Oreo-Loved-the Delta
Oreo at age 12 years

Oreo was my beloved 14-year old Springer Spaniel-Australian Shepherd mix. He was 12-weeks old when he and his twin brother were brought to the SPCA. My daughters and I had just gotten a Chow puppy and were taking him home when we saw the cute, freckle-faced black and white pups.

The next day, I came home from work for lunch to check on our little Chow and he had died. Weeping, I wrapped him up in a towel and brought him back to the SPCA. The vet later told me he had died from an infection brought on by the neuter surgery. Who performs neuters on 6-week old pups?

But that is not the story.

Within two days, the SPCA said I could take one of the black and white puppies we had seen earlier. We brought him home and named him Oreo for all the Oreo-cookie crumbs that freckled his nose. Here is what Oreo looked like when we got him (yes, that is me 18 years ago).

Oreo was 12-weeks old when we brought him home from the SPCA

Fast forward to 2011.

In early 2011, Oreo had already exceeded his estimated life span by two years. Dogs his size usually die by age 12 or 13 years old. I attributed his extra years to going with us to the delta when my husband entered my life in 2009. Oreo loved the delta. In 2010, we acquired Aero, our brown cocker mix, who also kept Oreo company in his last year on Earth.

When Oreo died, I wasn’t even in town.

For several months, Oreo had been losing weight, had lost his hearing, and had cataracts. He never lost his strong sense of smell, so he could maneuver pretty well around the yard.

In late June, at the delta, Oreo got severely tangled in his long lead to which he was tied next to our trailer. We tied him up so he wouldn’t wander over the levee and get hit by a car. Most of the time, he could be off his tether under our supervision. On this particular Saturday morning, having gotten tangled again, I drove the hour drive back home where he would not have to be tied up. When we got home on Sunday evening, my daughter said that he had fallen down the two steps from our backyard deck. He was unharmed but this was not a good sign.

I took him to the vet shortly after. He had gotten into very bad shape very quickly. In a few days, we were travelling for a 5-day vacation in Yosemite. I felt in my heart that Oreo should be put out of his misery and hoped the vet would agree. Instead, she prescribed him some pills (for older dogs). Although I was relieved and hoped that Oreo would get better, that did not happen.

My daughter’s friend agreed to look after Oreo while we were in Yosemite. There is very little phone service in the high country, but we happened to be visiting Yosemite Valley one of the days.

That is when I got the phone call. When Darla checked on Oreo, she found him sprawled across the deck stairs. He was very near death. While trying to reach me, she and a neighbor put him in the car and took him to the closest vet.

As the vet described Oreo’s condition over the phone to me, wanting to run tests (why??), I told the vet to put him down. In writing this, it sounds so cold and factual, but since I wasn’t there, I cope with this by being so. Darla agreed to stay with Oreo while they injected him with the life-ending serum. She was the last person Oreo sensed.

To this day, I carry the guilt and immense sadness that I could not be by my dog’s side as he was euthanized. I can barely write this even now.

We requested the vet to freeze Oreo’s body. When we came home, my husband dug a deep hole in our backyard under Oreo’s favorite pine tree and buried him there. My husband made a cement grave stone and we managed to use Oreo’s own paw to make a print in the wet cement.

Once Oreo was laid to rest under the tree, what amazed me is how our puppy Aero reacted. He could smell Oreo and spent several days laying on Oreo’s grave, sniffing and “crying.” Sometimes he would run around the yard looking for him.

I am consoled by the knowledge that Oreo had some extra time on Earth and a puppy companion in his last days.

I have wanted to write this story for a long time and this prompt for Writing 101 is as good a time as any. The twist to this prompt, to make it a three-part serial, will give me the opportunity to continue the series with the back story to celebrate Oreo’s wonderful life…stay tuned.

47 thoughts on “I Lost My Oreo

  1. Oh my Terri. This is a deeply sad story. I’m sorry that you weren’t able to be there when he was euthanized. I hope you’ve been able to let go of the guilt of that part of the experience.

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    1. I have a little bit, thank you. Reading your post and other bloggers’ stories about their dear departed pets just keeps it a little fresh. But that book does get me through. Thanks for reading, I appreciate it very much!

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  2. I’ve been a cat person, but I have had many similar situations with our beautiful fur people, who adopted us. I read this, remembering all the moments when I had to make decisions. When I was younger, I always thought euthanizing was something I could, personally, never consent to, but as I grew up, and realized my selfish desire to not lose a loved one, a child of mine – for all my fur babies were my children – I had to make that decision four times over the last 10 years. I have stayed with each, holding them, whispering my love to them, as they crossed the rainbow bridge. My heart breaks for you, as I know too well what you went through. What gives me a semblance of peace, is that my decisions were always about not wanting to suffer any more.

    You’ve been brave in writing, but I also know, that this allows the grieving process to go forward. Our fur babies are always in our hearts, and we know how great their presence has been, and how nourishing they were in our lives.

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  3. Such a sad story, Terri. Sorry for your loss. Oreo had a good life, and sadly, it was his time to leave you. I’m surprised that two vets wanted to run tests on him, when surely, he was suffering, and that must have been so hard not only on him, and also for you to see. It is never easy saying farewell to those we love.

