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she died in my arms last night

I don’t really feel like writing right now. In fact, I don’t really feel like doing anything. My eyes are practically swollen shut, and I’m suffering from a crying hangover. And I haven’t slept hardly at all in the last twenty-four hours. Last night a client’s dog died in my arms.

I’d only known her for a day. Just a day. But she made an impression on me. She was little and sweet and cute and loved to cuddle and liked to lay in the sun. Her tags jingled so we’d know her four-pound body was approaching. And she had a heart condition. We just didn’t know how bad.

She was walking along and she just keeled over. She let out two little yelps. I thought she just passed out, as her owners said she might, so I laid next to her and pet her and told her it would be okay. I didn’t mean to lie. I stroked her head, and she laid there, breathing, and then she seemed to stop breathing. I didn’t think it could be. I told her “no,” but she did not obey. She just kept on not breathing. So I started CPR. And she just kept not breathing. And her heart stopped beating. I picked her up and she twitched. I held her and told her “no” again. She twitched a couple more times, giving me hope, and then she just went limp. And she didn’t come back from that. I tried to breathe into her mouth again, but she didn’t come back. I gave her a pat and a shake and told her “no” once more, but, still, she didn’t listen.

We called the vet, the emergency vet, and my friend and client, who is a vet tech, but there wasn’t an emergency to help with any more because she was gone.

Before I married my husband, I told him “we’re going to have lots of pets, but I can’t do the dying part, so you have to be the one to handle that.” He still married me, thank goodness, and he has kept to his word. He tried CPR, but I told him to stop. So he wrapped her in a soft towel and held her for me while I cried and while the kids cried. And he took care of her body for me while I made the necessary phone calls to her owners, my unbelievably supportive vet tech client friend, and he held her body while I went for a short walk, just to clear my head.

My head is not clear. I still can’t believe it. I want to rewind. I know I can’t change it, but I want a rewind anyway. I always wanted to be a vet but opted out because of the sorrow. As a pet sitter, I didn’t think I’d ever have to hold a client’s dog in her last moments. What are the odds? I only knew her for a day.

All the pictures I took of her yesterday keep popping up. I keep thinking about yesterday, before it was like this.

I’ll never forget Mona Chica and how she died in my arms last night.


47 Comments on “she died in my arms last night”

  1. OMG, Kristen, I am so sorry. What a sweet baby, and what a brave person you are for being there and trying to help her. She was so lucky to have you there and didn’t have to go it alone.

  2. matcav76 says:

    Sorry Kristen. When I was just nine years old, my first dog died while I was petting her. I was the only one around and didn’t know what to do. It was the worst feeling I have ever had and still remember that feeling to this day. Hope you are well despite the circumstances.

  3. How very sad. That is the one part of having a dog or any pet really that I don’t like. God only gives them to us for a little while. To only know her for one day had to be really tough. And for you to be the sitter even more rough. I can;t even imagine. She looks like a little angel. When they are that tiny with a heart problem have to always hope for the best, but in one’s heart, I think we know their time might be limited. Know that you did all you could. If I had a pet to die at a sitters, I would hope it would be a sitter exactly like you. Thanks to your great husband for doing what he could to make the road lighter for you to travel. Try and get some rest now and be gentle with yourself. I am so very sorry.

  4. I’m sorry, Kristen. But honestly, if I were Mona Chica, I would be happy to have your loving arms around me when I died. She felt that wonderful heart of yours as she passed on. You gave her that moment of peace. Love and hugs coming your way.

  5. I’m so sorry, Kristen. But it was your arms and your warm voice that was there for her. You held her and she felt your heartbeat in that moment. if I was Mona Chica, I would feel blessed that it was you there with me. You helped her through it. You were given a sensitive and loving heart. If only all of us had that. May that little furry angel rest in peace. And may you have peace too.

  6. Didn’t realize both posted. Just view it as twice the love. xoxo

  7. Oh that is so tragic. I am so sorry you went through that.
    You did the best you could to try to save her.
    I don’t do the dying thing, either. You’re now my didn’t-want-to-be-appointed-for-this hero.

