Our Four-Legged Friends

It may seem as no big deal to some, considering the pain and suffering many among our numbers are going through, but I know what it’s like myself, having been the “daddy” of many a four-legged friend since I was a wee bairn.

I just learned that our own Fr. Jim lost his friend, Bugsy, to the ravages of time.

You may say that he was “only” a dog, but you would say that only if you’d never had the privilege of having a dog as a member of your family. Dog, spelled backwards, is “God.”

Maybe I’m overly sentimental and prejudiced, but taking your leave of a dog is hard. They, unlike adult humans, love you unconditionally as long as you even try to treat them right. They are always there for you, their loyalties are never in question, and they would happily give their lives for you no matter what. I remember when my own Rottie was a wee little pup, nothing but a furry ball of joy, and I took her with me to pick up the Heirs from school. There she was, no more than a mouthful, but she spotted another dog there who could, without even trying, eat her in one bite. And her only reaction was to jump in between me and that other dog who meant me no harm, I’m sure, but she wasn’t about to take any chances.

She has been like that ever since. She will not leave my side, she will not let me go into the yard without her checking the perimeter first, and she will not even let me horse around with my own sons without first letting me know that she’s watching us and heaven help me if she thinks I’m hurting “her puppies.” I know that no harm will come to my kids or my wife unless my princess is dead first, and she doesn’t care whose hand said harm may be coming from. And all she asks in return is a scratch behind the ears and food and water.

I can come home from work in the pissiest mood you can imagine and she will still love me. No matter what the world throws at me, her joy at seeing her “daddy” will make me smile in a second, and I know that it is for real.

So I know how Fr. Jim feels having had to say goodbye to a friend like that. The bond between you and a dog is not broken without pain. I’m sure that most of you watched the video of the burial ceremony of one of the SEALs recently killed in action where his dog spent the whole time lying in front of his casket.

Well, it goes both ways.

So this is no small thing. “Man’s best friend” is not just a saying, it is true. I’m sorry about Bugsy, Jim, and having buried quite a few friends like that, I know exactly how you feel.

Bugsy is in a better place now and there will be other friends in your future, but right now you need to remember that at no point did Bugsy NOT know that you loved him.

And that’s really all that matters.

G-d Bless.




  1. 1

    Much love to Jim during this difficult time, and to you bratets moy for posting this.

  2. 2
    Lc ORWN engine builder for Rottie Racing growls and barks:

    Yeah Jim I know what you are feeling, we lost our oldest sons 1st dog a couple of years ago, 10 years old, died of a heart attack after my in-laws took him for a walk just before the boys got home from school. He took it pretty hard it was his 4th birthday present, and he has dad’s temper, had to fix a hole in the hallway wall that was about the size of his fist. There are always flowers on his grave next to the garage.

  3. 3
    Bones growls and barks:

    Jim, my deepest sympathies. I’ve had to put down several family members, most recent one last year. After 10 years, cancer got her. Her sister is still kicking. Got my shepard pup about 2 months later. Turns out the shepard was born almost to the minute that my other girl passed. Give it a couple of few months to grieve and then go to the pound. It’s inconcievable now, but you will not regret it. I give you my word.

  4. 4
    SoCalOilMan, K.o.E. growls and barks:

    Fr. Jim,

    My sincere condolences on the passing of your friend.

    10 to 15 years of pure love and devotion from animal that asks nothing of you but a skritch behind the ear or a quick belly rub…God put dogs here to make us better humans.

    As I write this Ralph, my 13 year old Sheppard, is lying under my feet. He is my fourth and the closest dog I’ve had. He’s gotten fat and arthritic but still acts like a puppy when I get home. Then and dinner.

    Makes me think of the Twilight Zone episode “The Hunt” (linked to Netflix Instant, go to Season 3/Episode19). Along with family, I believe there will be a small pack of dogs to greet me when I pass on…if I paid half attention to what the dogs tried to teach me.

  5. 5
    Lady H growls and barks:

    My condolences on your loss, Fr Jim. Animals can be such angels….every time I am feeling bad or down, there are my cats (yes, cats can care about you!)

    That video brought tears to my eyes.

