Ode to My Wee Pup Luna

Luna2This isn’t going to be the typical ode to a pet, because there’s something bigger I want to talk about, something that kind of relates to my writing. Last week, I’d promised to blog about my KILMOON launch festivities and provide photos. Grief waylaid that because I had to put Luna the One-Eyed Wonder Dog to sleep. She’d had oral melanoma since October. It’s an aggressive cancer, and I tried an experimental treatment. For a long while, she was her normal self, but then in March the cancer started its final attack.

I felt like a bad mama because March was the busiest month I’d probably had in my life, what with the launch, and two conferences, and being preoccupied and stressed out. My wee Luna … <gulp> … but I did right by her in every way I could with painkillers and hand-feeding her soft food. Last week it became time. A compassionate care vet came to my house, and Luna passed away on her favorite chair-throne. I was a wreck, crying so hard that I couldn’t catch my breath and didn’t notice the glistening rope of mucous dangling from my nostril. (Gross, but the truth.)

These first two photos taken on our last walk together just before the compassionate care vet arrived.
These first two photos taken on our last walk together just before the compassionate care vet arrived.

I can’t believe I’m using euphemisms. Sometimes the best thing to do is to kill our pets. Yes, kill. I’m using the word. I take full responsibility for ending her life.

What I can’t shake about the experience was the awful surge of emotion that overtook me when I initially scheduled Luna’s death (yes, I use that word too). It was a surge like power—I had just made a god-like decision to end another creature’s life. It felt awful, just horrible, to have wielded that power even though it was the right thing to do, at the right time (before the cancer got too bad).

The surge of emotion was a physical sensation—and for me it was a negative feeling because, hey, I’m no sociopath. I don’t get off on power, and I don’t lack empathy. Here comes the weirdness that for all I know comes with all crime writers: I imagined what the surge would feel like if I did have such a personality disorder. The surge would probably feel fantastic, in other words, and probably orgasmic.

For a moment there, as my brain tripped off into fiction-imagination world, I knew what it would feel like to be a nutjob. I channeled the other side of the surge, and I creeped myself out. I have a very potent imagination as I imagine most novelists do.

Oh my god, I thought, this is what sociopaths or psychopaths or whatever-you-want-to-call-them feel when they kill.

It was the strangest sensation and thankfully I lapsed back into my weeping self immediately. The thing is, I still remember the feeling of it, and I know I’ll be able to channel it into a character someday.

Meanwhile, I miss Luna. I miss the weight of her on my arm as I carried her around. I miss the dogwalking routines that used to cramp my style — I’d relish that cramping now! I miss her Luna-throne that is just a lonely red chair now. I miss her food bowl sitting alongside the cat’s food bowl. She was sweet, old soul.

Luna the One-Eyed Wonder Dog
2003 – 12-Apr-2014
my sweet pup


21 thoughts on “Ode to My Wee Pup Luna

  1. That was a beautiful tribute to your Luna and she is probably doing a doggie chuckle at the thought of you trying to imagine what it would feel like to be a killer! I know that I could imagine you trying to imagine it but somehow I think you are lacking a HUGE quality some of those people have that is Evil. You are so kind and so loving and Luna is probably thankful you had the strength to help her go. XXOO

  2. Oh, sweet Luna. I cried like that when I had to kill my cat, F’tang. Yup, kill. I find it interesting that your thoughts went to writing in that moment of crisis. I remember when my uncle lay dying in the hospital and the decision was being made to pull the plug, I became acutely aware of what every one was saying, and how they were behaving, my inner novelist helping me detach and record a powerful moment. Is this a standard novelist coping mechanism?

    1. Going into observer mode has got to be standard novelist behavior … I just wonder how standard it is in moments of stress. Could it be that you and I are a tad stranger than the average novelist? Naaaah …

  3. I agree about the euphemisms (though I use them in situations where offending people will cause difficulties or waste time). My ex was a professional horsewoman, and, like professionals in general, she talked pretty plainly about the various facts of life (and death). That was a good lesson.

    I agree that we save and use those extreme emotions that we never actually put into action in our lives. I have been writing for over 40 years about a mass murderer, and, while I have never done any of the things she’s done, I have felt some of the things she’s felt.

    It’s nice that you got to say goodbye at home. When I had my cat Chutch killed (after we’d spent over 20 years together) it was on a metal table in a hospital room. And I felt bad that I hadn’t made the decision sooner — I had been thinking too much about me and not enough about him. There was a lesson in that, too — the next time I was in that situation I did better.

    When I came out of the hospital, middle of the night, tears streaming down my face, I wanted to talk to someone who’d know him (and I didn’t want to wake my mother and get her upset), so I called my ex from a pay phone.

    I cried, she cried, her current boyfriend mocked this whole thing, and she broke up with him on the spot. Which is not as extreme as it sounds. As I said, her life was centered around horses, and she thought that if this guy couldn’t understand and respect the bond that can develop between a person and an animal, then he would never understand her.

