A Tribute to My Dog: The Ultimate Lesson in Letting Go

by | Jun 13, 2014 | 2 comments

I have had a challenging week. And yes, while this is a nursing blog today’s post is about a personal story of letting go.

My family and I went to see Nancy Williams (applied animal behavioral psychologist) on Thursday, June 5. When my husband looked at me in the car ride there, we could not have imagined how much his statement was spot on. Drew said to me, “I have a feeling after this that our lives will never be the same.”

As though he was predicting the future, he was right.

Nancy told us that our dog, Reggie, was a fear aggressive dog. This means that there is no cure for what he had. He was always anxious, terribly afraid and could not settle down. Nancy spent hours before we got there going through all of the information we shared on the intake form and presented us with multiple graphs, charts and reports- all on Reggie.

70% of his attacks were when other dogs (other than my other dog, Rusty) were present. 65% of the attacks were not at home in MD (NC, PA, NJ, NY, CT, etc). Only 20% of the attacks had food involved. This was very surprising to us since we all thought his aggression was food based. It was not. He was terrified to live in his own skin and the only way he could control that was to attack another dog at any moment of the day, without any type of justification or reason why.

Nancy told us we had options. We could put him to rest, send him off to another home or imprison him here in Jarrettsville. She said there was absolutely no way that he could ever travel again. He could also not have guests or visitors here and could not interact with other dogs. If he stayed in our home we would have to add a psychotropic medication as the Prozac was not working any longer. He would have to wear a hormone collar, possibly a muzzle and be kept isolated from Rusty. Drew and I would have to split the home with gates and keep the dogs on separate levels of the house.

“What kind of life is this?” Drew and I wondered. How could we ever enjoy sitting on the deck in Cape May or riding on the boat in NC, knowing that Reggie was home alone. Missing us. Never to visit and travel again.

By Sunday night, after much back-and-forth, we made the most difficult decision. Reggie was to be put to rest on Tuesday evening. Trust us, we decided for it- against it- for, against… for against. We were ready to split the home, add the medications and become shut-ins. And then I went out Saturday, taking Rusty to training. When I got home, Reggie was even more anxious and riled up from being left alone. For just that two hour time period. What about when the three of us leave for Thanksgiving break? Reggie stays home and sits by himself, counting the seconds until we return?

So Tuesday morning, we woke up and it was ‘Reggie’ day. I took off from work and after our morning walk and time in the sun, he and I went to paint the town red. I took him on a two mile walk on the NCR hiking trail. He took me out to lunch (and even got it for free with his good-looking charm!). We went to a field and he romped in the grass, trotted along the sand and even slid down the playground slide. Finally we settled at the pond in our neighborhood, as one of Reggie’s favorite things to do was to play, swim and sit by the water. We simply sat. Together. In peace and calm.

Drew got home from work early that day and we enjoyed a large barbecue full of hamburgers, mac-and-cheese and asparagus. He had his meal done before Drew and I took our second bites! Then Reggie and I had our final dance to his favorite jam band, moe..

At the vet, I sat alone with Reggie a long time after he was gone. I received this feeling of a final sense of relief. Peace. Finally, he could rest. We will be getting his ashes and keeping them here with us until we know from Reggie’s spirit what the best thing to do is.

Last night I pulled a card from my Earth Oracle deck. I just wanted to know what Reggie’s spirit had to say to me. So I asked “Reggie, what message can you share with me for comfort tonight?” The card I pulled was spot on.

The ‘DANCE’ card.

A picture of a Native American dancing in joy. A message reading that life is to be celebrated and every moment enjoyed. That through physical movement and uplifting dance, we can focus on celebration. That spirit wants us to enjoy our time on this earth, and part of that is through sacred celebration.

For me, the message truly came from Reggie. He loved to dance with me. He loved to run away. I believe he just wanted to have fun. To celebrate life and to live in each moment with as much peace, joy and gratitude as he could.

From ‘skin and bones’ when he was rescued him from BARCS- to ashes when we receive them from Jacksonville Vet… we will love our Reggie dog every day of our lives. Let’s make his life a celebration of joy.


  1. Mairim

    I am sorry to read you had to put your dog to rest. Pets definitely become family. What type of a dog was Reggie?

    • Elizabeth Scala

      Thank you, Mairim. Reggie was a mix. He was rescued from Baltimore Animal Rescue Shelter. Most dogs there are part pit mixes. He was part lab as well. A wonderful dog with a timid heart. Full of love and unrest. I am glad he is peaceful, and I sure do miss him. Thank you for your compassion. Elizabeth


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