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  4. I know your sadness! You must let go of the guilt, if Oreo could speak with you today he would say “Thank You for letting me go, I was hanging on as long as I could for you but I just couldn’t do it any longer, thank you”. And even though you were not with him physically you were with him spiritually and he with you and he will carry that with him always. He’s always with you now even though you cannot see him and he’s happy, healthy and frisky just as dogs are! Beautifully told story…think of Oreo and smile! He does when he thinks of you!! 🙂


  5. So sweet and sad.
    I had a puppy with a heart defect who lived years after her estimated lifespan…that’s always something I’m grateful for!
    I’m reading a lot about dogs who seem to wait and mourn over the loss of their owners/friends. I think it’s very sweet.

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    OF AN

    by Eugene O’Neill
    Tao House, December 17, 1940

    I, SILVERDENE EMBLEM O’NEILL (familiarly known to my family, friends, and acquaintances as Blemie), because the burden of my years and infirmities is heavy upon me, and I realize the end of my life is near, do hereby bury my last will and testament in the mind of my Master. He will not know it is there until after I am dead. Then, remembering me in his loneliness, he will suddenly know of this testament, and I ask him then to inscribe it as a memorial to me.

    I have little in the way of material things to leave. Dogs are wiser than men. They do not set great store upon things. They do not waste their days hoarding property. They do not ruin their sleep worrying about how to keep the objects they have, and to obtain the objects they have not. There is nothing of value I have to bequeath except my love and my faith. These I leave to all those who have loved me, to my Master and Mistress, who I know will mourn me most, to Freeman who has been so good to me, to Cyn and Roy and Willie and Naomi and—But if I should list all those who have loved me, it would force my Master to write a book. Perhaps it is vain of me to boast when I am so near death, which returns all beasts and vanities to dust, but I have always been an extremely lovable dog.

    I ask my Master and Mistress to remember me always, but not to grieve for me too long. In my life I have tried to be a comfort to them in time of sorrow, and a reason for added joy in their happiness. It is painful for me to think that even in death I should cause them pain. Let them remember that while no dog has ever had a happier life (and this I owe to their love and care for me), now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do. We accept it as part of life, not as something alien and terrible which destroys life. What may come after death, who knows? I would like to believe with those my fellow Dalmatians who are devote Mohammedans, that there is a Paradise where one is always young and full-bladdered; where all the day one dillies and dallies with an amorous multitude of houris [lovely nymphs], beautifully spotted; where jack rabbits that run fast but not too fast (like the houris) are as the sands of the desert; where each blissful hour is mealtime; where in long evenings there are a million fireplaces with logs forever burning, and one curls oneself up and blinks into the flames and nods and dreams, remembering the old brave days on earth, and the love of one’s Master and Mistress.
    I am afraid this is too much for even such a dog as I am to expect. But peace, at least, is certain. Peace and long rest for weary old heart and head and limbs, and eternal sleep in the earth I have loved so well. Perhaps, after all, this is best.
    One last request I earnestly make. I have heard my Mistress say, “When Blemie dies we must never have another dog. I love him so much I could never love another one.” Now I would ask her, for love of me, to have another. It would be a poor tribute to my memory never to have a dog again. What I would like to feel is that, having once had me in the family, now she cannot live without a dog! I have never had a narrow jealous spirit. I have always held that most dogs are good (and one cat, the black one I have permitted to share the living room rug during the evenings, whose affection I have tolerated in a kindly spirit, and in rare sentimental moods, even reciprocated a trifle). Some dogs, of course, are better than others. Dalmatians, naturally, as everyone knows, are best. So I suggest a Dalmatian as my successor. He can hardly be as well bred or as well mannered or as distinguished and handsome as I was in my prime. My Master and Mistress must not ask the impossible. But he will do his best, I am sure, and even his inevitable defects will help by comparison to keep my memory green. To him I bequeath my collar and leash and my overcoat and raincoat, made to order in 1929 at Hermes in Paris. He can never wear them with the distinction I did, walking around the Place Vendome, or later along Park Avenue, all eyes fixed on me in admiration; but again I am sure he will do his utmost not to appear a mere gauche provincial dog. Here on the ranch, he may prove himself quite worthy of comparison, in some respects. He will, I presume, come closer to jack rabbits than I have been able to in recent years.
    And for all his faults, I hereby wish him the happiness I know will be his in my old home.
    One last word of farewell, Dear Master and Mistress. Whenever
    you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also with happiness in
    your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: “Here lies
    one who loved us and whom we loved.” No matter how deep my sleep I shall
    hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging
    a grateful tail.

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  7. Oh Terri, I feel for you so much. I wept while reading this thinking of my similar situation with my dog Buddy many years ago. It’s still tender and brings tears to my eyes. Hugs to you x.


  8. What a lovely story, Terri. I have never had a dog in my life (my parents claim they aren’t animal people), but this kind of story is a reminder of why we call dogs man’s best friend. Thank you for sharing.

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  9. Excellent writing. You hooked me to read you piece by it’s title. Once I started to read it, I was right there with you. Only once in my adult life did I have a dog. Your post dashed me back in time to that wonderful and painful experience.

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      1. I was writing about the loss of a person for this assignment as well, and I am sure mine is less than half as touching as yours haha. Your language is simple yet effective.

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  10. That was very heart touching! He had a long happy life Terri and you did what you felt was best for Oreo. I imagine that Oreo is thankful that you did not make him have to suffer. It is so difficult to make the decision to put our pets down. I still carry guilt from Princeton, but I didn’t have another choice. I keep telling myself that he is trying to tell me thank you.

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