Archive for October 11th, 2018

My adorable, amazing, hopelessly lovable five-pound yorkipoo Toni has died.

Toni ESA

Toni in better times, running through the park.

She had complications of heart disease (diagnosed three months ago), liver disease (one month ago) and kidney failure (diagnosed the day before we put her down).

On the Thursday before, September 27 – the day after what had for me been a happy birthday – two dear and solid friends, having just spent a half-hour with me and Toni, took the risk of saying it straight as they saw it:  “This dog is in very bad shape.  We think she is dying. You need to not make her linger.”

This threw me for a loop.  In the month since a substitute vet had told me that Toni’s liver was three times its normal size, I had been making my peace with the idea that she was not going to make it – would not get well.  But there were those moments that she seemed to really enjoy our little posse – people and dogs – who hang out in front of the building.  The times she would decide she needed a treat from the very kind staff of The Dog Door just next to our apartment building and would take off in her inimitable swollen-belly waddle.  I actually would attempt to imitate it, right on her heels, to everybody’s delight.  Good times, happy times with my doggie – she can’t be ready to die yet!

I talked with my friends, especially the very compassionate and perceptive Diana, a neighbor in the building who had in just a couple of months come to be like a co-parent to Toni. If it’s possible, she loved her as much as I did.

Aunt Diana.jpg

“Aunt Diana” got so close to Toni in her final weeks that she became “Mama”.  Toni would just go limp in her arms and stay there – totally content – for a long time.


I took my predicament to my Facebook friends – posted it on Thursday evening, just hours after my two wonderful friends had confronted me about Toni’s condition.  I have a lot of wonderful Facebook friends: perceptive, compassionate, good communicators, dog lovers.  Many of them are also real-life, face-to-face no-book friends – which increases my trust in them.  Their response was speedy (and it did seem like time was of the essence), compassionate, perceptive – and amazingly consistent.  They told me three things:

  1. The dog will tell you when it’s time to let them go.  This was the most consistent piece of feedback – probably eight different people said it.  At first this seemed especially woo-woo, but then it almost immediately got confirmed.  Marlisa had described how her little dog looked deep in her eyes and she knew she was being given permission to let her go.  Toni had not looked deep in my eyes for a long time, if ever – but in the next couple of days she did it a lot, for a long time each time, and I had no question that she was saying something like, “It’s OK, it’s time to let me go.  I’m suffering too much.”
  2. Don’t make them linger.  Be strong, do what you have to do.  This piece of advice poured in on Friday and Saturday.  By Saturday night I was out of denial – there was no question for me just how sick Toni was.  I knew what I needed to do.
  3. Do it at home, not at an animal hospital.  Five people said “Use 4 Paws Farewell in-home euthanasia vets – they’re the best.”

Four Paws office was listed as opening at 8 a.m. Sunday morning, which was amazing in itself.  By 8:05 I was on the phone with them and by 8:30 we had gone through the business and procedural steps (not “details” – all of them too important to be called details) and ascertained that they had a lot of availability for tomorrow, Monday.  I did not want to make Toni linger – suffer – for another extra day.  By nine a.m. I had called the five other people I wanted to be with Toni – and with me – people that Toni and I both loved.  Another miracle: by noon I had heard from all of them, 10:30 a.m. was available for all of them – including John, who took a day off of work to do it – and I had confirmed the time with the vet.

JOhn and Ralph 3

John lost his beloved dog Ralph just a few months ago (while Toni and I were living with him).  But that wasn’t the main reason he wanted to be with us on Monday (enough to take the day off of work).  He had fallen really in love with Toni – and she with him.  It was gorgeous to watch.

This post has run on long enough – let me write up the next couple of steps in another post (or more – there’s a lot here that could perhaps be helpful to others).


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