  6. 6
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    The bonds we form with our four legged buddies. I can remember a dog, a cat………it has been thirty years, for both.
    And to have someone tell me, “It’s only a dog….”
    I looked at him and said…
    “Yes, and I am only a man……………:”
    I think that said it all…….
    The rainbow bridge…………..
    A man is very fortunate indeed when he can have a human friend loving him as much as his dog.
    And perhaps that is why it hurts so much…….for they find something within us we couldn’t find ourselves……
    Jesus chose to be born in a manger……

  7. 7

    I’ve had to help put down a couple of family dogs in the past, they trust you and love you right up until their last breath and that’s what makes it so damned hard.

    got a 14 year old Cocker Spaniel who is my shadow, I can’t even go to the bathroom without him trailing me in there. He started showing the first signs of dementia about a month ago, exhibiting confusion and an inability to settle down at night and sleep. So my buddy keeps both him and me up all night, we had three of those nights last week. The vet says he’s in great health for his age but his mind is starting to go, she gave us some valiums to give him when he goes into one of these episodes and they settle him down and make him sleep…..but they wreck him for the entire next day.

    I dread the day when I have to let him go

    Fr. JIm, my prayers go out to you padre…..I know how bad it hurts.

  8. 8

    I am sorry for your loss Padre. The bond between man and dog is a true gift from God. I remember when I brought my girls home from the hospital. Comanche, our Dobie/Lab mix, curled up between their cribs and wouldn’t budge. He hovered over them like a hawk. He’s an old man now, going on 10, but Lord help anyone who threatens those girls.

    Now we have a Black Lab “pup” whose even more protective. I may cuss him out every so often because he’s a clumsy goof, and he stinks to high heaven, but he’s a damned good dog and he’s learning from old Comanche. I know you can’t ever “replace” Bugsy Fr. Jim, but like Bones said, in a few months get yerself another one. That hole in your heart needs to be filled.

  9. 9

    I’m glad our family here understands. When I first came back from deployment, I took my lab Gilbert for a run. My ex didn’t really do much with him during the year and a half I was gone, and Gilbert was out of shape. The next day I could tell he was pretty sore, and when we were walking down the stairs in the morning for breakfast, he fell down the stairs. He cried for a bit, but seemed to be OK. We went for a light jog that night, and all of a sudden the dog just stopped. He wouldn’t move. He couldn’t. At all. We were about a half a mile from home, and there was no way that dog was moving. I called my ex to help. He carried Gilbert to his car, and we took him to the pet emergency room. They did x-rays, but couldn’t find anything. The prescribed some muscle relaxers and we had to take him to the vet the next day.

    The vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong either. He couldn’t stand, couldn’t walk and could barely eat. I had to give him a subcutaneous IV to keep him hydrated. We then took him to an orthopedist, and they discovered that he tore both cruciate ligaments in his hind legs when he fell down the stairs. He either needed surgery to put titanium implants in his legs, or he needed to be put down.

    The surgery cost $7000. The emergency room visit, ortho visit and vet visit was another $1000. We put it on credit, and it took 18 months to pay off with my ex and me contributing equally to the bill every month until it was done.

    I had many, many friends who told me they would have put their dog down rather than pay that much. But how could you? How could you simply kill someone you raised from infancy? It’s like killing your kid, rather than paying his hospital bill for a broken leg! I couldn’t imagine it. When you adopt a pup, you adopt a family member, and when I look at that beautiful black, furry Labrador face, I see nothing but love and joy. How could you kill something so loving?

    Animals are a part of us. They’re in our hearts, and their loss hurts as badly as any other family member.

    Love you, Jim! Hang in there!

  10. 10
    dasbow growls and barks:

    I had to send my cat Zippy back to God in January, and it still hurts. She was there for me for almost 19 years, by my side through good times and bad. She’d follow me from room to room, or come when I called, as if she were part dog. (Sorry, Zip. It’s not an insult – I swear!). As she got older she spent more and more time sitting on my lap. During her last week, she just wanted to be alone. No more hugs, no more laptime. Still, somehow she knew I needed one last chance to hold her, and graciously sat on my lap for a half hour and let me pat her and tell her I loved her. She’ll never be just a cat. She’ll always be my friend, and I’ll always miss her. Hang tough, Fr Jim, for your beloved Bugsy will be waiting for you. They always do.

  11. 11
    FrJim, Imperial Chaplain growls and barks:

    Words cannot express my appreciation to each of you offering your prayers, well-wishes, and love.

    Big thanks to Nicki, who helped me connect to Misha. Your Majesty., I need that email address again.

