into the oven as she was starved. I asked her to get some bones from Target because Bodie had been sad and wanting one for several days. I figured it would be a nice surprise for him. After I finished chatting with her, I wanted to bring the dogs inside. If I leave them too long out there, they (especially Bodie) usually start barking at stuff like the neighbor’s dogs.

To my horror, they were not in the back yard.

At this point it was pretty much dark. I ran inside as fast as I could, rounded up a jar of treats and two leashes. I ran outside barefoot hoping to see them in the front yard or the neighbors yard. That bloody fence has been knocked open before, and they have gotten loose before.

Every time, they never went very far or on the worse such occasion, Bodie ran deeper into the neighborhood rather than towards the perils of the always busy Windy Hill.

Every time except for this time.

When I got outside, I could see that the two dogs were halfway down my street, heading straight for Windy Hill. I ran after them in terror calling their names. Pleading with them to come. Pleading with God to help me. One neighbor happened to be outside, and he was closer to them and to the road. He tried to help me stop them, but they proceeded to step out into the busy four lane road. We almost caught up with them, but they were in the middle of the road. They almost got hit and were obviously alarmed by the cars rushing by them. Instead of coming back towards my neighbor and me, they ran into the grassy median and started running together down the median of Windy Hill.

In terror, I pursued them feeling hopeless. I was running out of breath chasing them and shouting their names. Cars were darting past on either side of us.

Then, Doobie stopped and walked out into the road on the right side.

Fortunately for him, he is mostly white and the oncoming traffic could see him. A big truck slowed down and waited for him to get back into the median. It turns out there was more than just colors and good luck to Doobie’s narrow missing getting hit. Apparently, one of my other neighbors had come out and was trying to stop and direct traffic.

While this drama with Doobie unfolded, Bodie was getting further away. I was losing my strength and running out of breath and wondering how I could possibly catch these dogs that are so much faster than me.

And then, Doobie stopped and turned to look at me. He looked frightened and ashamed. I called him to me and wonder of all wonders he came to me and bowed down placing his head at my feet. I hook the leash into his collar and then turned my attention back to Bodie.

Mercifully, Bodie had also stopped his relentless running away. He was facing us. He was even cautiously starting to come back toward us. I lifted up one of his favorite treats and called his name while started to move forward with Doobie in tow.

I can’t know what happened. All I can guess is that he heard the panic in my voice. For whatever reason, as I started to move towards him, Bodie panicked obviously disturbed by the rush of cars in the road.

He darted out into the left side of the road and right in front of a car. I watched as he got hit and rolled forwarded towards the median like a lifeless doll. The car slammed on its breaks before continuing on, its driver probably afraid of getting hit by other cars.

My neighbor who had tried to help came up at that time and knelt down beside Bodie who was now laying in the narrow strip between the road and the median. He told me later that apparently he tried to move Bodie into the median and was mildly bitten for his efforts.

In the chaos of watching Bodie get hit, something happened and somehow I dropped Doobie’s leash. In fear, he darted off back the way we had come along the grassy median.

My terror increased. I didn’t know what to do.

Bodie was laying there not trying to get up. He was panting but very much still alive.
I didn’t see any blood or any obvious injures. He however did not seem able to get up. I moved him onto the grassy median and then I asked my neighbor to wait with Bodie while I pursued Doobie. My neighbor knew however that the frightened Bodie would be in better hands with me and instead told me to stay with him and took after Doobie himself.

I looked down at my boy and knew I needed to get him to a vet.

I picked him up in my arms and started to run down the median. He was so heavy. I was so tired. I kept looking around for someone – anyone – to pull over to the side of the road and help me. I was calling out for help. I didn’t know how I could make it back to the neighborhood carrying him.

I saw one car look like it might stop. They slowed down. But then they continued on.

Then, just as I was thinking I would never get back home with Bodie, a car stopped just ahead of me and a lady got out. She was apparently the poor driver who had hit Bodie. It wasn’t her fault. He was mostly black and hard to see at night, and he had just dashed out. It was pretty much unavoidable on such a crowded road.

I was so thankful she had come back.

I carried Bodie to her car, and she helped me put him into the back seat. I got in with him and she drove me to the entrance to my neighborhood where four of my neighbors were standing around looking for Doobie. I had the lady pull over and wait with Bodie while I asked my neighbors about Doobie. To my horror, the man who had helped me said that Doobie had apparently wondered off into the woods that border our neighborhood and the road.
I was torn. I knew I needed to get Bodie to the vet. My wife Melinda wasn’t there and was at Target oblivious to the nightmare unfolding before me.

Who could find Doobie and keep him safe from the same fate?

And in the middle of the night in a dark wooded area with nasty briars and a ditch??

Then, a saw a flash of white at the opposite end of my street near my house.

It could have been Doobie…

I asked the lady to drive me to my house. She let me out, and I went into the house through the front door that I had left wide open and there was Doobie on his leash looking ashamed and scared.
I was so thankful.

