My dog Shadow died Wednesday night. He was hit and killed by a car in front of my house. It was a hard week, a friend that never spoke to me, but yet I knew he was always there for me was suddenly taken away. Not only did I have to handle his death, but I had to communicate it to my kids. As our family mourned his loss, I started wondering about death. Is it better if an old person is tragically killed than a young person?

One of my rationalizations to help cope was that he was 15, near the end of his life. He had a great, healthy, full life for a dog. Thus, was it OK that this happened?

When an old person passes away we reflect on all of the things they did – kids, military, service to others, adventures, vacations, work, hobbies, etc. But, when a child passes, we tend to reflect on all of the things they did NOT get to do – experiencing life. Does that mean it makes it OK for something ‘bad’ to happen to someone just because they are older? Does it make it better for me, personally, that Shadow was killed this week because I know that some time in the next year he would have passed on anyway?

I was mad at myself for not petting him before I let him out Wednesday night. I did not take him to work on Wednesday either, like I do everyday. I remember looking at him Wednesday night and asking him if he needed to go out. A few minutes later I checked the door and he was not there, he always comes back, he is always there. I instantly knew something was wrong.

But, as I have tried to cope this week I thought about the days before – on Saturday he sat in the park with my wife and me as we sold pumpkins for church. Kids came to pet him and commented on how cute he was. Sunday he went to Cocoa Beach with us and was in the park while my wife volunteered at a bike race/ride – riders and kids saw him and petted him for hours. She had commented to me how many people could not believe he was nearly 15 years old and how cute that he was. I was able to hold him in the car and pet him. I distinctly remember looking into his eyes and saying to him what a great friend he was. Monday he went to work with me and rode in my car. I stayed late and it was just the two of us. For some reason, I drove home with my hand on him – not petting, but resting on him. Tuesday, 10.31.06, was his 15th birthday. I forgot, but the kids remembered. They bought him treats and played with him. That night I bought him a new doggie bed to lay in. LeeAnn and I never got to give it to him as we were late getting home and just came into the house. Wednesday night we arrived home late to torn books by our new dog rabbit and I had to clean up the family room. I let Shadow and Rabbit out and Shadow never came back.

Everytime I walk outside I can see the blood stains on the road. I see your grave in the yard, I am sorry.

Shadow, you were there for me everyday for the last 14 years. In the last two we have been at work everyday and you helped me get through some rough times. I tried to protect you and take care of you, I am sorry I let you down my friend. I miss you so much.

Shadow
10/31/1991-11/01/2006