Empty Collar

One afternoon last week I took my scruffy old yellow Lab mutt to the vet… and came home alone.

AggieWe adopted Aggie when she was about six months old. Her wide, goofy smile and mellow disposition won all our hearts.

Shortly after she joined the family I took her to obedience school, where we learned to walk together with a leash. She was a model student, sitting whenever I stopped and doing “Aggie, down” to perfection. She could “Stay,” too. When I was ready for her to move on, the signal was “Aggie, free!”

But to graduate, the dogs had to “Sit / stay” for one minute, and “Down / stay” for three minutes.

Three minutes might as well have been an eternity. Before I could say, “Aggie, free!” her enthusiasm always got the better of her and she “busted” with half a minute to go.

Aggie never did graduate.

And yet, she overcame her early lack of education to become a top-notch “therapy” dog–for the family, at least. As she panted into even the crabbiest face, no bad mood was deep enough to withstand her adoring stare. Soon we would be rubbing her thick fur and feeling as if all was right with the world again.

Aggie wasn’t perfect, though. Her youthful quirks included chewing on wood, starting with the lattice-work around the deck. I’m convinced she numbered the slats and removed them one by one to eat. She ate the bark off our firewood,too. Every log ended up somewhere in the back yard, utterly naked.

More amusing was her uncanny ability to balance on her hind legs. Stand around eating a piece of cheese, and there she’d be–nose just below your elbow, front paws neatly folded as she kept her eyes on the prize. If you stepped away she would just follow you, still on tippy-toes.

I thought this was all cute and harmless until the day I got called out for a quick errand, just as I had fixed two Sloppy Joes and set my plate on the kitchen counter. I grabbed my purse and dashed off, leaving Aggie inside. When I came back, nothing remained on the counter except a perfectly clean plate, right where my lunch had been.

From then on, we kept food well out of reach.

As Aggie aged her hips failed her and cataracts clouded her brown eyes. By 15 1/2 years, she developed diabetes, lost weight and became both blind and deaf. Everything startled her. Seeing my girl so timid and lost broke my heart…

So last week we made one more trip to the vet. I didn’t know whether or not I would bring her home, but I knew I was going to feel guilty either way.

People can adapt to disabilities and work around them, but Aggie couldn’t understand what was wrong. I didn’t want her to be afraid any more. That’s what made up my mind.
Empty collar

From the day you adopt a pet, you know this other day is coming. I held her while the vet sedated her. I leaned down with my cheek against her head so she could feel the vibration as I told her, “Aggie, you’re the best dog.” Then the final injection and her faithful heart came to rest.

Aggie, free.

Thanks for reading,
PS: Next time I will share the results of the poll I took last week. You can still go back one page or click here to give me your input. I value your opinion.

PS: I am linking up with Rachel Anne and the Company Girls to share some coffee and a hug.

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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15 Responses to Empty Collar

  1. Being Woven says:

    This touches my heart, Jan. Yes, they are so special and mean so very much to us. Thank you for remembering Aggie by sharing her with us.


    • Jan says:


      I appreciate your sweet comment. So many of my friends have had to say goodbye to pets in the last year. I know I’m not alone.


  2. saraleeperel says:

    Oh Jan, my heart breaks along with yours.
    You could not have written a more beautiful and meaningful tribute to Aggie.
    Sending love, Saralee


  3. marlece says:

    oh Jan, it is so hard, so hard…..we know where you are. I am so sorry, she looks like she was a love.

    I think its cute that she never graduated. That cracks me up. Well…..who can sit for three minutes anyway right?

    Love this post!


  4. jodyo70 says:

    Oh, precious Jan, what a beautiful story….tears here.


  5. thenewbec says:



  6. What a poignant post, Jan! You made me feel what you’re feeling—and my experience with saying good-bye to my sweet dog was 30 years ago. Thanks for sharing this & for visiting me at Doorkeeper. Blessings!


  7. Sounds like a sweet dog. I know you all have wonderful memories together. 🙂


  8. Dear Jan,
    What a touching post! I was especially moved as we have a 13-year-old lovable mutt (part golden, husky, and chow) who has developed cancer. After two surgeries–because the Vet said this type of cancer rarely comes back–we have found two more small lumps. We are already grieving our loss but still enjoying the most lovable dog we have ever owned. We can’t imagine not having him around.
    Thank you for connecting with me. Hope you’ll join me over at “Heart-Filled Moments”. It was previously titled “Open My Ears Lord.”


  9. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully written, and a lasting tribute to the critters that unfortunately don’t last long enough among us. Thanks for sharing.


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