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this post is covered with tears | Immolation Central

this post is covered with tears

This blog is inspired by the dogs with whom I share my life, my home, and my heart. I endeavor to capture and communicate in words and pictures some of what I learn from living with them. Shiva and Guile have captivated me and they have been my earthly muses on this journey, and this blog has been a tribute to their hearts and souls, and to all the humans who love and live with dogs and treat them with respect and dignity. Dogs are dogs, humans are humans, and we are all animals. When we reach hand and paw across that divide, we know that it is not so great a gap that hearts cannot be touched and lives changed despite a difference of species.

Some of you already know the story I am about to tell. Some of you, with your hearts aching and tears on your faces, reached for your own nonhuman companions and held onto them tightly when you heard. I love you for that. I love you for treating all animals with respect, and for sharing your homes with the lost and the refugees. I love you for caring, and for living your lives as if you give a damn. I am honored to count you among my friends, and I am touched by your love and kindness.

guile 10

Guile is gone. Suddenly, and horribly, gone. I am reeling from the harshness of his death, and hating how it looms in my memory, leaving no room for all the joy that he gave to me. My world has slowed to a crawl, and the outside world whizzes past while I sit, grieving, hard and deep. I pray, I wish, I long for this moment to pass, and then the next, and for the aching hole in my heart to hurt just a little less.

I hate writing this. I hate putting Guile in words, in the past tense. Guile is past. Guile is gone. Guile is dead.

Guile was poisoned somehow, without ever leaving our home and yard, probably by a warfarin-type toxin that made his blood stop clotting. There was some mysterious bruising on the inside of his ear flaps that I noticed on Thursday, and on Friday afternoon he went outside and did not come back in when I called. I went out to find him lying on the ground, wagging his tail as if to say, “I would come, but I can't.” Atom carried him in to the house and I called the vet, who thought maybe Guile had fallen and sprained something. The bruising? Maybe he was scratching and hurt himself. Come in and we'll give you some rimadyl to make him feel better, see how he's doing tomorrow.

We took Guile to the vet. The vet was gone for the day, the tech was able to coax Guile to walk a few steps. We went home with the drugs. We carried him inside. He ate dinner. He crawled, but could not stand or even sit up. Within a half an hour, he began coughing and retching and there were flecks of blood on his lips. We carried him back out the the truck and rushed to the emergency animal clinic. Carried in on a stretcher, Guile wagged his tail and kissed everyone. As they carried him into to back, I heard the tech say, “He's still wagging his tail, how sweet!” Maybe an hour passed, a small eternity of rushed blood work and transfusions. More bruising on his legs where they shaved him. The vet explained to us as best he could why he suspected warfarin and what he could do and that it did not look good. Somewhere in there Guile had a small seizure. When the big seizure came, the doctor said, “Do you want to come back?” and so the next time that we saw Guile he was mid-seizure and the vet was asking us if they should keep trying or let him go.

Keep trying. Let him go. I think we said both, though I could be wrong about that. I know that we both said “don't let him hurt anymore.” I wanted to say anything, I would have said anything, that would make this not be happening, make him better, bring him home. But we had only one choice, that awful choice that is full of anguish and heartbreak, and there is no going back.

“Let him go,” I said, and we held on to him, and I whispered in his ear while he died, “You are such a good boy, Guile. I love you so much.” Over and over, each word filling me with rich, sharp sorrow as my world changed irrevocably from one with Guile in it to the one without him.

I grieve for Guile, whose life was too short, even as I know that all of our lives are too short and each of us leaves too soon. I grieve for Atom, who lost the best dog he has ever known, whom he called “the dog I always wanted,” the dog who was devoted to him so completely and loved nothing more than to be by his side.

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I grieve for Shiva, who has lost his brother, his constant companion, his playmate and partner in mischief.

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I grieve for the hole in my own heart, Guile-shaped and huge.

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I whispered in Guile's ear as he died, and I said the things that I wanted to be the last things he would hear. I wanted him to go knowing that he was loved. I wish that I had thought to say thank you.

Thank you, Guile, for all the joy, all the love, all the warmth and enthusiasm that you brought to living with us. Your enormous heart, your sweet and trusting nature, your endless enthusiasm and affection added so much to our world, and we miss you.

Rest easy, big dog.

guile z


  1. Comment by S on December 24, 2009 8:17 pm

    I can't say I didn't cry reading this. :( I hurt for Guile, and I hurt for every other creature intentionally or unintentionally harmed by warfarin. :( :( :( As self-centered as this may sound, this could easily have happened to Zoe when my ex-landlord left rodenticide in my apartment. Zoe did ingest some and may only be alive today because I was there to see it happen and to take immediate action. What if I had let her off leash in the building that day? What if that day had never happened and I had unknowingly let her off leash elsewhere on the property? What kind of monster am I for even thinking about Zoe right now? Here comes another tear. ... I never met Guile, but I always found him beautiful (I mean really, really gorgeous), endearing, and fascinating. I occasionally fantasized about meeting him and Shiva for some fun and games. I'm horrified that this has happened and that it will continue to happen to others. It feels like I should be able to do something, but I can't, at least not for one beautiful, good-hearted doggy. <3 :( <3 I... wish... something. Anything.

  2. Comment by It's A Vegan Dog's Life on December 24, 2009 8:37 pm

    Once again, I'm fighting back the tears. Reading about this just breaks my heart and I am so very sorry that you and your family are going through this. :( Guile is with my Bruno now and I know all too well how that huge, aching hole in your heart feels.

