Grief. They are not here for a long time; they are here for a good time.

We had been at the emergency veterinarian for hours, the sun going down while we waited in an uncomfortable room with little room to sit, no magazines, my cellphone battery dying. The distress of not knowing what the diagnosis would be was starting to fray our nerves. Stevie was sick, panting, fever, confused. Her distress was causing me to lose my sh$t as we waited with no word from a vet or vet tech.

Finally, I lost my cool demanding to know what was wrong with our precious girl. Their suspicion: cancer. Not only cancer but a quick moving lymphoma that without treatment would take her within months if not sooner.

My head spinning, I found myself experiencing my first panic attack. My sweet, precious three-year-old pup was sick and there was so little we could do other than plan for the hell of treatment or allow her a dignified death—neither option we relished facing.

We drove home with me holding her and sobbing not able to catch my breath. I knew I was making the situation for her worse, but I honestly could not face the probability of either treatment or death. We chose to allow her to live her best life; no matter how much time we would have, she was gone three weeks later.

Grief still haunts me. A month before Stevie’s diagnosis we had lost our 13-year-old pup, G. G, like most of our pups, was a rescue who had lived his best life with us, his best meals with us, his best walks with us. Unlike Stevie, we knew G had lived his life, a long, great life. All of this to say, we had mentally prepared for him to go even if it was hard to make the decision to allow him to go.

You see, this is the horrible part of being a pet owner. The point when you must decide that you must allow them to go in order that they do not suffer because trust me, your dog will hold on for you until they just cannot.

This blog post is something I wanted to make so that you might know that I know your pain when you tell me your pup has passed. I consider your pets my coworkers. Oftentimes your dog greets me at the gate as if I am only there to see them every week and I am not going to tell them any different. In fact, you might hear me talking to them and asking them how their Thanksgiving dinner was, and how they have been all week since our last meeting. When they pass away, my heart breaks. I even cry because my coworker has passed, and I will not see them again. I will not scratch them above their tail, just where they like it. I will not hear their excitement as I enter your yard with cookies in my pocket, one for my arrival, one for my exit. All of this to say, I will miss them, too.

When your pup goes, I will miss them. When you get a new pup, I will love them. No matter what, I know the pain of loss and the joy of a new arrival.