I closed the door, ran, and grabbed my keys and wallet. I then got my shoes and made sure the back door was shut. Then, I left through the front door and got into the car with the lady. She agreed to drive me to the emergency vet clinic.

I called Melinda and told her what had happened. It was hard for her to understand me because my throat was hoarse and dry from my shouting. Bodie was laying mostly still, panting but seeming relatively calm – probably from the shock. I realized at some point that it seemed that he had a little bit of blood coming out of his mouth as I had a small smudge on my hand.

I dialed 411 and had to struggle as they had trouble finding the number for the emergency vet. At one point, the operator misunderstood and thought I was calling about a people emergency as she asked me if I could dial 911. I had to repeat several times in my hoarse voice that it was my Dog and that I needed the number for the vet. Eventually, they got it right and put me through where I was able to notify the clinic of our imminent arrival.

It seemed liked we hit every bloody red light.

When we arrived at the clinic, I awkwardly picked Bodie up and carried him into the clinic. He had been a real champ on the ride. He only squirmed and tried to move around once or twice. They took him back and had me sign forms. One nurse assured me that about ten dogs are brought in like this every day and on most days ten of those dogs go home. I asked: “Even when there’s blood in their saliva?” She said that they usually have blood in their saliva in such cases.

I thanked the nice lady who drove me. The poor woman was beside herself with grief and nerves over hitting Bodie. She said she had a dog too and a three year old son and that her biggest nightmares were that one of them might get hit by a car.

I assured her that it wasn’t her fault.

My throat was ridiculously dry. I bought a coke and waited.

I became acutely aware of my numbness and the fact that I was shaking a bit.

They eventually led me back to a waiting room. I prayed feverishly in seclusion that the Lord would not take my sweet boy away from me.

I cried.

After what seemed like forever, the doctor came in. She explained that Bodie was in shock and that they were bringing him into a more stable condition before they could do x-rays. She said that he seemed to be suffering from no internal bleeding.

This was good news.

I had been deathly afraid that he was suffering from internal bleeding with the blood in his mouth. The Doctor said that this blood was probably from cuts or scrapes along the mouth. She then told me that she was concerned that he may have a spinal injury. She asked me if I had seen him move the lower half of his body since the injury.

I couldn’t recall.

She said that it would take about thirty minutes before they could take the x-rays and know what kind of injuries Bodie had sustained, but she said that he showed signs of not being able to move the lower half of his body.

I went outside to wait again. Right at that moment, Melinda arrived.

God bless her, she had brought some of the rolls that I had put in the oven, and thus, we didn’t have to wait with empty stomachs and watch our blood sugar levels drop.

We waited. I told her what the Doctor had said. The Doctor had said that a spinal injury in some cases was treatable through surgery and provided a path for recovery while in other cases the situation was one where nothing was possible.

Melinda and I waited and discussed work and other things. Anything to not dwell on the giant elephant standing in the room with us.

There was an annoying TV in front of us that kept running an ad for some sleazy show called “Dirty Sexy Money”. My friend Josh had the bad luck of calling while we sat there. He had been hoping to discuss setting up our slicehost for our friend Jason to come aboard as a partner. What he got was a friend in a terrible situation where conversations tend to be awkward. It kind of reminded me of how my other good friend Jason came by to grab me for a cup of coffee and had the bad timing of arriving minutes after my dad had died from cancer – the ambulance still waiting outside the house.

While I was finishing up the conversation with Josh, a nurse called us back and said that the Doctor needed to talk with us. We went into the room to wait.

I was shivering.

Melinda was being so strong through all of this.

Then, the Doctor came in and said that she was afraid she had bad news for us. Melinda and I both were silent with dread. The doctor turned off the lights and put an x-ray slide up to show how Bodie’s spine had been injured badly in two places just above his hip. She explained that the fracture was such that the spinal cord had been severed and that there was nothing that could be done for him. She explained that he would need to be euthanized.

Melinda and I both burst into tears. We pretty much completely lost it.

I was in denial.

Insanely, in desperation, I thought of Forest Gump and Lt. Dan. I though that surely there was some way to save his life even if it meant that he would be paralyzed and need special care.

But there was no hope forthcoming from the Doctor.

It all seemed so utterly monstrous to me. I mean if he had been injured with internal bleeding and a completely battered body that was one thing. At least, you would look in horror and realize that this creature was dying and that there was nothing to be done. But here he was, the upper half of his body and even the lower half pretty much completely sound but for this broken vital connection.

This damned fragile broken connection.

They asked if we wished to say goodbye to him and led us into a different room where he lay on a blanket with another blanket covering most of his body. He had a blanket folded up under his head to cushion it. There were either scrapes or blood stains just under his nostril and on his chin. His breathing was labored and he was under heavy sedation.
We talked to him, petted him, and stood with him for what seemed like an eternity of denial. Through it all he simply lay there accepting our caresses while breathing sharp and rapidly.

I kept thinking of all the things that he would never do again. How he would no longer get to jump up for joy every morning when I finally brought him breakfast doing his “arial” Bodie trick for us. How he would never happily run around the house like a crazy dog when I asked if he wanted to go for a walk. How he would never get to beat up on his brother Doobie again.