    Bugsy remains the greatest friend I’ve ever had. For eight of his 10+ years of life, we shared much: PCS moves, losses, the year-long deployment in the sandbox, and ushering in a new wife and baby.

    He handled all that as a champ.

    I’ll see him again. My heart is broken…but also filled with marvelous memories of a wonderful little guy named Bugsy.

  12. 12
    irish19 growls and barks:

    I still grieve for my first. She was a good dog, and I still remember sharing a beer with her the night before she went. She was nearly 16, and we think she got into something in the garbage she shouldn’t have and that was what did her in.
    The bit about the Rainbow Bridge in Caveman’s post seems to have stirred up the dust in here something fierce.

  13. 13
    Grammar Czar growls and barks:

    Fr. Jim,

    I don’t think I ever cried as much in my life as I did when I had to put down my cocker spaniel..not even when my grandmother died. It was on a Monday he died; we were scheduled to go home for Thanksgiving. My callous ex said, “well, now you can enjoy your vacation.” Jerk.

    I have lost five cats and two dogs over the years, and it never got easier. For all that, if I could have a pet in the apartment I’m living in now, you can be certain I would.

    My deepest sympathies.

  14. 14
  15. 15
    LC FORGER - Racist TEAhadi growls and barks:

    My condolences Jim. I had to help out my closest friend of 16 years last August, we raised her from 3 weeks old, and it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. But I know I did the right thing because she’s not suffering anymore and that she’s waiting for me at The Rainbow Bridge.

    I’m not sure who said it, but if Dogs don’t go to Heaven, I wanna go where they do. If there ‘s no Dogs in Heaven, then it just ain’t Heaven

    ” rel=”nofollow”>Here’s Josiedog’s picture. She’ll keep Bugsy occupied ’til we can get there.

    (Someone who’s HTML-Fu is more powerful than mine can delete the previous FAIL)

  16. 16
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    What did we do to deserve such loyalty, how did we share to receive such love…how?
    In my case certainly not in the way I behaved………yet I did discover one thing over the years……for when you send them Home, tears falling on your friends fur………they knew you loved them enough to let them return Home, without pain and fear….to stay with them, your voice the last thing they hear. They know when it is time…..and even now, after keeping my promise to a failing cat or dog…….for the barnacles of time know of no respite save one…. and yes, it still can bring tears to my eyes, those shining memories. For in truth, part of our soul goes with them…and part of them remains within us.
    Such bonds defy time and space…..

  17. 17
    lc purple raider growls and barks:

    I am truly sorry for your loss, Jim.

  18. 18
    LC Ogrrre growls and barks:

    Where did all the dust and pollen come from?
    Jim, I know your loss. I had a dobie/german shepard/kangaroo mix that my first daughter named Sally. (I saw her daddy clear the back fence, so I know he had to be part kangaroo.) That dog was a hunting fool. She had different barks for different critters she was trailing. You could tell whether she was after a squirrel, possum, raccoon, or armadillo. The idiot tried to run down a deer one time … like that could happen. She got cancer when she was 15, and I had her vet put her to sleep. Perhaps Bugsy and Sally are running together having a blast terrorizing squirrels in Heaven.

  19. 19

    LC Ogrrre @ #:
    Reminds me of one of my favorite Jerry Clower stories. I know I’ll butcher it, and so much of his comedy is his timing and inflection, but here goes anyway.

    Ol man Ledbetter had a coon dog that had the reputation of being the best coon dog in all of Mississippi. A rich doctor from Tupelo heard about Ol Blue and came down to the swamp land to see if the stories were true. They took Blue out to the edge of the swamp and let him loose while they waited and listened. Wasn’t long before they heard him a baying away, loud and strong. He was after a big ‘un. The barking got fainter as Ol Blue chased the coon deeper into the woods. The doctor started to get impatient and suddenly Ol Blue stopped barking. The doc asked if Blue had lost the coon, but Ledbetter just held up his hand and signaled for the doc to wait. After a few minutes Ol Blue started up again, even deeper in the woods.

    Old man Ledbetter said; “Just as I thought. Ol Blue chased that coon through some posted land.”

  20. 20
    Library Czar growls and barks:

    Fr. Jim

    Tears are the rain that make love grow.

    My prayers for you.

