Farewell, Friend



Today my nephew Magnus will cross the Rainbow Bridge.

I shed more than a few tears when I heard the news this morning. My brother and I lost our father nine months ago, so this loss compounds the grief.

We were able to say goodbye to Dad and tell him that we loved him before he left us. He’d had his fill of chemo and radiation, and chose his time. We knew his last wishes, and where he wanted to be buried, so that helped make his passing a little more bearable. He went gently into that good night, knowing he’d led a life well lived, surrounded by the family who loved him.

But with Magnus it’s harder to say goodbye. It’s hard to know when our pets are in pain, or what they’re thinking when they’re getting to the end. Does he know it’s his time to go? Can he feel our love and gratitude for all the tail wags and licks and the fun we had, romping around the yard?

Magnus dodged a bullet years ago, when he lost his eye. The cost of the surgery was prohibitive for a young family, and my brother made the difficult decision to put him down. Then his saviour, a family friend, stepped in and stepped up, and we were blessed with ten more years of Magnus (thanks again, John).

My favourite Magnus story happened about a year ago. I was staying with my brother that weekend, visiting Dad during his final days. I slept in the basement, which Magnus didn’t visit because he was getting old and struggled with stairs. But this night, he came down.

He came into my room and went to the corner where my suitcase was and started to whine. I figured he wanted another Dentabone (I always packed him a special treat) so I gave him one. He wolfed it but kept whining. So I gave him another. He wolfed it, but still whined.

I had no idea what was up. When I asked him, he went into my sister-in-law’s office and started headbutting the door between the rooms. I got out of bed, went into the office, and tried to figure out what he was obsessing about in that corner.

Having no idea what Magnus was trying to tell me, I went back to my bed and my book. But he followed me, and whined even more. I called my brother and explained what Magnus was doing. He didn’t have a clue either, so he called Magnus to come upstairs.

When I went back to my room, I heard the faintest mew.

During that sad summer, not only was our father dying of cancer, but my brother’s cat was, too. Little Milo was the scardiest of cats. He’d hide whenever a visitor was in the house, and no matter how many treats I tossed him, or how often I stayed there during Dad’s last summer, Milo shied away from me.

When I heard him mew, I turned out the light and lay back down and called Milo to come out. A few minutes later, I heard him scratching around in his litter box.

That’s what Magnus was trying to tell me. Milo was hiding in my room and afraid to come out — but he really needed to go, Aunty.

I’ve always been amazed by dogs and their ability to perceive things humans are oblivious to. So I can only only hope that today, as we bid our dear Magnus adieu, he realizes he was blessed with a loving family who are helping him go gently into that good night.

I asked my brother to kiss and hug him goodbye for me today, and to tell Magnus to look for Jules when he crosses The Rainbow Bridge.

Yes, I dare to believe in Dog Heaven. Most people say that’s just foolishness. Pffft, I say to that. If good souls go to heaven, why shouldn’t dogs, too? They are more loyal and loving and honest and kind than most people I know.

When I die, and if I’ve earned my place in heaven, there is going to be one helluva scene at the pearly gates if Jules isn’t there to meet me. And Magnus too.

Good night, Magnus. Know that you were loved.

Youll meet me in the light

About The Patron Saint of Dogs
Writing The Patron Saint of Dogs is my way of helping to save abused and abandoned dogs and cats in the real world. A portion of every sale will be donated to animal rescue organizations in Canada and around the world. My name is Colleen MacDougall and I was a dog walker and pet sitter for 11 years. Many of the furry characters in this book are reincarnations of wonderful animals I was able to know, love and help, especially Jules, who is Grace's partner-in-crime now, but was my furbaby and the very first person I hope to see in that great off-leash park in dog heaven.

11 Responses to Farewell, Friend

  1. Great story. So sorry for your loss. Putting down our finest friends is the absolute hardest thing to do in life. And …yes there is a dog heaven.

  2. Glenda says:

    What a wonderful and heartbreaking story. I’ve lost fur children, and when my last one passed, I didn’t think I’d be able to bear losing another one. But now I’m thinking maybe it’s time to open my heart to the love of another animal – that unconditional love, as well as wisdom such as Magnus showed – that we humans often don’t comprehend. My heart goes out to you, but I’m also grateful that people like you, your brother and John are here on this planet to accept and care for the love and companionship of Magnus and others.

  3. So sorry to hear of yours and your brother’s loss of Magnus. It’s always hard to say goodbye to our dogs – however long they live, it always feels as if their lives are too short. I like to think that a part of their spirit comes back to us in future animal companions.

  4. All dogs and all animals go to heaven as they only give love. We are blessed with the love and trust our pets give us. I’ve had many wonderful dogs and miss each and every one I have lost. If people don’t believe that dogs go to heaven, that is their problem.

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