The end is here

Mary kept getting up in the night to try to help Latte stand. The dog had slipped under the bed, and couldn’t right herself. Her back legs haven’t worked properly for months now, but the weakness in her shoulders is new. And she no longer has the strength to drag herself upright.

The problem is that she doesn’t want help. When you get up she stops struggling and pretends to be resting. Oh, you’re up? I was just lying here thinking about marmots. Don’t mind me. 

The other problem is that her body hurts and if you touch her hips or shoulders, she’ll yelp and snap. No one has been bitten. And no one wants to be bitten. And no one wants to bite.

The end of a 14-year-old dog is a terrible end. But that is true for all of us. Nobody wants to be in pain. Nobody wants to be done.

We had to wrap her head in a towel to move her. We had to wrap her head in a towel to carry her down the stairs outside.

We had to call the vet this morning to make an appointment for her death. The most terrible of terrible things. Let’s meet at 3, shall we, and you can kill my dog while I hold her and sob?

I just did this last year with Kali. I’ll meet you at noon and watch you kill my dog.

I am so sad it doesn’t seem possible that there’s room for anger, but there is. She followed me last night and wouldn’t settle until she was sure I was staying in the room with her. She did the same thing this morning.

I get it. She’s ready, and I get it. Even now she’s more worried about my feelings than her own. It’s time. It’s OK. It’s time. Don’t worry about me. I’m just resting.

People who don’t love dogs think we make this shit up. That we imagine the way they commune with us. Even now in my anger, I am glad that those people are wrong. Nobody will ever love you like a dog loves you. Nobody is as generous as they are. As forgiving. In fact, I think the miraculous thing about them is that it never occurs to them to forgive. They don’t even acknowledge that you have failed them. They love you as though you are always shiny.

She’ll wag her tail at the end. I know she will. She’ll rest against me as though I weren’t complicit in her death. As though there were nothing to forgive.

11 thoughts on “The end is here”

  1. I’m so sorry, Jill. It’s the hardest thing about loving an animal, outliving them. Letting them go with dignity, allowing their suffering to end, and being there with them to make it easier for them, this is the final act of love we can give, in exchange for their lifetime of love. It’s nowhere near enough, but no human has ever loved as perfectly as a dog.

  2. I’m so sorry for your loss, Jill. Dogs are people too – it’s not easy to witness the suffering of our loved ones… Many blessings to you.

  3. Jocelyn Macklem

    I am so sorry you had to say goodbye to Latte. She was obviously an important part of your family and I’m sure she had to know how much she was loved. I have been at the other end of that phone call too many times to count (working for a vet for the past 12 years) and it is always awful and a bit awkward. We understand how heartbreaking it is to make that decision, no matter how necessary it is. I’ve cried over many pets not my own and you have my deepest sympathy.

  4. Jeane`Marie Hall

    Jill, Mary and the Kid…
    I am so sorry that Latte has had to take that walk across the bridge. I understand and dread the day I have to say good by to my Madison Louise. I so get it, cause she has been with me for 11 years and most of my illness and I love her so much, sometimes I hate to say more than my husband, girls and grandchildren. They never tell your secrets, they are always there to cheer you up, to love you when you need it the most and kiss you even if you didn’t think you needed one.

    Bless you all and know that she will be there to greet you when you take that journey. At least I like to believe so.

  5. I have been sad about this all week. What is there to say? It’s all true. They do love you as though you are always shiny. How amazing to always be shiny!

    I have wept over animals, sobbing so that I surprised myself, and still not loved them as much as you loved these dogs. I feel it. And I’m so very sorry, for all of you, for the loss.

    Feel peace, my friend.

    1. Thank you, Shelly. I can’t even say how grateful I am that we have Hazel to boss us all around and keep us honest. Days later, and we’ve all stood at the door waiting for Latte to come back inside before we remember. It’s the worst and also the whole point. They are cornerstones.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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