    1. I like your ex-, Anthony. 🙂 Good for her for breaking up with him. I had a boyfriend for awhile who didn’t get the pet thing either. And I have friends like that too. I can’t fathom not liking animals. Granted, you may choose not to have a pet, but still …

  4. Lisa I know how painful your loss of precious Luna is, as we are mourning the loss of our kitty Huey, but time heals and we can hold on to the belief that we did the most merciful thing for our beloved pets.

    1. Hi Irene. I’m sorry for the loss of your kitty. I do find it a solace that I did the right thing for her BEFORE the cancer became excruciating. It was difficult because she still had some quality of life. As the vet told me, You don’t want to wait until Luna has given up–would you want to die that way?

      So true.

  5. I’ve been there Lisa, with my favourite cat Amos who we had to kill 14-years ago. I still get a lump in my throat when I think of him. Yes, my eyes are tearing up now.
    You were blessed in your love of Luna and her love of you. Sending big warm hugs your way and cry when you damn well need to.

    1. Hi June, thanks so much. I’ve been doing a good job with crying–I’m proud of myself for not trying to “buck up” or whatever. She was so sweet; why not cry for her?

  6. Hi Lisa, Came by to check out your blog after reading your great guest post on JA Konrath’s blog… and now I’m crying! About the only thing that tears me up in books is the death of a dog. People, whatever.

    Hugs from one fur mamma to another,

  7. I realize this is a late comment…, and I’m not even sure how I got here (LOL!) one link led to another, and poof, I started reading.

    Anyway, I just wanted to say, I so get this, what you did for Luna, and they way you felt. I had to “kill” both of my “girls,” and I had to make that decision only three weeks apart. I had little, if any warning this would happen. July 18th, 2012 my oldest Yorkie, Bella, who had just turned 12 in June, threw up. I took her to the vet and found out she was in Stage IV Kidney failure. She had shown no signs – other than sleeping quite a bit, some weight loss, but otherwise fine. We had to let her go on Aug 2nd – that quick. Meanwhile, our other Yorkie, Kiwi, who had just turned 11, was acting very lethargic. We thought she was missing her sister. I took her to the vet on Aug 15th, just to check and be sure she was okay. She wasn’t. Unbelievably – she too, had Stage IV Kidney failure. This was when the vet asked me if they could have gotten into something…but that wasn’t the case. I knew what it was…the jerky treats I’d given them – and had stopped feeding them for about six months – but I was too late. (not sure you heard about all this, but Waggin’ Train, Milo’s Kitchen and Canyon Creek were all pulled off the shelves for over a year – long story, and I won’t go into, but that’s what they had eaten for treats for about a year…and there’s all sorts of info out there, but that’s what caused their illness). Shockingly, we had to do the same with Kiwi on Aug 23, literally three weeks to the day. I was like you, crying so hard, …I think all the people in the waiting room were probably freaking out.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know, I totally get this…and when I read something where someone has to go thru it, I just want to reach out and say I’m sorry, and yes, it is a decision to kill, and it hurts like nothing else I’ve ever felt. But I did it because I loved them, and you did the same for little Luna.

    1. Donna, thanks for reaching out. I got teary reading your comment. I’m so sorry. What you went through is doubly excruciating.

      And, let me just say that I’m pissed too. We try to feed our pets well, and then … blammo. I use jerky treats too. I’ll have to get more information about that.

      Got back last night from a weekend away, and I missed the routine of picking up Luna and settling back in with her … The house felt lonely. 😦

      1. It does get better. You will miss her…always probably, but considering how I felt then, and how I feel now, it’s only a matter of time – there is truth to that old saying.. I adopted a three year old male from foster home, and love him to death, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember how it used to be. It was, “the girls this, and the girls that…”

        Just Google Jerky Treats making dogs sick – you’ll see what I mean. My new little guy eats a homemade diet I cook for him. I had him on commercial dog food when I first got him and THAT got recalled, so I was just disgusted by the whole thing. I worked with NC State University Veterinary School (a top Vet school) and they formulated a diet for me…he’s eating it like a champ and at least I won’t question myself – like I’ve done ever since the girls got sick.

        Hang in there Lisa….

  8. I came across Luna in a google search, and I’m so sorry to hear about your lose.
    My Luna was born just 10 days, before your Luna went to dog heaven. She lost her eye yesterday, due to an injury. Also the right one.
    You did the right thing, letting her have peace, and I’m sure she’s sitting somewhere, watching over you. So take care of her doggy throne for her 🙂

    We both send our condolences, and thoughts. Hope you’re feeling better.

    1. Hi Camilla — thanks for commenting! What a strange coincidence — I hope your Luna is OK! If she’d been born 10 days after my Luna died, I would have said reincarnation for sure!

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