  8. BoingyDog says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this Kristen. I can’t imagine how you must be feeling right now. I am, however, reassured to know that she was in loving hands and not alone when she passed. A couple of years ago a young dog who’d been hit by a car died in my arms. I had a conference for work that started the next day and my mind was gone, just thinking of this sweet dog who never got a chance to really live. I dreamed about her day and night, wondering every moment if there was something I could have done. One day I woke up relieved that I was there with her until her owners came outside. From that moment I wasn’t sad anymore. I believe animals often know what they’re doing on a deep level. Mona Chica chose you to be there with her in her final moments and she chose not to go alone but to be with someone loving and caring. In her own way, she may have also felt it would have been easier on her family. You did a truly incredible thing for Mona Chica.

  9. Oh no… I am so sorry this happened to poor Mona Chica, her family and you…

  10. She was so lucky to have you in even the little time you guys had together. She was loved and knew it as she was in your arms. My heart goes out to you…..
    luv leah and kirby

  11. Very sad with you. Stay strong, breathe and take your time to recover. *Hugs*

  12. Golly – sad news indeed:(

  13. So sorry you had to experience this sad, unexpected loss! But your presence must have been a comfort to this sweet little dog, who surely must have known that you were there for her.

  14. Oh gosh, I’m so sorry. That is absolutely the worst part of keeping pets and must be so awful and difficult for you to have witnessed. Thinking of you

    ~ Amy

  15. Our heart dog passed in this same way… he just collapsed suddenly. He had a known heart condition, and was taking medication for it… but his heart just finally gave out. It has been nearly a year and we are still devastated. I won’t describe the event further or what the night following it was like, but having gone through this with our sweetest angel, I can only imagine what it would be like to have to experience it with a client’s dog.
    I’m so sorry you had to go through this, and am hopeful that your client understood the situation, and already knowing that Mona Chica had a heart condition, did not blame you for her passing while in your care. You did everything you could, and you did the most important thing… being there. She passed in loving arms in her own home… not by herself… not in a cold, clinical vet office. You will always carry a sadness with you for her, but I hope that you carry no guilt. Unfortunately, that is a burden her owners will bear (even though they shouldn’t). They will forever feel guilty for not being there, but I hope they can have some peace knowing that their little Mona Chica was surrounded by your love. Bless you for being there for her.

    • well minded says:

      Thank you, Pam. I’m sorry to hear about your sweet baby.

      My client does understand. Mona Chica had just been to the vet, and the prognosis wasn’t great…just unknown. She was on meds, and she was frail. It wasn’t unexpected, but shocking, nevertheless. We certainly thought she’d make it until her owners returned.

      I don’t feel guilt, just disbelief and incredible sadness. Thank you for your kind words.

  16. kittomalley says:

    I offer my condolences.

  17. So sorry for your loss. She new she was loved until the end. Love Dolly

  18. Leslie says:

    I’m so very sorry. You must still be in shock.

    She was a real cutie. And you are in our thoughts.

  19. rumpydog says:

    It is never easy to say good-bye to a living creature. Rest is peace, sweet pup.

  20. Run A Muck Ranch says:

    Sometimes it’s just time. I know the experience was shocking for you, and the loss of the little one hurts, but consider this: You were there at exactly the right time and you were holding her. How many other dogs are that lucky? Most of us can only offer comfort while a vet helps them pass.

    This sounds kinda bad, but I’m thankful you were there, at that particular moment, There will come day when you will too, For now, grieve, but know Ms. Mona Chica is OK and she appreciates you having been there to hold her when she left.

  21. aniahs8 says:

    I can’t imagine how horrible that feels. The pup I grew up with, had the kindest nature I have ever, and will ever see. She died when I was over a friends place. That was bad enough. I hope you are doing ok, and agree that your little one would have gone happy in your arms. Good luck.

  22. smallftprints says:

    I’m so sorry … losing an animal, whether your own pet or a friends or even a wild animal, is so hard! But you know, spending her last minutes with you, as you lay with her and hold her … that has to have given her comfort. She was loved and cared about!

  23. […] come to collect their other fantabulous pooches. Two others, to be exact. If you read my post, she died in my arms last night, you know we’ve had a really rough week. Since Mona Chica passed, we’ve been dealing […]

  24. So sorry Kristen šŸ˜¦ We lost our beloved Sammie a few months ago and reading this made me tear up as I know the pain. The day after we said goodbye to Sammie my father had a heart attack. God kept Sammie but he gave me back my dad. It was a very emotional time for the whole family. We are hopefully going to get another dog soon because even though it is sad to say goodbye we have so much love in our hearts to give to another dog. Keep doing what you are doing because you too have a lot of love to give. Hugs.

    • well minded says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s wonderful that you have so much love to give…so many need it. Please let me know when you add a new family member!

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