Death. It’s so final.

I believe in God and life eternal. But what about dogs?

There is no answer really. Some people will say one thing. Others another. No one knows.

The experience of dying really freaks me out. I should say rather that the few experiences in life that we can have that seem the closest to what dying might be like haunt me.

Like when I’m drifting off to sleep on my back… I have trouble sleeping on my back. When I happen to be in this position and start to drift into sleep, I stop breathing.

And then, I gasp and wake up.

It is always very disturbing: this sensation that you are no longer breathing and drifting away with nothing to stop the descent. And then the gasp comes.

But what if it doesn’t? That’s death.

After what seemed like forever and several used tissues for both Melinda and I, the nurse came in and had us sign something about the euthanasia procedure. Then, after another long wait, the doctor finally came in with a syringe.

It’s one of those moments of fear where you see something inevitable and unstoppable coming for you, and you cannot bear to face it, but it is coming nevertheless.

Some people might laugh, but I braced for it much like I brace for the needle, when they have to take my blood. In the last precious few seconds, I tried to say things desperately to my little boy as the vet began to administer the drugs through Bodie’s iv.

I had seen this before with my previous dog Sammy who had to be euthanized from complications caused by diabetes.

The process is peaceful, but awful in the way that one second you are petting this obviously living, breathing  creature. And the next you are petting an obviously lifeless shell.

Melinda and I drove home in gloomy silence and then got ready for bed. It was quite late when we returned. Doobie awaited us cautiously happy to see we had come back home. I picked up Bodie’s collar, water bowl, and food bowl so as not to leave an unhappy reminder in the kitchen.

Melinda and I sat on the couch together in sad silence. It is amazing how numb one gets. How hollow you feel.

And then Doobie came over to us and was his normal happy playful, loving self. He made us laugh. I was thankful for that.

And so thankful that he hadn’t met his death out there on Windy Hill, too.

Still, I had trouble sleeping when we finally went to bed. I was tired and exhausted from the whole ordeal, but the pictures of Bodie’s last day and the terrible images of him getting hit and me trying to keep him safe haunted me.

I kept seeing the scene of Windy Hill replay itself over and over again.

I kept questioning all the little things that I could have done that may have saved him.

It’s so quiet and strange here with just Doobie in the house.

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  1. John and Melinda, this is such sad news! I am so sorry for your loss. These dogs get into your heart in unbelievable ways. This was a terrible accident and John, I know that you did all that you could.

  2. I don’t know you but I found your post about your precious Bodie while researching spinal damage in dogs. I had this experience myself today. Our beautiful 8 year old Nala ran out in the snow (we live in Memphis and she’s never been in snow before today) and she slid in the snow. Her back legs went out from under her and she slammed her hip into the oak tree in my back yard. All I heard from inside the house was her wailing in pain. My other dog, a 2 year old boxer came running to the door as if to say he needed me. I ran outside to find my Nala paralyzed from the waist down. I rushed her to the vet and they said her spine was severed and that she would not survive this injury no matter how hard we tried. I had to sign the euthanization papers and held her as she was given the injection.

    Such a freak accident and it took my baby away from us. All the while, my husband is in Europe for another two months for work. I had to call and tell him over the phone that his best friend was no longer with us.

    I know how you felt now. It’s so horrible. Our pets are our children and I never had to go through anything like this before with one.

    I’m dreading going to bed because Nala always cuddled up with me at night. I don’t know how I am going to handle this.

  3. Hi Brenda,

    Thanks for sharing your story about Nala. I am very sad for your loss. As you mentioned, I know how it feels.

    It’s going to be very painful for you and your husband over the next few weeks, but I found that if you take a day off, listen to some sad music that you enjoy, and let yourself just cry and get everything out then the pain will become easier to live with sooner.

    I also found that it helped me to share my experience and thoughts with friends. Each time I told my story to friends, family, co-workers, and even my blog, I took a small step towards working out my grief and accepting the reality of my loss.

    I think the key is to embrace and experience your grief. I found that when I did this, it got easier each day. Eventually you will be able to look back on Nala with a warm, but gentle sadness and think of the good times and the good life she had with you.

    I think it’s good that you have another dog already. Shower him with love. He is obviously not Nala and is his own special being, but nevertheless he, like any good friend, can be a source of comfort in this time of grief. My wife and I practically spoiled our other dog Doobie and I think it helped us and maybe even helped Doobie as during those first few days he didn’t seem normal himself.

    I hope that some of this helps you during this difficult time.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss. I am racked with guilt about the death of our dog, our beloved Lucy, two days ago so I am researching web sites. It’s the guilt we feel, as well as the love, that is so painful.

    I blogged about her to help ease the pain: (December 4, 2008: on Lucy)

    I’m glad you still have Doobie. I do agree: just let the tears come. I was really grieving hard for three days, starting with the afternoon she went missing. Today it still hurts, we’ve buried her, but the tears are not as strong. Nothing like the loss of a beloved dog.

    All best, Catherine

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