  3. Comment by Bekah on December 24, 2009 9:27 pm

    I am crying because I am so sorry to hear that he is gone, and how much it hurts to say that. I am crying because I know it was not his time to go and I know how hard it is to come to terms with that. We had to let Brodie go when he was three because of heart complications he had-- the medication he was on made it so it was hard to walk and he just didn't have the same playful spirit that was Brodie anymore. It was one of the most difficult decisions we've ever had to made and didn't want to have to say it, but we knew it was for the best. I'm crying because I know how heartbreaking it is to see your dog sick and seizing and there isn't anything you can do to make it stop and to make him feel better. My heart goes out to you and Atom and Shiva. I don't believe in heaven or anything like that, but I like to think that Brodie and Guile are having a good time together, somewhere :)

  4. Comment by Miso Vegan on December 24, 2009 9:43 pm

    oh, mama. such a terrible, terrible story. Guile was blessed to live such a happy life with you and Atom. *We* are all blessed to have known Guile through your stories and photos. Look how many people he touched, in just a couple of years! He is an amazing example of how animals bring humans more joy than we deserve.
    hugs to you.

  5. Comment by A on December 25, 2009 12:05 am

    I am thankful that you were there that day for Zoe, and that you still have her. I, too, imagined all of our pups playing together some day. Some day.

  6. Comment by A on December 25, 2009 12:07 am

    @Vegan Dog's Life~
    Thank you...Guile is in good company, then. <3

  7. Comment by A on December 25, 2009 12:08 am

    Oh, bekah - you are so sweet. All of our lost canine friends, they make me wish for some kind of heaven.

  8. Comment by A on December 25, 2009 12:12 am

    @Miso Vegan~
    Guile's flame burned brightly, if all too briefly. It is so wonderful to hear how far he reached with his joyous, loving nature while he was here. Thank you!

  9. Comment by Bea Elliott on December 25, 2009 6:11 am

    Oh what a gorgeous dog! And a fine tribute to his life. Your world is richer having known him. I hope the memories sustain you...
    Goodbye Guile a true champion of the heart.

  10. Comment by gur on December 25, 2009 10:38 am

    tears are streaming down my face. i am so, so sorry for you and atom and shiva and guile. poor, sweet guile.
    my aunt lost her dog maggie to poisoning last year. death is hard enough but when it's so incredibly unexpected it's just....well "unfair" doesn't seem adequate.

    big big hugs and lots of love to all of you. i can't stop thinking about guile and i have to go hug my muppet.

  11. Comment by gladcow on December 25, 2009 10:52 am

    I am so incredibly sorry for the tragic loss of Guile. I am thinking of you all, keeping you in my heart. I cry because I think dogs & people shouldn't have to go through this, & I am crying because I am wrong.

  12. Comment by MVC on December 25, 2009 1:55 pm

    :( My heart aches for you. I'm so very sorry.

  13. Comment by Greenconsciousness on December 25, 2009 5:54 pm

    I went through this. Do you trust your neighbors? Because with me it did not stop with one animal. The only thing that would have save them was some kind of video camera in the yard but i am no good at things like that. And it is expensive. But after all the grief, disbelief and loss, I am sorry I did not invest in someone to do it for me.

  14. Comment by JasperKat on December 26, 2009 8:07 am

    Your tribute made me cry, I am kissing my puppies and holding them tight. I am so sorry for the loss to your family. Thank you for loving beautiful Guile and sharing him with us.

  15. Comment by squirrel on December 27, 2009 7:20 pm

    Your pictures of Guile and Shiva have always inspired me to dream, and to see what real freedom looks like. You capture them in moments that tell tales without needing any words. You write beautifully, and Guile's tribute is no exception. I will miss hearing about him. My heart broke for you that day, and continues to ache. I wish there was something I could do. I wish for healing. I wish I could hug you. <3

  16. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:38 am

    Thank you - my world is indeed richer for having shared it with Guile.

  17. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:40 am

    Oh, yes - hug your Muppet! Life is too short to forgo any hugging!

  18. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:42 am

    :( Too much suffering. I hear ya, sister.

  19. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:50 am

    Thank you.

  20. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:50 am

    Well, we are moving...

  21. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:51 am

    Thank you. Hug them from me as well.

  22. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 3:51 am

    Thank you, sweetie. I will miss writing about him. :(

  23. Comment by matriarco on December 28, 2009 8:39 am

    bluemango and I just read your tribute and sat at the table and cried for you and deadlyhead and Shiva and Guile. What a horrible thing to happen to all of you. We will spend lots of time today snuggling with the cats at our mom's house (sadly, I'm away from my kitties) and thinking of you.

  24. Comment by A on December 28, 2009 6:07 pm

    @matriarco & bluemango~
    Thank you...hug all the kittehs from me as well!

  25. Comment by mishka on January 2, 2010 10:49 am

    This is heartbreaking news. I am so sorry A, Atom, Shiva, and especially Guile. You had tremendous fortune in finding each other - Guile should not have been taken from so soon. I hope you take comfort in the happiness you all shared, and the happiness the three of you still have. Lots of love.

  26. Comment by A on January 2, 2010 12:31 pm

    Thank you - you are so right about our good fortune in finding each other. I miss Guile's joyous nature, and I am grateful to have known it. :( :)

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