How Emotions Can Inspire Your Writing

I just spent a fabulous weekend at a blogger’s conference in Las Vegas. I am truly inspired by the incredible bloggers who are published authors or are living their dreams through their online businesses.  BAM Conference 2016I share this post from a year ago as a testament to writing personal essays using our deepest emotions to tell a story.

This was the second year of the Bloggers At Midlife Conference. If you want to take your blog and writing to the next step, consider attending this conference or other similar conferences.

This was part one of a writing challenge series. If you are new to my blog, I hope you enjoy reading this post.



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 back then).

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 where he had fallen again. 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 was as good a time as any.

Grief is a powerful emotion that can be tapped to write compelling personal essays worth reading. Stories such as these can be serialized as I did with this writing prompt. Part two became the back-story, then part three continued the theme to celebrate Oreo’s wonderful life.

Thank you to panel experts Susan Maccarelli and Jill Robbins for presenting the topic “The Art of Crafting Personal Essays that Get Published.”

78 thoughts on “I Lost My Oreo

  1. I read each of Oreo’s stories. They all made me tear up. I am sorry that you lost such a good fur baby. I am glad that you got to spend a full and wonderful life together.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I do, my dog Spot(11 years) as a child. My daughter’s cat Punky (12 years) and my son’s cat Fiesty(17 years) . These were the longest lived pets that blessed me in my life.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Losing a beloved fur baby is so hard. So sad that is happened the way it did with you away…however, I have heard that some dogs do not want their “pack” to see them in their last moments and sometimes they wander off to be alone. Maybe your Oreo needed some distance to cross over. I realize that sounds real new agey but it’s a thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you had a great time at the conference! We are still here in Vegas for our event. I wonder if the dates will overlap again next year or if I’ll be able to attend both BAM and Viva Las Vegas. So hard to lose fur babies. I hope you have come to terms with your guilt… you gave him a wonderful life and I’m sure he felt your love even though you couldn’t be there.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember the first post from when you originally published it. Brought tears to my eyes then and now. But somehow, I had missed the second post so I am glad to have come upon it now. Delighted to hear that your blogging conference was such a success! Look forward to seeing where the lessons take you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a great story. You told with sensitivity. It broyght me back to my own experience with our dog. Thank you so much for linking at #overthemoon! I look forward to seeing what you share every week. Please come back for #WonderfulWednesday or #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Don’t forget to comment your link #’s so I can be sure to visit. Pinned and shared.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have a huge amount of guilt over putting my cat Henry down…and that was in 2014. We just recently got another pet and I find myself very detached from her. We used to have an Oreo, too. Great name!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is indeed a very powerful and emotional post, Terri. My Step-Father sadly passed away a year ago and I wrote a post shortly after explaining how I told my mother the news. She was suffering from the onset of dementia and for one brief second knew exactly what I was about to tell her. Five months later she too passed away and I wrote more posts about what I was going through. You are so correct about how much emotions can affect our writing. I consider some of those posts I wrote to be the best I’ve written. They may be very difficult to write but they really do bring out some amazing writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It is so sad when our beloved pets reach the end of their lives because they are like another family member. I am so sorry you lost your sweet Oreo but it is wonderful that he had such a long and happy life with you and your family. I know it killed me when I had to have Princeton (my English Springer Spaniel) put down. He was 14 years old and it about killed me.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Terri. I found Princeton at the animal shelter when he was about 18 months-2 years old. He was really sick and had to go straight to the vet to get on an IV overnight. He was truly a diamond in the rough. Great dog with such a sweet disposition. So, I have a good idea how sweet your Oreo must have been.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. First of all: I have no idea why I have unfollowed your blog and I’m very sure I didn’t do it on purpose. More importantly: I so feel for you! And it must be especially hard that you could not have been there. He felt your love though anyway. He knew. You gave him a good life and that’s what you have to focus on. 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Terri,

    I’m so sorry that you had to put him down! Oreo sounds like he was such a great dog. It is true that our emotions can be channeled in our writing. Great post, thank you for sharing your story!



  11. It is hard to “like” a post with so much emotion and memories of your dear, Oreo. My parents had a couple dogs euthanized which it was to prevent pain and suffering of the dogs. I would hope the puppy cheered Oreo and that your friend staying by his side gave him comfort. ❤


  12. How wonderful you got to BAM. I’ll bet you met some pretty amazing writers.

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I must say though – given the same set of circumstances I would have done the same. There was nothing to be done.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I am so sorry. I had to experience the same grief just six weeks ago with my beautiful friend of 15 years. His name was ColeBoy and he was a black lab. I’m doing better but it still hurts so much. I never realized how much love I had for him until I grieved and felt the tears painfully drop. Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate you and your willingness to relive the pain through words.❤️

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. My husband and I are picking up his stone in the morning. I know I will cry but the tears are less painful now and I can finally talk about him with a laughter and a smile from my memories.😃

        Liked by 1 person

  14. What a great emotional story. Thank you for sharing. I often tell my wife if I should be at the stage where I am in pain and on heavy duty medicines and not expected to live. Take me to a vet. hospital and have me euthanized. Since the human hospitals want to keep us alive and suffer. Only if we had a choice.


  15. I am so sorry about Oreo. We have had to euthanize many animals and we lost our precious Mrs, Stripe this year. Your heart breaks at both the decision and the loss.


  16. Terri, its been two years since I began my blog and I have learned so much. I will look for the Blog @ Midlife Conference in the spring of 2017. It would be great meet like minded bloggers.

    Your site is incredible, I love the structure and content. Take care and remain safe and keep blogging. 🙂


  17. Terri, I couldn’t stop crying while reading this. I’ve had four feline companions over the years and suffered grief and guilt at the death of each one. It didn’t matter if I held them while they were put to sleep or if I wasn’t there when they passed; I gave myself no room to be less than perfect. The only way I could cope was to start a memory book for each of them, where I pasted all of their photos and wrote down every little thing I could remember about them. I also wrote directly to them. I have since combined all four books and now write to them as one on their birthdays and deathdays.

    How brave of you not only to write this, but also to post it. I’m sure you’ll reach the hearts of many, some of whom might be on the brink of grief for the first time. This post will comfort and reassure. Love and hugs, my friend ❤


    1. What a beautiful idea to make memory books for your kitties. I wrote two other posts about Oreo. Although he had a good life, I still think about him. Thank you so very much for support of this story. I did manage to save some of his fur and got his paw print on his plaque in the backyard where we buried him. 🙂


  18. Heartbreaking. I lost my last pup in 2011 after a brief illness at age 10 which is was about my same age in dog years. I am still so grief stricken that I can’t watch dog movies or things that bring back any memories, don’t want another dog yet. God bless.


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