Writing about our dog in the past tense seems surreal.  She’s only been gone a few weeks. Mocha, a cockapoo crossbreed, was six weeks old when she joined our family in 1996. She was a fuzzy ball of fur, who looked like a lamb and leapt across our backyard like a bunny. Chasing squirrels became her favorite pastime. 

I was Mocha’s person. She followed me around, whimpered to be petted, and snuggled up in my lap anytime she got the chance. She was a gentle soul with the patience of a saint when our grandchildren were young, licking and loving them even when they pulled her fur or tried to ride on her back.  She sat on my lap on the front porch at Halloween wearing her Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) outfit. Costumed children petted her. Their parents took pictures. She never flinched.  

Mocha greeted me at the door when I came home from work. She raced outside to do her business knowing she would be awarded a treat upon completion. She eventually realized that doing all her business at once was not in her best interest. Instead, she went out to pee, came in, ate a treat, then barked to go out and poo, thus earning a second treat. 

Mocha was a mind reader. When Dan or I stood up, she knew where we were headed (even when we forgot)….kitchen, bathroom, etc. She was there waiting for us by the time we reached our destination. She slept in our bed. As we started up the stairs each night, she raced past us like a shot, vaulted onto the bed and waited joyfully for our arrival. She wagged her tail, jumped up and down, so excited to win the race.

Mocha began to slow down several years ago and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Our veterinarian put her on 5 pills a day. She no longer raced up the stairs. We added a stepstool by the side of the bed. Her health deteriorated seriously this past year. She barked to go outside, but couldn’t remember what to do when she got there.  She had accidents in the house so we put thick rugs on the furniture and doggy pads on the carpet. She sat in the backyard while squirrels raced by. Her hearing and sight were mostly gone. She sometimes sat straight up during the night because lying down for too long caused fluid to pool around her heart and inhibit her breathing.

There were no medical options to improve her quality of life. It was clear something had to be done, but she was a family member who trusted and adored us. How could we end her life? A friend and coworker gave me the comforting poem, A Dog’s Prayer by Beth Norman Harris. (www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/dogspryr.htm)  She said her vet came to her house when it was time to put a pet down. This cost a little more, but prevented the animal from having a scary trip to the vet’s office and death on a cold, metal table. Wouldn’t we all rather die at home? 

During the last week of May, Mocha panted constantly and couldn’t seem to get comfortable. She paced in circles around the kitchen table. I made the appointment. Dan and I fed Mocha the people food she craved but had been denied per doctor’s orders. She lay on my lap all day. My fingers went numb from petting her.

Dr. Reiser came to our house. His compassion was a real blessing.  I held Mocha close and looked into her eyes as he gave her the shot. She went quickly. Dan stood next to me stone-faced with tears rolling down his cheeks. Dr. Reiser left. Dan hugged me and went outside. I swaddled Mocha in a blanket, rocked her in our favorite chair and cried, then headed to the backyard to help Dan dig her grave. Digging was therapeutic for both of us.

Life has been different the past few weeks. No rushing home from work to let Mocha out. No stepstool by the side of our bed. No doggy pads on the floor. Dan planted wildflowers in a circular garden over Mocha’s resting place. There’s a cockapoo statue and a marker with her name, but we know she’s not there. She’s bunny hopping in God’s backyard. 

B. Jane Lloyd    Published 2012
Mocha as Dorothy


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