  21. 21
    Virago growls and barks:

    My condolences to you for your loss. Losing a beloved dog is very hard. I too have had to put 4 of my best friends to sleep and it is an awful experience. My current dog is named Draco and he is 135 lb love. He is Mastiff/Black lab. The vet is amazed he is still here at 10, because the bigger they are the shorter they live. But he defies the odds. I got him when he was a puppy, and I was grieving Shakespeare my prior best friend. Wait a few weeks, then go to the shelter an adopt another. It will save their live and enrich yours.

  22. 22
    lc purple raider growls and barks:

    I concur, get another dog from the pound, they will never forget you if you rescue them…

  23. 23

    My heart goes out to you Fr. Jim. We lost our beautiful Nikki last summer and I still cry about it if I dwell on it too long. Between arthritis and cancer, I simply could not let her go on suffering, so I made the very painful decision to let them put her to sleep. It hurts like hell, I know.

    But, just like losing any family member, remember the good memories and let those stay with you. No more pain, suffering and sickness. They are all romping about Heaven’s beautiful valleys and waiting for us to catch up.

    Also, like Virago said, get another dog. You will be amazed how much it eases the pain. Within two weeks of losing Nikki we got our two boys. They have been a joy for us and I know Nikki would understand and approve, since we got her under similar circumstances, having lost a puppy we only had for two weeks to distemper.

    Peace and comfort to you.

  24. 24
    LC Xystus growls and barks:

    The problem with pets… 🙁

  25. 25
    BigDogg growls and barks:


    Let me add my condolences and prayers for your loss. I can’t say it better than it’s already been said above. Dogs love us unconditionally, and to have a dog for any length of time is to catch a glimpse of understanding at how our Heavenly Father loves us. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that dog is an anagram of God.

  26. 26
    nealinnevada growls and barks:

    My condolences Jim…I’m still trying to be the person my dogs think I am.

  27. 27
    MasterGuns Imperial Swampmaster growls and barks:

    As most of you know, I have critters. 4 hounds, 3 yotes, 5 goats and about 20 or so garage cats.

    I have buried quite a few out back over the years.

    Padre…….you’ll see Bugsy again when it’s time to cross Bifrost Bridge.

    You have my condolences…….I buried Girl just back in Feb.

    Semper Fi

  28. 28
    FrJim, Imperial Chaplain growls and barks:

    As this thread clearly shows…pet grief is a real human experience.

    The many words of comfort – and your many stories of similar joyous and painful events – leave me touched and feeling loved by you all. This is a place of healing, folks, despite the way many of us catterwahl about the craziness of our world.

    Another friend of mine gave me some comfort in another forum. She mentioned that he pet Hamster died last month and hoped Bugsy would keep an eye on her Floyd. The only thing that came to mind was how Bugsy would have related to a hamster – ears perked up, front paws kneading it, and snouted nose sniffing and rolling Floyd around as he desperately tried to escape Bugsy’s form of curisoity and loving.

    A healing moment indeed!!

  29. 29
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:


    In times like these one has to thank the L-rd Above for creating a perfect companion for us, among the animal kingdom. Love without condition is something humans can never quite achieve with each other.

    Thank you for sharing with us about your dear friend, it reminds us of all our furry friends that we’ve said good-bye to over the years.

  30. 30
    LC Sir Rurik, K.o.E. growls and barks:

    Fr Jim,

    I add my sympathies on the loss of Bugsy. Our family has had three dogs, Zsa Zsa and Eva, the Gebark Sisters, and Jolie. All three were were sent by God, and later called back home by the celestial dog whistle. But I am certain that our friends will be waiting or us when we pass along to Heaven. Becase without them it would not be Heaven.

  31. 31
    LC Draco growls and barks:

    I did not read all the posts since it’s 2AM here and it’s been a long day. But my thoughts are there are animal lovers and there are ‘others’. I lost one of my Dalmatians eleven years TO THE DAY I got him. And I was at Ft. Rucker, so I could not even comfort him. My parents had to put a little baby down last week after rescuing her 11 years ago. Wife and I still have two Great Danes and another rescue Dalmatian (Named RANGER!!! grrr!!!), plus a few cats.

    We do not have kids so when people ask about our kids….we say they are four legged. I feel your pain.

    If I can offer any advice, it would be to rescue and befriend another. Yes, it is hard, but like someone said, they will love you forever. Even after you leave this world!

  32. 32
    LC R6 growls and barks:

    Words can’t express our sadness.

    Dogs are the emotional charcoal filters of life. They suck the bad in life out of you and leave you with hope and joy.