In Honor of Life

While walking my dog Libby last week, she and I passed a mother, her two school aged kids, and a White Lab walking on the trail behind our house.  My first thought was, “I wonder why those kids aren’t in school?”  I quickly dismissed it, figuring that maybe the kids were home schooled.

As they drew closer, any thoughts I previously had were immediately replaced by the look of sadness on all three faces.  Along with the sadness, however, there was also an undertone of  lightness I could detect.  It was intriguing.  Somber, all of them, yet with a slight hint of happiness.

I can’t say I noticed much more than that – – their expressions were all I was able to take in at the time;  they were so complex.  Oh, and there was this low rumbling noise.  What was that?

As Libby and I got to the end of our path, we turned around and headed back toward home.  A few minutes later, I could see the family approaching, they had doubled back, too.

I focused my attention on the dog this time.  She was an old girl.  I could tell by the way she walked, labored and uneasy, rocking side to side.  Although her gait was slow, she was panting hard.  I know the correct term is ‘thermoregulation,’ when dogs pant like that, but it simply looks like they’re smiling to me.  So, as I passed the family this second time, I said to the mother, “Now, that just makes you want to smile right back,” as I nodded to her sweet, old girl.

The mother paused, looked at me with tears in her eyes, and whispered, “Thank you.”  A moment later and a bit louder, she said, “It’s her last day.”

The ‘Thank you’ came out as more of an exhale;  as if she just realized she’d been holding her breath.

Within the mother’s pauses, I believe she was taking a moment to find her voice.  Her strength.

As the foursome walked by, I noticed something that hadn’t fully registered before.  The low rumbling noise I had heard earlier was coming from a red wagon that the daughter was pulling.  It was empty inside, except for a yellow, turquoise, and ivory colored quilt.

They were prepared to carry their girl home if the need arose.

Days later, my thoughts still remain with this family.  Not home schooled, these children were given permission to miss a day of school to spend it with a family member who was soon to depart.  They were taking their girl on a much loved activity:  walking with her beloved family.  They were honoring this beautiful White Lab, and at the same time, creating a lasting memory of what’s important in life.

What is important in life?  What’s important in your life?

Loving.  Trusting.  Remembering that every day is a blessing.  That every living being is a blessing.  These are important to me.

Watching this family practice what was important to them, although I was only able to get a glimpse of it, was deeply moving.  It served as a reminder to place our focus on Honoring Life.


Karen, although this isn’t your exact story, I know you and your husband are going through a lot right now with Trivette.  I dedicate this post to you and your family.  In Honor of Life.  Love, Leslie


  1. says

    I’m so sorry it timed out on you, Angie. Thank you for copying and sending me your comment below:


    Again, so beautiful. Well written, you captured the moment perfectly, as I read through my tears. We took Bleu in for a biopsy on a small mole on his side last Friday. We’re holding our breath for clean results as Boxers are prone to skin cancer. I can’t imagine the day that we have to take him on that last walk, MANY, MANY years down the road, I pray.

    Thank you for sharing. Giving the puppies much love right now, a special immediate love. Bleu liked the taste of the salty tears :-)


    • says

      Angie, how fortunate Bleu is to have the family he has – to love and care for his every need. The relationship we have with our pet family members is so special. They rely on us for everything and in return bless us with unconditional love.

      Listening to my girl snore as I type….

      Love, Leslie

  2. says

    i love this post…having just lost my samantha in june i feel for this family…what a beautiful way to spend her last day.
    tears on my keyboard,

  3. Paula says

    You must have ESP. Our Nikki is within the last days of her life. I will be amazed if she makes it to her 14th birthday in March. Always trying to be a lady, she looks sadder as the days go by when she’s unable to hold her bladder and even less able to keep herself in shiny clean. I’m so grateful we’ve had almost 14 years with this beautiful sole but it will be very difficult to say “Farewell”.
    Thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one who loves these creatures with such compassion and unconditional love, as they do us.

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